Up North on the Wild St. Croix River with Bonafide Kayaks and Rapala®

The beauty of a river is that with each bend and turn, it changes. In one area it can be deep and mysterious and in others, it narrows and becomes an intimate world unto itself with overhanging trees. The river can change quickly from skinny water to small rapids that gurgle and pulsate with life.

While there are many ways of exploring such rivers, one of the best ways to get up close and personal with a changing river is with a kayak.

When you add some feisty smallmouth to that mix, good friends, and some home-brewed music…you have a delightful new video to watch called Wild Waters: Hooked on the St. Croix.

In the video, a handful of passionate smallmouth anglers from Bonafide Kayaks and Rapala come together for a couple days to fish the St. Croix — a 164-mile river that starts in northwestern Wisconsin and eventually merges with the Great Mississippi River, marking boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin for 125 miles. The river is a National Scenic Riverway under the protection of the National Park Service – meaning that it’s a pristine wild place just waiting for the adventurous.

Bonafide’s Tyler Brown, coming from Fletcher, North Carolina, where Bonafide kayaks are designed and manufactured, is joined by fellow Southerner and Bonafide fishing/hunting influencer Macy Watkins. They are welcomed to Smallmouth Country by the Rapala team – Matt Jensen, Brandon Hiltner and Zach Burton – for an “Up North” taste of world-class smallmouth fishing.

“Making a trip up north is really special. It’s a treat. I just love it. I love smallmouth,” said Macy, who hails from Georgia. “It’s a race to the top. They’re racing to the top. You have to reel really fast. When they flip in the air, it makes my heart jump! I just want to do fish them the rest of my life. It makes me think about moving up here.”

“I love smallmouth because pound for pound in freshwater, they’re the craziest, strongest fish to catch,” said Matt.

Fishing from the Bonafide RVR119, a kayak designed specifically for river fishing, the group explored the skinny, the deep, and at times, bubbling waters of the St. Croix. The group cast from their kayaks both sitting down and standing up.

“I never stood up in a kayak in my life,” said Brandon, commenting on fishing from a Bonafide kayak, “on a river with rapids and confidently fish. That was a game changer.”

“To be on these kayaks was phenomenal,” said Zach. “They opened the door to catch quite a few more fish in more hard-to-reach places that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”

Tossing Rapala Skitter Prop and Skitter Pop lures, the group of anglers crushed smallmouth– catching several dozen smallies and a few other species, too . They experienced explosive topwater action throughout their journey down the St. Croix, fishing nooks and crannies that only a well-designed kayak can get into.

“I mostly fished topwater this trip,” said Tyler. “I was using the Rapala Skitter Pop with the dressed tail and it absolutely smoked them.”

“I love the Skitter Pop,” added Macy. “The cupped mouth really spits water. I caught all my fish on it, including one giant northern pike and lots of awesome smallies.”

And to create just the right vibe, the group invited Dan Rodriguez, a Minneapolis-based musician and passionate angler and hunter, to not only fish, but to add some tunes around the campfire has they relished catching dozens of chunky, feisty smallmouth bass, and one big, gnarly northern pike.

If only every summertime fishing trip could be this perfect.

Rapala Skitter Prop – Shop Now

Rapala skitter Pop – Shop Now

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