Karlie Almaraz cherishes the three biggest days in her life – the birth of her three-year—old daughter, Evelyn, her wedding to husband, Ayracon, and the day she got her dream boat.
“I was just so in love because it was so perfect for what I needed,” Karlie said of the day she got a fishing kayak for her 22nd birthday. “My brother and I had done a lot of research, stumbled across fishing kayaks and it was just so perfect for me.” Karlie lacked the space, time or money for upkeep on a traditional fishing boat. Even though the small-framed 27 year old has to carry and wrestle the boat a bit, she said it’s worth it all.
“Oh my gosh, the pay-off has been just so amazing,” said Karlie, excitement still in her voice after five years and hundreds of kayak trips. “I can go down creeks bigger boats can’t and it’s so easy to quietly creep up on fish. I love it all.”
Creating a custom craft
Karlie said she’s enjoyed transforming her kayak from a “blank canvas” to her perfect fishing craft. First came rod holders, she’s also added tackle assortments and ways to keep things attached and fairly dry. Her most recent “game changer” has been depth finder.
“That’s been one of the neatest things, is how easy it is to take a kayak and make it totally my own, unlike anybody else’s,” said Karlie, “and it’s a lot easier, and a whole lot cheaper than you could make almost any changes to a regular boat.”
Never caught a species she didn’t like
Large and smallmouth bass are some of Karlie’s primary targets. They’re some of the most common fish in the county and community lakes as part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Community Fishing Assistance Program, where Karlie often fishes.
Karlie giggled when she recalled how nearly all bass she’s caught from her kayak have jumped near enough to shower her with water. Many are powerful enough to tug her kayak around a bit if conditions are calm. She’s also done well on crappie, walleye, catfish and some species many anglers ignore. Some call carp and gar “trash fish.” Karlie calls them “…an absolute blast!”
“You’re at their mercy because they’re so strong. For a long, long time they’re the ones in control. They decide when the fight is over. Until then you just pretty much hang on,” said Karlie. “Trying to manhandle some of those big fish when you get them to the kayak is a real thrill. They’re so underestimated and underappreciated, especially when you’re in a kayak.”
Fishing water always nearby
Karlie has fished from her kayak on everything from small ponds to huge Tuttle Creek Reservoir. It’s the second largest in Kansas, and where Karlie some days caught double-digit numbers of walleye from her kayak.
Now living in Spring Hill, a little south of the Kansas City area, Karlie heads to Hillsdale Reservoir when she wants to fish big water. She’s a huge fan of fishing city and community lakes. Several are very close. Because her kayak is so portable and easy to launch, she can be casting within a few minutes.
“I really like early morning fishing,” she said. “If I wake up early enough I put my kayak and gear in the back of my truck and go. In no time at all I’m out there fishing on a lazy summer morning. It’s a great time of day.”
Sharing the fun
As much as she relishes quiet times fishing by herself, Karlie’s quick to let others come along. She often borrows a kayak for them to use.
“Every time I take somebody with me, they always tell me they want to get a kayak, too,” said Karlie. “I mean every time.”
Karlie’s extremely excited about the prospects of introducing someone extra-special to kayak fishing – her 3 ½ -year-old daughter, Evelyn.
“I’ve been talking to my husband, and I think I may take her out in the kayak with me a few times this year,” said Karlie. “She can sit right in there with me. I’m sure she’ll like it.”
If she’s at all like her mother, little Evelyn will positively love kayak fishing.