This January, we’re celebrating the new year, the new website, our new Brand Ambassadors, and everyone else making big, new changes. As part of our #NewYearNewYakGear campaign, we got the chance to catch up with Brand Ambassador Jon Leavitt to talk about some, well, new things going on in his #kayakfishing life.
Rule #1: New Waters, New Game Plan
Virginia was my home for 35 years and I exploited every fishing opportunity she had to offer. I had thousands of dollars invested in gear that caught fish in Virginia and thousands of hours of time invested on how to catch them – let alone the hundreds of connections and friends I made along the way.
When my girlfriend came to me and said we would be moving to Vermont because she was accepted into a PHD program, I was excited for her. But wait? I knew absolutely nothing about fishing in Vermont.
My first thought was “Man, that place is cold – like 6 months out of the year!” and “I think all they fish for is trout on the fly!” which I knew nothing about. I had to come up with a game plan.
Rule #2: Hardcore Kayak Anglers Are Always The Most Helpful
My first step was getting in touch via social media with pro-team members from various companies that fished the area. This was by far the most helpful thing I did. The Pro-Team guys are the ambassadors of kayak fishing and they tend to be the most hardcore, but they’re also always the most likely to help out a new guy looking to fish.
We’ve all been there. New waters are hard, man!
The guys from Jackson Kayak, NRS and Hobie Kayaks were absolute rockstars. They got me pointed in the right direction for gear and areas to fish.
Rule #3: Google Earth – Every Anglers Best Friend
Second, I hit what is probably the greatest tool a angler has at his/her disposal – GoogleEarth. I started off small and only searched a 30-mile radius of lakes, rivers, and ponds from my house. Once I found the body of water, I searched the web for any information I could.
Unfortunately, a state with just a little over 600,000 people does not have the online information that I was used to coming from Virginia – holding triple the number of people and well-reported recreational fishing information.
Rule #4: Sometimes It Gets Weird
When the internet ran out of ways to help, I resorted to old-school guerilla tactics. This is where it might have gotten a little weird.
If you had fishing decals on your truck, I would start talking to you. If you were towing a boat, I’d strike up a conversation. I was the creepy guy hanging around boat ramps towards the end of the day just to pick guy’s brains on how they did and what they were using.
Its amazing the info you can get from people by just asking.
Rule #5: Get Out and Fish
With all this help and info, I narrowed down three small lakes to fish and, yeah, I hit pay dirt! In the first two months, I had three personal best smallmouth bass, learned how to effectively catch northern pike – a species I’ve never targeted before, caught my first wild rainbow and brown trout on the fly, and found a place that has a huge population of largemouth bass.
I’ve even got out on the ice when the winter weather hit. My biggest concern about moving here was the cold and how short my season would be as compared to what I was used to in Virginia. Unlike the ice, those concerns melted away when I started to learn about ice fishing.
I have only begun to scratch the surface of fishing opportunities Vermont has to offer. Atlantic Salmon, Bowfin, and Walleye are on my list for 2017. Here’s to crossing those off!