For many of us, kayak fishing is as much about the relationships we make above the water as it is about what we pull up from below.
Drew Gregory, Jackson Kayak Fishing Pro, and I have been trying to connect to fish together for years. Drew runs the River Bassin Tournament Trail, a successful kayak river bass fishing trail series. He travels the South hosting these tournaments with his wife Christina, living out of their RV. Three years back he had to miss one of our tournaments he was scheduled to attend because of conflicts with his fishing show, Hooked On Wild Waters. I’d been heckling him about that since.
Fast forward to the week of May 11-14, Drew was on tap to host another tournament up our way. We hit another snag. The heavy spring rains had blown out our rivers. We decided to adjust the parameters of the tournament, changing it to an online format. That way folks were not pressured to fish the chocolate milk highway AKA the James River. With the tournament switched to an online format, Drew no longer needed to come to Virginia. But he drove up anyway, to go kayak fishing in Farmville, on the trophy largemouth waters of Briery Creek Lake.
We met at the Briery launch on the morning of May 12th and started rigging up. I was fishing my Jackson Coosa HD and Drew was fishing his Jackson Cuda 12 LT in Realtree. I was so anxious to get on the water that I zipped up my Astral Ronny Fisher PFD and started paddling and casting before Drew had said goodbye to his wife.
The water was calmer than I’d ever seen it. I knew Drew was tying up some fast chatterbaits, etc. He was going to cover some water. So I decided to go slow, rigging a Finicky Tickler from Powerteam Lures onto a shaky head, and a drop shot Sick Stick. I had some bigger swimbaits tied on as well, but I was ready to fish slow with the worms.
Drew had two quick, giant blow-ups on his chatterbait, but they came unbuttoned. He soon started hooking them though, and after being down 3 fish to none, he was psyched to unlock the bite. I love watching skilled anglers work a new body of water. I learned a lot checking out Drew’s tactics as he covered Briery Creek Lake. It’s a heavily wooded lake filled with flooded timber and it often gives people fits the first time they fish it. But not Drew. As a friend commented when I recounted our day, “that dude can fish.”
I wasn’t getting anything on my swimbaits, so I started slinging the shakey head / worm combo and slow bouncing it over wood. That’s when the hits started coming and I started boating bass after bass.
Drew and I both favor Smith sunglasses for being able to see the action below the surface, and 13 Fishing rods for bringing that action to the kayak. Drew’s sponsored by both those companies as well as GoPro, Raymarine, Bending Branches and Kokatat. He’s developed an outstanding reputation in our industry as an approachable ambassador to kayak fishing and a proven competitor in the tournament scene. I don’t think he realized it at first, but I was keeping track of how many bass each of us was pulling.
I’d chosen Briery Creek Lake because it gave me the opportunity to pre-fish for the upcoming Yak Attack Tournament benefitting Heroes On The Water. While the tournament is mainly about fundraising, as a member of the Yak Attack Regional Team and Astral Fishing Team, I wanted to score well while fishing in my own backyard.
But on this day there was none of that pressure. Life has been busy for me between work and family, and I know Drew’s been busy with the River Bassin Trail and his new life touring with his wife and dogs. It can be hard to find a little quiet time for simple pursuits. On this day we got the recharge we needed. There was no tournament, no event hype, no urgent business angle, just two kayak anglers out on the water in search of big bass. We paddled, we soaked in the sanctuary of Briery’s beauty and we caught fish. It was pretty darn fun, and isn’t that why we all started kayak fishing?
As the trip closed, I got the best bite of the day, and Drew finished with another solid fish. We didn’t hook one of Briery’s legendary lunkers, but we had a great time looking for one. We still had a successful fishing mission with around 14 bass between the two of us. And while I playfully jabbed at Drew about snatching a couple more largemouth than him (home stadium advantage) it wasn’t about that at all. There is a camaraderie in a day filled with tranquility and boated bass. Drew and I agreed we’d have to meet up to do it again. It was a great day. A day that involved good people, good scenery and good fish. It’s a pretty simple equation, and blissfully effective. Kayak Fishing, put it on your bucket list.