Out of the blue last week, Woody calls me up and says, “Hey, we need to get some fishing shots of the Slayers in action…do you wanna help?” Well, yeah. So I get up with Philip (yak4fish) and we start planning.
As things played out, I got up with the Native Watercraft company photographer, Tim, Wednesday evening and helped him set up camp. I had hopes that Woody would be able to break away from the office early and I would get to take a test run in the Slayers that evening…but that didn’t happen, so our plan was to meet at sun-up Thursday so we could be on the water at first light.
Bright and early everything worked out and came together...Philip got the Slayer 12 and I got the 14.5. Woody chauffeured Tim around so he could capture the best light as Philip and I fished. This is the time of year all the smaller bass in the area lakes school up to feed on huge schools of shad. So we should have figured that pounding the banks may not pay off…but at least the light was good. After we wore the cove out with not a single bite, I decided to try and hit an area across the main branch we were in to see if we could locate some shad.
The morning light was golden and the clouds were slowly but surely burning off. Hopefully the evening wouldn’t be spoiled by the predicted possibility of heavy showers and thunderstorms. We finally made the crossing and started beating the shoreline again, but this time I had a bit more confidence we may see some schooling fish.
This water was a bit shallower, so I decided to try to stand in this boat…all 6’ 3” and 270 lbs of me. I brought a heavy nylon webbing dog leash…yep, a dog leash…and attached it to the hard front handle. Grabbing the leash and pulling while I hefted my bulk was a breeze…I could stand with no problems. I could tell the boat was slightly more tippy than an Ultimate…but not by much. Then I placed the seat into the raised position…and the higher stance gave me a better view of the water and gave me a more comfortable fishing position without losing much if any stability.
I was be bopping around when Philip said he spotted a big school of shad out a ways from where we were. We got out into position and suddenly the water erupted with bass busting small shad. I managed to get a Zara Puppy into them and boom…fish on. The Slayer’s first bass.
Not a monster by any means…but you got to start somewhere! Tim shot a bunch of photos, and then we got back to business. The next thing we knew, a big school of fish busted all around Philips boat. I flipped a lure into them and again I had a good fish on. It jumped several times and was a solid 3 pound football of a fish when all the sudden the line went limp just feet from my hands. Well that happens…it’s called fishing. The rest of the morning was about as productive as squat. I managed a couple more dinks, but it was SLOW to say the least.
I knew the morning bite was over…and the evening bite wouldn’t start till around 4-ish…so we decided to bag up all the boats and gear and send them on to a local river. ..the Uwharrie.
We decided to put in at a new access and paddle the boats up stream to several sets of shoals. I hadn’t even had time to get the boat wet hardly before I had a nice little smallmouth on. Tim and Woody hadn’t even hauled their boat to the water yet so Philip pulled his camera out to shoot the fish.
As we worked our way upstream, Philip hit a nice looking eddy and got his first smallmouth. The water was very low but the boats were able to float in next to no water at all and easily maneuvered their way through the rocky shoals.
We worked our way up a mile or so till the river turned into a shallow rock garden. This section runs a long way so we decided to work our way back down. I was really impressed at how easily the 14.5’ boat turned as I worked on down a set of shoals. The stability was excellent and at one point I decided to mess a bit and see just how far I could lean the boat before having to slap a brace down. I could set it all the way on its side till water ran into the cockpit area. Not to be outdone, Philip decided to run that set of rapids…standing. No problems. He made it look too easy.
It wasn’t long before we were reminded of the unfortunate weather forecast. Thunder was booming off in the distance so we decided to get off the river and load the boats up and go check on the radar to see where the storms were. Once we were able to get a phone signal, we could see small storms popping up all around us, but the lake looked hopeful, so we decided to head on back to where we started the day and see if we could get back into some schooling fish. I decided it was time to see how well the 12’ Slayer could handle someone my size…a Clydesdale…270 pounds of mean lean paddle ’n machine…along with 25 pounds of drinks, rods and reels, and tackle. No problems.
Philip got to get into the 14.5 too. We made our way back out to where we got into that morning school of largemouth and watched a big storm form to the north of us. We pulled up the radar again on the cell phone and figured we would be good this go round. As lightening shot out of the clouds way off in the distance, the fish came up as singles hitting shad up near the surface. At one point, a big school of shad busted just out of casting reach and wouldn’t you know it, stripers busted into them. Philip and I both tried to get to them before they went down but no luck. We waited and watched some more…and looked back off in the distance and decided one cloud was going to nail us. We could see the rain dumping out of it. Woody called it…let’s get out of here! We started cranking on our paddles and right then a decent bass hit 20 yards from Philip and I. I slapped the old trusty turkey quill epoxy fly on him and instantly I had the fish on. Woody got Tim into photography position and he let the camera shutter fly. I got the fish in and we wasted no time getting the boats moving again. The rain was coming and it was coming hard. It was raining so hard off in the distance that the islands out in the lake were gone…they just vanished into the gray of the rain. And we cranked. Woody pulled ahead of me in his Marvel 14.5 and Philip was making his way towards the far shore. I was just going to get wet. I could hear the rain coming…gaining on me from behind. I just kept on cranking. Once it got to me…there was no sense in killing myself. It was a cold hard rain; the kind that cleansed and stung a bit as it hit. Woody and Philip pulled away and I just cruised along enjoying it all…it was all good. The boats were good…the fishing was good, we got to slime both boats…and the fellowship between paddlers was good; it had been a long time since I had seen or talked with Tim, and a decade since I had seen Woody. Philip and I had a great time…now we have to decide on a Slayer 12 or 14.5…or both…but like you…we’ll have to wait till they are in full production. The target date is the end of this month.