Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The New World Order of Kayak Fishing

I've been kayak fishing for over eight years and until recently, I had no idea just how big the sport had grown. I had seen Jim Sammons and Chad Hoover on TV and even caught an episode of Hank Parker where he was fishing from a kayak but locally I had not recognized more kayaks on the water. There are several reasons for this, the first being my work schedule. I work a swing shift that only gives me one weekend per month off, because of this I don't get to fish with my buddies much, so on my weekends off I fish with them or do family stuff. Second, my passion is fishing areas that are hard to reach or not well known. Third, I like fishing in winter, I catch some big fish then and usually have the lake or river to myself. What all of that means is...I've been living in a hole, a self imposed asylum if you will.

 In January of 2014 my kayak was stolen so I posted a notice on Facebook about the situation and it wasn't long until this unknown to me world of kayak fisherman showed their faces. I had countless messages with offers of loaners, tips on great deals and encouragement that there were lots of eyes on the lookout for my boat. I was blown away by the generosity from complete strangers. In the midst of this I was introduced to the Reel Krazy crew...the first crew member being Todd West. Todd had reached out with an idea for a new kayak but we stayed in touch and ended up fishing together. Through him I learned of some local tournament trails and how they work. The tournaments sounded interesting but to be honest, all I had known and done up until then was alone or with close friends. There had never been an ounce of competition in any kayak fishing trip I'd taken and the idea of me paying 30 bucks just to get my butt handed too me on a lake I could fish for free was a turnoff. Note: I still had my head in a hole and all of this new kayak fishing activity on my "home" water was my version of a "New World Order".

 I continued to fish alone and with my regular fishing buddies but the idea of tournament fishing was always in the back of my mind. In May 2014 I entered a local tournament where there were only 7 kayak fishermen. I went into it with a plan, stuck to it and actually won. Even though there was a micro field of entrants, I won a new Bending Branches Angler Pro that was donated by our local Jackson Kayak dealer Cohutta Fishing Company. I had a great time but I was " sure" the larger tournaments would be different.

Just this past February, I was talking with a "new" friend who is part of Rome Georgia's "Reel Krazy Crew",  Jim Clark. We decided to run a section of the Oostanaula river on a cold dreary day and while floating he told me of a huge tournament that was being held on Kentucky Lake in March. He told me how much money there was to be had and that sealed the deal...I was in. I paid my entry fee that night and started researching the legendary Kentucky Lake. I went on to place 28th overall out of 156 but what I learned about tournament fishing and this " New World Order" was priceless. If anything has changed it has been for the better; kayak fishing specific gear and boats are readily available thanks to HOOK1 kayak fishing gear, Jackson Kayaks and other retailers that specialize in our sport. The tournaments are fun ways to meet likeminded, passionate sportsmen. They are great places to see new products, different and unique rigging and to improve your own fishing skills by trying new water.

I applaud what I was once skeptical of because the core intent of the mainstream introduction of kayak fishing is to make this great sport more accessible and user friendly. More people can enjoy the many different facets of kayak fishing, whether you seek nature, adventure, competition or all of the above; attending local, regional and even national level kayak fishing tournaments will only make you a better and more educated fisherman. So, if you are like I was not so long ago take that step and enter a local tournament and meet some new friends. No one is trying to change our sport so it loses its fun...that would be impossible. Remember the first time you paddled out to fish...If this "New World Order" wants to introduce "innocent" people all over the world to a sport that makes them as happy as I've been while in my kayak then the world will be a better place.

 Thank God for little plastic boats.