Brendan Bayard

Baton Rouge resident, Brendan Bayard, is a Hobie Fishing team member known for his tournament winning prowess and endless promotion of the sport. With numerous artistic talents to his name, Brendan designs shirts for kayak angling tournaments and clubs, and appears as a gifted speaker at seminars and over the radio waves. Always willing to share tips and techniques, Brendan can often be found helping make the newest kayak anglers feel welcome, educated, and confident.  Brendan is also an ambassador for Greenfish, an apparel and hardware company dedicated to promoting sustainable fishing.

What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?

Kayak fishing appealed to me mostly for the freedom it allowed in exploring all the vast marshland we have here in Louisiana. Down here it’s literally a maze of marsh ponds as far as the eye can see. With a kayak, you can just pull of on the shoulder of the road and launch right into it and get to where a traditional boats can’t. Plus, it’s a low maintenance hunk of plastic that I don’t have to baby, and it gets the job done!

Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?

Yeah, my first fish I caught out of a kayak was on a float trip I was taking down the Guadalupe River in the Texas hill country. It was a small bass that hit a “Little George” on an undercut bank near a high cliff. I was in a Prism, and I remember how cool I thought SOT kayaks where. I was so excited that I could run rapids, take a splash, and the water would run though the scuppers. I think I was about 14 years old.

Your tournament record is quite impressive, and includes over twenty top 5 finishes.  As a seasoned and accomplished veteran of the competitive scene, what advice would you give to a new angler looking at a first time tournament entry?

I would tell them to just go for it and put together a vision of how you expect the day to go at its best, and if it doesn’t go so well, think about how what you will do ahead of time towards the end of your time (but don’t stress too much over it). Enjoy the comradery, the excitement, go out and fish your game. Have your gear ready and in good working order. Get comfortable reading the water and just go with what nature gives you that day. Keep casting – every extra cast improves your odds; you’re not gonna catch fish with your lures in your yak. A lot of times a new pattern learned on the fly on the day of the event is gonna be as equally important as the knowledge you will get from pre-fishing or grinding out for a bite the way it’s supposed to be. Be friendly, meet as many people as you can, find out what worked and what didn’t, and build upon your experience for next time.

What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?

Food wise, I usually start the “day” with one of those big 32oz Monster Energy Drinks at 3am. ( I think I have, however, developed a “Pavlov” like association to Monster in that I think of fishing with one sip.) I drive down to the coast, grab a Powerade, bag of corn-nuts or something for the trip, and worry about eating when the fishing is done. There are some pretty tasty little shops “down the bayou” as they say over here, where you can pick up a great shrimp po-boy, or home-made hamburger. I usually call up one of those places as I’m packing up my gear so its ready when I swing by on the way home.

For music… I like older stuff like Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkel, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, 90s Rock (like GnR, STP, Soundgarden),nNew’ish Stuff (like The Kooks, Incubus, Franz Ferdinand). I’m also a fan of 80s pop music, one-hit-wonders, whatever.

Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?

Looking past the great personal achievements of anglers continually pushing the boundaries on what types of fish can be caught out of our yaks, or design and engineering marvels that companies like Hobie and others keep bringing to market, I think the biggest changes to our sport in the future will be decided by the politicians who continue to take a bigger role in attempting to govern fisheries either from a national standpoint or a local perspective. From their interest in tapping into us as a source of income through different forms of registration. Increased government regulations,  increasing the amount of waters closed to fishing, creating paddle-only waterways, to the fight over catch share programs. All these things play a big part in our future as the sport.  It involves our rights such as  how we can partake in the sport to begin with. As the sport grows, we should continue to set a good example for fishermen everywhere, and work to stay vigilant in defending our rights to enjoy our sport.


You have designed shirts for kayak angling groups and tournaments.  Your graphics offer a refreshing and creative take on what can normally be a rather stereotypical and straight forward genre. Describe to us the creative processes involved in the creation of your designs.

I try to break our subject matter down to the more simple look of traditional silkscreen artists of back in the day. The kind of stuff you might see on a pinball machine, old circus poster or something. Before Photoshop, back when guys used to cut with a knife big pieces of amberlith film to shoot screens off of.

With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?

For me personally, our Louisiana state laws that allow private parties to own water bottoms is a constant battle. For the most part it doesn’t cause too much of a problem, but as the sport grows and the more guys are out there inadvertently paddling into privately owned tidal flows, conflict will begin to arise. That, and the alarming rate of the wetlands we lose here in LA every year since the necessary evil of leveeing off the river. Without whose sediment deposits dumping into the marsh, it continues to get whittled down by tide, storms, and man.

Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?

I would just love to be taken on a week trip to somewhere remote; I don’t care where. They’re all “dream kayak angling trips,” especially if it’s a place I have never been.

As part of your wide reaching impact on the sport, you have done a fair amount of public speaking, including the teaching of seminars and the orating of kayak angling reports on Don Dubuc’s radio program.  Were these roles difficult to transition into, or have you always been a gifted speaker?

I never thought of myself as a good speaker. I do think I have gotten better. I used to get a little nervous speaking in public or on the radio when I first did it. But after time, you get to where you are comfortable in your own style of delivery and just do your thing. There are some guys who have a natural comfort, confidence, and formidable vocabulary to tackle every occasion – I have to work for it. But I enjoy the opportunities I have, and enjoy reporting what’s going on to our community on the radio. One thing that helped me was that a long time ago at my first college internship, one of the first thing my boss did was let me listen to his voicemail. He told me listen to the messages with all of the peoples “umms” and “you knows” during their voicemail. He just stressed to learn how to speak directly and clearly. That always stuck with me somewhat.

What’s in your milk crate?

Four of those waterpoof Plano tackle Boxes filled with TopDog Jrs, MirrOdines, Corkys, Saltwater Assassins, gold spoons, spinner baits. Spools of #10,#12,#15 flouro leader, a 15lb boga, a tube of 30spf sunscreen, Deep Woods OFF, a bottle of Victoria Secret Amber Romance (local gnat repellent), a pair of cutting hemostats, a headlamp, Powerade, Corn-nuts, five rod holders with 3 baitcaster combos and 2 spinning combos.

Tell us about your best day on the water.

Every day on the water is great; it’s too hard to pick a best day. I did have a trip recently that was pretty fun. I wouldn’t call it the best day ever, but here goes. It was mid November (one of my favorite times of year to fish in the marsh here) The day started good picking up some nice trout up to 20″ whilst working the deep water slowly with chicken-on-a-chain assassins. At about 8 a.m., the sun had been out long enough that the water was starting to come alive with pogies and mullet flickering near the surface. I gave into my addiction, and started throwing topwater and working it very slow. After about 10 casts to a very fishy looking spot, a big silvery shadow emerged from the depths and settled right under the surface of my plug during one of my longer pauses. I could see it there shining as the sun was at just the right angle. I twitched it once and it was like a big toilet bowl flush hooked up and started shaking like crazy. After what felt like a full minute of head shaking and two nice runs I had the trout yakside. It was right around 24″. Not bad for Louisiana. After catching a couple of more trout on top, I moved my way to the interior of the marsh where the mud flats where alive with activity. It was an absolute clinic on catching red after red on topwater. I would walk it out from the grass and about every few casts you would see a big head pushing a mohawk of water over to the top and engulfing it. These where all nice mid to upper 20s in length that put up some nice fights on light tackle. This went on until I left them biting at noon.

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

Living on little sleep because you would rather be fishing than sleeping, extremely early wake up calls (2am, midnight, no sleep whatever), lots of caffeine, stinky clothes, sore hands, fishing stories, experiencing the beauty of nature, and a great time.

Tell us a story, any story.

A couple of years ago, 2009 I think, Morgan Promnitz and Vince came in from Cali to fish one of the local club tournaments, Falln’Tide, with me. It’s a pretty big tournament, with over 100 people at the time, and is bigger now. For a couple of days, the guys checked on some spots I had sent down and did some exploring on their own. I got there the day before the event, and they wanted to show me a new spot they had found the day before. So here I am in my Tacoma, following them in their2 wheel drive Pacifica up the newly created levees in Plaquemines Parish (the old ones where washed away in Katrina). These new levees haven’t had time to settle and where basically stacked up swamp mud 20′ high over the marsh. Did I mention it had rained cats and dogs the night before? Oh yeah, well it had. So I’m following these guys on top of the levee in the mud (gumbo – thick thick mud!) and finally Vince decides maybe this isn’t the best idea, so he stops to survey the damage. When he gets out of the car its starts sliding down the levee, not towards the land side, but towards the marsh. Oh #$%@. I have four wheel drive, so I back out and down off the levee (since we are not allowed to be on the levee in the first place – don’t want a ticket). It’s supposed to be up and over quickly. So we are digging in this crazy gooey mud, trying to pick up enough random oyster shells, and drift trash to pack under the tires so this thing doesn’t keep sliding down the hill towards certain disaster. The more we try the worse it gets. I find enough scraps of old rotten barge rope to attempt to pull him. Wel,l that snaps violently and almost has me flip my truck down the opposite bank. We are really screwed. Worst in my mind, is that I’m wasting fishing time!Ha! So finally this cop comes up and has to walk out to us messing up his shoes. I know these guys are screwed now, each one of the cop’s shoes has about a  10lb dumbbell of mud around the outside of it! So he calls a guy with a rope after as he begins writing them a ticket. We eventually get the rope to work and pull us down off the levee and back down to hard ground. We finished up the weekend in style having a great time fishing the next day at a different spot where Vince and I went 1st and 2nd in the Slam, and Morgan won a kayak for having the red with the most spots! I think that was good luck muck!

When coupled with well documented success at landing impressive catches, your reputation as a generous purveyor of knowledge places you amongst a cadre of kayak angling heroes.  Many new practitioners look up to you, and seek your advice on all topics related to the sport.  What does this responsibility mean to you?

I think we who have been doing this for a while have a great opportunity to help the newer guys coming into the sport learn to enjoy and thrive on the water. Clubs are a great example of where some of the more experienced guys can mentor newer guys and give them the knowledge and tips on both the forums or on the water. And those guys, in turn, pay it forward and continue to bring up accomplished anglers who are both learned in the skills it takes to catch fish and the know-how of what it means to be safe and prepared on the water. Another thing I enjoy are my seminars with Hobie that I give at local paddle shops. I cram in a lot of kayak fishing book smarts into a short period of time, complete with hands on looks at rigging and gear set-ups, and the guys eager to try ‘em out go out experiment and learn with a nudge in the right direction and experience on the water.

What does the future hold for you?

I’m not sure. I want to keep fishing tournaments, becoming a better angler, raising my children to love the water and fishing. And one day when I’m older, retiring from my day job and possibly doing some supplemental guiding, more fishing, and writing.

You can contact Brendan Bayard at la_yakfish@yahoo.com. Also check out his facebook blog at: www.facebook.com/KayakFishingU for all things kayak fishing in the Gulf region, including events, products, and reports.

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