How to set up a fishing kayak

How to set up your kayak for salt or freshwater fishing from front to back fly rods or spin.

Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have fun!

Thanks for watching!



Fly fishing in windy conditions – How to build a collapsible stripping basket

Fly fishing in windy conditions – How to build a collapsible stripping basket

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When fishing from a kayak, space is always a concern. When fly fishing in windy conditions line management is a big issue. You can always up your fly rod size and cast a lower cast, but when your stripping the line to your deck it gets out of control. In this article we are going to talk about fly line management, stripping baskets and how to make one. One specifically for a kayak that will not only tame the wind, but collapse easily to be stored on the kayak when not using.

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Fly lines in general I think have the eyes of a falcon. They seem to seek out the smallest object, any object that has the ability to snag and will wrap around it in a split second to mess up your cast. Even a nice large boat deck, unless made specifically for fly casting, will have you snagged up in no time. Kayaks are compact, so you have a lot of stuff in a small space. My paddle isn’t an issue, but some of my accessories like my foot pegs were. They sell some fancy items for boats but most are too large. Some you could modify for a kayak to help keep the line in place, but a good old beach towel that has been wet and rung out with your hands to still retain the weight works wonderful to eliminate snags. This works wonderful until the wind hits 10-20 knots or more. When that happens as you strip the line the amount of distance between your hands and the bottom of the deck becomes an issue. As this is where your line is exposed to the force of the wind and the wind will push your line out of your kayak or to the side where it will either snag or tangle. Regardless whether the fly line gets pushed out of your kayak and into the water without a tangle your casting distance will still be reduced because of the drag of the water.

Don’t leave your fly rod at home when the winds are blowing. First, up the size of your fly rod if you can so you have heavier fly line to help cut the wind. Second, use lighter flies.  Third, cast a little lower cast, meaning a little more side arm closer to the water and anchor your kayak so the wind is at your back. Again, wind is at your back meaning your back cast is into the wind and your release to your target is sailing with the wind. And most importantly bring along a stripping basket that can easily be stowed out of the way.

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With this in mind let’s explain how to build an inexpensive but very effective collapsible stripping basket that will last for a very long time.

What to buy:

Collapsible leaf basket –

First, you need to measure the inside of your kayak to see what diameter you can allow for since there are a few different sizes available. Next, go to your local store that sells garden supplies and look for a Collapsible Leaf Container made out of a vinyl type material (most are) so it’s waterproof. Then find the appropriate size. The one I have is 19 inches across by 23 inches high when opened and has Velcro straps to secure when collapsed. You don’t want one too short or one that is see through mesh, as again your goal is to reduce the distance your line travels from your stripping hand when exposed to the wind. – Price should average $20.00.

Plastic Peg Board-

Next buy a plastic peg board. It’s an upgraded version of the old pressed wood peg board you see in some garages with tools hanging from them. A piece of ¼ inch flat plastic with holes in it. You can get a large sheet 48 X 96 for under $20.00 to make more than one or find some smaller squares for less at your local hardware store. Any piece of plastic that covers the bottom and is about ¼ inch thick will work as its only purpose is to be waterproof, add weight to the bottom of the stripping basket so it doesn’t flip over easy, and to have some small holes. Alternatively, if you have something without holes you can easily drill them.

Nylon Cable Ties-

Last, you need 5 to 6 nylon cable ties commonly referred to as zip ties or tie wraps. A pack of these is under $5.00. I like the little thicker and longer ones so that once secured through the two holes I can cut them down to about 6 inches.

Tools you need:

Permanent marker, saw, and scissors

How to make:

Put the peg board on the floor and put your collapsible leaf basket on top. Get a permanent marker and trace the bottom of the leaf basket. Now grab your saw and cut out the circle you just drew, but cut a little inside the circle so it will fit securely on the inside bottom of the leaf basket.

Next, take a zip tie and go through one hole in the center of the plastic peg board and out through another hole right next to it and zip it up. If you are drilling your own just drill them a 1/4 to no more than 1/2 inch apart. This doesn’t need to be exact just enough so it won’t easily break the piece in between. Now randomly and evenly spread out the next 4 or 5 zip ties and do the same thing. If you have super long zip ties cut them down to about 6 inches as you want them to stand up reasonable straight.

Finally, take your peg board with the zip ties and put it in the bottom of the opened collapsible leaf basket and you’re done. Push the leaf basket down, hold and secure it with the Velcro straps or whatever yours has to hold it together when collapsed.


Please note when you’re in the kayak and ready to use take care in opening as the leaf baskets are spring loaded and they pop open fast, so keep you head out of the way or you might be in for a swim.

Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have fun!

Emily 2014 Benefit Tournament – Mosquito Lagoon Florida

Emily 2014 Inshore Benefit Fishing Tournament

Walt Palen


At 3:00 AM I rolled into the driveway of Josh Slager in Lakeland, FL and we started our journey to the East Coast for the Emily 2014 Inshore Fishing Tournament. This is an annual tournament to help raise funds for Emily’s therapy at her special school that runs $29,000.00 a year. Emily is a 10 year old little girl and is the only one in the world that has genetic disorder – Chromosome 2q36 Deletion Syndrome. She also has autism, and epilepsy. 


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The tournament was a catch and picture release slam, consisting of 3 trout and 3 redfish. Kayaks, canoes, and Gheenoe’s were allowed as well as live and cut bait.

Kayak’s by Bo in Titusville was hosting the event and we arrived a little before the 5:30 AM check in time. Once we completed our sign in and received the tokens required to be in the pictures of the fish we were off to the predetermined launch site in the famous Mosquito Lagoon.

It was still dark and just before we stopped to unload our kayaks a large black creature walked in front of us on the dirt road. It was an 8 foot alligator and he was in no hurry. He was meandering towards our launch area – yikes. Little did we know this was the first of countless alligators we would see that day.


We waited for the 6:30 AM start time sitting in our kayaks listening to the constant buzz of what gave this place its name – mosquitoes – millions of them. Once we began, I scouted and finally found a school of redfish. I slid my Werner Shuna paddle quietly in its holder, my anchor went down, and I starting tossing top water but, each cast came in with a bunch of weeds. I switched to my other Bull Bay kayak rod with a weedless jig and a darker plastic tail. Success! I quietly followed the school till I put three slot redfish in pictures.


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I moved out to deeper water to get trout but only managed small ones under the required 12 inch minimum. I watched as a large storm grew closer. I could see the gray line of pouring rain, and decided that my Native Watercraft Ultimate kayak and I were heading back to safety. I paddled a couple of miles back, unloaded everything, looked up and the storm had split. Other than a little drizzle and high winds the storm had missed me. So now I had to reload the kayak and paddle back to where I left off. It was a waste of an hour or so but a worthwhile decision as I don’t take chances with potential lightning.


I spent more time scouting for areas that I thought would hold large trout. I saw manatees, dolphin, and lots of alligators. This is an eco-system like no other. I managed to pick off a nice slot trout and then a whopping 23 inch beauty and finally my last needed trout. I sat back and took a deep breath – I had my slam!


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We got to check in at 2:00PM filled out the cards, had my fish checked on the camera and the total came to 117 inches. I knew I had a chance but with 145 anglers you just never know what to expect.

We walked around the tents set up for the raffle donations and talked to old friends and met new ones. At 4:00PM they started the awards and raffles and Steve Gibson came out on top with an impressive 133.25 inches for first place. I won 3rd place for my trout and ended up second place overall.


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Emily top 27










The parents of Emily – Austin and Becca Rouse are awesome people that had smiles on their faces all day. The total raised for Emily’s therapy was just under $10,000.00 and it felt good to be a part of it. Please go to “Help Emily stay in school” Facebook page and “like” so you can be notified of future events and next year’s tournament. You can read more plus donate through their website to financially help this family – or

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Please take the time in your area to research tournaments deemed as benefits and if you believe in the cause and the fund distribution – enter. These tournaments are competitive but on the fun side and the end result is you help someone in need and that’s something we all need to do!


Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have some fun!

Vacation to the Pacific Northwest and my largest Wild King (Chinook) Salmon!

Vacation to the Pacific Northwest and my largest Wild King (Chinook) Salmon!

I live and grew up fishing in Florida and it’s a thrill each and every time I fish. I recently vacationed in upper reaches of the Northwest in an area that is located at the base of the breathtaking landscape of Olympic National Park. Its surrounded by the Olympic rain forest and is known for the outdoor filming of the movie Twilight –  La Push, Washington.

La Push is near the town of Forks and is a typical NW small town where people are friendly, you can drive forever without a stop light, and see breath taking landscape at every turn. This small town had an added bonus as it was home to many rivers. These rivers were home to “massive” salmon and steelhead, the reason we took the long journey from Florida, and where I caught my largest King salmon ever.

Our plan was to wade fish the rivers and one of the days do an all-day float trip. I was accompanied by Patrick Mullen also from Florida, and the day of the float trip we met up with Aaron O’Leary from Angler’s Obsession. A month ago while Aaron was on a vacation in Florida, I had the opportunity to take him out in the kayaks for a saltwater fly fishing trip.


Now roles reversed it was my turn, and I was looking forward to fishing with him again in his home waters.

The rivers in August are low, so the float boat of choice was a custom outfitted raft to take the hits from the rocks. It had an aluminum grab rail completely around the raft, leaning posts and stripping baskets to make fishing and pulling the raft over low areas easy.


Our primary rods were 8 wt fly rods, and we also brought a couple spinning rods to cover all bases.


The first fish were Steelheads and Browns, and Patrick seemed to have the touch. His fly rod was on fire, drags screaming with Aaron attending the oars and using his classic deep radio voice to say “HIT, HIT, HIT” at every strike.


I finally got in the game and started to catch fish. We floated for hours picking up fish on-going and then Patrick got a nice steelhead that made it home for dinner.


Now for me, the word steelhead and “ballistic” go together.  The fish go crazy, screaming drag, do complete flips out of the water, and on-going like a crazed snook/tarpon hybrid. Add the rapidly moving, cool, blue steel colored water and I can tell you the adrenaline is pumping.

As we floated we beached the raft occasionally on rock bars to hit prime areas a little harder.


This particular time we stopped where it split the river and what a stop it was. I saw an area that had fallen trees on the left, current flow, some logs under water half way down to the right, an eddy, and it was deep. Because of the depth I switched from the fly rod to my little spinning rod I brought from Florida and cast a single hook spinner. I let it sink first, then retrieved slowly to keep it down. I kept staring at the deep eddy and I just knew a fish would be there.

On my fourth cast the line stopped dead in its tracks. I pulled back and immediately my line starting screaming out drag – SCREAMING. The fish got to the set of logs 50 yards to my right and made a U-turn. It shot straight back, paralleling the rock bar, and spun around right in front of me. I furiously reeled to try to keep up and that’s when I saw it……. it was a MONSTER.

Again she took off back to the logs on my right, but this time underneath and through to the other side that led back to the main river. I followed as fast as I could, walking over the rocks with my drag still screaming. I got to the area where the log pile was underwater and realized my line was going right through the logs and I couldn’t go any further.


Aaron, back from getting the huge net from the raft, yelled for me to get in the freezing water to try to get the line out from the logs.


I immediately jumped in feeling no cold at all, and managed to follow my line through the logs. Rod held high, I followed the fish as she continued to run. Finally we caught up, and again she turned and went back to the log pile, but this time I got lucky and she went around the outside of the logs and not through.


My prize was finally tired. Aaron scooped with the massive net (it’s really a big net) and the battle was won.

This fish was huge and my personal best King Salmon to date. As we were admiring the catch, we also realized it has its adipose fin which makes it a “wild” King Salmon not a hatchery fish and an even a more exciting dark mouth catch.


A “wild“ King Salmon is also a protected fish so we carefully took pictures ensuring the salmon never left the water and released her back into the wild. At that point my vacation, regardless of the many days still to go, was complete!

I just caught my largest King Salmon!!!!!!!!!!!! I walked back to the spot where it all started. Put my rod down and sat on the rocks to relive the dream – I was good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I want to again thank Aaron O’Leary from Anglers Obsession. If you are in Seattle or closer make sure you give him a call –

From the breathtaking mountain hikes, rugged beaches and rivers, and unbelievable fishing. The upper Northwest is a special place that you will always remember. Thanks to all the people we met along the way that helped make this trip truly unforgettable!

Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have some fun!

Thanks for the read please “rate” if you enjoyed!

Take care, Walt

(Facebook: ShallowFly Walt or Instagram: shallowfly_walt)

Phosphate pit fishing in Florida

Have you ever fished a freshwater Pit in Florida for bass and copperheads?

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It’s Spring time here in Florida and that means fish both fresh and salt are active; very active. This trip we agreed to fish the fresh water. We just had two days of rain, so we knew there would be flowing water from culverts and over-flows between lakes that would concentrate fish. The place we chose to launch the kayaks is a management area called Tenoroc.


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Tenoroc is reclaimed land with a series of lakes or pits as some call them. These were formed from phosphate mining back in the 1960’s. This habitat flows into the Peace River and is managed by biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

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There are many lakes all with their own personality. The majority have regular well maintained boat ramp, but allow only trolling motors and only a few of the largest ones allow internal combustion motors to be run at idle only. Some are hand launch solely for kayaks and canoes. They are all managed meaning there are strict limits on any bass you are allowed to keep. This is a place you expect to not just fish but catch, and the chances of bass over 5 lbs. are great, and over 10 lbs. not uncommon.


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Today our weapons of choice were both fly rods and spinning rods. My buddies had their 6 and 8 wts for larger bass.


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My choice was a 3 wt rod 7’ 6 “ 5 piece rod and super lightweight Orvis Battenkill II reel. This set up was recommended to me many years ago by Allen Wyatt at the Andy Thornal Company and has provided more enjoyment than I could imagine. There is something about the shorter 7’ 6” rod and ultra-light weight set up that make small bass and larger pan fish feel like you’re bringing in sea monsters from the deep and will definitely make you smile.


Due to all the new fresh cooling water from the past two days of rain happy fish were jumping all over just like there was a hatch on a trout stream. We found a large culvert pipe draining water from the lake we were on into the next pit. The fish were like salmon swimming against the current through the 50 yards or so of pipe and then jumping out of the pipe into our lake right in front of us. It was a crazy site and non-stop the whole time we were there.

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We caught a variety of fish and many with the fly rods.  The fish were all dark in color. The bass almost all black with some dark olive green. They hit hard both by the rushing water and in the back hidden pockets of the maze of surrounding islands. Small #4 size dark colored Clouser Minnows imitating baitfish were the fly of choice. We let them sink then moved them erratically like a minnow darting to avoiding its aggressor.


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Next were bluegill and then the older larger Copperheads.The name Copperhead is the result of the deep purple coloration of mature bluegill males with a copper band across the top of its head. Typically a Florida bluegill male will develop the coloration pattern when it is 4 years old or older, and it becomes much more vivid during the spawn between April and September.
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The last catch of the day was a beast of a Tilapia on my ultralight spinning rod using a roadrunner. This fish too taking on the dark coloration almost like a record breaking copperhead with the same purple hue. This was one heck of a fight as it was wrongly hooked in the top back fin and the way the drag was pulling made me wonder if I had monster bass since I know there are many monsters to be had here.

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Tenoroc is true old Florida. The land is beautiful with a diverse habitat of marsh, woods, and water. There are hiking and horseback riding trails, bird watching but most importantly quality fishing for big largemouth bass and pan fish of all kinds. This is remote territory with almost 7000 acres of woods and water. With that comes respect and planning as you are the visitor and many of the creatures much larger than you. Watch your step, leave only footprints, and enjoy the sights of the rattle snakes, moccasins, and massive alligators that will be joining you on every visit.


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More importantly catch some fish but most importantly enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors in a Tenoroc near you.


Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have some fun!

Werner Paddles carbon blend fishing paddle – “Shuna: Hooked” review

Werner Paddles – “Shuna: Hooked”

I have had the new 240c length carbon blend “Shuna: Hooked” paddle for about 6 months now and put it through the fishing and long distance paddling tests. This made in USA paddle is unbelievably light and extremely durable with no blade flex giving you a fast and efficient stroke that minimizes fatigue when paddling long distances.



I use mine to both stand up and pole for sight fishing plus paddle long distances to get to the spots in my Ultimate 14.5 here on the saltwater flats of Florida as well as the freshwater lakes. I do stand up and paddle a lot and the top of the blade feels really good in my hand when using it in this manner. Unlike a plastic blade paddle that will flex so you lose power when paddling hard or easily get nicks and cuts which you can feel the Shuna: Hooked blade is hard as a rock and to date looks like new. The mid size blade is also perfect for a quiet meaningful approach to put you in the exact position to line up that pin point cast and/or for the long distance tournament run to get you to your secrete spot.



The quality build and craftsmanship is easily seen even in pictures and the see through scale fishing design is killer. This is the best feeling, lightest, and most efficient paddle I have used to date!


They have more than one design for fishermen but with all the new high sitting seats coming out on the new fishing kayaks this one designed specifically for a high angle stroke and with mid sized blades I think will be their most desired paddle.



From Werner web site:

Premium Performance gives you the right combination of light weight, stiffness and durability.

Mid-sized high angle blades fit the widest range of anglers.

Available in our carbon blend Straight shaft, Standard Diameter in longer lengths for wider boats and raised seats.

Scales: Grey Hooked patterned in our fiberglass laminate blades.

Dihedral allows for smooth forward and directional paddling.

Custom shaped, low profile, reinforcement spine allows for enhanced blade maneuverability when linking several strokes and provides blade stiffness and overall strength.


Shaft Type: Carbon/Fiberglass Blend
Shaft Size: Standard
Blade Shape: Mid-blade design
Blade Material: Fiberglass
Blade Size: 46 x 16 cm
Shaft Diameter: 1.2 in / 3.05 cm
Weight: 27.5 oz / 779.61 g
Made in: USA 

If your looking for a paddle put one of these in your hands and I bet like me you will love it!

Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have some fun!

Walt Palen (Shallow Fly Walt on Facebook)