KENTUCKY LAKE — The rivulet that feeds the creek that spills into a bay that’s large enough to swallow 10 football fields before joining this nearly mile-wide reservoir is barely knee-deep, narrow as a cave, and overshadowed by a willow tree older than most of the humans who have seen it.
There is no discernible current.
Thanks to my boat, an Old Town Predator PDL, which is both a mechanical marvel and the simplest of watercraft, I am beyond reach of the bass boats and other power rigs that are plying the bay and main lake points in search of bass and crappie.
The water near the bank is nervous, a good indicator of fish activity. A roll cast from my 8-foot, 5-weight fly rod misses the mark. The popping bug lands on the fringe of the mud bank then sloughs into the water. A tug on the line. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Another twitch and the water boils as though I’d tossed in a brick.
For an instant, the fish and I are connected. Then only a slack line and an accelerated heartbeat. A few paddle strokes and the boat glides quietly to where the creek begins to meld into the bay and is flanked by a flooded grassy flat and where the water depth ranges from feet to inches and holds the promise of more fish.
Kayaks (and canoes) aren’t new, of course. They have been used by fishermen and hunters for thousands of years and were the original water vehicles for indigenous peoples across much of the globe. It’s easy to see why. Few tools match the simplicity and function of a kayak, whether it’s in original form — skins stretched over a wooden frame — or the latest incarnation, a polyethylene molded boat complete with rod holders, rudder and a pedal propulsion system like the Predator’s PDL.
While kayaks have been around for millennia, they have recently enjoyed a surge in popularity among sport fishermen.
Reasons vary but include practicality, price and simple fishing pleasure.
“Kayak fishing is just more fun for me,” said Michigan-based angler Dave Mull, who owns a 17-foot, 75-horsepower bass boat, which he’s used once in the past year in favor of his kayak fleet. “A kayak’s stealth and low profile let you get right up on fish — I’ve caught bass that I’ve made eye contact with. Kayaks also let you get into places that (power) boats can’t go.”
Mull prefers a Hobie-model kayak and owns two, the 11-foot Outback and the larger 14-foot Pro Angler, which, like Old Town’s Predator series, was designed specifically for fishermen. And, like the PDL model, Hobie’s Outback and Pro Angler employ an optional foot-powered drive system (you can of course still paddle).
“Being able to propel the boat with my legs allows me to move around a lake and fish at the same time,” explained Mull, who is regular competitor in kayak fishing tournaments. “Which is a huge advantage over paddle-powered…