Connecticut Bass Anglers

Connecticut Kayak Fishing with Nick Gabris

Nick with His PB Kayak Largemouth
Nick with His PB Kayak Largemouth

Nick Gabris is a Connecticut bass angler that has a knack for catching bit largemouth bass out of his kayak. I caught up with Nick to discuss his kayak fishing and specifically his fall fishing for Connecticut largemouth.

You catch a ton of big Connecticut largemouth bass from your kayak. How long have you been kayak fishing?

I wouldn’t say I catch a ton, but persistence certainly pays off! I’ve been kayak fishing for about 8 years now. I bought my first kayak off Craigslist for $100. I mounted a few rod holders on it and hit a local pond. I’ve been hooked ever since.

There’s something to be said about the simplicity, lack of maintenance, and tranquility of fishing from a kayak. You can also get back into some skinny waters that the bass boats simply can’t.

What is your personal best largemouth from your kayak?

My personal best largemouth to date on the kayak is 5 pounds 9 ounces. My personal best overall is 6 pounds 4 ounces. I find myself each year catching a good number of 4 pound fish with the occasional 5 mixed in. I’m still in pursuit of that 7 to 8 pound Connecticut monster.

What is your kayak?

My current set up is an Old Town Trip 10 Angler sit in. In today’s world of kayak fishing, it’s really nothing fancy, but I’ve had it for about 6 years now. I have put a lot of fish on board!
I will say Old Town makes a solid product and this yak has served me well.

What is your review of the kayak as a fishing platform?

Pros – Dry storage hatch, lightweight, stable overall, easy to paddle

Cons – Tough to fish sitting, lack of cargo capacity/rod storage

I’ve got my eyes on an Old Town Predator MX sit on top. I’d love to be able to take more gear and stand while fishing. Just need to pony up the price of admission!

What electronics are you using on your kayak?

I’m currently running a Lowrance Mark 4 sonar/chartplotter combo. Again, not the Cadillac of electronics, but gets the job done. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get out there and catch fish. All you need is decent unit to see what’s down there.

I use mine to find depth changes, edges, structure, water temps, etc. Generally, once you find the ledges and structure you find the fish. I’m still coaching myself to read and trust the unit versus fishing where I’m comfortable and power fishing shorelines. I’ve had some on my best days on lakes I’d never fished before solely relying on the Lowrance to mark offshore structure.

I know you fish all over Connecticut, but what are your favorite places to kayak fish in the State?

I find myself in a battle each week as I try to plan where I’m going to fish the upcoming weekend. It’s always a tough choice between familiar waters and branching out to somewhere new. Tyler Lake, Dog Pond, and local reservoirs/small ponds are some of my go to spots. I tend to prefer shallower waters with summer vegetation prime for top water and flipping creature baits into.

One thing I always consider when planning a trip on the kayak is the size of the water body and any horsepower restrictions. I generally consult the Connecticut DEEP website and try to find smaller acreage ponds. This offers 2 advantages to me; little to no boat traffic and a more manageable task of paddling the entire area to find fish.

I know you kayak fish late into the fall. What are your keys to staying warm and safe when fishing colder weather?

To be honest, last year was really the first year I fished as late into the fall as I did. The biggest driving factor behind this for me, was shifting weather patterns and milder temps. I’m an avid waterfowl hunter – which opens in October. However, with the warm weather, duck migrations have shifted later in the year; so I turned to fishing to fill the void.

No matter the weather, if you’re dressed correctly you’ll be comfortable out there any time of year. I always dress in layers, pack a waterproof jacket, and wear rubber boots.

One thing I never leave home without is my PFD. I have an inflatable so it is relatively comfortable to wear and doesn’t get in the way of fishing. A hot summer day, or when fishing a small, engine- restricted pond are the only times I make exception to my own rule of always wearing it. Additionally, Connecticut law requires it Oct 1st to May 31st for all manually powered vessels.

How late into the fall can big Connecticut largemouth bass be caught?

Great question, and one I’m still figuring out! I will say, all my biggest CT largemouth bass have been caught during the month of September. It appears September and October are great months for bass fishing in CT. As the temps begin to cool down the fish start heavily feeding.

I use many of the same methods in the fall as other times of year. Spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jigs, top water, etc. all have their time and place to produce fish. Sometimes, the key is just slowing down the presentation as water temps drop.

Throughout the other seasons, what are your favorite baits on Connecticut waters for largemouth bass?

Like many bass anglers, one of my favorite methods is top water fishing. You just can’t beat the excitement of a big largemouth blowing up on your bait! If I’m fishing solid pads, I’ll throw something like a Rage Toad or weedless frog. If I’m fishing more open waters a solid black jitterbug is my go-to.

I like to vary my techniques and what I fish. I have 3 to 4 different setups with me at any given time. My only limitation in fishing from the kayak is certain baits are more challenging to fish. Deep diving crankbaits tend to just tow me around and spinnerbaits and jerkbaits can be harder to effectively present while sitting down inside a hull.

If not fishing for largemouth from the kayak, what are your other Connecticut species of fish that you enjoy fishing for?

I fish everything from small streams to Long Island Sound. Fishing has no limits to me. In the Spring, I enjoy wading the Naugatuck or Upper Housatonic rivers in search of trout. Spring also marks prime fishing on Lower Housatonic for striped bass.

In the summer, I try to get out on the salt for fluke, seabass, stripers, blues, etc to mix things up.

In the winter, I take the lake topography I’ve learned from the Lowrance and ice fish the same bodies of water I’ve bass fished all summer. There’s never a dull season!

I’ve been able to cross many fish off the list over the past few years. The next target my sights are set on is catching a big Connecticut walleye.

Thanks Nick. I will be following you on Instagram to see if you get that monster Connecticut largemouth bass this fall. Good luck.