Are you burnt out on big boat fishing? Tired of looking forward to heading to the lake all week, just to get there on the weekend and join the merry goat round of boat traffic scattered about the bigger water ways these days? Or perhaps you’re stranded on shore, looking out at all those boats with your head hung, wishing you could cast just a little farther out there where you know the big ones are.
I’ve been the angler standing in both sets of those shoes at various times in my life. The call of the open water drove me wild as a young boy. Back then, the BassTender 11.3 was the vessel that sailed to my rescue. At 11 years old, I could move around freely on the water, alone, for the first time. And it was exhilarating.
Despite such a privileged start, it wasn’t long until that little boat was no longer enough. I scratched and clawed for the better part of two decades to keep pace with the crowd, wheeling and dealing to make sure I was standing in the front of the best boat, with the best motor, electronics, trolling motor, Power-Poles, you name it.
One day though, all that came crashing down as I was utterly and miserably left wanting still, with all sorts of time on my hands, buried in a mountain of debt, and without an ounce of joy to be found in the midst of it all.
We’re trailing off into testimony terrain here a bit, as I found that I had given fishing too much of myself, looking to find fulfillment, peace, joy and purpose in something created, instead of in the Creator. But as God shifted and restructured my life in the coming years, and the boats and trucks were sold, I found myself finding a fresh start in fishing, in none other than a little plastic boat.
I didn’t think it was for me -
At the time, kayak fishing was in the middle of its meteoric rise in popularity. This was around four years ago now. I had heard everybody and his brother raving about it. Think pickleball, but on the water. And, the same way I recently, finally caved in and tried hitting a Wiffle Ball with a big ping pong paddle, I grabbed a two-pronged paddle and set sail in a kayak for the first time. And, I loved it.
I was deep in the bass fishing industry at the time, a thing I had idolized apart from fishing itself. And the further I got into fishing as a business, the more I realized it was, in fact, a business. I had set my heart’s gaze on the confetti and flashing lights I guess, on the hero’s of the sport and the majesty of it all. But like the guy who climbs into the Mickey costume in mid-July to go sweat his butt off walking around in Orlando for 8 hours, Disney World didn’t look the same from the inside.
Now, this isn’t a bash on the fishing industry, or Disney even. I was just in the midst of a life altering shift in perspective, one that wasn’t healthy at first and went straight from overtly optimistic to pragmatically pessimistic. The unnecessary 180 about-face balanced out over time, and I’m back at it in the industry again now. Having placed my hope firmly in Jesus Christ and taken fishing off the throne of my heart, I can now really enjoy bass fishing again, both going fishing and working in the sport. And kayak fishing really helped start that healing process.
My first kayak trip consisted of a quick run to Tractor Supply, where I bought a brand new kayak for $300, and then took it straight to the water with the tags intact. I was as rookie as rookie could be when I launched that thing, all but flipping it before I ever even sat down in it. It was cumbersome to maneuver and my back was killing me an hour in. And my ghost white thighs, that hadn’t seen sun since the first time my mom dressed me in pants, were suddenly soaking up every beaming ray that big ball of lava could muster, to the point I questioned whether I’d ever risk wearing shorts again.
Still, I’ll remember that day forever, fondly. Because it’s the day I first started to fall in love with fishing again.
My first bite -
I had been paddling around for about 15 minutes, trying to get my bearings and establish some sort of a rhythm. There was a slight wind that day, maybe 3 to 5 miles per hour. But I’ll never forget how noticeable that wind was when I tried to paddle against it. How, the first dozen times I dropped my paddle to pickup my rod, that light breeze would spin the boat around, and I’d be left dragging my worm with my rod held over head, pointed straight behind me.
It was shockingly difficult to fish from a kayak. I didn’t expect that at all. And I must admit, I wasn’t having all that much fun up to that point. But then came that first bite, a feisty bass that thumped my worm and tugged my little boat in his direction on the hookset. I remember being so excited to just get a bite, considering all the challenges that I was up against. I wanted desperately to put my hands on it, to get it into the boat so badly.
I pulled the bass up beside the boat, a fairly nice spot for the lake I was fishing on. The first time I reached for it, my stomach jumped into my throat as I felt the kayak nearly tip over. The fish made a run and threw frigid water all over my already ripening legs. I made a couple more cautious, panicked grabs at the fish before finally clamping onto it. It was the most exhilarating 2-pound fish catch of my life. And, in that moment, I got kayak fishing.
I spent the next year or so fishing out of a kayak quite often, borrowing a couple Bonafides from a buddy of mine. Fished some big boat night derbies out of one of those little plastic boats. Built myself a livewell. Went on a kayak camping trip with my dad. Had all sorts of adventures. Really just enjoyed fishing again.
I think back on that first bite from time to time. How, if I had been standing in the front of a 20-foot fiberglass boat, I would have horsed that fish to the boat, unhooked it without so much as a second look, and tossed it carelessly and callously back into the water. I’m not proud of it, but that’s where I was in fishing. I just wanted the next bite, while rarely enjoying the current one.
Kayak fishing taught me to enjoy the process and to appreciate the catch. It rekindle the old fire of that 11 year old boy, floating around in a plastic boat, sweating all day and skipping lunch just to try to get a bite. I was surprised to find that kayak fishing was definitely for me. It played a pivotal role in buffing out the scarred spots on my soul, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
We'll give you everything you need to catch your new PB the next time you hit the water. join now