So this is the board I made for La a couple of years back (while we were living in Gulfport, MS). If you've been looking at the paddling pictures I've been posting, you've probably seen it alongside the amphibious assault craft (JK Big Tuna). We've got a few other boards she could pick from, but she always goes back to this one ;)
For flatwater I still think this is the best thing out there.
Here's our kayak's live well in action. We caught a few bluegill and a couple of bass - instead of releasing them right away, we plopped them in the tank and the kids took turns getting a closer look at them. Obviously I painted the tank "sand" color, but like most things, it doesn't adhere to the polyethene too well. The lighter color lets whatever is in the tank stand out a little better than if the tank were just black. Spray paint is cheap and time together as a family is priceless. Nice way to spend a few hours!
The temperatures are definitely cooler. The fish aren't rising for flies or bait anymore. Getting the fish to take is more a game of patience and good looking - putting the hook in front of them is the only way to get any response. Makes you think about how slow it will be when winter sets in (or think about a warm winter - this is supposed to be an El Nino year, or we'll just call it global climate change). Well with persistence, we are still catching - we had a few of these smaller bass, several bluegill and Marlon caught his first yellow perch.
So we took advantage of yesterday's great weather by visiting Mason Neck State Park. They had a cartop boat ramp that you could drive down to and prep your boats - the parking lot was just a short walk away. The wind was blowing from the SW and basically pushed us to the mouth of Kane's Creek. The Big Tuna held both kids and a bunch of fishing gear and logistics (jackets, snacks, spare lures, shoes and other stuff) and left La to be free (the SUP travelled way faster - noticably so than the big amphibious assault craft). The only bad part was we didn't catch a single fish - in fact, besides minnows, we didn't see a single fish. Next time we'll try Pohick Bay.
With Fall setting in the air temperature has obviously been dropping. You'd think the water temperatures are following suite - but they are holding comparatively (to the air temps). I have noticed changes in the fishing patterns though - more bass strikes (as they try to fatten up for the winter) and the bluegill are moving to deeper water. Well - when presented with a change, you make adjustments and keep on going - in this case it specifically paid off!!! I hooked into this HUGE bluegill - I didn't measure it with a tape, but I'd estimate it to be over 7" long!!! I believe this is the biggest bluegill I've ever caught! I'll probably start using my conventional fly gear soon to get a better reach into the middle of the lake to see what else is down there - just goes to show "you ain't gonna catch fish if you don't go fishing".
The kids got their new Kiyotaki rods from www.tenkarabum.com today - Chris S is awesome to work with and has the best customer service ever - if you are interested in tenkara, give his site some love. The kids were pretty excited and stoked to get their own appropriately sized flyrods. I had them practicing and within 5 minutes they had their casting strokes down and they were consistently hitting their targets. I tied on some flies and they were off! Noe hit one of the small Bass on her first cast! I had to cut their fly lines down to size (they were picking up too many 'wind' knots) and then the real action began - Noe whacked a medium sized bluegill and she was giving herself kudos for getting a huge bend in the rod!!! I resized Marlon's line too (if you're reading this and want to get the same setup for your kids, cut the lines to just a hair longer than the rod - their casting was perfect after that modification) and he caught three bluegill. I don't know who was more excited - the kiddoroosters or me!!!
So on this latest iteration of Columbus Day (I'm still not sure why we get the day off, but I'll take it), the final project I worked on was installing the bungee net holders on the sides of the rear cargo area. If you are looking to do the same (the kayak does not come with these mesh panels - order them from the Jackson Kayak website), use a 3/16" drill bit and get yourself a good rivet gun. There are four impressions on the inner lip of the compartment - find those and drill your holes. 10 holes and 10 rivets later and your done! Slippers, soda cans, small tackle boxes, mosquito repellent and other quick grab stuff now have a home.
3 pound grapple hook up front (deployed from the starboard beam, locked in at an appropriate length for the wind and depth, then shuttled up to the bow by the trolley - which is on the starboard side - storage issue for me, you can put it wherever you want), 2 foot drag chain out the stern (the boat is moulded with a chain channel and side handles sized to drop in a small Flexi dog leash). Can you say "two point mooring"? I can!
So I didn't feel right about the last block I had used for the bow end of the trolley. I went to West Marine and grabbed a cheek block that gets screwed down. Using a 9/64 inch drill bit, #8 1" stainless steel screws, 1"x2" cuts of cutting board (for backing) and the new Harken block and fairlead, I now feel absolutely confident in the trolley. Now I just need the sun to come out so I can take this out on the water.
So I'm looking through the pile of 'convention' stuff we got at the boat show and I see this refrigerator clip. With a little sticky back velcro, I now have a way to hold my rod while I'm getting my picture taken with my catch (or making adjustments to something that I may be around when fishing - anchor lines, whatever). Don't underestimate the convention stuff.
Cool temperatures, overcast skies and a slight drizzle - but Marlon and I went fishing anyways. He landed a small bass and a bluegill - I got one bluegill and a bunch of bass including this decent sized one. On the other side of the coin I got a few of these tiny guys as well. The water is starting to cool down and the bluegills are retreating to the deeper parts of the lake. I'll take what I can get for now - I'll have to research what kind of fishing I can do and where once the temperature really drops. Or I'll have to figure out what else I can do to tickle my adrenal gland...
Here are a couple of pictures of the RAM mount balls in place. Pretty useful (nice tiedown point for the paddles during transport).
Turns out with the fairleads on the kayak, you only need one of the 1/4" pulleys. I used a heavy duty carabiner for the accessory interface (where I'll lock in an anchor line, stake pole or drift chute). I placed the trolley on the starboard side since this side of the kayak is stored up when I have it in the garage (this will prevent the carabiner or the pulley from getting damaged or scraping the side of the kayak). If I haven't already said it - modifying kayaks is really cool -
After the show, we were going to take the kayak and SUPs out, but the weather didn't clear up until late in the afternoon. We did get a chance to go fishing and this was Marlon's first time fishing in brackish water. He caught a spot and a few sunfish. I caught a couple of sunfish and we saw a huge school of shad. As always - a great time had by all!
So this was one of the reasons we went to Annapolis yesterday. We are scoping out the live aboard catamarans to see what we would like to target in the future (3-10 years from now). We also checked out the Island Packets - nice boats all around! Between La and I, we didn't converge to a singular solution - she loved the Leopards and I had a leaning towards the Antares; but there was no question the Gunboat 66 was the sweetest boat at the show. I'm pretty convinced the Farrier 44SC is still the boat for us, but being able to get a feel for the size and space of others did help answer a lot of questions for us.
We loaded up the truck and hit Annapolis yesterday. The Darby Extend-a-Bed worked fine - no rattling or shaking at all. I loaded La's SUP, the ULI (not inflated), the kayak and all the paddles, lifejackets and kayak accessories - I think I could have put on another SUP and some boogie boards.