Who am I?
Am I for real?
Am I a real angler? Why won’t people take me seriously? These questions are frequently asked of one’s self among the kayak fishing community. For many people they pull up at a boat ramp with the big bass boats to launch their plastic fishing vessel to feel that others at the ramp don’t take them seriously.
I have to admit when I purchased my first kayak all those years ago, it was more of a novelty of fishing to me. There were no tournaments, no cool gear and no glory in fishing from a kayak. The lure of the kayak was the simplicity and purity of it. With power boat companies producing the flashy sexy electronically laden vessels, we feel compelled as anglers to have to spend over $70,000 to be considered a real contender on the water.
Do I count?
I have faced this same debate in my own mind, and this is what I have realized for myself. My ability as an angler is not defined by my boat, but the stringer that I haul in week after week. I have several friends that have the big bass boats with 15” graphs, power anchors and automatic trolling motors. When I fish team tournaments with them, I tend to put more fish in the live well than they do. It has even been asked of me when their well laid plan is unproductive “where would you fish?”.
The purity of the kayak is challenged on several occasions with the pedal drive and motor drive options, lights, large graphs and the ability to carry multiple rods and baits. As true anglers kayak anglers use and take the tools afforded to them but at the same time learn to cut the fat from their gear. Not every idea works great! We learned that early on sitting on the bank with grandpa. So, prepare yourself to be counted on the water.
We are here together!
I was watching a video on YouTube about a group of kayak guys prefishing for a tournament. At the end of the day several of the competitors had congregated that evening for a cook out at the shores of the lake. In all my years of chasing the tournament trail from a big boat I can’t recount one time that the competitors had a party the night before a tournament. Normally we would gather for our captains meeting the night before barely talking to each other and then hurrying out to our hotel rooms to plot the strategy against the competition the next day.
Again, and again many kayak anglers have showed that they are willing to throw off the stigma of “Bigger is Better” and grasp to the roots of being an angler. They have shown over and over that fishing is about one’s personality, friendship and the love for nature. Maybe they remember that old plywood boat that they spend all one winter helping grandpa build in the dark garage, that took them and their buddies lazily across the lake on multiple outings.
It’s just beginning!
Remember money won’t buy you bites, but respect for the fish and your fellow anglers will make you a better angler. Wither you choose the bargain basement big box store equipment or the best the industry offers we are all looking to feel the joy of the tight line as we did that first time on the creek bank with a cane pole.