A lot can change in a year and some things have not. I am still plagued with on and off back pain. I went for 8 weeks of physical therapy to help my muscles get stronger from the other love in my life at a computer writing web code for too long at one sitting. It is called muscle wasting, and yes boys and girls, it is a very real painful thing. However, the exercises I learned in physical therapy, help me to get things back in order more quickly as well as a trip to the chiropractor when things really get out of place and need extra help. To be able to lift Big Nellie, I have to do my routine of exercises morning and night.

With this back pain, I have had to resort to a lighter vessel to get onto the water in a kayak.

Little Nellie

Enter Little Nellie. I have a friend who has two “Little Nellies” that both fit in her car, with all windows and doors closed. When I drug Big Nellie down and up a 50-yard lawn to and from the water’s edge it was time to reassess my situation. My back was out a bit at the time but it was my first trip back to my childhood lake and the spirit of my young fishing freak took over completely. I powered through the pain of hauling Big Nellie.

The Upgrades

Pelican Argo 80 – 25lbs empty compared to FeelFree11.5 – 100+lbs with Overdrive pedal system installed with seat and all gear.

I have a plastic tarp in the back of the car that covers the back and the from seats to hold Little Nellie and the C-Tug. I carry towels to wipe off the water and dirt before I put her back into the car. She sure does get fishy smelling when landing a bunch of bass. I have already had to bathe Little Nellie and give her a coating of FaBreeze.

Little Nellie could be seen as a downgrade but in a good way, especially for my back and hills.     It has been a year with (Big) Nellie and I was beginning to think about whether or not I could find consistency in catching bass. It took visiting the old homestead lake that I grew up on, to be able to catch bass and get lots of hits. “The lake matters.” I remember catching bass and bream there in my youthful teenage years. I remember using Beetle Spins and plastic worms to catch them.

I have been to my childhood lake three times, and I have been very successful each time. The last trip, I got exhausted from the excited anticipated energy it took to keep up with the bites and yank hard to get the hookup.

I found a new honey hole, and it has bigger bass in it. However, it is a challenge with grass mats growing close to the edges. I was able to hook into 5 fish but had some real monsters that got away. I was using the non-weighted weedless worm of my childhood lake.

A friend asked me to cat-sit for her while she is out of town for a week. She generously paid me for my time, and that check went towards my gearing up for fishing bass in the grass. I needed to buy weights, bigger worms, creature baits, weight stoppers, hooks that hold your plastics better to get through the grass to catch the big ones. It is a wonderful challenge I look forward to getting back there and trying this new technique to me. Jigs, baitcasting reels and spinnerbaits have always intimidated me as something the “pros” use.

New Baits
New baits for bass in the grassy lake

I wish that I could take Big Nellie, but the fastest way there is a 40-minute drive that doesn’t seem like 40 minutes, which involves 8 miles on a major highway at 70mph. I might give it a try. In my second outing, I have confirmed to ease of access. This new lake does not have a boat ramp but does have free access on the side of the lake. I could get close enough, drop Big Nellie down in the grass and drag/push her a couple feet into the water.

Another upgrade I am going to have to invest in is a rubber net. My sister gave me a nylon cloth mesh net last year for my birthday. A great gift and was super enthused to use it…  Until you get a fishing hook caught in it. That is when patience leaves you wrestling with the net for 5 minutes and you are not getting anywhere. I have had to resort to cutting the hook out of the net several times.

Little Nellie is working out great along with the best kayak cart upgrade. I had to upgrade to the  C-Tug when I had to drag Big Nellie 50 yards across a friend’s lawn down/uphill which was an extreme challenge physically in many ways at my old childhood lake. The $30 cart I had only used once before was simply not adequate enough to get the job done, must less, get it cinched on there securely without coming undone. It was a 15-minute ordeal just to get the cart secured semi-properly. I recommend the price tag of the  $139 C-Tug. Invest in one if you are going to be hauling any kind of kayak or canoe any amount of distance – with ease. I also bought a very small length paddle seemingly kids sized. Works fine and I lay it on the sit-in edges in front of me.

Little Nellie got a couple upgrades. I installed 2-rod holders that were an absolute necessity. They were easy to install and purchased them from Academy Sports. Cutting large holes with a Dremel tool and using a rivet gun for the first time didn’t seem to intimidate me. The rod holders work marvelously. The other was a 4-inch piece of track to install a GoPro mount and a net holder. Both work well, except for the GoPro mount. I have already whacked the camera twice trying to yank a bass into a hookset. Might have to leave that for the intro and outtro of the videos and mount it to my head and chest during active fishing. You never learn these things until you are actively engaged to know what works and what needs rethinking.

I upgraded to a new PFD as a birthday present to myself. Yet again I bought cheaply in the beginning and I should have bought what the kayak industry says is the best all around PFD, the NRS Chinook. I needed pockets to hold keys, phone and an external USB battery for my GoPro camera. I got orange to match my “Nellies.” My old PFD did have pockets but they were angled and completely useless.

NRS Chinook
Triangular pocket fail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One year later and I am finally feeling like a real angler now. Here are some photos of my recent catches.