Bass master: kayak fishing pioneer Ken Daubert

Bass master: kayak fishing pioneer Ken Daubert. Courtesy photo.

Kayak Fishing Revolutionary
How Ken Daubert caught on
By Ben Duchesney

Ken Daubert got his start like most other fishermen: with a pocket full of worms, standing on a drainage pipe fishing for bluegill with a hand line. "At four I was sneaking away to go bass fishing," Daubert says. As a teenager, "I was riding my bike to fish farm ponds 13 miles almost every day." His fishing obsession was just starting. Daubert couldn't imagine it would take him from lure designer to one of kayak fishing's modern founders.

First, the lure. "I liked Bill Plumber's bass frog, but it kept changing over the years. I thought 'what could I do with something like that on a fly rod?'"

Daubert's Bass-Frog was soon also known as the cult frog – it inspired followers. "I made the first one out of Styrofoam and rubber bands and I caught a 7 and a 1/2-pound bass with it, he recalls"

In 1982 Daubert moved to Florida. "I was motivated to try the frog in those waters," he said. Daubert become a saltwater fishing guide, taking clients out on his saltwater skiff loaded down with three trolling motors, an engine and five batteries.

"While guiding one day I saw a kid with a kayak paddle across thick weeds. It looked so easy." From then on Daubert guided less and kayak fished more. "No one else wanted to kayak fish," he says, remembering those days. "It wasn't a good idea for everyone. It actually pushed clients away."

Why the kayak? "It's pretty obvious to me. The first time I got in a kayak it felt a little weird, but then it was like a light bulb went off," he says.

"I like shallow water. Seeing the fish first, and then casting. The surface fishing. That's why the kayak, it has that stealth factor," he says.

Daubert launched, following in the footsteps of fellow online kayak fishing pioneers Dennis Spike and Jon Shein. Anglers from across the country deluged Daubert with questions. "I spent so much time answering emails that I figured I'd write a book," he says.

Kayak Fishing: The Revolution was the first to tackle the sport. At the time, kayak fishing had yet to make an impression on the mainstream. Daubert had to go it alone. "I asked everyone online for their input, but nobody wanted to publish it. I finally got sick of working on it and published it myself. There were maybe 5,000 kayak fishermen out there when I wrote the book," he says.

"I haven't guided for 10 years," Daubert says. "The more I fished in a kayak the less I wanted people near me, even other kayaks." Daubert's early willingness to share kayak fishing information is a tradition that continues to this day, inspiring others to follow in his stealthy paddle strokes. Kayak fishing may have ended Daubert's guiding career, but he doesn't seem to mind.