It’s been almost a year

I’ve not had the kayak out of storage since Memorial day, last year. It’s been a rough year for me between health issues, issues with my family,… And other issues I just don’t want to bring up.

The stress and health issues have caused me to put on about 30 lbs this last year. I was pushing the weight limit on my boat as it was. Now I don’t feel safe taking it out on the water.

I guess this experiment was a failure, like everything else I touch.

Dog Paddling

OK, so those of you that haven’t gotten it, the name of my blog is a play on “Dog Paddling” and my nickname, Wolfman.

That being said, a few months back, I was given custody of a wonderful, happy, 2+ year old Catahoula Leopard Dog (mix) Named Henny.  He’s rapidly become my best bud.  So far, we’ve hiked/walked over 150 miles together, just since the first of March.  He’s even gone fishing with me a few times.

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Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten up the nerve to take him out on the kayak with me.  There are a few reasons…
1) I need to get him a life vest and he’s still got a little growing to do.
2) I’m near the max weight on my kayak with all my gear.  I don’t want to add almost 60 lbs of dog to that.
3) He’s still young and hyper, so getting him to stay still is not that easy, so I’m not ready to take a spill because of him.
4) I’ve only been able to let him swim one time, and that time, he wasn’t that great at it.  He kept getting distracted by his own splashes.

So, I’m going to wait another season.  Hopefully, by next spring, he’ll have mellowed a little more, I’ll have lost some more weight and I’ll have had time to make him a better swimmer.

In the mean time, here’s a GREAT article on Paddling.net about taking dogs out kayaking with you:  Putting the Doggy into Paddling

Easter On The Water

I was watching the weather for the last few days, just hoping today would hold out with being as great of a day as they called for.  I even went by the storage building and loaded my kayak on the car in the pouring rain yesterday afternoon to be ready to go early this morning.

After my last outing, I can tell you that I was super ready for a GOOD day on the water… And I GOT IT! About the only thing I could have asked for was less wind. I launched from Don Carter State Park, and headed north in the lake (technically, it’s the Chattahoochee River at this point north) and paddled north against the current and into the wind for a little over 2 miles.  There was a “Creek” I spotted on an outing last year that I wanted to go explore.  This “Creek” took me almost a mile back into a valley, surrounded by pines and tall hills on either side.  I went until I ran unto a swamp and took a snack break. I then spent the next hour or so fishing my way back down the creek to the main channel.

I was actually throwing casts pretty dang good with that bait caster (Thanks to hours of practice, standing in a field with a washer tied on the line!).  I got a few hits off a red, split tailed rubber worm, but nothing would take it.  I decided since I was in slightly muddy, slow, fairly shallow water, they might be using to crawfish.  So, I switched to a pumpkin seed colored Yum Brand, Craw (I think it’s from the “Critter” series).  That brought me in 3 nice little bass.  Nothing worth keeping, but still, a catch is a catch.

I also managed to land a few small crappie in the back of one of the coves I usually fish in.

The trip back was much easier with the wind and current both at my back.  all in all, I did just over 6 miles.

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A Bad Day Fishing….

So, there’s a saying that “A bad day fishing is better than a good day working” – that may sell t-shirts, but whoever came up with it, never had a day fishing like I did.  About the only thing that could have gone worse would have been if I had rolled my kayak and went for a very cold swim.

For starters, I overslept by about an hour. Then, in my haste to eat breakfast on the go, I spilled coffee all over myself.
I get to Don Carter State Park and go to unload my boat only to have one of the ratchet straps jam. It’s not bound up with twisted strap, it just won’t budge. I struggle with it for about 15 min, including tapping it with a hammer before it finally decided to release. I still have no idea what jammed it.

So, I hit the water almost 2 hours later than I wanted to. The wind in the main channel is really rough, but I struggle to one of my favorite coves and drop anchor, sheltered from the wind and waves.

Everyone keeps telling me that I’m wasting time with my 30+ year old, Zebco 33 reels, despite how well they work. Keep getting told that, considering I mainly throw crank-baits and jigs with the occasional artificial worm/lizard, I should switch to a bait-caster.  Well, with some trepidation, I picked up an inexpensive, Pinnacle rod & reel bait-casting combo @ Walmart for $41 yesterday. (Hey, I’m on a budget and I hesitate to spend a lot on an experiment.)

I read up on how to use one last night..  All the tricks on adjustable magnetic brakes, the friction control, casting holding it sideways with my thumb on the spool…  After all that I decided I was loading BOTH of my Zebco 33’s as backups!

So, back to the cove where I’m anchored. It’s a nice, large, hidden “bay” that you have to paddle back through one cove, down a narrow passage to find.  It’s about a half mile across and I’ve had good luck back there.  Not to mention, there is plenty of room to practice casting the new reel.  After about 20 tries of plunking the lure in the water less than 15ft from the boat, I hit the “Sweet spot” on the resistance and magnetic breaks and the lure sails out about 50 yards.  I do about a dozen, almost perfect practice casts and decide to toss a real cast towards the point where I know there are usually some hybrid bass hanging out. I let ‘er fly towards the point and…..

20140302130903743 (Custom)I’m sure that the stream of profanities that I bellowed out echoed along the lake to the ears of some fisherman, a mile away who thought to himself “Someone must have just tried casting a new bait-caster… Poor bastard!”

So, birds nesting a reel isn’t the end of the world.  I tossed this one in the back of the boat and pulled out one of my good old 33’s.  Spent about an hour trying various lures around the coves covering about 2 miles from Don Carter north.  NOTHING!  The wind was horrible, bouncing my boat around as I went from cove to cove.  Somehow, my landing net must have shifted… and, on one nice cast, my crank-bait snagged the net and flipped it over me, landing it in my lap and conking me on the back of the head as it went over!

Again, some fisherman, a mile down the lake, heard a stream of profanities and thought to himself “Poor bastard!”

I sat there for a good 15 minutes, trying to untangle my lure from the net.  Every time I would get one treble hook unsnarled, and start on the other, the 1st one would get tangled again.

Somewhere down the lake, that fisherman heard me and just said a prayer for the sanity of the poor, poor bastard that was cussing up a storm.

I finally gave up and put back in to the ramp at Don Carter.  I wound up having to cut the barbs off the treble hooks with my angle cutters to get it out once I got back to my car.  I’ll have to replace the hooks before I can use that lure again.

Maybe, in a few days, I’ll take the bait-caster out, tie some washers the line and practice with it in the field beside the house.  Either that, or blow it to bits with the shotgun… I’m not sure yet.

First Outing of the Year

Well, the water was still really cold, but I braved it to get out on the first Saturday we’ve had with temps in the 60’s.  The neoprene “Socks” I bought worked great.  No, they don’t keep your feet dry.  Like in a wet suit, it uses the water as an insulator to keep you warm.  Made a new friend today as a fellow kayak fisherman pulled up while I was gearing up my boat.  But, we had no luck.  Not even a nibble and we covered over 8 miles of the lake.  The water was way too muddy from storms Thursday night.  Heck, he didn’t even get a hit on the live Trouts he was using as Striper bait.

Oh well, I was just happy to be back out on the water.

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Rod Holder Modification

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So, as I mentioned last, I needed to relocate my built in rod holder. As you can see in the top left image, Pelican decided to put it way down at our feet (past the feet for shorter people). I couldn’t even touch it with my fingertips.

My solution presented itself with the use of some leftover pvc pipe and fittings. I did have to shave down the end of the pipe to fit it in the hole. But, I made no changes to the rod holder or the on board mount.

I picked up some Krylon Fusion paint for plastic to make it look better. And, while I was at it, I painted my PVC kayak cart and my paddle blades (they were black).