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Kayaker Drew Gregory defines cool-water fishing

Drew Gregory will give seminars kayak fishing subject he knows well 6 p.m. Thursday Friday Progressive Insurance Chicago BoSports

Drew Gregory will give seminars on kayak fishing, a subject he knows well, at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show at McCormick Place. | Courtesy of Drew Gregory

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Updated: February 10, 2012 8:27AM



Drew Gregory likens kayak fishing to snowboarding.

Falls in the snow are part of the experience, part of the learning for snowboarders. Tipovers or rolls in the water are part of learning to kayak, especially for those learning to fish from a kayak.

‘‘The brain will naturally learn over time not to lean over this far,’’ Gregory said last week. Some of his kayaks are designed to stand in.

The pro kayaker leads seminars on kayak fishing at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Paddlefest during the Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show at McCormick Place.

Call this the blowout week for shows around Chicago outdoors.

The boat show runs on a different schedule this year, Thursday through Jan. 16. The All-Canada Show is Thursday through next Sunday. The Chicago Muskie Show is Friday through next Sunday. The Northwest Indiana Steelheaders Spring Fever Outdoor Show moved to next weekend at a new site: Marquette Mall in Michigan City, Ind.

Out of this week’s abundance of outdoors experience, Gregory holds one of the most eclectic seminars.

Asked why kayak fishing, Gregory said, ‘‘It is a cool lifestyle way of fishing.’’

He means that on several levels.

‘‘You can fish unpressured water that can’t be touched by regular boats,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s better fishing, better scenery. I will show people all the advantages, including the health benefits.’’

Gregory came to kayak fishing himself naturally enough about nine years ago.

‘‘Basically, it was a combination of being right out of college and not having a lot of money,’’ he said. ‘‘I loved to fish and missed fishing and wondered how I could do it.’’

Well, he found a used kayak off Craigslist. Then he found a website on river fishing and was on his way.

That progression from a cheap used kayak to designing his own quality kayaks is similar to the learning curve he recommends for those getting into kayak fishing.

‘‘What people do most wrong, probably, is thinking they need all the bells and whistles when they start,’’ he said. ‘‘Best to get in a kayak and use it for a while first.’’

Based on that, the angler will know where he likes to set his fishing rod, put his equipment, his food and drink.

‘‘A kayak is so much smaller, you really need to customize,’’ he said.

The kayak experience can become rather oddly customized because of the paddler’s close proximity to water and being within easy reach of natural wildness. Gregory achieved viral status on YouTube for one of those experiences when a goose jumped him while he fished from a kayak.

‘‘Basically, I was really friendly with these geese,’’ he said. ‘‘I hung out with them for an hour. The goose wasn’t trying to attack — it was just trying to jump up.’’

Think your buddy’s little mutt trying to hump your leg.

‘‘It is kind of embarrassing to say a goose might be coming on to me,’’ Gregory said.

Even that kind of experience makes kayak fishing special. And fits with his broader sense of kayak fishing.

‘‘It appeals to the explorer inside of me, the little kid, Lewis and Clark,’’ said Gregory, who will be back March 3 as speaker at the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance’s Bronzeback Blowout in Elmhurst.



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