Another River Adventure…
A week ago last Saturday four of us from the Wildcat Creek Outfitters (http://www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com/) Kayak Fishing Team met up to float a river here in northeastern Indiana that I had never been on. WCO team member Kyle H. had been on it a few times and was having good luck with smallmouth bass and northern pike. Having never caught a northern pike from a kayak and with the thought of fishing new territory on my mind, I was pretty pumped up for this day to begin.
We arrived at the launch site at about 8 a.m. I had already met Kyle H. and Kyle P. previously, but was able to finally meet Tom S. in person and was looking forward to fishing with these guys. We had looked on the Indiana DNR’s website to find that our intended float was supposedly a 4 hour trip, but we figured it would take 5 or 6 hours seeing that we were going to fish and not just paddle straight through. As we would find out later, both our estimate and the DNR’s website were way off.
Soon after launching, we were all fishing as the gentle current moved us downstream one by one. I don’t recall who caught the first fish, but I would bet it was Kyle H. as the kid seems able to sweet talk fish into biting his hook. He was casting a large chartreuse and white spinnerbait, which would prove a wise decision as you’ll see here in a bit.
As the morning progressed we all caught small pike and smallmouth bass, with a few rock bass and even one largemouth bass thrown in for good measure. Kyle P. caught his first ever northern pike and I caught my first northern pike from a kayak.
Tom caught a lot of fish as well from his Native Watercraft Ultimate 12, but I never seemed to be close enough to snap any pictures when he did. The other three guys not only caught fish on their spinning & baitcasting rods, but they all also caught fish on their fly rods. I was the only numbskull that didn’t bring a fly rod, but I’ll correct that the next time we float this river.
Kyle H., as I said, was having great luck throwing the large spinnerbait. He was looking to catch some big pike and it worked as he caught not just one, but two really nice fish.
One of my goals from a kayak has always been to catch a nice, dark colored smallmouth. I admire the looks of a bronze river smallie, but when I usually fish for smallmouth we only catch fish that are really pale in color. While a truly big smallmouth eluded all of us this day, I was able to catch one that put up a nice fight and had the coloring I was hoping for.
As the day wore on we began to encounter a lot of deadfalls and structure blocking our way down the river. We literally had to go over, under, around and through all kinds of large trees that were down and it proved tiresome after a bit. I was worried how my fourteen and a half foot Native Watercraft Slayer (http://www.nativewatercraft.com/) would handle the tight turns and small quarters, but it handled the challenges with ease. When portaging through the woods on the riverbank due to impassable structure across the river, the wheel on the stern of the Slayer really came in handy. At one point we decided to check our location and see how far we were from the take out point. Kyle H. pulled it up on his phone and we discovered that after about four or five hours of fishing, we were not quite half way. Ugh!
After this discovery, we kept fishing for a while but eventually decided that if we wanted to finish before dark, we had best stop fishing and start paddling straight through. We did so for the next three or four hours and in the process Kyle H. and I agreed we had to paddle through some very nice looking stretches of the river that were sure to hold fish. Nonetheless, we kept paddling hard and continued to encounter a lot of deadfalls blocking our way. The river was beautiful and I would have liked to slowed down to enjoy the scenery more, but we were all getting worn out and ready to get back to the trucks.
Finally at around 7 p.m., a full eleven hours after launching, the take out point was in sight and all four of us were relieved to be off the river. We soon had our kayaks loaded up, said our goodbyes and were back on the road headed home. I slept like a rock that night and my shoulders were terribly sore the next morning, but yet I can’t wait until we do it again.