Kayak Rigging - Drill Baby Drill

One question I get quite a bit and see on various forums and social media groups, is about rigging a kayak and drilling. There is a very common attitude that usually sounds like this...

"I'm definitely NOT going to be drilling any holes into my kayak!"

To that statement, I scratch my head every single time and wonder, "Why not?" It doesn't matter if people are talking about GPS/fish finder units, rod holders, or anchor trolleys. They are all extremely anti drilling. I have a feeling I'm going to get blasted by the anti-drillers but I simply just don't get it.

Are you worried about resale value?

To me, a kayak is very simply a piece of plastic (or fiberglass or wood) that floats. It's not a 1953 Corvette or anything that holds any real increased value if it's preserved in pristine condition. I have a 2014 Hobie Outback for sale that has quite a few holes drilled in it. Those holes were put in to add some gear tracks and then filled in with rivets and silicone so the tracks don't move. If I hadn't drilled these tracks in there, would it suddenly be worth more than it was when it was new? No! It's a fishing kayak that is rigged to catch fish.

The only thing I could possibly imagine is the anti-drillers are worried about sinking because they put a hole in their kayak. Still, that is kind of ridiculous to me. I mean let's think about this....

If you have a sit-in style kayak, I hate to break it to you but you have a giant hole right in the middle of the kayak. As a matter of fact, that giant hole is where you sit. Do you think an eight inch hole - or twenty - is going to somehow cause more water to fill your kayak than the giant one you sit in? Well, it's not! You will be plugging that hole with some sort of screw or rivet or grommet or something anyways! In reality, that tiny hole really isn't even a hole.

If you have a sit-on top kayak, the same reasoning applies. You are drilling holes that will then be filled in with something. Even if they weren't, and you got caught in a monsoon but still decide to stay out all day, you might have a gallon of water in the hull. Let's go out on a limb and say two gallons...Your kayak still isn't going to sink!

Think about all the holes that are already in a kayak from the factory. Holes for handles, seats, rudders, plugs, hooks, grommets...what else am I missing?

The key to this entire thing is very simple - don't drill holes below the waterline!! The waterline and below is the only part of a kayak that is no no when it comes to drilling. It will constantly be under the surface of the water. If you drill holes there, they will probably leak. Aside from that, grab your drill and your creativity and drill away!

Add those fish finders and anchor trollies without fear. Get crazy and add gear tracks everywhere (above the waterline)! Bolt those rod holders right to the kayak. Relish in the little spirally plastic shavings that will litter your garage floor. Heck, grab a handful of them and make it rain, baby!!

Am I missing anything? I am seriously asking. Why are so many people afraid to drill a hole in their kayak?


Working the Outdoor Shows!

With the start of the new year and the freezing temps, the outdoor show season has officially started in the Chicagoland area!!

This past weekend marked my first show of the year and the first show as Hobie Fishing Team member and representing Quest Watersports at the Chicago Boat Show. It was a very fun and interesting experience on several facets.

If you don't already know this - during the week, I spend my time as a Senior Account Executive for a company called RND Exhibits International. We design, build, and install trade show stands all over the country and even the world. I have been in the industry for about 15 years and have done everything there is to do in this business. I've swept floors, cleaned metal, been a carpenter, set stands up at the show, supervised people who set them up at the show, estimated, project managed, and sold them. The one thing that I have NEVER done is be an exhibitor at a big event like this! Usually I am there a couple days before the show opens and then after it ends...not during the show. I have a whole new level of respect for all these exhibitors who are on their feet for multiple long days in a row. My legs are feeling it today...

Another really cool thing was interacting with people who have a million questions about things related to these kayaks that I have never even thought of. I spent about twenty hours this weekend talking about fishing, kayaking, and even sailing. The days absolutely flew by!! I met a ton of cool people who now own a new Hobie kayak and more that I hopefully will have an opportunity to fish with. I will also be getting one of the Hobie Tandem Island sailing machines in the future. Those things look so much fun!! I talked to one guy who's owned one for a number of years and was able to hit 33mph with a good wind and two people peddling. 33!!!!

I have three more shows over the next three weekends that are even more fishing focused!

January 24 and 25 - Illinois Fish and Feather Expo in Bloomington, IL at the Quest and Hobie stand

January 29 - February 1 - Chicagoland Fishing, Travel, and Outdoor Expo at the Quest/Hobie booth and the Lucid Fishing Booth. StankX Bait Company will be there as well so say hi to them as well!!

February 7th and 8th - Tinley Park Fishing and Outdoors Show at the Quest/Hobie booth. There will be a biiiig pool there to do some demos - I might be doing a presentation in the pool as well.

So, if you are going to any of these shows, stop by and say hello!!!

After the shows are done...it's time to fish again!!


Nick Goes Ice Fishing - Chapter Two - Major Catchage!

This is a story about transforming the way I felt about something that started after an extremely cold week. The brutally cold temperatures had left everything with even a hint of moisture completely frozen. Because everything was a solid sheet of ice, I decided to take a friend's offer to do a little ice fishing for the second time ever. Well...I suppose if you go way back - almost 20 years ago - when I took a big rock and smashed it into the ice a few times to make a hole, and then dropped a minnow down there, this would be the third time.

Ed with a nice bass through the ice
The target on this outing was table fair bluegill. The location was Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area. This place is over a thousand acres and has about 200 different bodies of water. The overwhelming majority of those take quite a bit of hiking through brush, reeds, trees, and steep terrain. Of course, we picked one that required tackling all of those obstacles because the adventure in getting there is half the fun. The even better part is that a ton of these lakes see almost no fishing pressure. It always seems that the farther you get from the parking lot, the more untouched nature is.

By the time, we reached the spot, all three of us had worked up quite a sweat so we started shedding layers before drilling our first holes. Ed was the main hole popper since he had the power auger. Jake and I mainly just fished them. At first, when the Vexilars were deployed, it looked as if the waters were void of life. Thirty seconds later, my tiny jig with a little spike on it hit the bottom and the sonar screen lit up just as I felt a tug. A quick snap up with the rod and the first fish was caught.

Backtrack...the problem that I always had with ice fishing is that the entire idea of spending so much time, money, and energy to catch some bluegills seemed ridiculous to me. On every forum and fisherman's Facebook page around the midwest -usually starting around the middle of November - threads and posts about being so excited for ice take over. Any other time of the year, the idea of catching these little pan fish was completely....senseless and ridiculed amongst most of them. Now, all of the sudden, because the water is frozen, catching bluegill is something to be excited and brag about??  Before the ice, if you posted a picture of a bluegill, people would either not care or make fun of you.

Now that the ice is here, adjectives like "nice" and "awesome" are followed by abundant exclamation points. I truly just didn't get it. It annoyed me. I am not sure if it's the hypocrisy or the personal feelings I have about spending any real time chasing them that bothers me the most...maybe it's probably both.

So, back to that first fish....after I reeled it up from the icy depths and through the little six inch hole, I chuckled and stated, "Yep...that was every bit as uneventful as I thought it would be." This prompted some laughs from my friends but I was serious at that moment. A part of me had hoped that the tiny rods used in ice fishing would make that little 8" bluegill feel like a two pound smallmouth but it didn't.

However, as I continued fishing and learning how to really read and understand the Vexilar, it started to click. This was almost like a video game. I watched time after time a screen that went from blank to being lit up like a Pink Floyd laser light show when I bounced the bottom with my jig a few times to get things stirred up.

By the time the day had ended, I was able to stir the school up, know when it happened, and what fish was gonna be the one who ate the jig. Once the school was active, I would raise the jig from the bottom and there would always be a mark that would leave the pack and follow it up. That was the target. Now all I had to do was lift the jig up and let it fall right past him. It worked 9 out of 10 times. Before I knew it, I was actually having a really fun time catching bluegill!! Sure the fight wasn't very entertaining but the process was. The best fights came from the bass - as you could imagine - but the process was the same for almost every fish. It was a process that I wanted to keep doing over and over.

What the?! How the?! Had I just been converted to one of those people who likes to go ice fishing?!?! How in the heck did that happen?!

Between the three of us, we put a self imposed limit of 30 bluegill for the frying pan. Almost all the ones we kept seemed to be cut from the same 8" mold. Any smaller ones went back in as did all the bass. If I had to guess, we easily caught 60 fish.

When I got home, I filleted my share of the catch and introduced my reluctant wife to try a bluegill fish fry. To her amazement, she loved them.

She liked them so much in fact, she actually asked when I was going ice fishing again. To my shock, I am actually bummed that it won't be for a few weeks as my schedule is filled with outdoor shows. If the ice is still around after that, I will definitely be doing it again!

Of course, I had to make a video of some of the fun! I was playing around with some new editing software and I apologize for the terrible music. It was already in the library...ha ha.


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