Every angler has a favorite style of fishing, but not all are equal in terms of risk. Spencer Bauer of the River Certified YouTube channel ups the difficulty by fishing mid-river brush piles for flathead catfish. All goes well until a branch snaps, taking his tie-off point with it and threatening to drag him into the teeth of a strainer. Afterward, he reminds viewers: “Know your water, know your kayak, and know your abilities.”
Fishing Brush Piles Can Be a Strain
Bauer starts off camping in the “absolute middle of nowhere,” seven miles upstream along a remote midwestern river. He uses a cast net to catch shad for bait, then begins paddling toward the take-out, fishing the river’s brush piles along the way.
His first catch turns out to be a turtle, followed by a flathead that Bauer calls a “chunky little fellow.” He drops another bait among the branches and gets a strong hookup, but then his tie-off point snaps. Bauer’s boat begins to drift into the debris as his line tangles.
“Man, if he was 50 [pounds] I would have been really screwed,” Bauer says of the fish on hook. “I’m probably going to break a rod…possibly lose one.” Luckily he keeps his cool, lands the flathead and comes out unscathed.
“Lots of winning, other than the fact I almost died.”
“My style of fishing isn’t for everyone,” Bauer warns in the video description, “especially someone who is just starting to learn to kayak. They call brush piles ‘strainers’ for a reason.”
While the woody debris provides great underwater terrain for fish, shifting branches in a brush pile can snag your line and cause all sorts of trouble. Combined with current, a sudden hook-up can drag you into the debris and capsize your kayak in dangerous conditions. That’s why, regardless of your skill level or personal style of fishing, it is most important to always wear a PFD.
For more information on how to stay safe around strainers, see Jeff Little’s video on 4 Strokes To Survive River Strainers.