This is our first interview here at Dock Talk 365 with an angler from Nebraska. I can’t think of a better angler to get started learning about this State than Dustin Mues. Dustin knows how to catch his share of Nebraska bass from his kayak. Join me in getting to know Dustin and Nebraska kayak bass fishing.
How long have you been kayak fishing?
I have been kayak fishing for about 5 years now. It all started when my wife Jennifer decided to get me a kayak for Father’s day back in 2013. I vividly remember telling her we were going to get two. Why would I want to go by myself? They were not the top of the line ones that are being produced today, but they served their purpose. They were the beginning of me and my family’s fishing addiction.
For me, what I love most about kayak fishing isn’t just the fishing. Fishing is the bonus. You can ask numerous kayak fisherman and nearly all of them will tell you how peaceful it truly is. Taking in the sunrises and sunsets, meeting others that have the same passion as you, exploring places mostly overlooked, and being surrounded by wildlife and actually seeing just how small of a piece to the puzzle you really are.
What are the pros and cons of your current kayak?
I am currently fishing out of a Jackson Kayak Cuda 12 in Sunrise supplied by my sponsor, The Boat Dock, out of Grand Island Nebraska.
- It’s an affordable, mid-range cost, multi-use kayak that is great for mostly all water bodies. I mainly use it on lakes, rivers, and the abundant sandpits found here throughout Nebraska.
- It weighs in at only 75 pounds which requires minimal effort for loading and unloading but doesn’t take away from its total weight capacity of 350 pounds.
- It is very maneuverable in close quarters and tracks nicely in open waters. The cockpit is very open allowing plenty of room for angler mobility and extra gear. Stability is great in seated position.
- Lack of stability for me while standing is an issue due to my size and that I have yet to acquire extreme water balance. I am unable to stand on this particular model.
- With its outstanding maneuverability it is easily blown around in windy conditions. Addition of a rudder system or drift anchor would be needed to solve this issue.
In conclusion I would still recommend this model of Jackson Kayak to anyone looking for a quality built kayak to support all of their fishing needs.
I know you like your Bending Branches paddle. What makes this paddle the right choice for you?
Bending Branches is the leader in Kayak Fishing Paddles. They have won the angler choice awards for two years running for the same reason I enjoy using them. Built and designed by kayak anglers for kayak anglers. With the many styles for the beginner to expert level they have a paddle designed for you.
Personally I choose Bending Branches as my paddle of choice for being lightweight to prevent fatigue increasing your paddling distance and experience and for being adjustable to accommodate any situation. With its built-in dual tape measure it allows me to quickly check the length of my catch to compare with previous catches on the board in a timely manner preventing extra stress on the fish and wasted time in a tournament. It also has a hook retrieval system built into the blade to free any lures that may become snagged rather than breaking your line and losing valuable/costly lures.
Do you have electronics on your kayak?
I currently only use an iBobber while out kayak fishing that I attach to the side of the kayak with some braided fishing line. Sometimes I leave it on a fishing rod, with the iBobber in the water, in case I want to cast in a cove to check for depth, temp, vegetation, and maybe a fish or two without disturbing the area with my kayak all while maintaining what is under my kayak.
If you are wondering what an iBobber is, it’s a wireless castable sonar device that uses bluetooth to connect to your mobile device and allows you to see where and what you are fishing for.
If I forget my iBobber at home, which has happened on occasion or the battery expires, I go back to sight fishing. Looking for structure above and below water. Fish and bait are creatures of habit that use cover for safety as well as using cover for ambush points. If the water is clear enough, I will leave no stone unfished.
In the event of dirty water I will throw on dark colored jig and slowly drag it along bottom and feel for structure as well as what the bottom feels like for example mud, sand, vegetation, ledges, or rock. That will determine the style of fishing needed for the situation.
In the near future I’m looking forward to purchasing my first depth/fish finder. I have my eye on the HOOK² 7x with TripleShot Transducer and GPS Plotter. I feel it will be a game changer in my tournament fishing experiences, but I will always have my iBobber by my side at the ready.
What are your 3 favorite Nebraska waters to fish for largemouth bass out of your kayak?
Swanson Reservoir – Swanson is my #1 favorite to fish for largemouth bass. Mainly since it’s only 10 miles from home and almost everybody at the lake knows #TeamMues! This lake is recovering from the past drought and summer canal draw downs that left the largemouth fishing in peril. With the lake levels being so low it allowed for vegetation and tree growth to create a mass of cover that initially would be great staging and spawning areas. With the past precipitation it has allowed it to become a bass fshing haven! It will be one of my most fished lakes this tournament season.
Welfleet State Recreation Area – Welfleet is one of those “if you blink you miss it” lakes. Just off of Hwy 83 hidden in the hills is a gem of a no-wake lake. Fed by the Medicine Creek and shores covered in pencil reeds makes this lake one of my favorite spinnerbait lakes and a safe place for my family and I to paddle around without all the big lake traffic.
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge – One of Nebraska’s best kept secrets. Located in the sandhill’s of North-central Nebraska is a series of Sandpit Lakes on approximately 20,000 acres. Full of Master Angler bass, crappie, bluegill, and northern pike. It is also electric motor or paddle vessel only making it key for a kayaking family looking to catch big bass and be surrounded in nature’s beauty.
What are your 3 favorite Nebraska smallmouth bass fish waters?
Lake McConaughy – Lake Mac has always been one of my favorite lakes to visit. With its sandy beaches and limestone cliffs you feel like your not in Nebraska anymore. The lake has numerous aquatic habitats that transition to be adequate for other species including largemouth, walleye, and wiper. With most of the angler’s focus being on Master Angler walleye and wiper, I’ll be targeting smallmouth. On a good day you can consistently catch 3 to 4 pound smallmouth cast after cast.
Sutherland Resevoir – Sutherland is a power plant lake that gives the angler extra early and really late season success with the warmer water temperatures and the constant flow of water that smallmouth love. The reason I like it so much is being able to get the kayaks out on open water while all the other lakes are frozen over with everyone ice fishing. If your looking for quantity over quality Sutherland is the place for you. And you can’t count out the occasional bonus drum or catfish when rigged up for smallies.
Red willow Resevoir – Red Willow is on the rise from its lowest water levels that I have seen due to a leak in the dam. After the repairs have been made the water levels have risen with the few rains and snowfall amounts for the past 4 years. A few smallmouth have been caught this past Summer and outlooks are promising for the 2018 season.
I can tell you are a bit of a tackle junkie. I am going to give you only one bait selection in each season, spring, summer, and fall. Which baits are you picking for each season?
One lure for each season…? This is a mighty difficult task for a tackle junkie, but I’ll try my best.
Spring – During this time I’m looking for a slower presentation with bass still being semi lethargic but still looking for a good meal in the colder waters. I will be throwing an Evilution Lures Evil “V” 4×4 Spinnerbait. This lure has 4 separate armatures with 4 willow blades attached that gives it the resemblance of a small bait ball. With bass being opportunist’s it will look like an easy meal for them without using a lot of energy. The size of the lure gives it the perfect amount of drag that allows you to slow reel and keep the lure in the strike zone longer. And when they bite, hold on. Most of the bass I catch on it are not small by any means.
Summer – This is when I bring out the plastic baits. This year I will be throwing last year’s top producing lure. That lure was the 10″ Ribbon Hinge Worm by Powerteam Lures. It’s a versatile bait that calls the big girls out. I fished it as a topwater with a 5/0 EWG worm hook early and late in the day. During the middle of the day I would add a 1/2 oz bare football jig and slowly drag it through deeper cover and bring them out of their mid-day hiding areas.
Fall – Nothing beats a Fall buzzbait bite and that’s why I’m going to go with it for my last “only 1 lure” selection. There are many, and I have casted almost all, but my most success came with the Evilution Lures BuzzBait w/clacker. It produced my personal best bass and many other Master Angler’s. Besides…what beats watching a bass blowup on topwater?
Tell us about that big bass you caught while night fishing from your kayak. What is the fish story behind it?
The Bass named Jester. You will know why it’s named that later in the story.
It was Thursday October 12, 2017. After a long day at work I needed a little water time to decompress. As soon as I made it home, I loaded the kayaks and changed out of my work clothes. Jen and I headed to a semi-private sandpit we frequently fish close to home.
As with everytime Jen and I fish, one of us fish one side and one fishes the other. We didn’t have much time to fish with the Fall days getting shorter, so what better way to hit the water than power fishing with a buzzbait. We both had a Chartreuse Shad Evilution Lures BuzzBait tied on. It wasn’t long until one of us had a fish on and we knew it was going to be a good evening of fishing. After working my side of the shoreline only catching around five 12 to 15 inch bass, the sun started to set, and that’s when I realized I had forgotten to pack the lights from home.
In my dismay, I started paddling back to the truck and stopped at the entryway and waited for Jen to catch up with me. I decided to make one last cast in the darkness across the entry way really not expecting to catch anything with the water being clear and only 9″ deep. Just as soon as I started my retrieve, my buzzbait went silent and my rod doubled over. I set the hook and the fight began.
My kayak was being pulled around on the water like a beach ball blowing across the lake. I would counter my direction and the fish would do the same. I knew she was trying to head to a broken tree limb sunken near the shoreline and I couldn’t let that happen. If I didn’t get her landed quick I was gonna lose her. I reared back and turned her around and quickly grabbed the net.
As she made her way towards the kayak she showed her face for the first time. That’s when my jaw dropped, literally. As she got closer to the kayak I readied my net in the water, locked and ready to scoop her up. She swam by, scoop and a miss. I had to re-compose myself and bring her back by the net again. Second scoop…, victory!
I was speechless, out of air, shaking like a cold shivering dog. I knew she was big, but didn’t really know how big. I finally calmed down and pulled out my phone to use as a flashlight. I grabbed her by the lip and shown the light on her and was in total disbelief of how big her mouth was. I started yelling for Jen to hurry and come see. She rounded the bend asking if I caught a good one. As I held the girl up and shone the light on her, all I could hear was, “O-M-G, how big is it?”
I hadn’t even measured her yet so I could get some pictures first. If you are a tournament kayak fisherman, you know how much the big ones like to tail dance off your Hawg Trough and back into the drink.
Once the picture session was over I layed her on the measuring board and she went an astonishing 22″ with her mouth closed. My biggest largemouth to date. I snapped a quick shot for proof of her size and released her back to the comfort of her home.
Once we made it back home it was time to look at the footage we captured. This is where the name “Jester” comes in. While scrolling through the pictures we noticed a face on the throat of the fish. Now take this into perspective, it’s the evening before Friday the 13th, in October, at night, and that was the first thing you noticed in the pictures. I still get chills when I look back through the pics.
Congrats on qualifying for the 2018 Championship. What are you looking most forward to in fishing the Championship?
Thank You. I have fished Kentucky Lake in the 2016 Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship. With less than favorable conditions of high winds, my plan of action had to change and I could only fish in a small cove. It left a bitter taste in my mouth of what could of been if I were able to fish my planned areas.
I didn’t qualify for the 2017 tournament, but that allowed me extra time to read maps, forums, and watch videos to have several back up plans in case of running into the same weather conditions. And with the addition of electronics it will help to see the structure you are paddling over first hand.
What i look forward to mostly is meeting up with old friends, meeting new ones, and bringing home a $100K tournament win and being Kayak Bass Fishing’s National Champion.
Who are your sponsors? How do they help you be a better kayak angler?
Evilution Lures – One of my top producing lures is the Wicked RS Spinnerbait. You could say it’s my confidence lure. When I’m just not finding a bite, I throw on an RS and before you know it, fish on.
All their lures are handmade and painted only with powder coat paint for the utmost in durability and quality. But don’t just take my word for it, order some of your own and you will see why I choose Evilution Lures.
Powerteam Lures – Ever since winning a “Wicked Kit Wednesday” giveaway two years ago I have been using them since. One of the first qualities I noticed after using them was the durability. I’ve used other soft plastics and found myself catching a couple fish then readjusting/rigging or changing out baits to a fresh one from damage. With Powerteam Lures I can catch numerous fish with no tearing or damage. They are made with neutrally buoyant plastic and amino acids that allow you to accurately mimic prey with every twitch of your rod. They are “Deadly on Bass.” Check them out and use code TEAMMUES for a discount.
Rock-N-Reel Custom Lures – Handmade underspins made in Alabama by Tony Sylvester. If you can think of it, he can make it or find a way. That’s why they are called Custom Lures. Pick your color, weight, and number of blades and he will get them shipped to you. He is now building all of his quality lures with the option of using award winning Trapper Tackle hooks. Be sure to stop by his Facebook page for great giveaways.
The Boat Dock – Central Nebraska’s boating, kayaking, and fishing headquarters. They carry everything I need to stay on the water. From my Jackson kayaks, pfd’s, and so much more. If I have any rigging questions or looking for my next accessory to keep me ahead of the competition, they are there. Contact Jeff Westerby at The Boat Dock.
Line Cutterz – The ring that cuts fishing line like butter. I have it with me every time I go fishing. When I change lures, it cuts the perfect tag line. You can wear it on your finger, put it on your fishing rod, or attach it to your kayak. And with having the new adhesive flat mount Line Cutterz, the possibilities are endless. If you haven’t seen them or want a custom Line Cutterz with your logo, check them out.
Dunamis Rods – Professionally built high quality fishing rods without breaking the bank. Backed by their 100% Lifetime Guarantee. Whether it is their Ascension Series, The Marciano Saltwater Series, or your very own custom built fishing rod, they will guarantee that rod, no questions asked. That’s one less worry I have when transporting or using my Dunamis Rods knowing it’s quality built and guaranteed for life even if the rod changes owners. What other rod companies can tell you that? Visit Dunamis Rods to find the right rod for you.
Stealth Outdoors – The Stealth Quick Release Rod Holder allows me to set the hook without having to touch the rod holder. That saves me from missed hooksets while on the water that could mean winning or losing my big tournament.
Trapper Tackle – At first I was skeptical about the hooks design, but now I’m a believer. Since tying on my first hook, my hook-up ratios have dramatically increased and I spend more time fishing without needing to adjust my lure, due to it’s unique shape, locking the lure in place. It also prevents fish from shaking the hook as with regular style hooks. These hooks are the difference in finishing in first or second place, and I’m not going for second. That’s why I
Rig it, Lock it, and Land it with Trapper Tackle.
Thank you Dustin. Will be cheering for you in the 2018 Championship.