Wednesday, June 25, 2014

PFD Gear

For me, the PFD is not just a life jacket but also a platform to keep handy tools close by and ready for action.  Here is a list of the gear I attach to my Kokatat Bahia Tour (full review here)

1) Safety Whistle- It's incredibly loud so should I need to quickly signal to someone near by it should do the job.  It's clipped to the main zipper of the PFD.  It also has a little compass on it and a thermometer on the other side.

2) Fixed Blade Knife - I had folding blades before but realized that if I need a knife in an emergency situation such as trying to cut rope quickly, you don't want to be fumbling with a folded knife.  This one is by Gerber and is very easy to take out of the sheath.  It's stainless but I still need to hit it with WD40 from time to time.  It has a section of the blade that is serrated which is good for cutting rope.  Also, most knives that clip to PFDs are blunt tip, but I prefer a sharp point because every once in a while I run into not-so-nice-toothy-bastards and I might need to get stabby. 

3) Watch - Between timing the currents or tides right, making it back in time for tournament weigh-ins, and keeping the wife happy by getting home when I said I would, I like to keep track of my minutes.  I never liked having something on my wrist but wanted something that I can peek at quickly.  I'm also not a fan of having to dig up my phone all the time to check the time.  So, I bought a cheap little waterproof Timex, took off the wrist straps and stuck it in the see through window of the radio/phone pouch cover.

Since I mentioned it, but it's not in the photo, sometimes I store my VHF radio in that pouch.  The one I have is the Standard Horizon HX300.  It fits perfectly and the adjustable snap buckle holds it in place with the antenna sticking up out of the side of the cover.  My LifeProof LifeJacket that fits over my phone does not fit in the pouch though, for those of you who might be wondering.

4) Ceramic Scissors - I love these things.  Check out my review here for more info.  They slide right in the slot and don't fall out.  Perfect.  If you prefer pliers, they would fit in that spot as well.  I keep my pliers in a sheath strapped to my kayak seat. 

5) GoPro Remote - In the above photo, the silver thing is what inserts into the GoPro remote as a quick release.  If you couldn't tell from my previous posts, I love getting video footage and having a remote really helps.

6) Microfiber cloth - To go right along with number 5, I pack a ziplock bag encased small microfiber cloth for wiping off water droplets and dried up salt from the GoPro lenses.  It's hard to keep it off all the time, but if I know the action is getting hot or a money shot is coming up, I make sure the lens is clean.

7) Finger Saver - It's essentially a ring with a concave rubber core to prevent line cuts when tying and cinching down knots.  I probably could have found something around the house that was similar, but I had a little extra allowance money left over and got this product.  And to be honestly, I like it a lot. I've cut myself countless times, especially when my hands have been wet most of the day.  Braided fishing line goes through saturated skin like butter.  Here's a video showing how to use it.

In the same pouch as the Finger Saver, I also keep an extra measuring tape just in case I forget or lose my main ruler.

That's about it.  A snack or two might find their way in to one of the pouches, but overall, that's what I carry on my PFD.  Hope it's helpful.

Kokatat Bahia Tour Review

The Kokatat Bahia Tour has been my main kayak fishing PFD (personal floatation device) for over a year now and can honestly say, I love it.  I'm one of those guys that almost never takes off their life jacket when on the water.  I keep a lot of tools on it and quite frankly, I just like having it on. 

Comfort is paramount since I spend a lot of time on the water and the Bahia is exactly that; super comfortable.  The foam panels are articulated to fit around you instead of being big bulky chunks.  It features a mesh back to let air flow and the back foam is designed to fit well against high back seats which are the norm in modern fishing kayaks.  

The adjustable shoulder straps are padded with neoprene for ultimate comfort and the multiple side straps will get you that perfect custom fit.

Also, there is a clip at the bottom where the zipper starts so when it's really hot out, I might unzip to really cool off, but the clip makes sure the life jacket isn't flopping around.

For gear stashing, there are two zippered pockets that stretch out as well as an extra electronics pocket for VHF radios, GPS units, phones, etc.  The flap above that features a window if you want to keep your fishing license there, but I keep mine in my wallet in a drybox, so that is utilized for other purposes.  There's a spot behind that pocket for pliers or other tools as well.  For a full post on the specific gear I have on my Bahia, click here.

For safety, they have SOLAS reflective tape on the back and front and of course the PFD is CG certified.

If you're in the market for a kayak fishing life jacket, seriously, you're gonna love this one.

As with everything made by Kokatat, the quality is superb so I know it will last me a very long time.  Also, they are a fantastic company with strong commitment to US manufacturing as well as to the environment. 

My buddy Richie Bekolay over at Hook, Line, & Sinker has a great review of the Kokatat Destination Collection of Paddling clothes from a kayak fisherman's perspective.  Check it out.

VIDEO: 40" Striper on Fly / Kayak

Here's a video that accompanies the earlier post, "Slingin' Big Flies".  Unfortunately there was a delay in hitting record on the remote so it starts about 10-20 seconds after the hook set.  The fight lasted about 8-9 minutes but I edited it down to about 7.  Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Olympus Tough TG2 Review

I have gone through a few different point and shoot cameras for kayak fishing.  Some have been pretty good, and some just eh.  The one that was pretty good was the Olympus Tough 8010.  I liked it but eventually the salt got to it.  So I decided to invest in another Olympus with the caveat that I needed to do a better job of rinsing the salt off more often and thoroughly.

I absolutely love my TG-2.  Without getting into all the super technical stuff, let me share what I think are some excellent features.

Obviously, the whole waterproof/shockproof thing is important for kayak fishing.  It's nice having full confidence that it can get bumped, dunked, and slimed with zero repercussion.  I did however add a float to the strap since it doesn't float.  

In comparison to my previous point and shoots, the TG-2 has a super fast start up time.  When you're on the water or in nature in general, sometimes that moment that you're trying to capture goes by very quickly.  So when I turned on my TG-2 and it was ready to go immediately, I was impressed.   It also has high speed sequential shooting up to 60 frames per second.

Shot on the TG2 by Joe Underwood
The picture quality is pretty good.  I'm not gonna lie, my Nikon DSLR is better in this department but the TG-2 definitely holds it's own. It also has really good 1080p full HD video and the 4 different underwater scene modes are pretty cool for those release shots, too.

The feature I like best is the amazing super macro setting.

There are several add-ons that I haven't used but might in the future.  The telephoto converter lens extends the optical zoom range and the wide-angle fisheye lens stretches the view (which could be really cool underwater). 

Overall, it's an excellent camera for kayak fishing and I highly recommend it. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

TV Commercial

The Virginia tourism ad campaign was a blast to be a part of.  There were magazine ads and a youtube video last year but recently, I was made aware of a TV commercial that is being aired on major networks.  How cool is that?!?!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Big Blues and a Grey Trout

Work and family life have been pretty hectic lately so my apologies for the late report.  Last month, I ventured to Rudee inlet a few times with hopes of crossing off a certain specie on the citation bucket list.  After coming up a half an inch short last year, I was pretty adamant about getting one this season.  Unfortunately, as implied earlier, work and family life come first and I didn't get as many chances as I would have liked.  I caught dozens in the upper 20s to lower 30 inches but couldn't get the three footer I wanted.  

I did however hook into my new personal best grey trout while using live bait for the blues.  I knew they were in there, but I was still surprised when I saw it.  I set the hook on it very close to the boat and it came to the surface and thrashed like crazy.  A near by boater said it sounded like I fell in!   As soon as the splashing stopped I saw what it was and immediately grabbed the leader and landed it very green.  It slide under the Predator seat and thrashed again for several seconds.  

27" Grey Trout

There's a chance I might run into the big blues in the lower bay later, 
but for now, 
it's time to move on to other species.
(when time allows)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Slingin' Big Flies

Just on the other side of a small shoal, I saw them.  3 big tails with big dots waved as they slowly cruised away from me.  I was sure there were many others just out of sight.  I scrambled to get into position and as I started slinging the fly rod, excitement got the better of me and my line clumped up.  The half and half (clouser/deceiver) fell short.  Richie who was right behind me bombed his swimbait far past and nearly had his rod ripped out of his hand immediately.  My second and third casts didn't find their intended receivers and before I knew it, the school was gone.  

47.5" Red Drum for Richie Bekolay

Joe Underwood, who a little farther away called over the radio announcing that he was also on the board with a 47.5" red drum.  

Knowing it was going to continue to be a challenge and a struggle with the fly rod, I had to make a decision.  I brought my heavy spinning gear just in case I wanted to switch from my 10wt, but I really wanted to catch a big fish on the fly.  Fly casting on the kayak can be insanely frustrating.  I didn't bring my Predator, which is easier to stand in, but the wind pushes it a lot (since it has high side walls) and paddling long distances is difficult in that boat.  The Trident paddles much better, but standing is a little tougher in open water.  I can fly cast on my knees in the Trident, but it's still tough.  Add wind, being so low to the water, flyline management in tight quarters, people in your back cast, the anxiety of trying to catch up to moving fish, knowing that you have a regular rod right behind you that would make it so much easier to hook up…

It's a recipe for absolute utter frustration.  
But I stayed with it.

Richie and Joe had a phenomenal day.  Their tally kept getting bigger and while I was happy for them, my fly just kept missing the mark.  It wasn't until we paddled up to a huge black mass near a shoreline that I finally strip set the hook into a worthy fish.  It was a super tight school of big stripers and Joe and Richie both hooked up immediately.  My fish pulled me into the school and it was utter chaos.  Fish were just shooting off in every direction and my fly reel was screaming.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, I was using 8 lb. tippet for a chance at an IGFA line class fly record for Red Drum.  So that was the first time I got to see the backing of my fly line.  Insert huge grin here.

40" Striper on fly/kayak
It went on to become one of the more memorable days I've ever had on the water.  Richie and Joe went on to catch several big reds, most of which were citations, and also trophy stripers as well.  When I found out that their stripers were citation, I gave in and switched to the heavy spinning outfit.  I landed one more striper at 41" then switched back to the fly when we found the reds again.  Luck didn't favor me the rest of the day, but I still wasn't complaining in the slightest.  

It was a choice I made 
and now I can honestly say that I understand the challenge that is
slingin' big flies for big fish on the kayak.

Here's a video of the fight (added 6/25/14)