Article Contributed by Doug Gibson, Image by Chris Funk
Kayak anglers have the opportunity to fish both national on-line and local on-lake tournaments throughout the year. The chance to win prizes and trophies leads to a big fish focus on potentially all fishing trips that an angler takes. The pressure to catch the biggest fish possible is weight on the kayak that an angler can’t get rid of. And that pressure can replace the simple enjoyment of fishing and enjoying the time spent on the water. I fished the Kayak Bass Fishing Challenge Series for a couple of years before getting back to simply fishing. Here are a few things that I was able to appreciate again by simply getting back to fishing.
The first thing I appreciated was just catching fish. When fishing the Challenge Series, it was all about catching the biggest fish and making sure I got the photo with the proper identifier. That often meant going bigger in lure sizes and catching less fish on most outings. Then if the fish is big enough, it was time to take a picture with not only the fish in a natural position but with the proper identifier. There were a few times where the identifier was forgot and noticed when viewing the pictures at home. Now I go out on the river or lake and simply catch fish. If I’m on the river and run into an area with a lot of active 12-14” smallmouth, I don’t leave them to find the bigger fish because I found fish that are willing to cooperate with me. And I’m perfectly content to catch 12” smallmouth one after another. I stay in that area and catch them until they stop biting. And with time on the water at a premium, catching fish is what I’m there to do.
I kind of mentioned this before, but the biggest thing I appreciate about simply fishing now is the lack of pressure to catch the biggest fish I can. The mood is lighter upon launching and the heartbreak isn’t quite as bad when that big fish gets away. This allows me to fully enjoy everything about the trip, including spending time with a fishing buddy, seeing the other wildlife on the river, etc. My focus isn’t limited to just one thing while fishing.
I want to be clear that I’m not against any type of kayak tourney fishing or look at those anglers any different. I have respect for those anglers who spend the time and effort to fish the tournaments. I have found that simply just fishing is the way to go for me. And if you are a kayak tourney angler, then try to spend a few more fun outings on the water and really enjoy the whole experience.