The 2014 fishing year revealed many interesting trends, but none could be more obvious than the soaring popularity of kayak angling. My name is Dean Brown, and I proudly work and write for several organizations, including Bass Pro Shops (Grapevine, Texas). Having spent the last six years in the seat of a kayak, and a lifetime chasing trophy bass, it was only a natural step for me to incorporate these specific skills and interests into my work life. Last year we began discussing the idea of adding a kayak angler to our sponsor-level pro staff, and after a few meetings and proposals, I was tasked with creating our very own kayak fishing team. Announcing the project and launching an application process was simple, but sifting through a plethora of high-caliber resumes was a daunting experience. The response, literally, was overwhelming. Our new team would consist of only two anglers: I would serve as team captain and manage the operation, and our new pro staffer would represent Bass Pro Shops in varied capacity. While this certainly made for a difficult decision, one applicant stood out among the rest. His tournament history was impeccable, and after interviewing him both in the office and on the water, I knew we had found the right person for the job. I could spend an entire day writing about his accomplishments, but I rather like the idea of giving our new addition the opportunity to speak for himself. We are proud and excited to introduce Matthew Scotch, our very first kayak-specific pro staffer.
Matt, first of all, welcome to the Bass Pro Shops family. If you would, tell our readers a little bit about your tournament history. What are some of the highlights?
Thank you Dean for the introduction, I couldn’t be happier than I am to be joining the team at Bass Pro Shops.
My tournament history and highlights have a very modest beginning. When I bought my first kayak (Hobie Pro Angler 14) I did it just because I enjoyed fishing and I viewed it as a way to get on the water more often. One evening, a few years back now, one of my neighbors noticed me hauling my kayak and decided to follow me home. I didn’t know it, but this unexpected meeting would change fishing, especially out of a kayak, for the rest of my life. My neighbor’s name is Mike Whitacre, and if you don’t know, he’s a pretty sensational kayak fisherman and video editor. That evening Mike told me about kayak “tournaments” and suggested that I tag along if I ever had time and give one a try. It took a few months but I finally came around to the idea and joined Mike for my first kayak tournament: a North Texas Kayak Bass Fishing (NTKBF) tournament at Purtis Creek State Park. That morning started off all kinds of wrong with me “turtling” flipping my kayak and gear into the lake, but I got it together and managed to catch some fish before flipping my kayak a second time; reaching out to secure a nice fish that was wrapped around a piece of timber. I ended up finishing 4th out of 25 anglers and tied for Big Bass. I didn’t take home any money or prizes
that day but I did come away with a love for a new sport: kayak bass fishing. Since that tournament at Purtis Creek, I’ve now fished 25 kayak tournaments to date. I’ve come in 1st or 2nd 11 times and finished in the top five in 16 of those events.
This new project will afford us the opportunity to conduct a number of clinics and demonstrations. As far as kayak angling is concerned, what topic or topics are important to you? What other key points will you cover in your presentations?
I primarily plan on talking about black bass and crappie fishing and how to do it effectively year around from a kayak in North Texas waters. I also look forward to discussing boat positioning, tournament strategy, and various tricks of the trade that I use to help people catch more fish.
I grew up fishing with my Father and Grandfather, and I know your story couldn't be more congruent. Tell us about your formative years, and briefly touch on one or two of your most cherished memories.
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that embraced hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. My father and both grandfathers spent a lot of time teaching me how to fish when I was a young man. It really comes as no surprise that those are some of my most vivid memories when I reflect on my early years. I spent my summers divided between my grandparent’s houses. My Mom’s parents lived on a farm with five stocked tanks in Whitesboro, where I beat the banks around the ponds from sun-up to sun-down. Dad’s parents lived 30 minutes away on the banks of Lake Texoma where we chased Striped Bass, Smallmouth, and just about anything that would bite our hooks. When I wasn’t at my grandparents in the summer I spent a lot of time fishing with my Dad at our bay house in East Matagorda. I can remember many nights where my dad and I caught speckled trout until the sun came up. I really was fortunate to have such great role models growing up.
What Bass Pro Shops products have you had a chance to explore thus far? Specifically, how are you using them to put fish in your kayak?
I’ve had a lot of success recently throwing the Bass Pro Shops Stick-O wacky rigged for Black Bass. Bass Pro offers Stick-O’s in three different sizes with the 5 ¾” and the 4 1’4” being my two favorite sizes. I’m using a Gamakatsu Size 1 weedless worm hook, 12lb line, and a Med- Heavy Fast-tip rod. I like to add an Owner Flashy Accent small willow leaf blade to my weightless Stick-O (this is a secret of mine). I find that the flash helps attract strikes from fish that wouldn’t otherwise bite. I’ve also had a lot of success recently with the Bass Pro 2” Baby Shad (Firecracker and Chartreuse flash). I’m rigging the jig body on a 1/32 oz. Bass Pro jig head, 6lb mono, and a 6’ UL rod. The tactic that has been working the best for suspended
crappies lately is to find bait and fish in standing timber with the electronics. Once I locate the fish I pitch the jig anywhere from 4-8’ past the target and let the lure swing back to me through the strike zone. The crappies are biting the bait very aggressively on the fall.
What other products have you been using recently (other than Bass Pro Shops merchandise)?
This almost comes off as a trick question because I have so many rod and reel set-ups and bait/lure combinations. Over the past year I’ve been working on my finesse fishing technique a lot. I’ve been doing a lot of drop-shot and shaky-head fishing. It’s amazing how many days with tough conditions we face here in North Texas and how pulling out the “Fairy-wand” when the conditions get this way can make the difference between catching and not. When it comes to drop shot it’s my Dobyns Champion Extreme 702 SF paired with a Shimano Cl4, 20lb Power Pro Braid, 12lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon, Gamakatsu size 1 wide gap hook, 1/8oz weight, and a Reins Bubbling Shaker. This combination puts fish in the boat just about every time. For shaky-head I’m using the same set-up I describe above with a Missile Baits jig-head and a Grande Bass Rattlesnake in Chartreuse Pepper. I don’t think there is a better way to catch spawning bass than with this combination
What are some of your favorite lakes in Texas to launch your kayak?
We are very fortunate to live in an area of the country with many bodies of water many of which are great for kayak fishing. My top places to launch a kayak would have to be Amon Carter Lake, Lady Bird Lake, Mineral Wells State Park, Lake Athens, and Lake Texoma.
Here at Bass Pro Shops, we have a strong commitment to children. Specifically, we strive to foster a healthy relationship between our youth and the outdoors. What advice would you give to a young boy or girl eager to catch their first fish?
If it’s just about catching fish I would advise any young angler to grab some crickets, grasshoppers, night crawlers, a Zebco 33, bobber, hook, and get out to the nearest body of water you can find, be it a local pond or small lake. This is how I started fishing many years ago. You will grow from the basics, and it doesn’t get any more basic than that.
For me, the physical aspect of kayak angling is the cornerstone of my obsession. It's a difficult phenomenon to describe, but from the seat of my kayak, I feel more like a hunter in the truest sense of the word than any other medium. Of course, diet plays a big role in fueling this type of sport. What are some foods and or snacks that drive your typical excursion?
This might come as a surprise but I typically don’t eat much when I’m out on the water. I try to get a meal in before I start and when I’m done. When I do take snacks, its granola, sunflower seeds, and beef jerky that I turn to. I typically have a Gatorade, energy drink, and several bottles of water with me at all times to keep hydrated.
We all live downstream. This phrase is interpreted differently from one person to the next, but what does it mean to you?
To me it’s about leaving a minimal carbon footprint and taking care of the resources we have; leaving our parks, rivers, lakes, and streams cleaner than we found them for future generations to enjoy.
In the world of fishing, we talk a lot about colors. We all know that green pumpkin is a staple, but in your opinion, what is the most underrated color? Feel free to elaborate.
To me the most underrated color in bass fishing is anything with purple. Some of my favorite color combinations have purple flake or purple hue to them. I think purple is a really good shad imitating color and since most anglers aren’t throwing it the fish haven’t necessarily seen that exact bait before. The Yamamoto Senko in Smoke Holo/Blue Pearl Silver produces fish trip in trip out for me especially in clear water.
Anglers and hunters watch the weather with a keen eye. Historically, I have a horrible habit of giving the extremities an opportunity to get under my skin. That is to say, I can't help but launch under post-frontal conditions with a negative attitude. Do you let a north wind shake you up, or do you power forward with confidence?
Fishing in North Texas we tend to face adverse weather conditions seemingly all the time. I tend not to get negative about the conditions because I can’t control them, but I do temper my expectations when the weather isn’t cooperating. A lot of times I won’t go out on a bad weather day. Instead I’ll work on tackle organization, tying jigs, or do some fishing related research for the more favorable days.
What are some of your goals for the 2015 season?
My goals for 2015 are pretty simple. I need to catch fish and win some tournaments, fulfill contractual obligations with my main sponsor Bass Pro Shops, and last but not least enjoy the ride. I’m very excited and looking forward to seeing what this next year holds in store.
About the author: Dean Brown is a Fishing Team Lead for Bass Pro Shops and a freelance outdoor writer. His personal website, Up Down Bass, has been nominated for several awards and featured in a variety of outdoor publications. You can easily navigate to his website here: http://updownbass.com