Shoal bass fishing from a kayak is a challenge that has to be met with a balance of skill and the right equipment setup. Eddie McRae is a Feelfree Kayaks, Manley Rods and YakGear pro staffer, as well as many other brands. He targets big shoal bass from his both his Moken 12.5 and Lure 13.5 and has rigged his boats to be the perfect river cruisers. If you fish moving water, stand and fish a lot or just want to rig your boat like McRae’s check out his expert tips below.
Location: I am primarily a river-fisherman. I travel all over the southeast fishing various river tournaments throughout the year, but my home rivers are the Flint and the Chattachoochee in Georgia. Most of the water I fish is shoal water with medium to fast current, so my boats have to be rigged to handle well in moving water.
Rod Holders: I had not found anything on the market that suited my specific wants and needs, so I made my crate/rodholder assembly. The rodholders are actually 1 ¼”, 45 degree pvc electrical conduit bell-end elbows. I specifically chose these because they position my rods so that they are angled back instead of standing straight up.
This is a concern, especially when fishing in current because it’s very likely to have your rods get tangled in overhanging tree limbs from time to time, and the back angle helps them to slide free rather than bend and break. I have my crate/rodholder assembly with camera mount pole installed in the rear storage bay behind the seat. It provides easy access without interfering with casting clearance.
Rigging: I have my crate/rodholder assembly with camera mount pole installed in the rear storage bay behind the seat. It provides easy access without interfering with casting clearance. I religiously use my anchor trolley system, most times with a drag chain instead of an actual anchor.
Using multiple lengths of drag chain allows me to either anchor or slow drift, simply by adding or removing lengths. The drag chain doesn’t have a tendency to get hung up like most kayak anchors do. I also sometimes use a stake-out pole, but only in slower water, and only in windy conditions. Because most of the water I fish is shallow, shoal-type water, I don’t really have a need for a fishfinder.
I also fabricated stand-up bars for both my Moken 12.5 and my Lure 13.5. I spend the majority of my time in the water, wade-fishing……but when I’m fishing from the kayak, I prefer to be standing. The stand-up bar provides a stabilizing grab point, and also doubles as a paddleholder, keeping my paddle within easy reach.
Camera Set Up: I primarily shoot most of my pictures using iPhone/Optrix case setups. They are waterproof, diveproof, virtually indestructible, and have interchangeable lenses which make them very versatile. I use my current activated iPhone 5s, and I also use my old iPhone 4s as a dedicated camera only.
Both are kept in the Optrix cases at all times when out on the water. I normally have one mounted behind me on the crate camera pole. And I keep one mounted directly in front of me on the top of my console using an Optrix/Ram pivoting mount. I’ve also recently started using UltraProX cameras for shooting video and time lapse. They are great, affordable action cameras, very comparable to the other action cams on the market such as GoPro, Garmin, etc. They are mounted using Railblaza mounts from YakGear.
Paddle: I currently use the Feelfree Camo Series Angler paddle. The water that I normally fish is not mild by any means, so I need a very strong, yet lightweight paddle that can withstand extreme use without the worry of breakage.
Seat: I removed the seats from both my Moken 12.5 and my Lure 13.5 and now use a K2 Summit 20 cooler as my seat. The reason for this is purely practical, and since I spend the majority of my time either standing in the kayak or wading in the water, comfort is not really an issue for me. I spend 12-15 hours at a time in the water, so when I’m in the kayak, I need my cooler within easy reach at all times.
I made a seat cushion for it that installs with snaps for easy removal if necessary. Also, I have extra rodholders mounted on each side of the cooler that provide a place to hold my net as well as a place to quickly hold a rod while unhooking a fish. When I’m paddling in extreme conditions or rougher water, I simply sit on the floor of the kayak and use the cooler as my backrest.
PFD: I use the Extrasport Osprey Camo mesh vest. I chose this vest because it’s lightweight and comfortable and also doubles as a great vest to use for duckhunting. It has multiple pockets which make it very convenient for wade-fishing……great storage for extra baits, terminal tackle, or anything else that I might need quick access to.