Kayaking for Bass with Hank ParkerKayaking for Bass with Hank Parker Bass fishing legend Hank Parker can catch bass from small or big waters while fishing from a kayak. Here's how!
By John Neporadny Jr.
Bass fishing legend Hank Parker reached the top of his profession fishing from a Ranger bass boat, but kayaking has opened his eyes to another way to effectively fish for bass.
“You can access so much water that you can’t get to with a bass boat,” Parker says. “I don’t ever see in my lifetime being without a powerboat. I am always going to have some kind of powerboat.”
“Kayak fishing is a whole different world though. Kayak fishing brings a lot of people into the sport who are never going to buy a bass boat. Kayak fishing is never going to replace powerboat fishing nor is powerboat fishing going to ever be able to fill a void that you can with a kayak. There is so much water that a kayak opens up that you would not have access to any other way. It is super for going into real shallow water,” says Parker.
His Hobie kayak allows Parker to fish “pristine places” such as the Bald River, a short river in the Cherokee Nation Forest that flows through a steep, densely wooded valley. “It is a very shallow river with a lot of rapids and a lot of great smallmouth fishing. I fish it all summer long because there are no jet skis, water skiers and hardly any boat traffic at all. It is just absolutely perfect for kayak fishing.”
Parker was skeptical when NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Smith of Hobie Fishing suggested he try one of the Hobie kayaks. He had flashbacks of childhood days in unstable canoes. “I was amazed at the stability though, even in the small Hobies,” says Parker, who notes anglers can stand and fish from the kayaks. He was also impressed by the roominess of the Pro Angler model and the adjustable seat that offers good back support.
A variety of kayaks are available for bass anglers today, but Parker prefers Hobie kayaks with the revolutionary MirageDrive, a peddle system that replaces the paddle for propelling the kayak. “With my MirageDrive it is a whole different world,” Parker says. “I can peddle and fish and never have to use my hands for navigating the boat. I am able to be so much more efficient at fishing.”
Steering handles on the Hobies make it possible for bass anglers to navigate virtually hands-free. “I rarely ever have to use the paddle to steer,” claims Parker, who uses the paddle to back up his kayak sometimes.
Hobie fishing kayaks are designed as smaller-scale bass boats with storage compartments and rod racks or holders. The kayaks can also hold an eight-gallon Hobie Livewell and other accessories, such as depth finders and Power-Pole Micro Anchors.
Fishing from a kayak in a sitting position puts anglers lower and closer to the water so some adjustments are necessary to work lures properly. Parker suggests that newcomers to kayak fishing just need to spend some time getting used to fishing at a different angle. “The boat itself probably only stands up off the water about eighteen to twenty inches, so when you are in the kayak you are up another two and a half feet,” he says. “So you are four feet off the water instead of six or six and a half feet in a bass boat.”
Parker suggests there are some advantages to fishing closer to the water. “The wind doesn’t catch your line and move it because you are low to the water, so I point my rod down and keep it low to the water,” he says. Since he has his rod lower without any slack in his line, Parker can also generate a smoother and quicker hook set when fishing from a kayak than he can in a bass boat.
Sitting closer to the water in a kayak also works to Parker’s advantage when he is throwing topwater lures in clear water. He believes his lower profile prevents spooking fish in the clear water.
A stealthy approach is another advantage kayaks have over bass boats. Parker notes the MirageDrive on his Hobie kayak is much quieter than a trolling motor. “If you peddle really fast then the fish will hear you, but you can make the peddle noise non-existent if you just take short strokes,” Parker says.
Kayaks also provide young anglers a chance to enjoy bass fishing and get some exercise at the same time. “Kids today need exercise and need to get outdoors,” says Parker. “They need to get rid of those hand games and do something tangible like going fishing. So the kayak is the perfect combination for them.”
Beer-belly anglers who need to lose a few pounds can also benefit from bass fishing in a kayak. “I have a big hot-dog belly and a big hot-dog hind end,” Parker admits. “So it sure isn’t going to hurt me to peddle some.”
Pedaling or paddling a kayak provides anglers with both a chance to exercise and a stealthy approach for catching bass from small or big waters.
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