My Top Pick | The Jackson Yupik
The Yupik people are a tribe related to the Inuit people of Alaska, regarded as the first people to make and use kayaks. The word Yupik means “real people.” After studying the characteristics of this new creation from Jackson Kayak I decided to try this model. A break away from my traditional paddle partner the Jackson Big Rig, the Yupik is shorter, lighter and faster than its big brother. A quick comparison shows the Big Rig weighing in at 92 lbs. compared to the 84 pounds of the Yupik, length wise it 13 plus feet matched up against 12 feet 2 inches, I haul both in the bed of my full size truck. The lighter, shorter Yupik requires a little less muscle when loading and launching.
My test drive of the Yupik took place on medium size river system. I immediately noticed how nimble and fast the battleship (one of four colors offered) colored Yupik was. It was responsive to each paddle stoke tracked and turned well. My paddle was the Bending Branches Pro Angler www.bendongbranches.com The factory folks also accommodated my request for a casting brace that serves to hold my paddle as I cast which saves me from bending over to retrieve my paddle moving closer to the cover I want to fish or when changing locations. I prefer to stand and fish and the Yupik allows this.
Of course I liked the open deck space in front and behind the seat which creates ample readily accessible storage for my rods, dry box and additional tackle. Several feet of track and side storage are two great features but my primary focus after safety is fishing. Today’s target was crappie. With surface water temperatures reaching the magic 50 degree mark I packed my typical and traditional crappie gear. My preferences do not vary much with crappie and other panfish. I like a 6 ½ foot medium action open face spinning outfit spooled with braided line (surprised?). Braid doesn’t twist line monofilament or fluorocarbon. I do normally connect a rods length of fluorocarbon to the braid for the invisibility that it offers. I attach the two lines with a blood knot.
While the use of live bait minnows for the black and white species of crappie is a time proven tradition I opt for small soft plastic, generally tubes and curlytail grubs. I species specific tackle box stored along my seat has a selection of colors ranging from pearl to chartreuse but my most effective bait is my namesake lure offered by MidSouth Tackle, the 0095 Monteleone silver tube. www.midsouth.com Threaded onto a 1/8 ounce leadhead and retrieved with a smooth swimming motion interrupted by an occasional pause is almost always irresistible to crappie and other fish. I reserve the curly tail grubs for the highly aggressive bite which doesn’t happen quite as often. The vertical retrieve of the tube is the most effective day on and day out. Schooling fish, the crappie are tempted by minnows and minnow imitating lures.
The most likely spot to find crappie consistently is around any submerged wood. They will frequent boat docks and bottom contours such as well-defined creek channels. In building your crappie box you should consider LOL, lots of lead. Fishing in and among the underwater wood hang ups and breakoffs are common and a normal part of pursuing the popular crappie.
The Yupik gave me the up close and personal experience of gripping the branches of the downed trees and presenting my baits without spooking the fish. The plus in kayaking is the stealth mode that comes with the small size and silent propulsion of the boat. In this case I have a regular “run” of crappie spots and as the bite slows I will move to the next a revisit places on the paddle back. The stability of this boat made me comfortable setting the hook and playing the fish to my hand.
Current will make the crappie position more predictable, as with other species they will avoid the strong current and position in the protective branches of the fallen trees, behind docks or shoreline points. As I passed some “bassiest” looking waters the Yupik played well in the wind and I made casts to the most likely looking bass hangouts.
As I paddled sitting or standing the Yupik showed an ease of movement that will make it popular with any kayaker of any age, size or experience level. I do very little to customizing, or electronic editions (a $10 watch and a cell phone) to any of my kayaks but this one will allow for some creativity. I stress life jackets 100% of the time for everyone. For smaller still or flowing waters the Yupik is a solid choice for fishing, a pleasure paddle or an afternoon of exploring.