Thursday, August 17, 2017

Testing out the new Nucanoe Proped Pedal Drive

Nucanoe was kind enough to send Headwaters Kayak Shop one of the new Proped pedal drive units to test out and provide feedback before it is officially released in October. Since I had a fishing trip planned on the north delta for smallmouth the weekend that the drive arrived, I decided I would kill 2 birds with one stone and test out the drive.

The entire system installed on a Frontier 12
When the drive arrived there were several parts in the box, which made me nervous, since I am not the handiest guy. In addition to the box, Blake from nucanoe sent me an e-mail with a link to their instructional videos on how to install the drive on either a Frontier  or a Pursuit kayak. My hat goes off to Nucanoe on these instructional videos.

A Close up of the stern bracket that supports the drive.
Not only were they easy to follow, they broke the install up into several short videos, so if I got stuck I didn't have to scroll through 20 minutes of video to get the help I needed. With the help of these videos, I had the drive fully installed in less than 30 minutes and didn't have any trouble with the install. Once the install was complete all of the shop staff took turns sitting in the Frontier 12 we had the drive installed on and gave it a couple of turns of the pedals. The drive was super smooth and ultra quiet and with the different seat base options for the Frontier you can tweak all of the ergonomics more than any drive system that I know of.
The Steering Lever 
We also played with taking the system on and off. The only negative thing I noted is that to easily take the drive on and off the boat, I would recommend removing the seat, otherwise you have to disconnect the drive cable which takes a little playing with to align and connect. Other than that, it's a snap! The steering cable is attached to the drive with a spring loaded disconnect, the drive attaches to the bracket mounted on the kayak with a push pin, and the retract cord is attached to the drive with a caribiner, which only leaves the retract cord and the steering control on the boat and the steering cable and the steering cable and steering control can be removed if you want.  I couldn't wait to get it out on the water!

The Retract Cord.
We launched at Steamboat Landing, I deployed the drive, made sure it was locked in place and started pedaling. The first thing I noticed is that when more than a small amount of efffort is applied to the pedals, the prop starts cavitating. I have spoken to Nucanoe about this and they plan on sending out a drive unit with a longer shaft to hopefully alleviate the problem. That being said if you are into effortlessly cruising along in a super stable kayak, you will love this drive. It has a higher gear ratio than a lot of other drives out there, so a minimal amount of input from you will get even a wide boat like a Frontier 12 cruising along, without fatiguing the user.

The Frontier 12 with the Drive System Removed. All that is left on the boat is a Jam Cleat, A Pulley, 2 steering cable brackets and 2 extra pad eyes.
The next thing I wanted to test was maneuverability, so I started fishing. In the delta there is almost always either a little or a lot of wind and there is always tide pushing your kayak around. This drive absolutely shines in the maneuverability category. With the drive mounted in the stern of the kayak, it takes one to 2 rotations of the pedals to rotate from side to side. I felt like I was in a fly fishing turret, able to pinpoint casts way more easily than if I had been paddling or using a different pedal drive system for that matter. Even with the wind blowing 90 degrees to the side of my kayak, I could easily sweep the bow from side to side allowing me to fish the the bank incredibly effectively. The drive works great at turning the kayak in both forward and reverse, which is not always the case with other drive systems.
A North Delta Smallmouth I picked up while testing the drive.

My conclusion on this drive system is that it puts maneuverability and cruising ahead of covering miles at high speed.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kayak Bass Fishing at Rancho Seco

Team Member Ernie Williams is our self proclaimed Rancho Seco Kayak Bass Expert. Here is his latest report. 

He reports that bass bit is still slow; he has put in four trips with only six bass, with only three bass over 12”.   His biggest going almost 22” and he reported that on the next cast he landed an 18” and that was it for three hours.  Bass are moving chasing bait but not taking top water baits even when landing on the blow ups.  Water temp is 74.6* in the morning and climbing to 76* by afternoon.   Water Clarity is 6-9 feet depending on wind and what part of the lake. Submerged vegetation is coming thicker than in years passed and at greater depth too.  He has been throwing, dropshots, swimbaits, jigs, bladed jigs, Swim jigs, Spybaits, umbrella rigs and deep diving crank baits. 

Bass Selfie

Solid Fish

For those that don’t know Ernie he takes his Son with him on his Kayak and was able to keep him happy by moving along the shore line looking for small pan fish land countless bluegill, and red ears on ¼” night crawlers on 2lb test and size N/#2 hooks.  Casting or just dipping the worm in the water will have 3-8 pan fish rushing to your hook.
Ride with Ernie and see the action.

General information about Rancho Seco, it is 162 acers, with a max depth of 46 feet, gates open at 7am $13 for car top and $15 for trailers.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fishing Report: Bass at Pardee Lake for May 2017 by Ernie Williams

With Memorial day weekend coming up you all may want to fish a lake
with less boat traffic. Lake Pardee may be the place you are looking
for as they don't allow water-skiers, wakeboarders or Jet ski... Just
fishing boats, but they will inspect your vessel before launch so make sure the
kayak is dry.

Map of Pardee
A nice example of a Pardee Bass

I have put two days on lake Pardee the over the last two weeks. Water
temp in the marina is 63 degrees in the morning and 65 degrees in the afternoon/evening. In the main body of the lake temps are around 58 degrees and upriver was 62 degrees.
Water clarity was 9 feet over the whole lake. The first trip on 5/14/2017 catch consisted of
all bass both largemouth and smallmouth. Bites came on a dropshot rig in 18'-24' had 9
total bass with a bonus four trout, which also fell for the dropshot rig. This past Saturday,
5/20/2017, I was able to catch one trout, three largemouth, and 12
smallmouth, but six of those smallmouth were locked onto beds. Bed fish
were caught on dropshot rigs and small 4"  juvenile trout swimbaits. The non-bed
fish were in 12'-18' of water and were caught mostly as my bait was falling so a darter head may
also work. Dropshot worm color used was Morning Dawn.
Look for hard rock bottom for bedding small mouth, long points with
deep water nearby or underwater island tops.  Good luck and be safe.

Some examples of the Morning Dawn color soft plastics that have been catching fish lately

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fly Fishing the Delta Part 1 by Headwaters Fly Shop

In the last five years I have taught myself how to fly fish the California Delta from various human powered craft. The delta is such an amazing fishery, that I feel it would be selfish of me not to share, so I decided that I would write up a multi-part series how to on fly fishing the delta, so that hopefully others will come to appreciate just how awesome the California Delta is. In this first installment, I will talk about rod, reel and line choices geared toward the average fly fisherman, who is most likely transitioning from fly fishing from trout to fly fishing for bass.

The first part of this equation is finding a suitable rod. My personal favorite rod for learning to fly fish for warm water species, as well as being a flat out fun rod to catch warm water species on is the Gloomis 8 foot 5 weight Shorestalker. I chose this rod for several reasons, and there were several rods tested before I found this one. The prime reason for my love of this particular rod is castability, or more plainly put, ease of casting. Because it is a 5wt, there is plenty of flex in the blank and because the vast majority of fly fisherman chase trout as their primary targets, they are used to the blank flexing during the cast, so having a blank that does this makes transitioning to a new type of fly fishing easier, and in this article you will see me use the word easier a lot, because let's face it, if something is easier to do it's more fun and we are more likely to continue doing it. The other reason this is one of my favorite rods is it has a very wide grain window so it is easier to find a line that will properly work with this rod, compared to competitors bass fly rods. Anything from 190 up to 290 grains (yes that is not a typo, 290 grains on a 5 weight is a lot) will work well with this rod (more on this later in the article). Finally, due to the fact that the blank of this rod is fairly flexible for a warmwater rod, it makes catching small fish more fun. Let's face it, if you are learning a new fishery there are a ton more small fish out there than there are big fish, so if you want to learn about a new fishery, targeting small fish makes sense. The only con of of this rod is the price. At $350, it is a big initial investment, but I have a solution to this problem. At the Headwaters Fly Shop I keep demo rods of everything I sell, and I keep extra demos of this particular rod, so I would be happy to let a prospective buyer rent one of these and try it out on the water. As an alternative, The Headwaters Fly Shop has a guide service operating on the California Delta and I can show you how great this rod is.

The Shorestalker easily manages fish up to a couple pounds and is light enough to make small fish fun too.
The second decision you need to make is choosing a reel. I will be upfront and honest, in this category there really isn't one right choice, literally any kind of reel will work, from click and pawl to the most high tech reels out there. My choice for reel really comes down to personal preference and experience. The reel on my shorestalker is a Galvan Rush Light R-6. I chose to go with Galvan because they are a small, local business, that makes a top notch quality product and I know from personal experience you don't start a small local business to get rich or become famous, you do it out of love of what you do and you want to share your passion with others. I chose the Rush Light Series because it is the least expensive reel they offer with a one way clutch bearing, so you can adjust tension of the reel as you are pulling line off the reel, without affecting tension on the reel while you are reeling up. Not to mention with colors other than just black and clear metal finish, these reels look awesome in photos!
The Galvan R-6 spooled with Airflo Bass 8wt line. A great combo for the delta.
The third part of this puzzle is choosing fly line. I could do an entire article just about fly line, and I probably will in a future part of this series, but since we are talking about getting started I will keep my selection simple. The line on your delta fly rod should carry as much grain weight as the rod blank will handle without breaking. As you further master fly fishing the the delta, you will want to throw bigger flies, and more grain weight will turn over bigger flies easier than less grain weight will. The fish inhabiting the delta are far from spooky and a strong splash down on the water will more likely draw a strike than spook a fish. My personal preference thus far is an airflo Bass/Muskie weight forward floating fly line in 8 weight. This line has a 40 foot head and the entire head weighs 290 grains. If I were throwing the entire 40 foot head, 290 grains would completely overload 5 weight shorestalker. In my application, which is usually kneeling in my ultralight canoe, I am only getting 15 to 25 feet of the head up in the air and piling a bunch of line into a line management device and then shooting the line to complete my cast, so I am really only carrying between 108 and 181 grains . Also because this is an 8 weight line, it is very large diameter, which bigger or wind resistant flies easier, which is a lot of what is thrown on the delta. I know that this setup sounds outlandish, but you don't have to take my word for it, come out to the shop and try it, it works.

To this line there are two options for leaders: a furled leader or a poly leader mated to 3-5 feet of 20lb high quality fluorocarbon, such as Airflo G5 or Seaguar. The goal of this setup is to make turning over bigger flies easier and furled leaders or poly leaders along with large diameter tippet accomplish this task. The advantage of the furled leader is you can get it with a swivel which keeps flies like gurglers from twisting up your line. The advantages of the poly leader is it will last you several season and you can also get it in various sink rates, turning your floating fly line into a sink tip, creating a less expensive system for covering the water column compared to keeping three full setups (a floating, intermediate, and full sink), and will cover the majority of fishing conditions you will encounter in the delta. I use the bass/pike 4ft polyleaders from Airflo. The reasons for my choice of fluorocarbon line in 20lb test are it is large enough to turn over the largest flies you will throw on this setup, but slightly smaller than 20 lb test mono, so it will sink more easily than 20lb test mono, and then I only need to carry one tippet spool and if there are less items I need to remember to pack for a trip, it it easier for me to get out and fish, not to mention the downsides of using a human powered craft is there is less space and your speed is greatly affected by how much weight you are trying to move.

The final and probably most important part of this whole setup is the flies you will be using. Now as you progress you will have many, many flies in your delta box ( I know from experience, I currently have three fairly large boxes full), but right now we are just trying to a catch fish, any fish, and build your confidence, so you should keep it simple. I recommend 2 flies: 1 topwater and 1 subsurface. My personal recommendations would be: A Pultz bluegill special size 8 (topwater) in chartreuse and an umpqua perch darter (subsurface) also in size 8. I have caught everything that swims in the delta on these 2 flies.

A few examples or delta fish that fell for the size 8 perch colored darter.
So there you have it folks, the nuts and bolts of getting started fly fishing the California Delta. If you wish to discuss this topic further, or to book a guided trip on the delta, call The Headwaters Kayak Shop at 209-224-8367 and ask for Bill. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of the series, where I discuss choosing a craft for fly fishing the delta, and recommendations for spots on the delta to catch your first fish.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kayak Bass Fishing Lake Hogan By Team Member James Snyder

Hey guys, today I (James Snyder) had the privilege of fishing with some shop friends this afternoon Andy Rau And Ken Shields at New Hogan Reservoir here in beautiful California. We left Lodi around 6 am to arrive to the lake around 6:45 to some amazing air temps of 67 degrees. Forecast said it would be in the high 70's with winds from 0-12 mph gusts. For once the weatherman was correct!!! We made it on the water around 7:15 with light to no winds for the first 3-4 hours and the water was glass. Water temps started at 58 degrees and steadily climbed to over 63 degrees in some of the sun exposed and wind protected coves. Water was very dirty with only a few inches of visibility.

We started out with bass, striper and carp slashing all around us this morning. our fish finders were lit up with marks all over our selected area to fish this morning, its been a long time since I've personally had that many marks on my graph it was a nice change of pace. we started out hoping for a Topwater bite, WRONG! no luck there but we slowed down and started chucking A-rigs. no takers for me but Andy got a nice little 10in Striper early in the morning. We then slowed way down and broke out the fairy wands. our baits of choice today was the Ned Rig and drop shot. My colors of choice were green pumpkin red flake and green pumpkin purple flake for Ned rig and mm3 and Arron's morning dawn for my Roboworms. Instead of your traditional drop shot with the hook 8-12 inches from the weight we instead tied the hook then instead of a weight we tied on the Ned rig. This allowed us to cover more of the water column and produced more fish! Luckily we figured this out early on and was able to put a pretty solid pattern together in a short time, I found that the green pumpkin purple flake Ned with a MM3 Roboworm was my ticket today.

Most fish were caught in 8-18 feet of water off bank points where rock and brush met the water line. between the 3 of us we had 30-40 fish caught. Andy pours all of my Neds and Drop shot weights and if your interested at saving a little money for a amazing product hit him up on his Facebook @ his prices are far lower then any big named product and has fast shipping. now for the fun part pictures! -

Thanks for taking the time to read about my day- feel free to reach out to me on Facebook @ or on Instagram @ Yakin_James always willing to help and answer any questions you might have about kayaks, fishing, or our northern California waterways. Tight lines and look for more reports in the future!





Andy Rau - Ned Rigs contact him @





Map of New Hogan Res. gives you a rough idea of where to target different species of fish

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stealth Fisha and Pro Fisha Review

I was sent this review from Tim Bauer one of our customer in Hawaii on the Island of Kona. He is retired and fishes from his Stealth almost daily. If there was ever a customer who put our gear to the test, Tim would be the guy. Here is his review.

"I had been fascinated by Stealth for many years but was detoured by two unfounded concerns :
1) That the ski would be destroyed by the lava rock launches of Hawaii
2) that a fixed rudder would be damaged and that fish would wrap themselves around it.

Neither turns out to be an issue, a trolly facilitates a easy launch and retrieval with solo use and the fixed rudder withstands very significant accidental impact. The new line guards are a snap to install and prevent any entanglement.
Another barrier was that the closest ski was 296 miles away on a neighbor island and the closest dealer was 3,907 miles away on the mainland thus making a test paddle all but impossible. This sent me on a search to read everything possible about Stealth and to watch every You Tube video I could find. I was easily convinced to order a ski but was left a bit confused as to which one. To make a long story short, I ended up starting with a Fisha 500 and after paddling it for a few months ordered a Pro Fisha 575. This had nothing to do with any unhappiness with the 500 rather it gave me the ability to see what different qualities the Pro Fisha would offer and I am very pleased to have both. The characteristics chart on the Stealth web site is very helpful, but does not tell the full story as to how each ski may apply
to your specific fishery or physical needs. If possible it is well worth a bit of a trip to paddle the full line. If this is not possible (as was my case) I hope the following is helpful. The Fisha has a slightly wider and flatter hull. It is approximately 1 mph faster than a similar rotomolded polyethylene kayak. It is nimble and turns on a dime. The foot wells are a bit wider so those who typically paddle in a colder environment
may find that dry suits and boots fit better. It has a larger carrying capacity and its flatter hull may be better suited to those carrying more or heavier gear. Anglers carrying crab pots, using downriggers, or fishing depths for bottom fish with heavy leads may find it advantageous. Likewise pulling divers and flashers for salmon may be better suited to the Fisha.

The Pro Fisha is approximately 1mph faster than the Fisha. It's turning radius is not as tight and with it's longer hull it takes a few extra strokes to turn it up into a stiff wind. That said, once you are headed into a short choppy sea it moves more steadily than the Fisha and seems not to stall as easily and overall gives you a quicker ride in those conditions. It has a quicker moment which is not to be confused with instability. For those changing from plastic the ride will feel a bit twitchy at first but that feeling goes away quickly. The glide is longer and like the Fisha uses less energy over a day on the water. I have found that while it does not drastically effect performance or speed you do feel some sluggishness with significant weight in the fish hatch(50 lbs and above) with the Pro Fisha while it does not seem to effect the Fisha as much.

There is a lot of talk about stability in kayak fishing. Neither of these ski's should be considered unstable, as previously mentioned the Pro Fisha has a quicker moment but I have leaders Marlin in the 150lb range with no more concern about stability than the Fisha. While there are many reasons to chose one Stealth ski over another I personally do not think stability is one of them. While the perfect fishing kayak may not have been conceived as yet, Stealth is by far at the top of the pack. They combine a fast stable ride and outstanding comfort with a no nonsense fishing platform that has been extremely well thought out. Both have a fish hatch that will accommodate the largest catch. The manufacturing quality is outstanding and superior customer service accompanies the sale. In essence, these are all custom built ski's and there are color and accessory options available with a factory order. While this will delay your acquisition the special attention to you needs is well worth the wait.

If I give the impression that I am a true's because I am. These ski's are truly outstanding in every aspect and for off shore fishing they provide a transformational experience. If I can be of any assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me by email at I can't say enough about the USA distributor Dan Arbuckle at the Headwaters kayak shop in Lodi Ca. Dan can be contacted at Lastly, Mahalo Nui to Adam King for bringing Stealth to
the mid Pacific and giving us the impetus to make the change to Stealth !!!"

Eat, Sleep, Paddle, Fish
Tim Bauer

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Crabfest 2017

Crabfest is the first event of the year for NCKA (Nor Cal Kayal Anglers Forum) anglers. This event is only open for memebers of NCKA. If you would like more information on future events visit and become a member.

Crabfest has always had variable weather year to year and it was nice to arrive Friday to a sunny and non-windy day in Bodega Bay. It has been the event that brings NCKA together for the New Year. The first thing I noticed when we arrived on Friday was that anglers were already on the water searching for crab while families enjoyed their time on the beach. I knew this was going to be a great weekend.

Crabfest 2017 did not disappoint, the weather and crab decided to cooperate and gave us some of the best conditions Crabfest has ever seen. The day use area had a line of vehicles waiting for the gate to open with anglers waiting to register. The day started off with some wind, but soon turned out to be a beautiful winter day on the Sonoma Coast.

The Dungeness crab were in attendance this year with many anglers bringing in limits, while some still struggled to find one of legal size. There were over 40 crabs brought to the measuring station, with some red crab reaching the size of jumbo Dungeness crab.

Lunch time rolled around shortly after the check-in table closed and once again the potluck was brimming with good dishes to be shared by all. Some of the items that stood out to me were the ab chowder, fried striper and sturgeon, Crabfest pie, duck, oysters, crab, and bistek. There was so much food, and you could hear people talking about the spread. I didn’t get to eat much since I was getting ready for the awards, but next year I will make sure to check out everything and take a moment to grab some food.

This event has been free since day one and runs on the donations from sponsors. This year’s primary sponsor was Native Watercraft and they donated a Manta Ray Propel kayak to the raffle that was won by "Big Al". There were demo kayaks from Native Watercraft available the day of the event and the day after provided by The Headwaters kayak shop. The Headwaters kayak shop was another primary sponsor this year, including Promar/Ahi USA. Both Promar and the Headwaters have been sponsors since the first Crabfest at Doran Beach in 2011. Crabfest 2017 marked the sixth year of this event. Supporting sponsors included Orion Coolers, YakAttack, Kala Brand Music, Kokatat, Hoo-Rag and 707 Embroidery Zone.

There were some big crabs this year and all the winning crabs measured in over 7 inches. There was a perch category this year, but none were entered.

Biggest Red Rock Crab-

                The biggest Red Rock Crab went to Brian Turner, who has one this category before. His crab weighed in at 2.2 lbs and measured in at 7.11”. This crab was almost as big as the third place Dungeness crab.

3rd Place Dungeness Crab-
                Third place went to Myong-Jae Kin whose crab weighed in at 2.51 lbs and measured in at 7.23 inches. Myong-Jae had several crabs that measured over 7 inches.

2nd Place Dungeness Crab-

                Second place went to one of the most kind and positive person I know. Raydon Shippey took home 2nd place with his biggest crab weighing in at 2.55 lbs and measuring in at 7.31 inches.

1st Place Dungeness Crab-
Annie Nagel took home 1st place this year at Crabfest. Her biggest Dungeness crab measured in at 2.47 lbs and measured in at 7.40 inches. Annie continues to amaze all of us with her fishing skills. She caught the winning crab while still having time to fry up the sturgeon she caught just a week before.  Congrats Annie on the win!

This year’s raffle raised over $3500 and all proceeds will be going to Diabetes Youth Families (, an organization that supports families and children living with type 1 diabetes. The funds raised will help send some kids to camp for an experience they will never forget.

Each year, there is so much work that goes into putting this event together. My goal has always been to keep it free and family friendly. This weekend reminded me why I continue to do this event. Thank you to all of the NCKA family that make this event possible.