By: Bob Good

Remember when cartoon characters had little balloons over their head that
held the words they were either speaking or thinking? And you could always
tell when a great idea was about to spill forth because the balloon showed a
light bulb suddenly being lit. I have enjoyed a few moments like that.  A light
bulb suddenly went off in my head! Yep. There it was, maybe an answer to a
conundrum that had plagued me for years, or possibly just a new twist on an
old theme that made whatever easier or possibly more successful than

As an avid kayak angler since the first time I slid into a Hobie Mirage Drive
Sport model a decade ago, and advanced upward through several more
sophisticated models as they evolved, one problem has continued to plague
me even as my kayak-fishing techniques and successes advanced right along
with the technical growth of the industry. The more fish I managed to fool,
the greater the problem. I still release most of my fish, but, when populations
of various species allow, or are even enhanced by keeping a few for
enjoyment at the table, I have no qualms about filleting my share for the
family. The problem in the past has been what do you do with those you
decide to keep? How do you keep them fresh while not creating a situation
where the catch dragging influences the glide pattern of your kayak?

I have used rope stringers, snap stringers, wire baskets, and a net
suspended under a floating ring. The floating ring was the best of the
alternatives due to the ease of adding additional fish to your catch. You
unhooked your fish, dropped it through the ring, tightened the net at the
top to prevent escape, and you were immediately back fishing.  But when
you attempted to move any distance, the drag of the floating hoop sucked
up a considerable increase in energy and shifted the glide direction of the
kayak measurably. Last January an answer appeared in a monthly outdoor
periodical in a feature about a new concept in keeping fish fresh while ice
fishing. A new product had hit the market featuring a net suspended though
a hole in the ice, and kept floating by using not a foam ring, but foam
sections in a parallel line held together with Velcro.

BINGO! The bulb in the balloon over this writer went into overdrive! With a
couple simple modifications this design would be a kayaker's dream come
true. It would hold your catch, keep it fresh, be easy to drop a fish into, and
would track right alongside a kayak, canoe or other small craft with minimum
resistance. It would even be great for shore anglers to store their fish
without all the fuss of securing them on a stringer. I was so excited I called
Bruce Mosher, the creator and manufacturer, as fast as I could speed dial,
forgetting it was much later in Minnesota. He couldn't have been nicer after a
little discussion resolved any concern he might have that he might have a nut
case on the phone.  Several months later, the first Kayak Fish-Wells rolled
out. Bob Heller and Mark Walters of Buena Vista and well as myself had the
opportunity to field test the first units, and fell in love with them.

They will track right alongside your kayak, canoe, small craft, float tube, or
kick boat, are easy to drop a fish into so you can quickly be back fishing, will
hold a limit of 20-inch fish, and have a zipper opening in the side to be able to
readily dump your catch. By adding a short rope, I have also used it from
shore, and will never have to be frustrated using a stringer again. Available at

As  temperatures rise on ever higher and higher lakes, more and more
anglers are seeing surfaces dimpling with ever increasing  activity as hatches
triggered by warming waters pull fish to the surface. We all love our dry-fly
fishing and often our over eagerness gets in the way of our observation
abilities. Before your trembling fingers attempt to knot on your favorite
floating pattern of the moment, take a minute to really  check out what is
happening out there. Not all those surface bulges are trout taking the flying
version of the hatch. Those are usually sips, not bulges. Bulges are a good
indicator fish are sniping emergers  just below the surface, prehatch. Try
greasing a Hares Ear (plain, not ribbed) with a floatant, toss it to a 45-degree
angle head into the wind, and let the wavelets drift it along. Don't add  any
action, let it play dead. When your offering is at a 45-degree angle past you
and starts to drag, lift and recast. High-school administrator Brian Yates and
I hit a Mayfly hatch on a small, windy lake a few seasons ago,  hammering
rainbows with that little trick.

As waters in small creeks begin to drop to reasonable levels, brookies and
cutthroats will be on the prowl. Beaver dams can be especially fruitful fishing,  
but their flat, ultra-clear surfaces  often call for long, fine leaders. If you have
been hop-scotching along fishing first the creek, then a series of dams, it
doesn't take long to figure out the leader length and thickness for the creek
doesn't do the job on the dams themselves, nor does the fly pattern. I keep
a small rod all set up for that kind of activity. Attached to the fly line is a 12-
inch section of 25-pound stiff mono material with a Perfection Knot loop in
the end. In my carry-all case is a 2-foot section of 8-pound mono tied onto a
2-foot section of 4-pound fluorocarbon, the combination with another
Perfection Knot loop in one end and a #8 weighted Colorado Caddis Nymph
on the other. That will fool any trout in any small creek anywhere when
slipped over the edge of a bank and worked against the edge or flipped into
small pools and runs.  When I arrive at a beaver dam, I can slip off the short
leader and add the longer finer one with whatever dry of the day I think will
sucker the dam inhabitants, then easily switch back by slipping the loops
together when I hit the creek proper again.

Little bits and pieces, but maybe they might make your next fishing venture
just a tad less frustrating and a whole lot more successful.
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Bits and Pieces