NAFC member Ronnie Faul is a man with a passion for kayak fishing. When the 40-year-old family man is not working for the municipal water department in his hometown of Taylor, Texas, he’s fishing (or thinking about fishing) Granger, Bastrop, Buchanan, or one of the many other nearby lakes for stripers, bass, catfish or crappies from his 14-foot Heritage Redfish. And whenever possible, he tows his custom multi-kayak trailer to the Gulf Coast to chase redfish and other inshore gamefish.
It wasn’t always this way. In fact, Faul took the same track many other anglers follow as they mature in the sport. He began fishing from banks and jetties, then progressed to a canoe. From there he jumped to a flatbottom jon, and then an aluminum semi-vee. When his sister offered to sell him her17 ½-foot bass boat, he jumped.
At the time, he didn’t know that his love of fishing would bring him full-circle—back to a more quiet, peaceful, slow, stealthy, economical—and adventurous—approach.
“I enjoyed the bass boat for a long time,” he says, “but then I started noticing other fishermen in kayaks, and they were getting into places that I would never be able to reach.”
That was just the beginning. Faul also did some mental calculations, factoring in rising gas prices, plus the time and effort his bass rig required in maintenance and upkeep. He realized the last part, “just wasn’t fun anymore.”
Faul took his thoughts to his wife Becky Lynn and sons, 14-year-old Hunter and 8-year-old Gage, and was a little surprised at their reaction. “They were all for selling the boat and getting kayaks—without hesitation. I was a little shocked because the boys enjoyed the boat so much.”
Today, along with Faul’s Redfish, Becky Lynn paddles an Emotion Grand Slam, Hunter has a Native Manta Ray and Gage paddles a Malibu Mini-X.
“I think what the boys enjoy most about fishing from a kayak,” he says, “is the independence it gives them. They are the captain of their own boat and make their own decisions about how to approach a spot and present a bait. It’s pretty exciting, really.”
Rigged For Fishing
As a multi-species angler Faul knew, when he made the switch, that his kayak would have to work for him in any number of situations, from chasing shallow-water redfish to nighttime cats (Photo 1). He invested time in talking with other fishermen and looking at the things they’d done to their rigs before finalizing his own plan. One thing he didn’t like were the type of anchor lights most others were using.
“I planned to rig my kayak and Hunter’s similarly, and I really didn’t care for the 360 mast lights I’d seen,” he explains. “Most were clamp-ons powered by flashlight batteries, and I felt they weren’t bright enough to be safe while fishing at night or in low-light situations. I wanted something I was sure could be seen from a long way off.”
Faul, instead, installed 12-volt lights, complete with deck sockets and removable masts (Photo 2). They’re powered by a small deep-cycle set below the front hatch cover (Photo 3) and wired through a toggle switch mounted just behind the seat (Photo 4). Besides being visible from great distances, they offer an additional benefit, he says.
“They really light up the entire cockpit, too. You don’t need a headlamp or flashlight when you’re re-tying or re-baiting a hook.”
Rather than setting rod holders off to the side of the cockpit, Faul chose to mount a Scotty 256 Triple Holder along the centerline just ahead of his Humminbird Piranha sonar unit (Photo 5). It’s especially handy when nightfishing crappies and seatrout.
“I use a green submersible light to attract these species at night, and when I set the rod holders at about a 35-degree angle from the center, the baits hang from the rodtips just at the edge of that light. It’s a great system.”
To expand storage space, Faul opted for the tried-and-true milk crate on the rear cargo platform, but added extra rod tubes and saddle bags. The crate hold can hold several tackle trays, while the bags carry tools, extra line and other miscellaneous gear (Photo 6).
“And I added the tubes so my reels would ride high off the water’s surface. The holders built into the hull are just too low to keep them from getting drenched.
No doubt, Faul is a diehard angler, but he’s also found that fishing from his kayak provides a deeper satisfaction than he gets simply from landing a big fish. Just as rewarding is the sense of accomplishment in getting there under his own power, the ultimate thrill of making a perfect stalk, and the feeling of wonder at everything around him.
Recalling the day he and his sons watched in awe as a school of stingrays swam along the bottom just three feet under their kayaks, he says. “I always tell the boys that our success isn’t measured in the number of fish we come home with. It’s measured in the experiences we come away with.”