In the many years I’ve been kayak fishing, I’ve learned it’s always smart to have a Plan B. Mother Nature can sometimes put a wrinkle in your fishing plans. Strong winds, weather patterns and even abrupt changes in fishing regulations are some challenges we have all had to overcome.
Times like these I’ve come accustom to changing where I launch on particular bodies of water due to wind conditions. I’ve even driven over one of the mountain passes to avoid rain. All to pursue the sport I love.
The spring of 2016 posed one of my greatest challenges. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife decided to close the three major lakes in our area due to declining salmon returns and failed attempts to reach an agreement with local Indian tribes on catch quotas for salmon. Consequently, three areas effected were closed to ALL fishing until further notice. This included trout and bass fishing where I spent the majority of my time fishing and guiding clients. I felt like a quarterback that had his playbook stolen.
Rather than wait for the state to make a decision, I started to look at other smaller lakes that I would often drive by and never gave a thought to fishing. Many of these lakes were stocked with rainbow trout throughout the year, but I was convinced they also likely had their share of bass and these trout planting programs would only help to provide a food supply to the bass population.
I began researching lakes around the Seattle city limits and paired down the list to lakes with limited access and ones that did not allow motors. These would have far less fishing pressure.
I loaded up my Hobie kayak, stuffed my Kokatat Bahia Predator PFD with a handful of Senko worms, hooks and weights and went to explore my first new lake. Over the course of a few weeks I checked off a dozen different lakes but I returned to the ones that produced the best results. Some of these fish were bigger than most fish I was catching out of the larger (closed) lakes.
One of my most memorable trips required about a quarter of a mile hike in down a narrow path to reach this shallow, weed ridden lake with limited bank access. I worked my way through the tall grass to the lake and made the short paddle to the other side. I positioned myself within casting distance to shore. My first cast the rubber worm hit the water and a large boil followed. She would pull me around for a minute or two before landing and safely releasing
her. This continued for the next hour with 3 to 6 pound largemouth bass.
Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. The results just may surprise you.