Shooting the Devil and Living to Tell the Tale
Robert Field dishes on the gear and lessons learned over ‘Five Days on the Devil’
By Mike Stevens
Robert Field of YakFish TV and three companions dropped into the remote Devil's River in Southwestern Texas for a five-day kayak fishing and camping trip in one of the west's most unspoiled rivers. The trip was documented and drilled down into a 38-minute video that provides viewers with great visuals of the river and surrounding terrain, tips for kayaking in remote areas, fishing footage and walk-throughs of key pieces of equipment. It's a great illustration of that mix of a primitive experience and modern technology that defines the modern-day kayak angler.
Robert Field put more than 80 hours of edit time into his 38-minute tour de force video ‘5 Days on the Devil’s River,’ shot solely with GoPro action cameras.
"I did more planning for this trip than any trip in my life," said Field. "I read reports from trips, watched videos from other guys who had gone, and spoke to spoke to some of the best kayak-fishing guides that I know."
Despite all of the preparation and his own kayaking experience, Field knew the trip would be an evolving trial-and-error cycle and a tremendous learning experience. Like any trip -- especially those of the adventure variety -- there were pieces of gear that emerged as ‘lifesavers’ and conversely, there was stuff that never saw the light of day.
"I would definitely bring something better to sleep on. I had a one-inch thick sleeping pad that actually developed a hole before the first night, as I woke up and it was completely deflated," he said. "I was really feeling that in my back in the mornings."
Field also indicated that he would have liked to have a small axe along for chopping firewood as well as the anchor and drag chain that he left home to shed pounds. As you will see in the video, they would have come in handy when he ran into 20 mph headwinds.
As far as the lifesaver department, it wound up being a $20 item that could fit in his pocket.
"The LifeStraw was huge. Being in the desert, it was necessary to hydrate often and basically each person filled up a thermos each morning but that was the only water you had on you until we got to camp that night. I would run out of that by about 10:00 AM and use the LifeStraw every time I got out of my kayak the rest of the day," added Field.
Due to extreme variations in air temperatures (80 during the day and down to 35 at night), Field also indicated that having daytime and nighttime clothing options proved to be critical.
Like any first trip, Field made mental notes on what worked, what didn't and ideas about what might work the next time he tries kayak fishing on the Devil’s River.
"The whitewater guys make it look so easy," he said. "I had basically zero experience with rapids prior to this, and it's a different ballgame. Using leashes was paramount, and I made sure to strap things down before the hairy-sounding sets. I said 'sounding' because we always heard the gnarly sections before we saw them. Another challenge was figuring out where to put your rods. If you put them in holders standing straight up, you risked destroying them if you flipped. But laying them down in front of you meant they stuck out in front of the boat, which was a problem when crashing into boulders. I started off laying them down, and then moved to the rod holders as I gained confidence that I wouldn’t flip.”
Field admits that he left the blooper reel out of the final cut, but he will likely find a way to share it on a future show.
"One segment I cut that I wish I had kept in there was me constantly losing fish. Between headshakes, jumps and smallmouth diving into rocks, I lost more fish than I caught. As I said in the video, I’ve never really caught smallmouth, and the strength and endurance of those bass caught me off guard. They constantly dove down into the rocks, and I’ve got a great segment of me losing about 15 fish in rapid fire."