There’s a lot of talk around the ACK offices and our stores about the Kayak Anglers Tournament Series (KATS) and if you aren’t an angler, that can leave you feeling a little left out at times. Case in point: Myself.
While I do enjoy fishing for its relaxing, meditative and buddy-bonding aspects, I probably haven’t been since I was…. 12 or 13 years old. That leaves me with a lot more listening to do than talking when it comes to these conversations about KATS. Surprisingly, I’ve had my hands in several aspects of the tournament over the near-year I’ve been employed at ACK. When I first started, I was tasked with going out to the Decker Lake event to take some photos and simply observe the tournament and how things worked. For this year’s iteration of the tournament, I have helped lay out a poster, shoot and edit photos and videos and performed various other tasks along the way. In the middle of my time working here, the Hobie World Championships took place in Austin and ACK played a part in that as well so I’ve been around the fishing tournament world more than I ever thought I would be.
That being said, I have learned a lot and gained an enormous amount of respect for these tournaments and their competitors. It takes a lot to put these things on. At the minimum, months of planning are involved which entails a lot of scrutiny and late nights in the office or the stores trying to make the events as best they can be for the competitors, sponsors and ACK as well.
From 2012 to 2013, there was a huge amount of effort put into expanding the base of sponsors and making sure the anglers would be happy with the prizes they’d be winning throughout the tournament. At the Decker event after I first started, I learned that being out on the water all day is a tiring thing for these guys and gals. Doling out prizes at the end of the day can be a little tiresome for the water-weary but at the most recent event, Lake Bastrop, it was great to see the anglers more engaged and excited about the prizes and pay-outs. The KATS team really made an effort to reach out for sponsorship and they’ve made great strides in that area. That makes the anglers happy and in turn, the tournament organizers.
From an outsider’s perspective, “specialized hobbies” like kayak fishing can be a little intimidating. I am a part of two such “specialized hobbies” myself – concert photography and limited-edition movie poster collecting – that can be intimidating to outsiders. Every group has their vocal “veterans” that like to scare off or intimidate the newcomers and its hard to know who to talk to or where to start when you first take an interest in something like the aforementioned hobbies. While I may not know all of the insider lingo or be able to talk at length about medium-heavy moderate fast-action rods, top water poppers or casting techniques, I’ve never felt like an outsider at the tournaments. Yeah, working for ACK helps, but no one has made me feel dumb if I had a question about something I didn’t understand and I’ve also been able to learn a lot from simply kicking back and observing my surroundings. Now I just need to get out on a kayak and fish…
-Trent @ ACK