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Kickboat Fishing, The Alternative Bass Boat
Category : BASS FISHING ARTICLES
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By Nathan Parker
This is an article about float tube and kickboat bass fishing. Normally, when outdoor writers introduce this topic, we begin with a comment about the price of gasoline (3.44/gal where I live, as of 06/01/14), and we tell you about how great and economical an option they are for bank bound anglers to get in the game. Alternately we spin some yarn about grandpa and his farm pond to appeal to nostalgia. This isn’t one of those articles. This is about 3 reasons why float-tube and kickboat fishing is a good option if you aren’t very happy about the amount or size of fish you’re catching from your boat.
1. Speed: You can fish fast from a kickboat or tube, but that’s wasteful. The kickboat will help you catch more fish and more keepers if you take advantage of its biggest drawback. Pick a cove. Put your boat in. Catch every fish in that cove. Cast to every piece of cover, every inch of shoreline. That should be your mentality, and you’ll be surprised. Just this past weekend, I took 25 bass including 8 keepers out of a single large cove on a popular big lake near my home in Tulsa. I fished that cove 5 hours, and in that time, 3 bass boats and 9 anglers cycled through and caught 8 fish between them. Those big boats and high-powered trolling motors enable you to cover a lot of water, and crank your spinnerbait right over the heads of a ton of keeper bass.
2. Stealth: When fishing shallow, clear water from a bass boat, I’m forever ducking down low on the deck to get good skipping angles and keep out of sight. I’m running my trolling motor as little as possible, and I can only go so far up that creek. The erratic water movement of float tube fins is much more natural than the rhythmic hum of a trolling motor, and seems to spook less fish. The float tube angler is low to the water and hard to see, and skipping is a breeze. If you drop a lure on your inflatable, it won’t make a sound. These craft are quiet and they seem to not spook fish nearly as much as a bigger craft. In fact, I’ve caught bass vertical fishing a drop shot a few times in less than 8 feet of water and didn’t spook those shallow fish.
3. Boat control: Even the most skilled trolling motor dynamo would be hard pressed to achieve the kind of precision boat control that is possible in these little craft. Mainly that’s a function of size– it’s harder to turn around a semi than a VW beetle. Wind catches 20′ of fiberglass pretty well. Now I won’t say it isn’t hard work holding a kickboat on a main lake point into a 18 mile per hour wind– you are going to get a workout. But a skilled kickboat or float tube angler can hold right on a marker buoy for hours into some pretty serious wind with the right fins. The instantaneous access that these little craft offer to 180 degrees worth of casting angles is also pretty helpful when fishing docks or standing timber, which is a productive pattern year round in many places. Boat control, with fins, takes about 20 minutes to get the hang of, after that, it’s totally intuitive. You’ll never think about it. That will allow you to really focus on your lure, what it’s doing, etc, instead of what you’re boat is doing. You won’t miss many bites, and I think that focused attention helps you get more of them in the first place.
Kickboats can be had for as little as 200 dollars. Float tubes, less than $100 if you look around. A good pair of fins for $50-100, and a rod rack made from PVC and one of those cheap Berkley horizontal rod holders for $20. So, money will be no excuse for not giving it a try, and yeah, if you’re bank bound, go get one tomorrow.
In all, they aren’t sexy. The guys at the dock won’t be impressed with your awesome rig (which won’t matter, since you won’t be putting in at the dock. You’ll be putting in right where the fish are). Passing Rangers might not take you as “seriously” as a fisherman. But on a lot of days, and not just in the spring, you’ll catch more fish than they will. Since it’s called “fishing” not “looking cool at the dock,” I’ll take the fish.