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A Visit to the South Llano River with Dr. Kennedy

Texas Kayak Fisher Blog


A Visit to the South Llano River with Dr. Kennedy

Clint Taylor

When I was in college learning to become an engineer I had a lot of influence and help from Dr. Kennedy. He helped me to learn a lot of valuable skills that I now use every day at my job as a civil engineer. Dr. Kennedy gave me opportunities and is no doubt a large contributor to the engineer that I am today. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to take Dr. Kennedy out on the water and share some of the great scenery God has given us.

I decided to take Dr. Kennedy to the South Llano River. I originally had a few other options in mind, but due to the large amount of rain Texas has been seeing the South Llano River was one of the few options that had decent flow conditions…meaning it wasn’t flooded.

Dr. Kennedy was using my Jackson Kayak Liska while I was on my tried and trued Pau Hana Endurance.

Although Dr. Kennedy has some experience fishing and kayaking, he is not a consistent fisherman or paddler. In consideration of this, I wanted Dr. Kennedy to get a feel of paddling around on the Liska and learn how to manage the kayak and fish. He caught on very quickly and felt quite at home in the Liska.

Eventually, we were ready to start fishing and paddle through a quick, short section of swift water. Although this section can be paddled through in a kayak, I think Dr. Kennedy may have been a little too confident that he could make it up. It is deceiving how powerful water can be and Dr. Kennedy soon realized that even relatively calm “swift” water can be hard to paddle upstream.

I was utilizing a Texas Rigged Rage Tail Craw while Dr. Kennedy was using a topwater frog. The day started somewhat slow but eventually I landed a small bass. Dr. Kennedy also had a nice strike on his topwater frog, but the fish was long gone before he could set the hook.

As the day progressed I began to realize that it was going to be rough fishing. This is always hard to help someone who isn’t a seasoned fisherman catch fish during these type of days. I tried to think of some better lure alternatives and eventually had Dr. Kennedy start to fish a Berkley Soft Plastic Swimbait. I knew this would be a good option for the clear waters of the South Llano River, and also a weedless lure that would be a little more forgiving when your cast doesn’t go quite where you want it to.

I caught a few more small bass until we reached the first section of small rapids that required portaging. As we reached our first portage location it gave me and Dr. Kennedy a nice opportunity to take in some of the nice scenery around us and also to get a quick drink and snack. Then it was onward to try and catch some fish.

The next section of the South Llano River provided even clearer water for us to paddle on, but even tougher fishing. We didn’t catch much by the time we reached a small low water crossing. We crossed the road and were right back in the water once again.

I soon spotted a nice bass that was on the banks of the river. I was paddling my Pau Hana Endurance with my Aquabound Malta Carbon to get into position to sight fish for this largemouth bass. I casted my Rage Tail Craw towards this rascal and with only a few twitches of my lure this bass exploded on my bait. It was unbelievable to get to sight fish this guy and see him attack my lure. When he bit I set my hook and no more than a half second later my 10 lb. braided line snapped - yes snapped. I have never had braided line break like this before. I am not sure what had happened, but the line just broke. I think somewhere the line must have been frayed and therefore causing a major weakness in my equipment. I didn’t know if I ever actually set the hook on this fish or not, but I decided to quickly tie on a new lure to try again.

After tying on my new lure I began searching for the bass I just lost. It didn’t take me long as my Smith Optics Redmond sunglasses helped me spot him in the clear South Llano River quickly. I casted my Rage Tail Craw towards the bass and noticed the fish was looking at my lure, but skiddish and not too interested anymore. I casted several more times to this one bass without any luck. I almost gave up after five minutes of sight fishing, but I decided to try one more tactic.

I quickly took off the Rage Tail Craw and switched to a Zoom Fluke. Sometimes you just need to throw a “follow up” lure that was different than what originally got the bass to bite. I casted the Fluke towards the bass and he showed much more interest. However, the bass still didn’t want to bite. I probably was trying to catch this one bass for about 7-8 minutes now. I casted one more time and decided to work my Fluke much faster…and then it happened.

The bass quickly engulfed my Fluke and I set the hook. It was an awesome sight to see and such a rewarding experience to not give up on this fish and eventually get him to bite. I didn’t have the fish to my Pau Hana Endurance yet though. I fought the fish for about 15-30 seconds and then got him to my Endurance. I grabbed him by the mouth and finally landed a nice 2.5 lb bass I had been fishing for.

This was one of the more rewarding catches I have had in quite a while just because of how long I was sight fishing for the bass. If you ever are in clear water, sight fishing is an unbelievably adrenaline packed experience!

Now I needed to get Dr. Kennedy on a bass. I told him I was going to search the water to find him a bass to catch.

I knew if I could find a bass I had a good chance of getting it to bite for Dr. Kennedy.

Jackson Kayak Liska Bending Branches Angler Ace

I set off on my Pau Hana Endurance to find a bass. It didn’t take me long. I soon found two big bass in a small pool of water. I immediately hollered at Dr. Kennedy that I had found some fish and he began paddling the Liska towards me. Once in position I got Dr. Kennedy to cast where the fish were. Within a second, one of the bass quickly swimmed towards his lure and bit. Unfortunately, Dr. Kennedy wasn’t able to set the hook quite fast enough but this bass gave him a second chance as he attacked his lure from 10-15 ft away. I thought Dr. Kennedy had this guy, but bass can be deceiving with how quickly they can bite and let go. It definitely was a rush of adrenaline for both of us and also a little disappointing, but we moved on to try and find another fish to catch. Within five minutes I found a second bass that Dr. Kennedy had a chance at catching.

My heart was pounding as this was about a five pound bass. I told him where to cast and when to set the hook. The fish soon bit his lure and I told him to set the hook. He set the hook just a tad late and lost the fish. He gave the fish a few more casts and remarkably the bass bit again and Dr. Kennedy had him hooked! It was such a rush of excitement, but short lived as the fish was only on for 1-2 seconds. I saw the look on Dr. Kennedy’s face and I knew we both felt a huge since of disbelief.

Dr. Kennedy hadn’t had much luck all day long and within 10-15 minutes he almost caught 3 big bass! I really thought he had this fish, but sometimes fishing is rough. It was amazingly exciting to see all of these fish attack Dr. Kennedy’s lure. It was a series of excitement that quickly turned to disbelief - 3 different times.

You know what though? This is what keeps me fishing - the excitement, the unknown, the challenge. It was remarkable that Dr. Kennedy did as good as he did for his first time kayak bass fishing, and just getting these fish to bite takes quite a bit of skill. Although it may have been a more “successful” outcome in terms of catching fishing if Dr. Kennedy could have caught one of the big bass he almost had, it was a great time out on the water that was very enjoyable.

This just goes to show that fishing is not only dependent on fish biting, but also on a fisherman’s ability to catch fish. Dr. Kennedy showed a lot of potential to catch some big bass in the future and you can guarantee that I will try to get out on the water with Dr. Kennedy again - and next time I think we will both come home with some big fish caught!