In addition to co-hosting the Friday night time slot on Kayak Fishing Radio, Isaac Miller has his hands in many of the sport’s happenings. Isaac is the Online and Social Media Director for YakAngler, and a member of the NRS and Jackson Kayak teams. Extending his reach into the global realm of angling, Isaac can be found serving as the PR Director at the non-profit group Recycled Fish, and maintaining his own eco-friendly enterprise entitled Green Tackle. Isaac’s remaining time is spent with his family, his kayaks and his blog, YakFish http://yakfish.isaac-online.com.
What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?
A few years ago I was with a bunch of friends at a cabin on Anderson Island in the Puget Sound. I had just taken fishing back up that year, and had already been trying to figure out how to get on the water, rather than the bank, when I saw a pair of kayaks in the garage of the cabin. It didn’t take long before I found myself with the rod between my knees and out in the waters around AI. I had no idea what was in the water in that area, or even how to fish for it, so I didn’t catch a thing out of the lil’ SinK, but when I pulled up full crab pots, I was set on fishing from a kayak.
Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?
My first kayak fish was an incredible one. I had just bought my kayak weeks before the Oregon Rockfish Classic in 2009. In all reality, I had no business fishing out of Depoe Bay at that time. I didn’t have immersion gear. I didn’t have a radio. I didn’t have a safety flag. Nothing. Fortunately for me, the ORC was moved to a lake due to high seas on the Pacific. I was supposed to be at a wedding that day. I had a lot of pressure to be at the wedding, but I also just had to fish my first kayak fishing tournament. I was only allowed to go on two conditions: 1 – I had to call the bride and tell her why I was not going to be at her wedding, 2 – I had to win my wife a new kayak. I hit the lake early and just at sunrise, with fog lifting off the water, an almost-3-pound largemouth hit my top water popper. It was quite a fight on the ultralight rod I was using, but it was the first fish I landed on the kayak. It was also the winning fish for that year’s ORC. I couldn’t have been much happier to report to the wife that I was able to meet both of her conditions.
You have successfully broadcast radio shows from both Outdoor Retailer and ICAST, and, in doing so, managed to translate a cacophonous and multi-sensory experience into a thoughtful collection of spoken words. Tell us a bit about the challenges associated with such a project, and how it was that you managed to overcome them.
I’d say most of my shows from on-the-road have been tragic learning experiences. By the time the shows go live at ICAST, booths and people are shutting down and heading for cold A/C and tasty adult beverages – let me tell you how cool it is to run into Bill Dance at a Vegas bar. But it gets hard with the noise and tracking folks down. Fortunately I learned quickly at ICAST that I can just use my phone to make recorded interviews for the show. That’s how I was able to talk to Gary Loomis and Mike Iaconelli last year. This year I expect some much better interviews and kayak fishing talk. Outdoor Retailer was something all together different. I still feel really bad about that show. Horrible even. I had just gotten into Salt Lake City after driving the whole day. I found a pub with WiFi that was pretty quiet. I situated myself outside and got the show going with Ron Sauber, of Groundswell Kayak Fishing. It wasn’t long until I could barely hear what he was saying, and then the traditional Utah summer nightly thunderstorm rolled in. I grabbed up all my gear to save it from the rain, and headed inside the bar. There I was greeted with loud music and a full house of people. I still feel really bad about that show, and I should have done Ron better than that. If anything, I learned “location, location, location” is just as important in the audio world as it is in the real world.
What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?
If I’m half asleep and waiting for the coffee to kick in, the I’ll probably have some East Coast punk going – Agnostic Front, The Casualties, stuff like that. Generally though, I’m thinking about fishing and woke up before the alarm clock, so I listen to The Fish Schtick podcast.
Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?
There’s not specific person, but everyone that’s in a kayak, and fishing from it, is shaping the future. In this plugged-in age, most everyone is out there with cameras and video equipment. Everyone wants to be a star, it seems. Everyone is helping grow the sport of kayak fishing, and that is what is going to shape the future of things to come. Now manufacturers are hiring kayak anglers to design fishing-specific kayaks, rather than just putting a couple rod holders on a boat and calling it a fishing kayak.
With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?
I’m always concerned with safety. While people are constantly drilled about wearing a PFD and dressing for immersion, no one seems to talk about paddling. The unfortunate part is that most people coming into this sport have very little to no experience on a kayak. I urge everyone to take a basic skills course. Most kayak shops offer them and, if you buy your kayak there, they can usually get you into one for free. If you’ve been doing this for awhile, it’s still worth spending a few hours with a professional paddler to hone your skills. Doing this will make you an efficient paddler and less prone to injury. It’s all about being able to spend more time on the water, and getting from point A to B faster and easier.
The telling of fish tales and the oration of advice are two common actions found within the kayak angling community. Many participants have blogs, and many more post to online forums. You, however, parlayed your desire for expression into a successful radio show. What made you decide to pursue this form of media?
It was really the next step. I had spent a year doing college radio, and felt that might help me with Kayak Fishing Radio.
Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?
I have one coming soon – an overnight Deschutes River float during the salmonfly hatch. It’ll be epic. Otherwise, the big dream is Cancun. In fact, I’ve dreamed about it so much that I wrote a blog post for a writing contest. It’s something I’ve gotta do some day.
What’s in your milk crate?
Too much. Especially if I’m lake fishing. I’ve been trying to pack lighter, but when you hit a place that has bass, trout, perch and more, it’s hard not to take everything you have just in case you can’t entice one of them to bite.
Tell us about your best day on the water.
The last time I was out. The last trip is always the best trip. Actually, the last time I was out was pretty epic. Scaling 60′ basalt cliffs along the Hood River with Drew Gregory of Jackson Kayak, and Derek Bell, and John Hart from Kayak Shed. Not a whole lot of fishing was done, but Drew and I both hooked into a couple smolt. Just the hiking, climbing, scaling and scenery made it an awesome day. Of course, great company helped.
What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?
Good question. I don’t know that I have an answer for that. I’m not so sure that there is necessarily a lifestyle. There’s no perfect wave for us, no perfect run. We have some great adventures, things that guys fishing from the bank or a big boat won’t understand. I see kayak anglers as a cross between the fly angler and the kayaker. While most kayak anglers may not fly fish, because we are close to the water, we tend to have a closer understanding of what is going on with the world of the water. We tend to appreciate what is around us more. In general, kayak anglers are more concerned with the environment and our health. We also seek adventure, be it punching through or landing in the surf, running some rapids to get to that next pool, or seeing how far that next fish will tow us.
Tell us a story, any story.
I learned a hard lesson this year. I had my car loaded to the hilt with all my fishing gear – two kayaks on the roof and another in the car. Before leaving, I pointed out to my wife that I had about $7000 worth of kayaks and fishing gear in the car, and she said that it was OK, that our insurance would cover it should something happen. On my way to give a kayak fly fishing clinic for Soul River, it happened. The roof rack gave way and spilled my Trident 15 and Diablo Chupacabra onto I-5. Both kayaks suffered critical damage. Yakima sent me a new rack, but the insurance did not cover the loss of the kayaks. Turns out there is specific coverage for watercraft, which would have only cost me an additional $6 a month. Guess that’s what I get for not asking beforehand. While it’s questionable whether or not bow and stern straps would have saved things, I don’t roll without them any more. Even if I’m just going four miles away, as I was.
Low cost laptops, sub-100 dollar microphones by Blue, free editing software – there exist affordable and easy routes into the world of podcast creation, and chances are good that we will see more and more kayak anglers adding to the art form. What advice would you give to somebody wanting to express themselves over the internet’s air waves?
Have a plan. If you look around iTunes, you’ll find several podcasts about kayak fishing that have come and gone. Make sure you have something to talk about. I try to write up what I have to talk about so I can keep track of the show while I’m on air. Don’t script it all out though, people can tell when you’re reading and when you’re just talking. I struggled early on to make sure I had guests to interview. In the end, I found having a co-host much easier. Of course, guests are still invited! Kayak Fishing Radio has found it’s success in it’s diversity. With five different shows a week, with different hosts, in different locations, we really have something for everybody.
What does the future hold for you?
More fishing! At least I sure hope it does. I definitely want to spend more time exploring more waters and catching new species. Unfortunately, this year is off to a pretty slow start. I have, however, made plans for an overnight float on the Deschutes River for the salmonfly hatch in a couple weeks. I’ve not spent any time on that river, but will be with Derek from Kayak Shed; he has enough experience out there. I’m expecting an exciting trip. Again, I’ll be attending ICAST and Outdoor Retailer this year, and will be making better effort to bring more kayak fishing specific news to Kayak Fishing Radio. With ICAST back in Orlando this year, I’ve taken a few extra days to do some fishing down there.