Hawg Trough Tune Up

     Being new to this whole kayak tournament thing, I've noticed that almost all of the events approve of the Hawg Trough as a measuring device.  This makes a lot of sense since they are easy to find, fit on a kayak, and eliminate all of the arguing and guess work that goes into judging an event that rewards points based on total inches of fish.  Since I'm already signed up for this years Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Tournament Series I jumped online and ordered one from the fine folks at Cabelas.  Once it arrived I opened the box and was shocked at how hard it was to read.  Looking at pictures online I noticed that many of the Hawg Troughs I saw in tournament photos didn't look like the one I had bought.  After sending out a few emails to some friends in the Florida kayaking scene, I found out that since mine was stock I would need to customize it a bit to make it easier to use in a tournament application.  The changes they recommended are easy to do and the end results are definitely worth the extra work.
     First you need to make the Hawg Trough easier for the judges to read.  Using a black permanent marker go over the ruler marks so they stand out against the plan background.  This will make it much easier for anyone looking at the photo to determine the length of your fish.
I found this first step to be extremely boring and tedious.  One trick I figured out to make this whole process go quicker was to use a business card as a straight edge to draw against.  Don't worry if you screw up a line, you can easily remove the marker by scrapping the plastic with a sharp blade or by applying a little bit of nail polish remover.
     The next step was to make the thing float (it's kayak fishing).  The Hawg Trough has 2 channels in the back so I drove down to the hardware store and picked up some 1/2 inch Caulk Backing.  The half inch size fits snug in the grooves, so just cut it to fit and press it in place.
While I'm thinking about it, you might want to add some super glue to hold the foam securely in place.  The foam didn't come out while I was floating it in my bath tub, but my tub doesn't have the same wave action as Lake Michigan.
     The final step is to add a tether to the end of the Hawg Trough.  I used an extra paddle leash with a carabiner clip I had lying around in the basement.  I'm pretty sure this would be considered a necessary step.  I seem to lose everything that isn't strapped down in my kayak while out on the water.  The Hawg Trough floats, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't paddle away from it if it were to fall overboard.
     That's all it takes to get your Hawg Trough ready for tournament use.  Now I just have to get my head around the idea of purposely taking pictures of small fish.  For most species I chase, I don't take a photo unless they're over 30 inches.  It's a bragging rights kind of thing.
     Tight Lines.

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