Road Trip Angler

Jackson Kayak’s Road Trip Angler – Trip Report: Delaware

For the third shoot of the season, I was excited to pack up my gear and hit the road to the first state in the United States – Delaware. What better place to begin my inaugural visit to this beautiful region than Lewes, the first official town in that first state. Being a coastal state, Delaware is full of diversity when it comes to fishing. I was eager to try my hand at both fresh and salt while in the area. Home to Delaware Paddle Sports, another one of Jackson Kayak’s premier dealers, and home to anglers Matt “Trucks” and Matt Campbell, I knew this trip wouldn’t disappoint.

After settling in and having a few drinks with Trucks, we hashed out a plan for our first morning on the water. One of Jackson Kayak’s original Fishing Team members, he has this area dialed in and suggested that we hit one of his favorite saltwater creeks to target striped bass. Inshore fishing has always been one of my biggest passions, especially in the tidal creeks because it reminds me of river fishing. You have to play the tides and the currents, which here on the east coast change every six hours. You really need to plan around them. I also know how aggressive even small striper can be, so together it makes for a deadly combination. Even though this day was set to be some of the worst weather we would have the whole trip, with cooler temps and high winds, I could still barely contain my excitement as we set out early the following morning.

Armed with my medium-heavy Rainshadow Judge, 30lb Seaguar Smackdown, 20lb Seaguar Gold Label fluorocarbon leader, and some white Z-Man swimbaits we hit the water. The tide was still moving in, so we made our way into the creek with it. It didn’t take us long to start marking fish with our depth finders. Enticing a bite, however, was a whole other story. As the day went on and the tide started to flip and come out of the marsh, water temps began to warm up. This caused the fish to become a bit more active with Trucks and I both hooking up.

Hooking up doesn’t necessary mean reeling in, and whether it was the new location, semi-lethargic fish, or simply my incompetence, I only managed to bring one fish to the side of the kayak before losing it. Trucks, however, seemed to have no trouble landing fish after fish. I have to admit I fully expect the people that I fish with, being locals and great anglers, will ‘out fish’ me the majority of the time. That, however, doesn’t change my desire to figure out a fishery. But knowing that the fish were eating while I was struggling was a hard pill to swallow.

After battling it out for a few more hours it was time to throw in the towel and head over to Delaware Paddle Sports to meet up with Matt C., and shop owners Brian and John.

As I mentioned, Delaware Paddle Sports is one of Jackson Kayak’s premier dealers and it did not disappoint to see it in person. With a huge selection of kayaks, and a dedicated and community-oriented staff, it was no surprise to see it so busy when we arrived. I think one of the coolest things about being there that first day is that they had just received their very first shipment of the brand-new Jackson Kayak Knarr! On top of that, one of the first Knarr owners was on his way to pick up his kayak. Rudy Yarworth, a chapter coordinator for Heroes on the Water, had seen that the Knarrs were arriving at Delaware Paddle Sports that day and he drove up from Maryland to snag one. Being able to be a part of that…seeing his excitement…was for sure a highlight of the trip.

Rudy in his new Knarr.

After hanging out for a little while at the shop we decided to grab some dinner and hash out a plan for the following day. Matt C. would be taking over as guide, sharing one of his favorite small lakes for largemouth bass.

I try not to set any expectations when I’m on a fishing trip and to always keep an open mind. The next day of fishing, however, blew me away. One of the coolest things about kayak fishing is that it allows you to access to unique locations that bigger boats can’t reach. We drove for about an hour we reached the small lake accessible only by kayak. To be fishing a small lake full of cypress trees this far north, was something very special.

The entire lake was littered with cypress trees which all looked encouragingly ‘bassy’. I spent some time throwing a Chatterbait and topwater before swapping over to a Z-Man Zinkerz. I finally began to find success by casting as close as possible to the base of the cypress trees, sometimes even bouncing it off the trunk of a tree. Matt C. and I both landed countless fish including a few of my least favorite species, the chain pickerel. Slimy, stinky, and toothy, it is one fish I do not mind losing next to the boat! Most of the bass were small, although Matt landed a pretty nice one at around 3lb. With the scenery and the abundant wildlife, this beautiful location made me realize that kayak fishing is really is not only about the fishing.  

The following morning it was time for something completely different. Joined by Rudy in his new Knarr, Trucks, Matt C., and I launched off the beach to chase a “new-to-me” species. Tautog, or Tog for short, is currently the only known member of its genus and is found on the stretch of the east coast from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. I literally had to do a web search because until this trip I had never heard of Tautog before! You can imagine my curiosity and excitement at the opportunity to catch a new species.

There were a couple of rock jetties, or walls, creating breaks from the Atlantic Ocean to the shoreline that we had to go around on our way out. These were tipped with lighthouses that made for a very scenic and historic peddle out to sea.

Knowing nothing about this species of fish, I put all of my faith in Trucks’ knowledge and he had me step out of my comfort zone of mostly throwing artificial baits. That morning we had stopped at a tackle shop before launch to pick up sand fleas. Sand fleas are small crustaceans only slightly larger than a quarter that apparently Tog love. Having teeth very similar to a sheepshead, practically human looking, the Tog feeds on crustaceans that live in the rocks making these sand fleas a delicacy to them. Feeling totally out of my element jigging a live bait directly under my kayak along the rock walls, it’s no surprise that Trucks was the first to hook up on the target species. Matt C. was able to hook and land a toadfish, or what the locals call an “Oyster Cracker”, which I would’ve been hesitant to touch. I’ll let you use google for that one.

I was left fishless watching Trucks catch Tog after Tog. He was the only one fishing that had a motor on the back of his kayak and he was able to use his Torqeedo to maintain perfect boat position. I believe this, combined with his knowledge and experience, allowed him to stay in the strike zone longer. After watching Trucks for a while I decided to focus on holding boat position the best that I could and it paid off. I was finally able to bring one of these tasty Tog fish to the net! Having the skunk off the boat, it didn’t take long for me to catch my second and much nicer Tog of the day. At this point the weather and current was beginning to pick up, and we knew it was time to make our two-mile trip back to shore. We made our way back to the house and shared fish stories over tog tacos.

The next morning Matt C. and I met up to hit the water with Delaware Paddle Sports owners, Brian and John. I couldn’t help but want to redeem myself after my lack-luster performance on the first day of fishing on this trip. The weather was much more favorable with warm temps and lower winds, and we hit the water with high tide. After making our way into the creek a bit we stopped at the first major intersection, and after a few casts it was official…. I had caught a striper in Delaware! Using a mix between Z-Man Diezel Minnowz and a white Chatterbait, we proceeded to have an epic morning full of laughs and juvenile striped bass. Every intersection and small creek mouth produced a bite, and my revenge was sweet. I must admit, I found it difficult to get off the water that day, but I did enjoy the afternoon spending a bit more time at the shop and having dinner with the staff and everyone from the trip.

Delaware did not disappoint. Whether you’re looking to explore cypress tree filled lakes, or go offshore to check off a new species, you should consider adding this diverse fishery to your bucket list. Also, be sure to check out Delaware Paddle Sports. They truly have every kayak and accessory you can imagine, and they are experts in rigging it to fit your needs.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I found success on the same setups I’ve used all season. One of the realizations I’ve come to over the years is that I can pretty much catch anything on the same six, or seven, rod and reel combos. For the live bait Tog fishing my go-to was a 7’2” medium-heavy, fast-action, Rainshadow Eternity with 30lb Seaguar Smackdown braid, tipped with a 30lb Seaguar Gold Label fluorocarbon leader. On this we ran heavy jigheads with live sand fleas. For everything else, I threw a mix between this rod and a 7’ medium-heavy, mod-fast-action, Rainshadow Judge with 30lb Smackdown braid, tipped with 15-20lb Gold Label fluorocarbon. I found success on the wacky rigged Zinkerz at the bass lake and white Diezel Minnowz and white 3/8oz-1/2oz Chatterbaits. I exclusively fished out of the Jackson Kayak Knarr in every location. With changing weather conditions, and cool water temps in the Atlantic Ocean, I was able to stay super comfortable and safe wearing my NRS Sidewinder Bib Waders and the new NRS Sawtooth jacket. Being able to layer the NRS gear and stay dry was key with the changing conditions.

It never ceases to amaze me how awesome the kayak fishing community is. Both Trucks and Matt C., as well as Brian, John, and staff at Delaware Paddle Sports, went out of their way to share a little piece of their paradise with me. They made this trip one that I will never forget.

About Road Trip AnglerJackson Kayak’s Road Trip Angler is a multifaceted media project designed to help showcase brands and products to a dedicated and engaged audience of avid anglers and outdoors lovers. Leveraging host Jameson Redding and Jackson Kayak’s significant dealer and consumer distribution channels to reach markets across the US, this show hits the road to find the best fishing in America in the coolest regions. Jameson Redding will explore the many fisheries across the US with the businesses and angler influencers who call these regions their home. Each 30-minute TV episode airs nationally across Bally Sports Network. Brand interested in partnering with Road Trip Angler are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Partnership Manager, Malvin Young, at malvin@helipress.com.

Jackson Kayak’s Road Trip Angler – Trip Report: Oklahoma

The second film shoot for Heliconia’s newest media project, Jackson Kayak’s Road Trip Angler, wrapped up last month. Show host Jameson Redding packed up his fishing kayak, rods, tackle box and gear, and drove from his home base of North Carolina to Oklahoma to experience their legendary fishing opportunities for himself. Below is his trip report.

When planning the filming schedule for this inaugural season of Road Trip Angler began, and Oklahoma was named as one of the film shoot destinations, I must admit I was intrigued. I mean… I knew that it was home to one of Jackson Kayaks largest dealers, Oklahoma Kayak, but I had never thought of it as being a fishing destination. As I do for every film shoot, I began researching and I discovered that not only does the state have a huge paddling community, but it may be one of the best kept secrets when it comes to casting a line in the water. Home to more than two hundred lakes and over one million surface acres of water, Oklahoma has more shoreline than the non-tidal East and Gulf Coast combined! That alone got me pumped to learn more.

Dave Lindo, owner of Oklahoma Kayak, and I began to plan out the trip and it became clear that the state is super diverse when it comes to the landscape and the fishing. To do it justice we would need to do some traveling. I wanted to pack as much as I possibly could into the limited amount of time we had, so we kicked it off by stopping in Broken Bow and then headed from there to the Wichita Mountains.

Broken Bow, located on the southeastern side of the state, is the gateway to Beavers Bend State Park. Home to Broken Bow Lake, as well as to beautiful rivers and tributaries including the Mountain Fork, it is no wonder this is a popular destination. The lake is full of Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted Bass, and the Mountain Fork that feeds it is loaded with the same, but also has several species of trout making it perfect for fly fishing as well.

Any time I travel to a new destination I try to curb my expectations. In some cases, I only have a day to figure out a pattern and get a few bites. This is where local knowledge is key. Joined by Richard Penny, the territory sales manager for Jackson, and his son Jake, who had never fished the area, we were lacking in that department. Dave came to the rescue by connecting us with one of his friends, Joel Pritchard, who had fished the area often. After getting a plan of attack together, it was time to hit the water. Armed with kayaks, tackle, and Joel’s local intel thanks, it didn’t take long to start putting a pattern together and finding some fish!

The water temps were in the mid 60s and this had the fish staging up and pushing into the bull brush to spawn. I opted to try and catch them on top and did just that. It is not often you get to hit the water on a new lake for the first time and get on fish right off the bat, but that is what happened. I never like leaving fish, but with some weather pushing in we made the safe decision to leave them biting and get off the water. That evening Dave joined us, and we hashed out a plan to try and explore the river a bit the next day, but again weather was playing a factor.

Hoping for a window to get on the lower Mountain Fork we did some exploring and found a launch that would allow for single access. This would keep us from being stuck between a put in and take out if storms kicked up. I must admit, that as I look back this small window to get on a river was one of the biggest highlights of the trip for me. I love river fishing and it is where I am most confident as an angler. Add in the fact that this river is home to my favorite freshwater fish, Smallmouth Bass, and it makes for a deadly combination. The Mountain Fork was also one of the most beautiful rivers I have had the pleasure of fishing! Lined with cypress trees and littered with boulders creating shoals throughout, it is truly a unique fishery.

Dave, being more of a kayaker than an angler, was the first to hook up and his contagious excitement set the tone for the morning!

We all landed several spotted bass, and after switching again to the Z-Man Toadz, a topwater frog, I was able to connect with my two best fish of the day. A decent Smallmouth and a toad of a spotted bass! The fish were amazing, but spending time with friends, watching someone that doesn’t get to fish a lot get excited about it, and exploring such a beautiful destination made me regret that we had to move on to a new location. With weather moving in, however, it proved to be the right decision. We loaded up and hit the road, driving four hours to our next stop.

The plan for the following day was to head west of OKC into the Wichita Mountains to fish some of the lakes that call the mountains home. Again, local knowledge on new water is so important, and Dave had arranged for us to meet up with some knowledgeable kayak anglers that hit these lakes on the regular.

I feel this is a good time to share that you will notice I am a bit vague on the exact locations of some of our launch spots. This is because I truly feel that when someone is kind enough to share a location that they have spent time putting the work in to learn and perfect, it is not my place to give out every detail. What I will say is that everywhere we fished is public and if you are willing to do a little work and research you will likely stumble across these areas, or the people that fish them, yourselves. Now that that is out the way, back to the fishing!

After meeting local anglers, Delbert Patton and Mike Archer, we decided to hit Lake Lawtonka in search of protection from the wind. This paid off quickly! Within sight of the ramp, we were hooking up! The water temps had the bass up shallow, and I managed several nice Largemouth on top again with the Goat Toadz. This was starting to become a theme. We all stuck several fish in this area, but I could not resist the urge to explore. This made for an awesome day on the water that proved to be very productive. I have to say even Dave was becoming quite the angler! This is where a newfound father-son rivalry began to spin up.

The next day we planned to head back into the mountains once again and hit a lake that had been a bit too windy to fish the previous day. A much smaller body of water, this lake only allows for smaller craft and electric, or people-powered, boats. Perfect for kayak fishing! Water temps here were much colder and the bite was different from the top water I had become used to on this trip. Father and son duo, Richard and Jake, began to have some luck and a bet was made. Now, I must be honest that I am not a finesse angler and nothing I was trying was working. The water was super clear and a bit colder than the previous day, so the fish had not moved into the shallows as I had gotten used to. I had to make some adjustments. After playing with some color combinations, I found success with a chatter bait and, while the window was small, the bite turned on!  It was short but sweet.

After losing my best fish of the day I was a little bitter, but it was time to head back to the launch and see who had won – father or son. Being named judge in the little tournament I looked over the fish and declared that while Jake had bigger fish than his dad, and Richard had caught more. I, however, had out-fished them both. It was only fitting that they both endure the punishment. What’s the punishment, you ask? Well… you’ll just have to tune in to see.

Dave had one more adventure up his sleeves and lead us on a short hike into the mountains and through a field of boulders that proved Oklahoma would live up to everything he had told me about. Such a diverse and surprisingly fishy state.

To quickly touch on what worked for us on this trip it was mostly topwater with the Goat Toadz from Z-Man paired with 30lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid tipped with Seaguar’s 20lb Gold Label fluorocarbon leader. I threw this on a Medium Heavy 7’ 2” fast action Rainshadow Eternity blank. My other go to was a 7’ medium heavy Rainshadow Judge which has a moderate/fast action. The bait I used on this setup was the 1/2 oz Z-Man Jackhammer Chatterbait in various colors on 30lb Seaguar High Vis Smackdown and I tipped it with 20lb Gold label again. We mixed in some various finesse presentations as well, but those were the top producers from me by far! We fished out of a variety of Jackson Kayaks, but I found myself in the JK Knarr which handled all the different scenarios perfectly.

Throughout the years, kayak fishing and spending time on the water with friends, old and new,  has always filled my heart, and this trip did just that. If you haven’t yet loaded up your truck with some kayaks and gear and put Oklahoma in the GPS, I strongly encourage you to consider it the next time you are looking for an adventure! I know I will be back.

About Road Trip AnglerJackson Kayak’s Road Trip Angler is a multifaceted media project designed to help showcase brands and products to a dedicated and engaged audience of avid anglers and outdoors lovers. Leveraging host Jameson Redding and Jackson Kayak’s significant dealer and consumer distribution channels to reach markets across the US, this show hits the road to find the best fishing in America in the coolest regions. Jameson Redding will explore the many fisheries across the US with the businesses and angler influencers who call these regions their home. Each 30-minute TV episode airs nationally across Bally Sports Network. Brand interested in partnering with Road Trip Angler are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Partnership Manager, Malvin Young, at malvin@helipress.com.