What is it about going fishing that causes lost sleep? Wednesday night, I mean Thursday morning, was the perfect example. It is Spring Break for most of Texas and what better way to usher in a new season than by going fishing with your eldest child? It was Daddy/Daughter Day, going fishing as we have done since she was three years old. Rather than hitching up the boat or heading for the pier, this trip, was to be a little different. Our newest Pro Staff member at Bass Pro Shops, Pearland, George Young of Texas Coastal Kayaks, invited Alexandra and me to spend a morning paddling a kayak.
I’ll have to admit a sense of elation when she thought the trip was a great idea. After all, children have different interests as they mature and we have gone from the days of the Snoopy fishing rod to cheerleading, to driving and to ‘gulp’ college visiting - as if there weren’t enough reasons in that sentence to lose sleep, so her immediate “that would be really cool” meant a lot. After spending a fitful few hours tossing and turning while endless questions ran through my head “packed both reels, rods are by the door, new pliers ARE in the dry bag, right? Waders are in the truck, it is March, we only have one pair, she can wear them, how cold can the water be, toilet paper… toilet paper… oops, don’t forget that” we were headed for coffee and breakfast.
We met George before sunrise and headed off to Christmas Bay. I personally have not used a kayak in a few years and have never fished from one, but my daughter’s summer camp has several. George was careful to cover safety and how to maneuver, especially with the added encumbrance of fishing gear. Perhaps the most important lesson was how to board. I paid careful attention. You know that five minutes after an unplanned exit, there would be a video on YouTube entitled “Look at Dad Upside Down in the Bay, or What We Did on Spring Break.” Within 15 uneventful minutes though, we were paddling, rather than motoring towards one of our favorite fishing locations.
Remember the earlier comment about dry bags and the sleepless nighttime question of ‘how cold can the water be’? No matter how careful you are, kayaking is a wet sport. It’s Spring, it’s March, it’s a little chilly. Warm, dry towels and clothing at the end of the day are wonderful things to find. To ensure their availability, we used the Ascend Light-weight 10 Liter Dry Bags. They weigh almost nothing and are perfect for backpacking too. I trusted them enough to include a small pair of Zeiss binoculars for bird watching, which if you understand my phobia about nice things being immersed in saltwater, you would recognize as a high degree of confidence in the dry bag.
For fishing equipment, we took the Johnny Morris Carbonlite series rods, a matched set of 7’2” medium-action spinning rods, with Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler, Inshore Extreme spinning reels. Mine has served faithfully for the past two years. I liked it so much that last summer, I purchased a second one. Being ever so gallant, I handed Alexandra the brand new, never been near the water combo, certain that she would find it comfortable and easy to use.
Over the past few summers, the advantages to using braided fishing lines has become apparent so both reels are loaded with 50 pound test Bass Pro Shops branded XPS 8 Advance Braided line. While it is true that the reel would hold more if a lower test line was used – the 50 lb braid has the size equivalency of 12 pound test monofilament, it’s just easier for some of us in our advancing decrepitude to tie knots using slightly larger line with wet fingers and no reading glasses. The water of Christmas Bay is usually a little murky, but to be safe, we added some fairly stout leaders using Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon.
We also brought a new product that I have wanted to test since they were first introduced, the Bass Pro Shops XPS 7” Aluminum Pliers. They have an excellent balance and feel. Lightweight, made of machined aluminum, they have a set of replaceable tungsten carbide clippers which were perfect for trimming braided line and will not corrode, always a positive feature for tools that will be used in saltwater. In addition to the 7” pliers, there is a ‘Mini’ set which has a split ring tip, and a larger pistol-grip pair for releasing fish from a distance. Given my proclivity for catching hardhead catfish, the latter is on the Father’s Day Present List. The 7” pliers were easy to use, gripped small items securely and made it possible to open and close swivels with ease. I cannot recommend them more highly, but I’d also invest a few dollars in a retractable lanyard rather than the extra piece of braided line I used to attach them to the lifejacket.
All in all, we had a fantastic time. George Young could not have been any more patient and instructive. Every piece of fishing equipment functioned exactly as expected. The only real equipment problem occurred at the end when I suddenly found that I no longer owned a matched set of Carbonlite rods and Offshore Angler reels. Apparently I own one and my daughter who caught not only her first speckled trout, but also her first flounder and first redfish (her first Texas Slam!), owns the other. How did I do you ask? It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll just let the last photo of the day do my bragging.
To reach George Young of Texas Coastal Kayak, call 713 501 0636, and check out their website at TexasCoastalKayak.com
For more information about the products listed in this article, view them online at BassPro.Com.