Rob Milam

A kayak angler of only a few short years, Rob Milam has recently risen to the upper echelon of the sport’s pool of talent; his recent fourth place finish in the world championship series has solidified this achievement. Talent and titles aside, Rob is known as a humble and approachable angler, and one willing to freely and openly give advice or lend a hand. When he is not speaking at seminars or demo days, Rob can be found tending to his latest gig of directing the North Texas Kayak Trail

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

I was going on vacation with my family during the summer of 2009. We were driving from Dallas to our destination in Matagorda,Texas, which is halfway between Galveston and Corpus Christi. The closer we got to the coast, more and more of the cars and trucks on the road had a kayak attached to it. Then, when I got to our beach house, I saw people putting their kayaks in right off the road and going out to fish the flats. I was thinking how cool it is to be able to do that. The next day I was at the beach and noticed more people launching their kayaks out in the surf and fishing BTB.

I enjoyed the vacation, but I couldn’t wait to get home so I could find out more about fishing from a kayak. I started doing research. I bet I looked for six months before I finally pulled the trigger and got my first kayak. I was looking to find that perfect kayak that I could do everything with. I found a great one at a great price, tricked it out with accessories and decals, and enjoyed fishing from it. I’ve upgraded my kayaks a few times, now, and I’ve learned that my fellow anglers usually have a few kayaks in their arsenal to fish different situations.


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

Yes, I was bass fishing in the LBJ Grasslands with a good friend of mine, Josh Neumeyer. He was telling me about his fishing trip the previous weekend when he caught more fish than anyone he went with. My main goal was to out fish him, and catch more than he did that day. I typically don’t keep count while fishing but this was an exception.

We met a couple of friends when we arrived at the first place we decided to fish. At first light we paddled out to some flooded timber. We were only there a few minutes when I caught one and yelled out “fish on.” I bet I caught 10-15 fish in the next 30 minutes. My competitive nature kicked into gear, and I was now on a mission to catch more fish than Josh had caught the weekend before.

Next thing I know, Josh paddled up to me and asked what I was throwing and I showed him a Yellow Magic. He tied on a popper type bait but the spitting action on the YM was just a little different. The fish were really keying in on it. It was an amazing trip to say the least. One friend had big fish, I ended the day with 37 bass and smashed Josh’s totals from the weekend before.

We all had a great time. These are great guys, and they are great representatives of this fun sport.


 

 

With a recent fourth place finish in the second annual Hobie World Championships, you have solidified your presence amongst the planet’s elite kayak anglers. Tell us a bit about your experience therein, and what it means to forever have your name etched in the sport’s history books.

What an honor to be invited to participate in the international competition!

I was so thrilled to be asked to participate in this prestigious event. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me!

I researched all the lakes we were going to fish in the invitational by talking to as many people as I could about them. I did a lot of research! I wrote it all down, then was so excited when I was getting my gear together, I forgot to pack my notes.

The first official practice day on Lake Bastrop I was paired with Marty Mood and four international fishermen/women. Our task for the day was to show them how to bass fish and help them out as much as we could. We found a group of fish on our first stop, but had a problem getting them to bite anything. I finally switched to a Carolina rigged fluke and got a bite on the first cast. I cast twice more, and caught another fish. It was time to leave and find new water but no one wanted to leave the spot, so I wound up fishing with Cedric, from Team France, for the rest of the afternoon.

Day one starts and I’m off to the first spot we found in practice. It was a race right out of the starting gate to get to our spots. When I arrived I noticed that the bait wasn’t there like it was the day before. The conditions had changed with a small cold front that passed the night before. I found the fish just off in a little deeper water and had my limit in just a couple of hours. Then I headed out to search for larger fish but came up empty handed. It was about an hour before weigh in when I ran in to Marty. We discussed the spot we found the previous day and I told him that the fish had moved. We went to fish one of his spots and I got to watch him pull out an impressive stringer.

Day two starts at Fayette County Lake with all of us going into it blind. I was planning on fishing a frog deep in the reeds that day but found out that I should have been fishing deep. Later I found an area that was only 10 ft deep with 20 ft of water all around it. I ended up catching my limit but knew my catch wasn’t big enough to compete with the other catches.

Day three came and I decided to fish deep all day. I went out to the spot I caught my limit on day two, but found the fish hadn’t shown up yet. I searched for new water when I found a ledge that went from 12-20 feet of water. I caught a 19 1/4” bass on my first cast. I stayed on that spot and fished it just about all day. I knew I was on a hot spot when boat after boat came into the little area wanting to fish it. I had to play defense with the boats to keep them off a hundred yard stretch that was holding some great fish. I knew that I needed a kicker fish toward the end of the day and moved off the spot with only an hour left in the tournament and found that fish only a few hundred yards from where I was fishing.

It means the world to me that I have met so many good people. They have all opened their arms like I’ve known them for years and have invited me to go fishing in their neck of the woods (and their necks of the woods are all over the world!). I’m looking forward to taking them up on their offers and growing these friendships. It fuels the fire inside of me to keep doing the best I can to grow the sport of kayak fishing!

Hopefully next year I’ll be invited to go fish the next Hobie Worlds where ever they have it.


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

It all depends on if it’s a day of fun fishing or tournament day. Most of the time, I’ve got classic rock on and just ready to have a fun day of fishing, but if I’m about to fish a tournament I’ll crank up some Metallica for about a song or two to get my blood pumping!

As far a fueling my body, I’ll usally eat something on the way and pack a sandwich, crackers and some protein bars along with plenty of water. When I’m moving from point A to point B I’ll eat a little something so I have plenty of energy on the water. It’s one of the many nice things about the Hobie Mirage drive. You can eat a sandwich while you use your legs to move from point A to B!


 

 

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

All of us! We are all responsible for growing the sport, sharing what we love and introducing someone new to kayak fishing. I also think some of the televised shows like Hobie Outdoor Adventure and Chad Hoover‘s Knot Right Kayak Fishing have had a huge impact on the growth of kayak fishing.


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

There are several things that come to mind. The most important thing about kayaking, as well as any sport, is safety. After that, new kayakers should consider taking a paddling and angling class. I think the more educated they are when they hit the water the safer that they will be, and they can enjoy many fun days on the water. I hold clinics at the local kayak shops to teach some of the key things, and of course, actual time on the water is the best way to learn. I host a Thursday night tournament on one of the local lakes and invite all the new guys that want to come join us so they can get time on the water with more experienced anglers to enhance their learning. I love fishing with and teaching these new kayak fishermen. I show them what is working for me and how to fish different techniques. As seasons change, so do the patterns and I share this information with them, as well.


Your kayak angling resume reads like one belonging to a practitioner of several decades. Yet, upon closer inspection, said document has you entering the sport circa 2009. To what do you attribute your meteoric rise to the upper echelon within but a few short years?

Thank you for the compliment! I’m not sure how it happened so fast but it did.

I have a huge passion for this sport, and I have always been passionate about fishing. My parents have taken me fishing since I was two years old, and I caught my first fish when I was two. However, the introduction of kayaks to the equation has provided me the opportunity to hone my fishing skills by enabling me to be on the water whenever I want to be.

Also, I have worked as hard as I can to help grow it in this region this past year. I work closely with my sponsors, as well as the local Hobie dealer, and this has opened more doors for me that I could have imagined. I am very grateful for that.

I’ve also been very fortunate to have had a really good fishing season this past year and have caught some really nice fish.


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

My dream trip is simple. I’d like travel throughout the country and fish with all of the friends that I’ve met over the past couple of years. Some of these guys are fresh water guys and other saltwater guys.

I’d love to be bass fishing one day, fish for reds/snook the next and then tarpon fish the next day. My number one goal is to catch a billfish out of a ‘yak.


 

 

What’s in your milk crate?

I guess a better question would be what’s not in my milk crate. I’ve had to learn not to take everything I own and scale it down as much as I can. It took some time to downsize my tackle inventory after many years of fishing out of powerboats where space was not an issue.

Now, I’ll usually know what pattern the fish are on and try to pack accordingly. If I’m going someplace I’ve never fished, I try to figure out what type of water I’ll be fishing and read the fishing reports to see what the fish are biting on. By the end of the day I’m usually fishing one or two lures and they are the old standbys that I fish all the time. Bass are bass no matter what part of the country or state you’re in.


Tell us about your best day on the water.

Well, I’ve had several this year and have been thrilled to catch three Catch and Release Records (and one more is pending that has been submitted for a fish I caught December 1st at Joe Pool Lake) but I would have to say the best trip would be when my son caught his first fish.


What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

It is relaxed, unpretentious and wholesome. Every weekend is a vacation, and I live for them so I can get on the water. I’m always looking to find the biggest fish in the lake, whether it’s just a fun day of fishing or it’s a competition.

Beware, though! If it becomes a passion for you like it is for me, it’s very addicting!


 

 

Tell us a story, any story.

I feel like two of the guys that helped fuel my passion of kayak fishing need recognition. This goes out to two anglers here in north Texas, Tom Hanson and Shaun Russell. Both of these guys and I spent countless hours out at Lake Fork in the summer of 2011. We were searching for that elusive double digit bass and doing all we could to win the KBF (Kayak Bass Fishing) challenges. Tom had won a kayak earlier that year fishing out at Lake Fork, and we wanted to do the same. Seems like we all did well that summer but one thing that stood out in my mind was that we learned one part of lake like it was our own back yard. We would meet out there before sunrise and fish until it was after dark. It taught me the importance of friendship and to never give up. Sometimes while fishing in July/ August it would be over 105* and we would push through the heat. During the heat of the day, sometimes we would pull up on a spot and just tear them up. I’ll never forget the time Shaun caught a bass just over 24”. The day was pretty slow, and next thing I see was Shaun coming around the corner with this huge bass. We got a photo session out of the way and then the high fives started flying. These guys still are some of my closest friends on the water – even though we don’t spend as much time as we used to. I’ll never forget that summer because we were always fishing, hanging out, and always enjoyed every minute we had together. Now with more responsibilities, we only get a few trips out together a year but try to make the best of every trip.


You recently inherited management of the North Texas Kayak Trail tournament series. Tell us how it was that your involvement came to be, and share, if you can, how it is that you plan to place upon the series your own personal stamp.

Last year was the first year for the North Texas Kayak Trail and we had a great turnout. With a couple of new trails popping up, the guy that started NTKT felt a little overwhelmed. I didn’t want to see the trail go away since it had just gotten rolling, so I jumped in to help.

My goal is to extend the season and have a championship tournament at the end of the season for the guys that fish at least 80% of the tournaments.

I’ll be partnering with both the NTKBF trail and the PKAA to make this year’s trail even more of a success. I think that having more than one person running these events is key and will allow us to share the responsibility time demands.


 

 

What does the future hold for you?

I can predict one part of my future – that’s the part that I know – that I will enjoy many fishing trips! The icing on that cake is when my son is old enough to come with me, and I can teach him to fish! If his passion becomes fishing, we will have many happy hours on the water, and I will enjoy every minute of the ride.

I’ll continue to fish tournaments here in north Texas, as well as help the area Hobie dealers grow their businesses.

I also want to start fishing some of the IFA events.

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