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Small secluded rivers

OPINION by Corbet Deary | September 15, 2021 at 3:50 a.m.

I can't think of anything more enjoyable than backing the boat into the water just as the morning sun peeks over the horizon and spending an entire day fishing during the spring and early summer months.

It's a magical time of the year as there are occasions when the fish are willing to cooperate from daylight until dark.

But their willingness to cooperate certainly undergoes a significant change as the summer progresses and the daytime highs increase. In fact, they eventually grow so finicky that I can hardly look forward to fishing our area lakes until the return of cooler temperatures.

But that's not necessarily an indication that I am ready to hang it up until the following spring. Instead, I am ready to change my approach and choose a different kind of water. That's right, it's time to park the big boat and knock the dust from the kayak.

Now when I mention kayak fishing, I'm not remotely referring to a craft that is rigged with all of the bells and whistles. I understand that the mindset of many has changed throughout the years. It's not uncommon to see these crafts rigged with more up-to-date gadgetry than is on my bass boat.

I, personally, have no issues with kayak anglers rigging their small plastic crafts with electronics, half-a-dozen rod-and-reels and an astonishing choice of lures. And if that's what makes you happy, then knock yourself out.

However, that's not for me. Call me "old school," but when it comes to kayak fishing, I'm all about finding a secluded river and getting back to the very basics. We're talking a paddle, one rod, one reel, a handful of lures and an adequate-sized beverage to keep me hydrated. That's all I need.

I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of analyzing the terrain above the shoreline to determine the layout of the substrate below the water's surface. And I find a sense of accomplishment in locating fish without the aid of any gadgetry, other than maybe a pair of polarized sunglasses.

There's something to be said for thinking like a fish, and anybody can do it with a little practice. With experience one can pretty well point out exact spots where they're most apt to find their next catch.

Maybe it's something as simple as a submerged log or boulder under the shade of an overhanging tree. Maybe it is a ledge situated along the edge of a colony of aquatic vegetation, or maybe it's a deep pool at the base of rapids.

Of course, it is essential to understand the habits of the species you are pursuing, but it is equally as important to understand their food source. Where might the crawfish be lurking? Where might the baitfish be gathering? Where might they be taking cover? In what kind of water will they be most vulnerable?

Although rivers can prove far more productive than lakes during the dog days of summer, they are no different in the sense that there are simply days when the fish refuse to bite.

But that's OK, too, as I can always find plenty to keep me occupied on these beautiful secluded waterways. Perhaps I will slowly navigate along the water's edge and scan the shoreline for cottonmouths and bullfrogs. And there's always the opportunity to paddle through shallow water and identify the small fish that suddenly bolt and disappear into the depths.

There have also been times when I have simply backed the craft into a small nook and remained perfectly still with hopes of seeing native wildlife unsuspectingly visiting the water's edge for a drink. And with a little luck, I might might even watch with amazement when a large bass suddenly bolts from the depths and attacks its prey at the water's surface.

Yep, there are certainly times of the year when I feel most compelled to drag my bass boat to the lake. But the more I think about it, I equally enjoy the solitude, and the experience of getting back to the very basics on small secluded rivers, if not more so.

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