We are just back from our latest kayak fishing adventure—a shoot with friend and fellow Jackson Kayak teammate, Chris Funk. Chris and I both paddled Jackson Kayaks, with Chris in his signature DT, while I got to try out the Mayfly for the first time. The Mayfly is a fly fishing specific sit on top, and I really enjoyed paddling it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of my fly fishing equipment with me this time, so I couldn’t put it to the ultimate test, but I’ll definitely be paddling it again!
For years, Chris has waxed on about a special spot that he has urged us to come and experience it firsthand. In the end, our curiosity got the better of us and we met up with Chris to explore the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia —a spot that may not sound like an exotic destination, but is truly out of this world. We stayed in a cozy cabin at the gateway to the swamp in Stephen C. Foster State Park, a 402,000 acre refuge chock full of herons, turtles, alligators, and—most importantly—bowfin!
Throughout the week, both Chris and I landed numerous pike and bass, but the majority of our time was spent chasing bowfin. We quickly learned that the trick with bowfin in these parts is to land them quickly to avoid getting the attention of the big gators also keen for a catch! With murky water and an abundance of toothy critters, we needed to straight tie our lures to something strong, and Seaguar Kanzen Braid was the ticket! The Kanzen casts really well, and it’s easy to dump the leader and straight tie when visibility is not an issue. Fishing among the hundreds of alligators and endless birdlife was definitely a highlight of this trip for us.
The water temperature was low due to a front that had passed through the week before we arrived, which slowed the fishing down, but only marginally, so we still caught enough for our liking. The cold front also meant that there was a broad variety of temperatures and weather during the week, so that meant versatility was key. I was very happy that I brought along my Kokatat paddling top – it was perfect for the cool breeze in the mornings and easy to pack up and stow away when the weather got warmer in the afternoon.
The cold water also handily slowed the gators down, so they were not too aggressive and could be seen much of the day laying on the banks warming themselves in the sun. Paddling and fishing alongside gators does have an added element of danger, but it just made catching the local bowfin all the more exciting! This was also my first time catching bowfin, so I was pretty excited that I got to add a new species to the list on this trip.
Besides all the gators and birds we saw in the swamp we had a close encounter with a REALLY BIG otter. I was actually standing on shore at the time when he came running right up to me, he saw me and did a quick right turn back into the water.
Next week we are off to Virginia to meet up with friends Wes from SEiGLER Reels and Luther from YakAttack for a week-long kayak fishing road trip – stay tuned for more updates on that on our Instagram and Facebook page!