Stephen Laurie

Stephen Laurie is a Calgary, Alberta-based angler and member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team.  Through his roles as guide, instructor, and writer, Stephen shares his tremendous passion for the sport and the importance of sustainable fishing.  When not educating and recruiting new kayak anglers, Stephen can be found exploring the many lakes and rivers of Alberta, often in the company of fellow CanadianKayakAnglers.com members.  Stephen is also a member of the Kokatat and Werner family of anglers.

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

Simply put, I needed to get out on the water and fish, and I needed a platform to do it.  Over time I’ve waded, but couldn’t get to most the spots I wanted.  I’ve used canoes, but found them a bit much to transport and hard to fish solo out of.  I’ve even tried pontoon boats, which run the roost here in Alberta, but found they require too much depth to get me into small back channels, not to mention being slow on still water.  A friend had purchased a kayak a few years back, and when I saw that it had the ability to do everything I needed, my addiction to kayak angling was born.  Kayaks, in my opinion, are the ultimate multipurpose platform for fishing.

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

Definitely. It was the first time I had used a kayak for fishing and I was so preoccupied with figuring out kayaking part that I had forgotten the fishing part.  I quickly had a strike, but by the time I finished fooling around with the paddle and got to my rod I was almost spooled by what turned out to be quite possibly the smallest Rainbow I had ever caught.  Learned a lot that day about the subtleties of kayak fishing .

 

 

As director of the Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic, you offer to the sport an event that is rather unique in its setup.  Taking place on two adjacent bodies of water, a lake and pond, the tournament allows anglers to target a large variety of fish and habitat types.  Tell us a little more about the event and the decision to utilize both environments.

The Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic is a part of the Canadian Kayak Anglers cross Canada tournament series, which is comprised of five events taking place in four different provinces.  The Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic is held annually at Gleniffer lake in the Red Deer area of Alberta.  It is a chance for anglers of all skill levels to participate in a catch, photograph, and release kayak fishing tournament.  Luckily the two bodies of water are only separated by a small berm, so anglers can either focus on the trout pond or head to the larger lake and chase pike.  With prizes based on an overall length of total fish caught, strategies definitely play a big part in fishing the event.  It’s a good opportunity for local kayak anglers to meet up and have a good time.


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

I like to get on the water early, so most of the time it’s a power bar and coffee.  As far as tunes go, pretty much whatever is on the Ipod ,which I share with my daughter.  It could be anything from the Bob Dylan to Miley Cyrus.  Kids.  What’cha gonna do?

 

 

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

With the growth the sport is seeing. there are so many people helping to shape the its future. I spend a lot of my time fishing on rivers, and feel Drew Gregory and Jackson Kayak have made some real innovations for kayak river fishing with the Coosa.  Gear wise, I like the work Luther Cifers is doing with Yakattack on coming up with kayak fishing specific products.  On the Canadian front, I believe Jeff Goudreau has been instrumental up here with the creation of the Canadian Kayak Anglers forum, which is a top notch community of kayak anglers.  I like what Green Fish is doing in regards to promoting sustainable fishing practices as well.  I spend too much time on the internet, so my wife tells me, following blogs and sites from Jim Sammons, Kayak Kevin Whitley, Chad Hoover to Rob Appleby, Sean Brodie, and John Oast to name just a few.  There are tons of resources out there, and I try to take advantage of them all.

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

The first two things that come to mind are kayak fishing safety and environmentally sound fishing practices.

Kayaking can be dangerous enough without the added distraction fishing can cause.  Things happen when least expected, and wearing a PFD is a must, in my opinion. Paddle wear companies like Kokatat, for example, are focusing more and more on kayak angling, and are making great multi-function PFD’s that are less bullky and come with higher backs – thus dealing with the common comfort complaint heard too often when it comes to wearing PFD’s.  Not to mention most come with multiple pockets for storing gear, which in my opinion, make them a valuable tool no different than a fishing vest.

Kayak fishermen, as a group, are already greener by nature.  It comes with the choice of platform we use. After all, climate change is probably the biggest threat to the life in our rivers, lakes, and oceans, and reducing one’s carbon footprint is a great start. As kayak fishing, in the grand scheme of things, it is relatively new, and I feel it allows those of us already involved in the sport to promote environmental responsibility when it comes to fishing practices, which can only help to keep our fisheries sustainable.

 

 

One of your new roles in life has you teaching kayak angling classes through Undercurrents, a large paddlesport outfitter.  Given the relatively young age of the sport, and small populace of kayak angling instructors, it could be deduced that you are going to need to make a lot of pioneering efforts in order to build a cornerstone in this emerging industry.  Tell us a bit about that experience thus far.

The kayak fishing classes are my most recent undertaking and I guess, in a way, the next step in my kayak angling journey.  It’s a way for me to share my passion for the sport and promote it’s growth.

The underlying premise is to get more fisherman in kayaks and more kayakers out fishing.  It will be sort of kayak fishing 101 – the basic fundamentals required to safely fish out of a kayak.  Hopefully the interest is there locally, and people will discover the joys of kayak fishing.  The partnership with Undercurrents has the added benefit of helping my to achieve one of my goals – getting certification with Paddle Canada. They’ve been great to deal with, and I’m excited to be involved with them.

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

Although it’s not all that exotic, I have a real drive to chase big pike at this point in my kayak angling journey.  I’ve been dreaming about doing a fly-in trip to one of the Northern Canadian lodges on trophy Pike lakes like Reindeer or Wollaston.  Not sure what the logistics would be as far as getting the kayaks up there, but where there’s a will there’s a way.  It’s on the bucket list for sure.

What’s in your milk crate?

I don’t use a milk crate.  I try to be a minimalist when on the water, although I tend to forget that when in the tackle shops.  I’m on rivers a lot, so I usually just take a small boat bag with a first aid kit, extra clothes (just in case I end up in the drink – it happens!), safety equipment, and some refreshments.  As far as my fishing gear goes, I use a Jackson Coosa when on the river, and it’s pretty well outfitted right out of the box, so everything I need to keep handy typically has a spot already laid out for it.  That said, I’ve picked up a Jackson Cuda, and plan on spending more time on big reservoirs chasing pike.  I’ll be taking more gear with me on those trips, and have recently converted a pet food storage box to a dry box.  I saw the idea in one of Rob Appleby’s posts, and thought it was genius.

 

 

Tell us about your best day on the water.

A few years back, myself and a fishing buddy were spending the day floating what is highly regarded as the Blue Ribbon section of the Bow River here in Alberta.  It was late in the summer, and the water was crystal clear. The first few hours of the float were fairly typical, with both of us picking up a few Rainbows and Browns, but as the day progressed, the fishing really started to pick up, and regardless of where we went on the river that day we were gonna hook into fish. The highlight of the day had us sitting in our yaks on a small gravel bar between two narrow runs scattered with small pools.  It was one of those places that only kayaks could get to and it was all ours. No matter where we pitched our lures while sitting on that little gravel bar, it was “fish on.”  It was the non-stop action anglers dream of, and the kind of day you wish everyday on the water could be.

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

For me, it depends on the day.  Some days it’s a quiet, relaxing time to myself just sitting on the water and taking it all in.  Some days it’s spending time with friends exploring new waters and competing for the best catch.  And some days it’s a full speed ahead, nothing matters but the fishing, fist pumping, “fish on” kind of day.  But the best days to me, and what makes me love the kayak fishing lifestyle the most, is the day with a bit of it all.

Tell us a story, any story.

Last year I was fishing a local lake for Pike, and as I was heading in for the day, I came across a monster Pike sitting in a small channel eating spawning Sucker fish at will. I threw everything I had at him with absolutely no response.  He was sitting in only about 2 ft of water, and for a brief second I thought of trying to wrestle him like an alligator. I came to my senses and marked him for the next visit.

 

 

Your blog, Fishnhound, is a rather ambitious project that is truly a testament to your love of the sport.  With trip reports, lessons, reviews, features, and videos, the online offering is a fantastic resource for those interested in freshwater kayak angling.  Why do you feel it necessary to give back to the sport by way of your writing and photography skills?

To me it’s about sharing what I love and helping to grow the sport of kayak angling. My addiction to this sport hit me hard and fast, and the time I spend exploring the water has become a real adventure.  If my site can help to introduce more people to the benefits of kayak fishing, and maybe make it easier for them to safely get out on the water and give it a try, then I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something.

What does the future hold for you?

Hopefully many more days exploring the waters of Alberta from a kayak.  My wife has recently caught the kayaking bug, and my kids are showing more interest in kayaking everyday, so hopefully more of those days on the water will be spent with them.  Hopefully it will be the start of their kayak angling journeys.

 

2 Responses to “Stephen Laurie”

  1. Catherine b says:

    Great read! Can’t wait to try it someday!

  2. Rich says:

    Nice write up Stephen,and great pics! I really gotta plan a trip out there one day.

Leave a Reply

*