With college being quite time consuming this year I wasn't able to get out on the water anywhere near as much as I would have liked to. However, I still had some great memories and look forward to each day I get to spend kayaking and kayak fishing. Without further ado, here are my top 3 moments of 2016.
3. Bending Branches Partnership
I am extremely fortunate to utilize the best gear on the market. One aspect to becoming a serious kayak fisherman that I have focused on is only partnering with companies that I truly believe are the best for what I do. Bending Branches is no exception, as I cannot speak as to how much quality and performance is in my Bending Branches Angler Pro and Angler Ace.
A lot of people ask me which paddle I choose to use for an occasion, as I have two. The answer really depends on the terrain I will be kayaking in. If I am in water with no to very little shallow water you will catch me with my Bending Branches Angler Pro. At 250 cm with a carbon fiber shaft and a multi-laminate fiberglass blade that has an area of 104 sq. in., you can really propel through the water with some force and speed. Input is almost immediate as it is so stiff due to the carbon fiber shaft.However, if I am going to be in water that has a lot of shallow regions where using the paddle as a push pole is quite frequent, I will almost certainly be using my Angler Ace. At 260 cm with a carbon fiber shaft and a carbon reinforced nylon blade, I get all the stiffness of the carbon fiber shaft that is found in the Angler Ace with the difference of a more flexible blade for durability when pushing against hard river rock.
I am extremely excited and privileged to have the opportunity of representing Bending Branches and always am impressed ever time I get out on the water with Bending Branches.
2. The River of the Arms of God
One of the great things about being a kayak fisherman is how much water I get to that wouldn't be possible without a kayak or similar vessel. The Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Lake is one of my favorite rivers to fish due to the water quality and big bass that roam the waters. I am always satisfied when I get to get on the Brazos as it seems like I always catch a 3-4 pound bass...and sometimes a ginormous 12 pound bass. You might be wondering why the Brazos River seems to be a top moment of 2016. Although it is somewhat of a highlight of the year, an article in particular that I did over the Brazos River is the primary focus of the year. If you haven't read my article on "The River of the Arms of God", you can check it out here.
Something the Brazos River has that is a little unique is the large cliffs that seem to surround big bass. It is quite a scenic stretch of the Brazos River to be on and not anything like what most people would envision for the Brazos River that is further south. Although I would probably go to the Devils River if I had an option, the Brazos River is right behind in second place. Every time I go I have an unbelievable time and get to catch some great fish.
For those of you who follow Texas Kayak Fisher, you have probably seen the 12 pound bass that I caught on the Brazos River. In fact, even if you haven't there's a chance that you might have seen it in a magazine or on another website. Although I caught this bass in 2015, it is hard not to include a picture of this beast any time when talking about the Brazos River. The remarkable thing isn't neccasarily that I caught a 12 pound Largemouth Bass, it is how many other huge bass that I have caught on the Brazos River. I cannot even begin to count the number of bass over 4 pounds that I or my dad who comes regularly with me have caught on the Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Lake. It is just insane.
If you live in the Dallas or Abilene area of Texas, you will regret if you don't give the Brazos River a shot. It can be slightly crowded at times with fly fisherman and canoe trips that are headed downstream, but there is always plenty of river to find some big bass that are ready to be caught.
1. Devils River - The Passion of Fishing
To sum the Devils River up in one word would simply be - unbelievable. The unique aspect of the Devils River is that it is in the middle of a desert, a very remote desert at that. The water is very clear and nearly one hundred percent spring fed. I have always been a huge fan of clear water and the Devils River certainly encompasses it. Although I have been to the Devils River a few times before, this year I wanted to visit the Devils River to make a unique film focusing on the beauty and passion of the style of fishing that I do. I was pretty surprised when I arrived to the Devils River though.
As I stated, the Devils River is normally extremely clear and visible water. However, as I made the near 1 mile hike to the river with my kayak, I noticed that the water didn't look itself... it wasn't. Due to some recent flooding and heavy rains a lot of sediment had run off into the water. Unfortunately this made the water quite murky. Although visibility was great for fishing, I was extremely disappointed for the big film I had planned on. I really wanted to focus on the Devils River, its super clear water and spectacular fishing. I was pretty bummed out until I started hooking some nice bass. Before I knew it I hooked into several good bass including a 5 pound Largemouth Bass. I found countless numbers of springs that I hadn't found before as well as a nice step waterfall that really capped off the trip.
This just goes to show you the similarities that fishing and life have in common. Some things are just unpredictable and often unexpected, however this doesn't mean you can't take advantage of what you are given and make the most of it. I did not plan on experiencing murky water on the Devils River, but these were the conditions I was given. Fortunately, I learned my lesson that you should never be too hasty to judge, whether in fishing or in life. As a result of the unusual conditions, I wasn't able to showcase the unbelievable water and snorkel. However, I made an awesome film that really describes the "true" passion of fishing, as fishing isn't ever the same thing every time you go, especially with the style of fishing I do. I had a lot of great memories on this trip with my dad and couldn't have asked for a better time. If you haven't seen the film yet, feel free to watch below: