Subzero kayak bass fishing

The vast majority of northern bass anglers hang up their open-water gear for the winter. With most lakes under inches (if not feet) of ice by January, most fishing involves an eight-inch hole in the ice.

“You have to look hard in the northern states, but there are places to fish bass during the winter in open water,” said Minnesota-based kayak angler Paul Hansen.

Funny thing about Hansen, he has plenty of access to open-water fish during the worst of Minnesota’s winters. As a commercial airline pilot, he’s often free to explore waters during layovers in southern climes – something he’s been doing in one form or another for almost two decades. In fact, he reluctantly admits fishing was the impetus to learn how to fly.

“After working long hours in fishing retail, I knew there had to be a better way. If I could make it through pilot’s training and build up hours and experience, I could eventually create a business to fly adventure anglers into really cool destinations, which selfishly appealed to me,” said Hansen.

Turns out Hansen took to flying as naturally as he did to fly casting, and in the year 2000, he and legendary fly angler/travel partner Trapper Rudd started an exploratory kayak fishing program.

“We put kayaks on an airplane and brought them to Mexico. We had fished all the popular destinations and set out to find untouched snook, tarpon, and bonefish by kayak. We found some epic fisheries that wouldn’t have been accessible without kayaks. This led to years of great adventures, like the stuff I read about in magazines as a kid,” said Hansen.