Tag Archives: Hobie Fishing

A Day Fly Fishing the Huron River

Upper Huron River, Michigan

The Huron River in Southeast Michigan

The Huron River in Southeast Michigan is well known for quality smallmouth bass.  Last Saturday was my first time fishing these waters holding smallies and other great warm water species.  What I didn’t realize though was the charm of the surrounding area.

Nestled to the west of the hustle and bustle of Ann Arbor and Detroit is a small village named Dexter.  I’m not sure whether it was the pride evident by the natural preservation of Mill Creek that runs through this village, the sight of a vibrant downtown cast in a unique shape defined by the triangulation of the creek on the west side and the Huron River to the east, or the sight of an old fashioned music in the park event on Friday evening, but as I drove through this quaint community it felt like a place I wish more of America were like.

Music in the park on a Friday evening in Dexter, Michigan

Music in the park on a Friday evening in Dexter, Michigan

This past Friday afternoon and evening I drove along the entire length of the stream between Ypsilanti and Portage Lake.  I decided my day of fishing on Saturday would be enjoyed in the area around Hudson Mills Metropark.  The 47 miles of public land surrounding the Huron River is a great example of how the watersheds in Michigan are for the most part open to recreating and enjoying with good access.  By no means did I cover even a portion of the hiking trail system that runs through the parks, but I was impressed with the 1.5 miles of trail I did traverse during my Friday afternoon scouting adventure.

As fog rose off the head of a pool early Saturday morning, so did a smallmouth bass to a chartreuse popper fly cast to the center of the stream.  A promising start to a delightfully productive morning of fishing.

Thank you to River Bassin Tournament Trail for granting permission of use of this picture of this smallmouth I caught on Saturday, July 26th, 2014 on the Huron River.

A smallmouth bass caught by Aaron Rubel.  Thank you to the River Bassin Tournament Trail for granting use of picture.

During the first few hours of fishing, the river gave me four smallmouth bass, and a largemouth.

A 14" largemouth bass caught on a chartreuse popper fly.

A 14″ largemouth bass caught on a chartreuse popper fly.

When looking for largemouth bass, I found this one in a slower section hidden among a natural stream bank wooded structure above a river bottom lined with grass.

The Huron River isn't all about bronzebacks.  It has healthy largemouth too!

The Huron River isn’t all about bronzebacks. Healthy largemouth abound too!

All fish landed except for one were caught off the surface.  A rock bass pictured below went after a hopper imitation in the early afternoon.  After the sun came out, one smallmouth was caught in the shelter of a riffle on a sub-surface brown and gray crayfish fly pattern.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first day on bass waters of the Huron River. I especially appreciated spending a day on water that is protected for conservation.  Next time you visit Southeastern Michigan, take some time to visit this scenic and accessible river.

I also had opportunity to meet some other anglers as part of the catch, photo, and release format of the River Bassin Tournament Trail event that I was participating in at the same time on this beautiful Saturday.

Competitors who caught qualifying fish in River Bassin Tournament Trail - Saline event from left to right:  Kyle Moxon, Cameron Simot, Chris Lemessurier, Richard Ofner, Aaron Rubel, Paul Biediger, Mike Hurst

Anglers who caught qualifying fish in the Saline, MI stop on the River Bassin Tournament Trail from left to right: Kyle Moxon, Cameron Simot, Chris Lemessurier, Richard Ofner, Aaron Rubel, Paul Biediger, and Mike Hurst

Results of the July 26, 2014 River Bassin Tournament Trail event in Saline, Michigan:

1st. Cameron Simot – 53.5″ (Adjusted vs. website reporting for late to check-in penalty)

2nd. Richard Ofner – 51.0

3rd. Kyle Moxon – 48.5

4th. Chris Lemessurier – 46.5″ (Adjusted vs. website reporting for late to check-in penalty)

5th. Mike Hurst – 40.25″

6th. Paul Biediger – 39.25″

7th. Aaron Rubel – 33.0″

8th-14th. (Did Not Catch Qualifying Fish):  Michael Dusseau, Michael Heckman, Ashley Kuilema, Andrew Newcomb, John Ricciardi, Chris St. Pierre, Kevin Williamson

Team Results:

1. Cameron Simot & Chris Lemessurier (Yeah Buoy)

2. Richard Ofner & Kyle Moxon (Canuckbassers)

3. Mike Hurst & Paul Biediger (Wolverine Lake)

Click here to find out more about the Saline event of the River Bassin Tournament Trail and how you can get involved in an event near you!

Thank you to the Kayak Corral kayak shop of Saline, Michigan for hosting the tournament.


Copyright 2014 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved


Fly Fishing Early Spring in Lower Mobile River Delta


Mobile Delta 1Spent a beautiful afternoon on the lower Mobile River Delta today.  The contrast  between winter hungover Cyprus trees draped in Spanish moss, early spring blooming flowers, and palm lined backwater creek banks framed a tranquil backdrop.  Quaint river boat homes welcome anglers into a time warp of earlier and more simple times.

Mobile Delta 2Enjoyed spending a few hours on the water with a friend, Stacey Martin, who has depth of experience on the backwaters of the Mobile River Delta.

Mobile Delta 3We caught a couple bass and spooked 3 alligators totaling 25ft in length from their early spring slumber.

Mobile Delta 4A great fly to use in early spring is a gurgler fly pattern, which will bring out the predatory instincts of bass that reside in backwater creeks within the lower Mobile River Delta.


Mobile Delta 5

Copyright 2014 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Fishing Tournaments Expand Horizons

Tournaments 1Top finishers of the 2013 Eastern Shore Fly Fishers Tournament Series final point standings:
Pictured from left to right are Chuck Fisk (tied 3rd), Jeff Deuschle (1st place), Aaron Rubel (2nd place), and Stacey Martin (tied 3rd).

I used to despise fishing tournaments, however, I’m finding that participating in them forces me to stretch boundaries beyond my comfort zone.  Before fishing in tournaments, I targeted just a few species.  I am now learning more than ever about many different fish and techniques to catch them due to the various categories and types of tournament formats that exist.  A lot of tournaments are awarding points toward overall standings for catching multiple species.  Additionally, fly fishing categories are popping up in a lot of places, which provides an avenue to measure my progress versus others participating.  One aspect I look for in a tournament is catch, photo, and release.  I think this is the best way to ensure tournament fishing doesn’t negatively affect the fishery.Tournaments 2

My 2014 Tournament Schedule:

Great Days Outdoors Magazine New Years Tournament: Month of January


1st Place in Leopard Redfish category (award pictured above)
3rd Place in saltwater Sheepshead category



Eastern Shore Fly Fishers Bass & Bream Tournament: February 21-April 16th
Mobile Bay area


2nd Place Overall Bass/Bream Combined


Mobile Bay Kayak Fishing Assoc Spots & Dots Inshore Saltwater Tournament: March 15th


Did Not Place


Lay Lake Open (Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament Trail): March 29th
Fly Fishing Division
Birmingham, AL area


Did Not Place


Eastern Shore Fly Fishers Speckled Trout & Pompano Tournament: May 15-July 16
Mobile Bay area

Did Not Place


Lake Neely Henry Open (Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament Trail): June 7th
Fly Fishing Division
Gadsden, AL area

1st Place in Fly Fishing Category


River Bassin Kayak Fishing Series Regional: July 26
Saline, Michigan


7th Place Overall


Mobile Bay Kayak Fishing Association 5 Rivers Fall Tournament: November 1st
Mobile Bay area

1st Place Speckled Trout Category – Won fly fishing against 75 competitors fishing conventional tackle

Kingfisher Classic: November TBD
Weeks Bay
Potential Fly Fishing Division

Did Not Place

Copyright 2014 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Leopard Redfish

Leopard Redfish 1Photograph by: Jameson Redding
Angler: Aaron Rubel, with a fourteen spot leopard redfish

I was Informed Sunday evening that this 20.75″ redfish with fourteen spots (eight on one side) earned me first place in the leopard redfish category of the month long 2014 Great Days Outdoors Magazine New Years Tournament!

This fish hit three or four feet from the bow of my Hobie Outback kayak.  A great example of how stealthy a kayak can be.

It’s not all that rare to catch a redfish with more than one spot, although fourteen spots on a fish of this species is not so common either.  The characteristic is passed down through the family lineage of the fish, determined by combinations of dominant and recessive genes.  The most common is for a redfish to display one spot on each side, at base of the tail.  One spot on each side of a redfish can be compared to the most common eye color for humans being brown.  More spots, on the other hand, can be compared to the small percentage of blue eyed humans through combinations of dominant and recessive genes passed down through family DNA.Leopard redfish are beautiful creatures, and I’m thankful to have been able to spend a few minutes up close and personal with this one.


Leopard Redfish 2

Copyright 2014 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Kayak Fishing World Record – Skipjack herring

Skipjack herringSometimes disappointment needs unwrapped to discover something so much better.  Monday, I was fishing Mobile Bay in my Hobie Outback kayak.  As I mentioned in the last blog entry, January is not the month I lead with the fly.  So, upon a routine cast of a white soft plastic curly tail on a 1/8 oz jighead with my 7′ Medium TFO Signature Series baitcasting rod, a sudden thud rushed anticipation through my left arm and into my recently reconstructed shoulder.

The fish leaped in the air and gave a good long fight until finally brought into the kayak.  When I lifted the fish out of the water, my first impression was focused on the silver colored sides and hook jaw that resembled a juvenile tarpon.  Could this be my second baby tarpon caught in waters of Mobile Bay in last year and a half?

SilverSkipjackherring 2After a few pictures and release of fish, I went on fishing and was already thinking forward to a story of yet another tarpon caught and released in home waters.  After arriving home later and sharing the day’s events, I had some feedback that the fish didn’t look quite right for a tarpon.  So, after receiving input from friends, I made inquiry to the knowledgeable folks at the Alabama State Marine Resources Division.  After being convinced by friends I hadn’t caught a tarpon and doing some further research, I wasn’t 100% sure whether I had caught a Skipjack herring, Alosa chrysochloris or an Alabama shad, Alosa alabamae.  A quick reply gave definitive feedback that the fish I had caught was the Skipjack herring, Alosa chrysochloris.  The first of a new species on my list of fish caught.

Upon review of the Kayak Fishing World Records, managed by YakAngler.com, it was clear that I may have an opportunity at claiming my second record.  Indeed, after submitting application with accompanying photos, I received notification today that I am the new Kayak Fishing World Record Holder for the species of Skipjack herring, Alosa chrysochloris!

Link to record: http://www.yakangler.com/length-record-list/item/2860-herring-skipjack


Skipjack herring 3

“There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things large and small.”  –Psalm 104:25

Today, I am thankful for a small creature that gave me a big smile and a story to tell.

Thank you to Kayak Angler Magazine for also running this story:  https://www.rapidmedia.com/kayak-fishing/categories/news/2322-kayak-fishing-world-record%E2%80%93skipjack-herring.html

Copyright 2014 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Fall Tournaments On the Fly

Fall Tournaments on Fly 1Photograph by: Marty Smith
Angler: Aaron Rubel

An unusual award for an unlikely species.  Recently, I participated in a couple tournaments that benefited great causes.  In early November, the Mobile Bay Kayak Fishing Association held its’ annual fall tournament to raise funds and awareness for Heroes on the Water.  Following that up, I fished in the inaugural Kingfisher Classic.  The tournament’s goal was to raise awareness for the great work the Weeks Bay Foundation is doing to preserve and expand natural habitat as well as contribute toward educational and volunteer opportunities along the bay coastline.

Fall Tournaments on Fly 270 competitors signed up to compete for a $500 first place prize in five categories which included redfish, speckled trout, flounder, bass, and bream.  When I heard about the tournament, I was shocked and excited that $500 would be offered to the winner of a bream category.  There was only one problem.  The engine block in my kayak car had cracked days before and was in the shop being replaced.  That meant, I had no plan to transport my Hobie Pro Angler 12 to the water.  That is, until my wife generously volunteered her mini-van.  So, out came the seats and in went the kayak!


The rules stated that waters were limited to tributaries of Mobile Bay, which heightened the competitiveness of the bass and bream categories.  The salinity of Mobile Bay tends to challenge growth rates of area bass and bream.  However, I had been catching some relatively nice bream in previous weeks on the fly.

Fall Tournaments on Fly 3Low tide and peak feeding window that morning surprised me.  The fish fed better at low tide than when current was moving, and their location were predictably centered in river.

Fall Tournaments on Fly 4Fortunately, the cloudy day made for some great bream fishing and I was fortunate to place second in the category.  I was the only kayaker and fly angler among the 70 anglers in the tournament.  That was probably the most rewarding feeling of placing high in standings.

Fall Tournaments on Fly 5All fifteen bream caught during the tournament were on a black, chartreuse, and red top water fly.  I had tried various other color combinations of different fly patterns, but on this day they were turned on to the darker colors.

Fall Tournaments on Fly 6Pictured from left to right: Aaron Rubel receiving 2nd place award, Jeff Dute (Mobile Bay Press Register Outdoor Writer), and Ben Raines (Executive Director of Weeks Bay Foundation)

Thank you to the Weeks Bay Foundation for running this story in the Winter 2013 edition of the Pelican Post: http://www.weeksbay.org/pelican_post/pp-winter-low-res.pdf

Official results of all categories in the Kingfisher Classic as reported by the Weeks Bay Foundation:
Speckled trout:
1st place:  M. Wilson, 6.16 lbs
2nd place:  O. Harrison, 5.23 lbs

1st place:  J. Mann, 6.99 lbs
2nd place:  K. Olmstead, 5.95 lbs

1st place:  O. Harrison, 2.68 lbs
2nd place:  M. Foster, 2.02 lbs

Largemouth bass:
1st place:  W. Miller, 1.17 lbs
2nd place:  A. Dobson, 1.12 lbs

1st place:  T. Nelson, .39 lbs
2nd place:  A. Rubel, .32 lbs

Copyright 2013 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Red October

Angler: Landon Rubel, with Chuck Fisk
Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Fall colors peak along the Gulf Coast in October.  The color red, that is.  After enduring a long and muggy summer, the angler is rewarded with great opportunities to find redfish as fall sets in.

An effective way for the adult fly angler and child to enjoy a day on the water together was introduced to me by good friend, Chuck Fisk.  We brought both fly rods and conventional fishing gear to the beach.  Chuck and I started the day by wading in the shallows and catching ladyfish on clouser minnow flies.  The ladyfish went into the cooler.  Later, they were transformed into cut bait and drifted just beyond the surf on conventional rods to entice bull redfish.  Bull redfish are adults of the species that have grown on average above 26 inches and made their way out of the marshes, into the larger bays and open waters of the Gulf.

Red October 2Ladyfish on the fly

The technique of combining fly fishing and conventional tackle proved successful as Landon caught a tremendous redfish on the coast of Mobile Bay.  We also had the opportunity to teach him that although we sacrificed one species of fish, releasing another is important to the preservation of future generations of game fish.

Chuck Fisk, Gulf Coast Council Conservation Director of the International Fly Fishing Federation,
demonstrates proper release of a redfish.
Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Do you want to seek more secluded water in search of Redfish?  Close encounters with big reds are possible in backwaters by use of kayaks specifically designed for fishing.  The low profile construction enables opportunities for sight fishing and short casts.  The kayak also serves as cushion to the tension of line between angler and the strength of Redfish.

Angler: IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Champion, Benton Parrott, with a nice Mobile Bay area redfish
Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Whether you enjoy the breezy beach or tranquil marsh, Red October is the time to reach the water for one of the Gulf Coast’s favorite species.

A Mobile Bay area marsh redfish on the fly
Angler and Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Thank you to YakAngler.com for running this story:  http://www.yakangler.com/kayak-fishing-techniques/item/2631-red-october

Copyright 2013 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Seeds That Sprout

Seeds that Sprout 1

Our pursuits of catching that trophy fish are focused out on the water.  Yet, those dreams would not be possible without healthy habitat within and surrounding the fishery.


This weekend began with an evening of fly fishing in the yak along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay.  Then, thoughts turned inland to participate with my family and Cub Scout pack in the 26th annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup.


Spending a few hours removing debris from the marsh not only benefits the watershed, but also plants seed in young lives that sprouts excitement to care for the environment God blessed us with.

Copyright 2013 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Organizing Fishing Gear Part 2 – Clothing

Organizing Fishing Gear ClothingIt’s 12:00AM and just three hours before crawling out of bed to beat the sunrise to the water’s edge.  Frustrated and tired, the one piece of clothing needed is no where to be found.

Sound familiar?  The challenge to maximize available space and utilize it for saving time pays dividends.  A good night’s rest and low stress is important for enjoying the most out of a fishing trip.

I’m always looking for something that can’t be found just before going fishing.  I’ll admit it.  So, I decided to find one space that could store all my fishing clothes.  I also needed a way to quickly access small and large pieces in less than a minute, literally.

A company named Canopy manufactures a very useful hanging closet organizer that has a hook and loop attachment that wraps around a clothing bar.  Three large shelves within the organizer allow for both warm and cold weather under and outer wear.  Below are eight smaller boxes that store a surprising number of items to be at the ready when needed.

Those items I wear most and some that are hard to find will go into the organizer in the middle of the closet.  Hanging to the right and left are jackets, long pants, or heavier shirts that I sometimes select based on weather or fishing conditions.  This simple solution for organizing my clothes will go a long way toward a relaxed preparation for a great day of fishing.

Copyright 2013 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

A Poor Man’s Tarpon Is My Treasure…A World Record?

Saturday began as a special morning as I had the opportunity to take five of my friends out fishing, of which four had not done so from a kayak yet. The weather was sketchy at best as severe thunderstorms had been rolling through our Gulf Coast communities all week at various times of the day. Strategically, we decided to launch our kayaks at dawn within some waters protected from the west winds with access to a small bay. I was excited to share my sport with some good friends, but also it was the first fishing outing in my new kayak, the Hobie Pro Angler 12 recently released.

The fishing picked up around 7:00AM and by end of the morning between the six of us, we had caught seven species of fish, including flounder and speckled trout. The weather remained cloudy and although there was wind, it was manageable.

I was fly fishing, as I nearly always do. Reading the maps prior to the outing I noticed a drop off just beyond the piers that lined the shore, and made a mental note that I would fish this transition during the tide movement that morning near an inlet. I normally carry three fly rods on my kayak, so to be rigged with different fly patterns tied to a 6wt, 8wt, and 10wt rod. Between the three different options, I am ready for wind or finesse, whatever may be required for the situation.

At 7:30AM, I missed a good fish that only remained on for a second. Picking the floating line off the water, I made one false cast and delivered the olive and white clouser minnow fly right back where I had the first bite. As soon as I started the retrieval, a large fish crashed my fly just beneath the surface and made a strong run. I keep my drag relatively light after losing a fish last year when it was too tight. This time it was too loose and the force of the first run spun the reel faster than the line was running out and tangled my line inside the reel. While stripping to clear the tangle, I had to maintain focus on keeping leverage on the fish as it was now swimming back toward my kayak. During the next couple of runs, the fish ended up stripping all 105 feet of fly line off my reel to the backing. As I gained ground on the nice ladyfish, I remembered something told to my friends as we launched. I had misplaced my net that morning in the garage and with tongue in cheek I told them that I hoped I didn’t catch a large fish for fear of losing it in attempting to land it by hand. The fight came to a close after ten or so leaps into the air, a few strong runs, and a ten minute battle. The ladyfish was ready for landing once brought to the side of my new PA12.

Angler: Aaron Rubel Photo by Matt Jones

Angler: Aaron Rubel
Photo by Matt Jones

Ladyfish are not a prime target species in the region of the Gulf Coast. They are known as poor man’s tarpon around these parts, but I really enjoy the sport of catching a ladyfish on a fly rod. Never before had I caught a 24.25 inch ladyfish, and so my friend Matt Jones was gracious enough to take time out of his fishing to snap a photo of the nice catch, and the first fish brought to hand in my new kayak! I measured it and took a photo to capture my personal best of this particular species caught on a fly.

Poor Mans Tarpon 3What I didn’t realize was this turned out to be not just my personal best ladyfish on a fly, but it measures longer than the IGFA All Tackle World Record Length category for a ladyfish! I learned this upon doing some research once home after a friend asked what the Alabama state record was. Most records are measured in pounds, but this particular world record category for catch and release angling is measured in length.
Today, after some correspondence with the nice folks at the IGFA, I was informed that indeed the ladyfish I caught was longer than the current world record by 1.42 inches! My nearly uncontainable excitement tempered a bit when the gentleman followed that up by saying they were very sorry to have to inform me that the world record class fish of its’ species would not in the end qualify due to a technicality. I have not really ever thought through the remote possibility of catching a world record fish. Therefore, my measuring device, although a certified scale for tournaments I compete in, is not the official IGFA measuring device required for documenting a world record catch. Ugh.
Yes, I am extremely disappointed to not officially be able to claim an all tackle world record of catching this ladyfish by method of a fly, but as a friend told me today, “That’s fishing!” And so, a poor man’s tarpon will forever be a treasured memory for me, and a story that I will surely share into the future with family, friends, and fishing buddies.

Note: Thank you to Kayak Angler Magazine for interest in publishing the story on their website on July 31, 2012.

Copyright 2012 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved