Articles for April 2016

Paddle Palooza XIII

By: Eric Fey

With a redfish and trout in the bag early, I decided to dedicate most of the morning to finding a flounder in order to complete my slam. I was anchored at the edge of an oyster bed and dragging a bucktail jig/gulp combo just along the perimeter of the bed. I abruptly stopped the rod when I felt the subtle tap of a flounder sucking up my lure. I waited for just a second, ensured there was tension in the line, and began my hook set. About half way up my rod came to a screeching halt. At that moment, although unsure of exactly what was on the other end of my line, I certain that it was not a flounder. I fought the fish for nearly 5 minutes before ever getting it to the surface of the water for a first look. As soon as the dorsal fin of the fish appeared I knew exactly what I was up against.

It was a black drum, and a big one! The fight continued for almost another 5 minutes. He would pull out 30 yards of line, and I would tow him back. Each exchange left me more and more fatigued. Finally I was able to get the grips on him and pull him into the yak. The BOGA grips put him at just OVER 25LBS! After some measurements and pictures, I released the beast back into the water and sat back for some much needed rest.


Paddle Palooza XIII really kicked off for us at Friday night’s captains meeting. I would be spending the weekend and fishing with two of my fishing buddies, Jared and Jeff.  At Top Water Marina, a group of gentlemen dubbed the Golden Girls (because of their age and apron color) cooked up a delicious pastalaya while everyone visited and helped set up. After a couple of beers and a full stomach, we sat back and listened to the BCKFC directors go over the rules of the tournament. The rundown was followed by the raffling of a handful of prizes. After the captain’s meeting Jared, Jeff, and I went back to the motel to game plan over a cigar and a few more beers. Jared and Jeff had spent Friday morning scouting the Leeville area but had little success. Jeff managed a few reds while Jared came home with a lone trout. We kicked around the idea of making a location change but ultimately decided to fish an area familiar to us. We turned in early to rest up for what would be a very early morning.

We had the kayaks in the water by 5:00 AM and began our journey out to our fishing grounds.  By the time we arrived, the sun was starting to come up.  I began fishing a popping frog trying to coax a red or big trout into an early breakfast.  I had one taker after only a dozen or so casts but it spit the frog before I could set.  The water was quite high so I floated over to a grassy area that is normally dry.  I threw my frog into the flooded grass and started working it back towards the open water.  Before the frog could make it to the clearing a redfish smashed it and I boated the first fish of the day.  He was only 18” so he went back into the water and as did the frog.  Only a few minutes went by before the frog was attacked again.  This time the redfish measured in at 23”, went into the bag, and I went on to find some trout.  I switched over to a walking style topwater in a mullet pattern.  I found a cut separating two patches of marsh grass through which the water appeared to be flowing much quicker than the surrounding waters.

On the second cast a trout swatted at the bait but didn’t pick it up. On the third cast I had a trout on the line. The trout was only 13.5” but I had every intention of sticking to my game plan. I needed to find a flounder before spending too much time trying to upgrade my fish.

I swapped over to a white bucktail jig with one of the white curly gulp from the captain’s bags. Aside from catching the black drum mentioned above, I was able to pick up two more reds on this bait before switching it up. After 3-3.5 hours of trying to find a flounder, I was demoralized to say the least. But the day was about to turn around. The sun was getting high in the sky and I started spotting signs of feeding redfish. Here and there I would see fish crashing bait along the grass or the occasional tail sticking up out of the water. I couldn’t resist any longer. I took out the old trusty weedless swimbait and peddled up onto the flat in search of clean water.


It didn’t take long to find water that was clean enough. And just as I did, the redfish started revealing themselves. The cruising reds were the easiest. These fish were actively searching for food so a cast anywhere within a few feet of their nose would elicit a strike. The “floaters” were a little tougher. Sometimes they were sitting on the bottom and sometimes they were under grass overhangs with just their nose and pectoral pins sticking out. These fish wouldn’t jet out after the lure. The key was to get it close enough to see a faint reaction. This reaction could be as subtle as a twitch of their nose or as obvious as a thrust towards the bait. As soon as I spotted the reaction, I would let the lure fall straight down to the floor. More often than not they would pounce on it during the fall. If not, one gentle bounce of the rod tip was enough.

Of all of the fish that I put the lure in front of, none of them turned away. There were several fish that I missed from poor sets or spits, but no fish completely rejected the lure. I easily caught over a dozen reds. Between the 3 of us we landed around 30 reds, 5 trout, and 1 big black drum. Jeff and I literally stopped fishing around 1:00 due to fatigue. Jared continued on trying to get a flounder to bite. He had a 26.5” red and a 19.5” trout. A solid flounder could have put him in the running for the top 10. Unfortunately he was not able to find one.



Back at the weigh in it was evident that mostly everyone had a great day on the water. Out of 280ish anglers about half of them had plenty fish to weigh. About 40 of those caught slams! We saw 8+lb slot reds, near 6lb trout, and 2 lb flounder! Fellow Team Backpacker and Hobie Fishing Team member Casey Brunning claimed the top spot with a 12.47 lb slam stringer. For his efforts he took home a brand new 2016 Hobie Pro Angler 14 courtesy of The Backpacker. Second place was fellow Hobie Fishing Team member Vlad Molnouveanu with 10.69 lbs which won him a brand new 2016 Hobie Outback also from The Backpacker. Aaron Breaux took third place with 10.44 lbs and earned a $1,000 gift card to The Backpacker. Jared’s 7.11 lb redfish ended up missing 5th place big red by only 0.1 lbs!

After the weigh in, all of the donated fish were fried and consumed by the anglers. The award ceremony followed as did the raffling of all of the amazing gifts provided by the event sponsors. The event was successful in raising money for both the Wish to Fish and Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition through registration and raffling. It even helped give money to Heroes on the Water by hiring them to clean fish for the fish fry! All in all, this event was a major success. A lot of people caught a lot of fish, got to hang out with some awesome folks, and even went home with some amazing prizes. The weather was perfect and the food was good. Can’t wait for the next one!

Below is my video from the tournament on Saturday.  It only includes a few fish.  All of these fish (with the exception of the black drum) were caught sight casting.  ENJOY!

Q50 Sunset 13.1


by: Nicki Kleinq50 symbol

This post is a little overdue. I told myself I’d let the injury I’d sustained during the Q50 Sunset 13.1 race heal, and then I’d type up my recap. But it’s been weeks, and although my ailment continues, I suppose I shouldn’t wait any longer lest I forget any details of the race. So I proceed:

One reason I love being part of the Louisiana trail-running community is the that I have the opportunity to see new places in this state that I might not otherwise visit. Although I’ve mentioned in a previous post that Cesar Torres’ Q50 races are usually held close to New Orleans, his Sunset 13.1 and 6.5 races held on April 2nd were located in Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana, which is about 2.25 hrs from New Orleans. There’s a $3.00 fee to cross the bridge to Grand Isle, and a $2.00 park entrance fee. I was told beforehand to strictly follow the speed limits because the area is notorious for handing out tickets, but the slower speed allowed me to really enjoy the scenery–I felt like I was driving through the small beach towns I frequented during my childhood years in Florida.


When I got to the park, I’d hoped there might be primitive campsites still available (I hadn’t reserved one, because like most state parks in Louisiana, online reservations require a 2 night payment, and I only wanted to stay one night). Unfortunately, there were none, probably a result of the race weekend coinciding with many local high school’s Spring Break.

My pre-race excitement quickly overtook any disappointment about being unable to camp, as I drove to the observation tower where race-day packet pickup was being held. I picked up my bib and Q50 screen-printed beach towel (in lieu of the standard race shirt), saw a number of familiar faces, chatted with some first-time “trail” runners, and had a good conversation with Cesar about my recent 50 miler (Equinox Ultra). And when I say conversation, I mean that Cesar was standing on the observation tower, communicating through a bullhorn, while I stood in a nearby parking lot and shouted back answers. Cesar is always good for a laugh.




The race was to start at 5:00pm, and about 15 minutes before, we gathered for the pre-race meeting, and then walked down to the beach where we took part in completing either 22 pushups to “honor those who serve and to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention” or 22 jumping jacks for peace. Common themes touched upon at the Q50 races include volunteerism, community, and awareness (environmental, homelessness, etc), so this quick “warm up” was not surprising.



With that, the race began. And within .25 miles, I’d fallen. First of all, I’m notorious for being clumsy. I run into things. I trip over nothing. I’ve gotten pretty good at falling “gracefully.” But this time, I was running on the packed sand, and as I leapt over an inlet of water, I landed on what I thought was more packed sand, but ended up being more like quicksand. My entire right leg sank to my knee, and hit my left knee on what WAS tightly packed (and hard) sand, and caught myself with my hands. Because I was holding my Orange Mud bottle in that hand, I couldn’t completely prepare for the impact, and my left thumb stuck out awkwardly as I landed on it, thus jamming it. Hence, the previously mentioned injury. I hope those of you reading this now have a greater appreciation for this post..each spacebar strike is another reminder of my injury…and clumsiness. 😉


Other than my early fall (when runners are still in a pack, and everyone sees you fall), the rest of the race went well. The sand was (mostly) packed, making a nice surface to run on, and there was a slight breeze for the majority of the race. We passed the primitive beach campsites, MANY groups of Spring Breakers (who offered lots of high fives, but why did no one offer me beer?!?), people fishing, and families strolling. At about mile 3.25, there was a table with water and a couple volunteers–this is where the 6.5 mile racers turned around. Remember, Q50 races don’t use any paper or plastic cups (aka trash), so runners must provide their own water bottle (and the reason I was carrying one). Myself, and the other half marathoners, continued on until we reached the 6.5ish mile mark, which on a 7 mile island, allowed me to see almost the entire coast. A volunteer marked my bib to indicate I’d reached the halfway point, I refilled my water bottle, and I turned back to head to the start/finish.



The second half of the race was much of the same. More high fives, more sand, more WIND. I’d saved some energy in case of strong winds on the return, but had conserved enough to make a push during the last half, passing a number of people.12968012_1062544073816644_8669811599495500392_o

After 1:47:49, I crossed the finish: 1st Female, 4th Overall, and with a new 13.1 PR. My legs were definitely stiff–I’ve learned that each race, depending on distance, hurts a different way–as I hobbled back to the observation tower where there were cold sodas and beer, and food, provided by the New Orleans Mission. A short time later, awards were handed out–3 deep for Overall Male and Female in both the 6.5 and 13.1 races. The awards at Q50 are some of my favorite-mine was a ceramic fish from Mexico City, with other prizes ranging from plants contained in coconut shells; other various ceramic dishes and decorations; and of course, one-of-a-kind handmade medals for each finisher.







And thus, another Q50 race concluded. I had another successful race, and I visited a new place in Louisiana. Grand Isle State Park has $14 primitive sites located on the beach, and with many local bars and restaurants within walking distance, I definitely plan on reserving a 2 night stay in the future!


As always, thank you to The Backpacker Baton Rouge and Orange Mud for gearing me up, and Forge Racing for supporting and sponsoring my running endeavors. And a special thank you to the Louisiana Running Company for taking beautiful pictures.

Other Sources:

The Backpacker FB             Forge Racing FB               Ales N Trails FB

backpacker logo

orange mud logo forge-racing-logo




Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

Gear Review: TNF Women’s Specific Ultra Endurance Trail Running Shoes

by: Nicki Klein


A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be given a pair of The North Face (TNF) Women’s Ultra Endurance trail running shoes to test out. Unfortunately, they were given to me literally minutes after I’d completed the 50 mile Forge Equinox trail race in Clear Springs, Mississippi, so I had to patiently wait a few days to let my legs recover properly before giving my new shoes a try. But, now I’ve finally tried them out, in various conditions, so I can give a balanced and true review. Here’s what I have to say about The North Face Women’s Ultra Endurance shoes.


The North Face Ultra line of shoes consists of the MT; MT Gortex; the Cardiac; the TRI II; and the Endurance, which sits somewhere in between the former models in terms of weight, traction, and heel/forefoot drop. The Endurance is fairly light-weight, but has enough reinforcing characteristics that will get you through rock scattered and root covered trails. The toe box isn’t extremely roomy, but still provides enough room for toes to have a little wiggle room. More importantly, the front of the shoe is reinforced with a toe box bumper (for those aforementioned rocks and roots). The heel box is padded and holds the foot secure, without being too tight. The upper of TNF Endurance is breathable, dries quickly (more on that later), and is welded TPU with suede overlays. It has a gusseted tongue the helps hold the foot in place, and reduces the chance of debris from entering the shoe.  The outsole is Vibram Megagrip. Not all Vibram outsoles are the same—this one is semi-aggressive, which is good for a variety of terrains. Finally, the cushioning of the Endurance is single-density compression folded EVA—not too thick that you can’t feel the ground below, but not too thin to where you feel every detail underfoot.


In Use:

The first time I wore these shoes, I tried them out on a “hike” at the West Feliciana Sports Park during a field trip with 7th and 8th graders from THRIVE Academy of Baton Rouge (a trip sponsored by The Backpacker). The trail at the park, commonly known as “The Beast,” has a number of roots, steep inclines and declines, and bridges throughout its course. Although we didn’t go far, and we didn’t travel fast, the TNF Ultra Endurances kept my feet well cushioned and in place while traversing the various topography.

IMG_5983West Feliciana Sports Park

A few days later, I headed to Tennessee for a long weekend. I hoped to hike in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, as well as run a couple times in various places, during my stay. I tend to travel as light as possible, and since I wasn’t planning a super technical hike, I decided my Endurances would be the only shoes I’d pack.

Within a couple of hours of arriving in Knoxville, TN, I headed to the Smokies for a 6.5 mile day hike with my 11-year-old godson and his grandmother. We started off on the old Sugarland Trail, and then branched off from there in search of an old cemetery and the “old rock house,” a dilapidated rock structure with an unknown history. Although this is probably one of the easiest hikes I’ve ever done in the Smokies (very little elevation change), there were small creek crossings, moss covered rocks, and man-made structures to scramble about, and the semi-rugged outsoles of my shoes kept me from slipping. Well…expect once when I was crossing a small body of water and trying to take a picture of my shoes for this blog. Then I fell. And got soaked. But I suppose I can’t blame the shoes for that. At least my godson got a good laugh.







As soon as I finished my hike, I drove from Knoxville to Nashville to visit a friend. I woke up the next morning and decided to go for a quick run before breakfast. Tired of driving, I chose to simply walk out the front door and run around the neighborhood. Oftentimes, a trail-specific running shoe will have aggressive lugs that making road running uncomfortable. Although I probably wouldn’t pick the TNF Endurance as an everyday road shoe, they worked just fine for a few miles and hill repeats on the pavement I did that morning.

After one more night in Nashville, it was time to head back to Knoxville. The drive is only 2.5 or so hours long, but the number of signs for state parks between the two cities is impressive. I’d heard good things about Cummins Falls State Park, and since it was early morning, off-season for an area known as one of the best swimming holes, and Easter, I decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hopefully have the park to myself. This was definitely the run that I put the TNF Ultra Endurance shoes to the test. Although the run/hike was only 4 miles round-trip, it included rock hopping, hill sprinting, ducking under and over algae covered tree limbs, creek traversing, and practically swimming on occasion. Yes, my feet got wet (these shoes aren’t magic, after all), but I didn’t get any hotspots or blisters, and other than some loose sand, no debris crept into my shoes, even when fully submerged. And I did have the park to myself!















After trying out these shoes, on hikes in Louisiana and Tennessee, a road run, and a wet and muddy run/hike/swim, I can say with confidence that the TNF Ultra Endurance trail shoes are a light-weight, true-to-size, comfortable option for a variety of situations and scenarios. My feet never got sore, I felt there was enough support to hold my ankles steady, and I had enough grip to tackle various terrain. And, with a name like “ULTRA,” it’s probably safe to say these shoes will also be great for longer distances. Lucky for me, I’ve got a 20 miler scheduled this weekend! Happy Trails!


TNF Ultra Endurance Features:

  • Women-specific trail running shoe delivers a stable ride and unparalleled traction
  • Upper: Welded TPU and suede midfoot support overlays
  • Molded-TPU toe cap for protection
  • Gusseted tongue for protection from trail debris
  • Sole Unit: 17 mm/9 mm heel/forefoot EVA underfoot
  • Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ heel-stability technology
  • Single-density, compression-molded EVA midsole
  • Vibram® Megagrip outsole for durable sticky traction in all conditions
  • ESS Snake Plate™ forefoot protection
  • 8 mm offset
  • Collar lining has FlashDry


Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

Prepping for Paddle Palooza XIII

By: Eric Fey

There are tips and tricks that you can be told, and there are some that you just have to learn. My frog flopped down on the sheltered side of a grass patch, safe from the 20 mph north winds that were set to plague the day. The small bank looked “fishy” enough to draw my attention. Pop, pop, let it sit, pop, sit. I cannot explain what tipped me off to the redfish that was lurking just below the surface other than that I noticed a disturbance along the grassline that I’ve seen time and time again. It was a disruption in the rhythmic rippling of the water that was wrapping around the island. I readied myself, popped the frog three times and let it sit once more. The water erupted violently around the frog, and once the splash settled, the frog was gone. I tightened the line with just a couple of turns of the reel and set hard. I was met by the oh so sweet feeling of a hooked fish that just realized it’s time to run. And oh what a sweet feeling it is, especially on tournament day.




PP13There are only a few kayak fishing tournaments a year that draw out the big crowds. The first of those tournaments is quickly approaching and fishing it requires a bit of preparation. On April 23rd, Top Water Marina will host Paddle Palooza XIII in Leeville, Louisiana. Over 250 kayak anglers are expected to take to the fish infested marshes from Galliano to Grand Isle in search of the biggest Cajun Slam. A Cajun Slam in this tournament consists of a three fish bag: one slot redfish (16 – less than 27”), one speckled trout (12” minimum), and one flounder (11” minimum). A complete slam will always be seeded above 2 fish stringers. There is also a category for heaviest leopard red which is the slot red (16 – less than 27”) with the most spots. In addition, there will also be single fish categories for overall heaviest slot red, mule trout, and saddle flounder. All baits and tackle that are legal according to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries may be used. Backpacker has been a main sponsor of both the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club as well as Paddle Palooza from the very beginning and they are offering up some incredible slam prizes. The first three places in the Cajun Slam category will take home the following prizes courtesy of The Backpacker:

Grand Prize – 2016 Hobie Pro Angler 14

2nd Place – 2016 Hobie Outback

3rd Place – $1,000 Gift Card to The Backpacker

More than $15,000 in cash and prizes will be handed out to both tournament and raffle winners. Other sponsors include Cabela’s, Hobie, KC Kayaks, and dozens more. With the big money comes the big anglers. Not only will this competition draw the best kayak anglers in the state, but it will even pull in some from out of state. And they are all here to accomplish the same goal, catch the biggest Cajun Slam. So how is that done?

Formulate a Plan

If the grand prize is what you want, then you’re going to have to work for it. Every year a handful of slams are entered and those slams automatically are placed above any two fish entry. This means that like it or not, you will have to commit to catching all three species. Before hitting the water make sure to take the time to develop a thought out plan. Despite every bone in my body trying to fight against it, I will share my plan to give you a bit of an idea. As of right now, the tidal forecast for the area I plan to fish shows a rising tide of 0.7ft from around midnight to 2:00 PM. As long as the wind isn’t too strong out of the N/NW then it shouldn’t be too difficult to find good moving water. Since the tournament is in late April, I will hope for sunshine and plan for rain. I have an area that is proven to hold quality redfish and flounder so I will make that location my primary fishing area. On the way I have several locations picked out where I have had success picking up a few trout on an incoming tide. So my plan as it stands is to attempt to pick up a trout on my way to my hunting grounds. I will then try to bag a flounder until 9 or 10 AM. Hopefully by then the sun will be up and I can sight fish around for a few quality redfish. If/Once I get a good 26”+ red in the bag I will resume my pursuit of flounder and/or trout.

What I am about to tell you is extremely important! DO NOT spend all your time trying to upgrade your catch in any one category before finding all three. There are some exceptions to this rule and it will be up to you to decide which ones apply to you. A few of my exceptions are as follows:

  • If I catch a trout less than 15” early in the morning, I will throw in that area a bit more in attempt to upgrade. Typically where there is one trout, there are several. I will not spend more than 10 minutes fishing an area where I managed to pick up one trout. I will move on to flounder.
  • If I catch a redfish less than 24” soon after beginning my search for reds, I will try to upgrade if I have good sun and clear water. If not, I will continue my pursuit of flounder or trout.
  • If I catch a flounder soon after I begin to target them, I will fish in general area in attempt to upgrade. I anticipate spending most of my fishing time trying to locate and bag a weighable flounder.

There will likely be times when you hook into a redfish while targeting flounder or trout. Or visa versa. This should not be your plan, but rather a bonus. Now that my plan has been laid out, let’s discuss targeting each species individually.

20141018_171545235_iOSSpeckled Trout

I plan to have at least three different rigs ready to go for trout initially: a soft plastic on a 3/8 oz jig (color to be decided based on weather and water conditions), a “walk the dog” style topwater bait, and a popping style topwater bait. Remember that ALL types of baits are allowed. The tried and true method of catching all inshore fish is shrimp under a popping cork. I prefer not to mess with live or dead bait so I will be sticking to artificial. I will hit each of my pre-planned areas, assuming that the water is moving as I will have planned for. I like to start with the topwater baits because they are loads of fun and I personally average larger trout on them. I will spend 5-10 minutes in each area, fishing all rigs and moving my casts a few feet at a time ensuring that I cover the entire area. Keep in mind that jig weight may need to change based on the level of water movement. If I do not pick up a trout in any of those spots, I will look for other areas with clean, moving water but I will not deviate from my plan to head to my main fishing grounds.




20160313_235818000_iOSMake no mistake about it, redfish will be the most important fish of this tournament. It is tough to make that statement since a flounder will usually put an angler in the money or take him out of the running. But it is only fair to say the same and more about a redfish in this particular tournament. If you do not bag a red, you still do not make your slam. They may be a little easier to catch than a flounder, but the last thing you want to do is show up to the table without a redfish. A quality redfish will offer you several chances to leave with a significant prize. Your redfish will likely make up most of the weight in your slam. A 26-15/16” redfish can weigh up to 8+lbs! It is fairly unlikely that you will catch a trout or flounder that is 8 lbs. They probably will not weigh that much combined. In addition, a big redfish will put you up for the Big Redfish category. If you happen to catch a redfish with the most spots you could be heading home with a brand new KC Kayak. For redfish, I plan to spend most of my time working the flats near big water. If the sun is out, sight fishing a swimbait on a 1/4 oz jig will be my go to set up. If the sun is not up, I will likely rotate between the swimbait, a jig rig with gulp or other soft plastic, and some type of flash (spoon or spinner). AGAIN, dead shrimp on bottom is a killer setup if you want to go in that direction.


First of all, notice that I do not have a picture of me holding a flounder. That is because I never target flounder so naturally this is the fish that I am least proficient at catching. In fact, the only flounder that I have ever landed in a kayak came on a clouser minnow with my fly rod. I do happen to know that flounder frequent the flat that I plan to target for redfish due to its proximity to deeper water and the scattered structure that holds bait. Locating the flounder will be key so I plan to fish the deeper edge, the drop, and the flats. I will swap to a slightly heavier bucktail jig and bounce a curly tail gulp along the bottom. It will be important to work this bait slowly. Many times when a flounder picks up a lure, it will grab the tail and swim a bit before sucking it down. I will have to practice patience when I know a flounder has picked up the bait. I will keep tension on the line and once I feel it choke up on the jig, I can lay into my hook set.

Last Minute Gear and Other Considerations

First let’s talk safety. If you plan to take full advantage of the time fishing time allotted, you’ll be launching before daybreak. In addition to a PFD you will also need a 360 degree coast guard approved light. It is highly recommended that you also have a high vis flag attached to your kayak as well. Get the light and flag up off of the kayak a few feet so it is visible over the marsh grass and not blocked by any gear. Share your float plan with others who are familiar with the area and give them a general time that you will arrive back at the launch. Bring some water and a snack for on the water if you plan to spend all day out there. Consider bringing some rain gear and an extra set of clothes if the weatherman calls for wetness. Insect repellent will save your life if the gnats are hungry, which they always are.


Tournament days are rarely ideal days. Not to be a pessimist but I fully expect to see 15 mph winds and cloudy skies. Make sure that you have a good way to keep your kayak stationary. At least two species that I plan to target will require me to anchor for some period of time to allow me to fish slowly, especially should I find an area that seems to hold several fish. I have chosen to go with a simple anchor trolley and stakeout pole. Anchor trolleys allow you to position the boat to face any direction with only one anchor point. Two other common options are the Power-Pole Micro (the Cadillac of kayak anchoring systems) and a retractable weight on both the front and back of the kayak.
BRING A NET!!! Landing a fish by hand or with lip grips is fine and dandy until your flounder throws the hook at the boat while you’re trying to get a hand on it. Bring an ice chest or fish bag large enough to hold the fish you plan to weigh plus your cull fish. You can bring two redfish to the table, one for the slam and one leopard. But if you get all three fish early and are able to upgrade, you’ll want cull space in your bag. DO NOT ever try to release a fish that has been out of the water for any significant amount of time. It likely will not survive and that is a very unethical practice. If you plan to sight fish for those reds once the sun comes out you will need a good pair polarized sunglasses. I would also recommend bringing a pair of pliers for hook removals.




Every kayaker will be fishing a slightly different set up and yours will likely be a little different as well.  I encourage you to stop into The Backpacker and talk to the crew about your rig.  They have everything that you could need to get on the water and do so safely.  With almost 300 anglers that all share the same passion for kayak fishing, you are bound to have a good time.  So come out to enjoy an incredible atmosphere, catch a bunch of fish, eat some good food, and meet some great people at Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s Paddle Palooza XIII.


So You are Going to Take Your Kids Fishing…

I’m planning on taking my 12 year old daughter to Paddlepalooza this year.  Kayak fishing is a real passion for me. I fish often and I fish in all conditions. I’ve fished in rain, wind, I’ve even seen funnel clouds (and that wasn’t the worst day ever). But when I take my kids I have to remember to take it down a notch.  As I plan for that day I wanted to share just a few tips about kayaking with kids – things you might not think about and things you probably would.

If you are going to take a kid you need to have a kayak their size (or they need to fit in yours like the Hobie Pro Angler). My 10 year old paddles a small kayak. A good option is the Hobie Sport.  My daughter will be in a full size boat because she is already as tall as my wife and is an avid paddler.  She will be in the Wilderness Ride 115 my review of that boat is here


From there you can let them use your gear until they grow into it but be wise and place a length of rope (about 6 feet) for towing.  I pre-tie a pair of carabiners on either end.  When they get tired I just clip our boats together and give them an assist.  I know that if they have an unpleasant experience they won’t do it again.

Good clothing is a must.  For years my dad took me hunting in clothes that didn’t fit, in clothes that were lower quality, I wore tennis shoes into the woods – I froze, I got blisters, and I quit hunting for many years.  Then one day I went back into the woods wearing the right clothing and suddenly I loved it.  Sure it’s and investment but if you want your kids to share a passion for something a small investment will make a lifetime of difference.

One “must have” is a good rain jacket you don’t know when you will need one but don’t put your child in a vinyl jacket.  If they get wet, they get cold, or they get sunburned a rain jacket may be the solution.  I keep one on hand for everyone I fish with including my kids.

Snacks and lots of them – if you want to keep fishing – keep them busy.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate keep plenty of water and drinks around.  A good quality water bottle is a must.

Lastly have a fun tradition attached with fishing trips.  For us its as simple as a Hostess Apple Pie on the dashboard (my daughter goes for chocolate) after a day of fishing coming back to a hot pie off the dash builds lifetime memories.

k2-_7d1bb19b-216d-4e08-950b-16e12608a020.v1This is a pretty short list and certainly not a list of the essentials you will need to have:

Personal Flotation Device – Sunscreen – Hat – Sunglasses – footwear – first aid kit – and all the necessary gear for your trip.  Keep it simple – attend a demo day or a kayaking seminar this year – follow us on Facebook for upcoming events!



The Ultrarunning Packing Checklist


by: Nicki Klein_MG_8751Photo cred: Lindsey Shiflett Smith

It takes months of time and dedication to train for an ultramarathon. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong on race day…because you forgot to pack a necessary item. Because of that, I’ve created an “Ultrarunning Packing Checklist” that I’ve used from race distances of a 50k (approximately 31 miles) up to a 100 miler. Of course, this list will vary based on terrain, weather, race location, etc, but I’ve found for the most part, this list works pretty well for any race. When you run long distances, it’s not unheard of to have a 30° temperature fluctuation during a race, necessitating various clothing items; or literally running through a pair of shoes and needing to change into a spare set. Sure, it may look silly to have a big bin of items come race day, but I haven’t found myself without a necessity yet! Remember, always check the weather before your race (usually a day or two before your race, or before traveling to the race location), but don’t check excessively—you can’t change the weather, so there’s no reason to stress yourself out over it! Pack right, and you can concentrate on what’s important—having fun running an ultra! Although The Backpacker isn’t specifically a running store, they do carry many of the items on this list. Come check out, and try out, your gear before you buy it. And don’t forget, The Backpacker price matches, making shopping locally the easy choice! (* denotes an item available at The Backpacker)

What I carry on my person during the race:

  • Orange Mud Hydraquiver Vest Pack 2 (There are many other hydration* options-single bottles, bladders, etc)
  • -1 orange OM bottle (for Heed), 1 clear OM bottle (for water)—having the different colored bottles makes telling volunteers what I need simple
  • -my phone in a Lifeproof Fre (waterproof) case—I occasionally listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music. But even if I didn’t, I like having the potential to call if I need emergency assistance (if I’m lucky enough to have cell service). Other waterproof bags* work, and some use ziploc bags. I’m too rough on my phone for those options.
  • -pre downloaded podcasts, music playlists, and audiobooks (in case of no cell service)
  • -headphones
  • -snacks—my favorites include peanut butter power balls (homemade), PB&J sandwiches cut into quarters, banana halves, orange slices, Honey Stinger waffles, and CHEX MIX (I swear, Chex Mix is what got me through my 100 when I couldn’t eat anything else). You may be wondering why I carry food when most ultras have fully stocked aid stations. I do this because you never know when something you need/want might run out at the aid station; or in the rush and madness of your race, you just simply forget to grab all the fuel you need at the station. I try to consume 150-250 calories an hour, and if I’m carrying some of my own food, I always know I can manage this. The Backpacker carries GUs* and Epic bars*, nutrition options that are favorites among other runners.
  • -no zip, plastic sandwich bags (for trash; for easily accessible snacks)
  • -a Ziploc bag with a sample pack of Biofreeze, a sample pack of Vaseline/Body Glide/Trail Toes, a couple Tylenol, a couple electrolyte capsules or salt packets, pre rolled toilet paper (make your own from regular rolls, no need to spring for the store bought pre rolls), pre cut moleskin* of varying sizes, a few band-aids, a safety bin for on the go blister piercing, and Gin-Gins candy for upset stomach issues. You can use a small, pre-made first aid kit*.

What I keep in my dropbag (a clear plastic bin for easy visibility)

  • -a big Ziploc with medical-type supplies—Tylenol, a stick of Body Glide, Biofreeze, Moleskin, KT tape (I pre-tape both my knees before any long race), scissors, bandaids, toilet paper, single use heating pads, safety pins, Tums, sunscreen, bug spray
  • -no zip plastic sandwich bags
  • -duct tape (for fixing shoes, other gear)
  • -large garbage bags (for trash, dirty shoes, dirty clothes)
  • -snacks*—more of what I carry in my OM Vest, but also some extras like Gummi Bears, chips, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, gum, whatever I think might be appealing when forcing myself to eat
  • -Heed (in case the race doesn’t have the flavor I prefer)
  • -extra pair of headphones
  • -portable charging device*
  • -headlamp charging cable* (or extra batteries)
  • -phone charging cable
  • -dry sacks* (sometimes I’ll categorize items in different colored dry/stuff sacks to make finding items easier)

What I keep at camp (because I almost always camp before and/or after an ultra)

  • Orange Mud transition towel (Any towel* is good, but this one has a closure, and velcro, so it’ll stay on you, allowing you to change in public)
  • -compression socks for after the race
  • -compression tights* for after the race
  • -warm jacket* for after the race (I love my The North Face Thermoball*-synthetic so it won’t get all gross in the rain, but still keeps me nice and warm like down)
  • -slide sandals*
  • tent* (Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1)
  • sleeping bag* (I like the Thermarest ProLite)
  • sleeping pad* (you don’t want to be stiff the morning of a big race because of an inadequate sleeping pad)
  • pillow* (use clothes in a stuff sack, or an empty bag from boxed-wine works great)
  • -camp chair*
  • -toothbrush and toothpaste
  • -prescription medications/vitamins
  • -meals* for the days before and after my race (pre-dehydrated meals are super easy and convenient)
  • Jetboil*
  • cup*; plate*; spork*
  • -camp suds* (they work for dishes and showering)
  • -personal pack towel*
  • cooler* and ice
  • -coffee and tea
  • -beer
  • -muscle roller stick
  • -wallet/ID

Clothing, shoes, and accessories (weather dependent)

  • -shorts*, capris*, tights*
  • -tech tee* (raceback, short sleeve, long sleeve)
  • -hats* (heavy duty beanie, lightweight beanie, billed trucker)
  • -headband* (fleece lined, non-lined)
  • -rain jacket*
  • -gloves* (2 pairs–in case you lose lone)
  • -bandana*
  • -hair ties (and extra hair ties)
  • -sunglasses*
  • -compression calf sleeves
  • -socks* (I wear a pair of extra-light cushioning Smartwool toe socks*, and my favorite pair of unicorn socks over the toe socks)
  • Hokas* (2 pairs)
  • -a GPS watch*
  • headlamp*

Please keep in mind that every runner is different, and what works for one of us, doesn’t necessarily work for another. These are the items I have found that are best for me. Try different gear and different brands, and find out what works best for you. Happy trails!



Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram