Boondoggle… What is it? Kayak Fishing Boondoggle is a bi-annual 4-day event held during President’s Day and Columbus Day weekends. Kayak anglers from all over the country meet up at a selected campground to fish, hang out with 468 like minded kayakers and check out all the new products in the vendor village.
The October 2014 was held at KARS Park, Merritt Island, FL.To get there Ryan from the Austin store, Juan Carlos ACK Fleet Sales Manger, and myself from the San Antonio store had to travel 1200+ miles with kayaks and fishing gear for both inshore and offshore.
In order for us to plan what to take we had to find folks tuned into the Indian River, Banana River and Mosquito Lagoon areas and I knew exactly where to turn- Chuck Levi with KBB Outfitters and Alex Gorichky with Local Lines Guide Service. These guys really helped us narrow down what we needed so we could pack light but still have all the necessary things to have a good time.
We arrived late Thursday afternoon, set up camp and hit the sack. We had a busy weekend ahead! The next morning we woke up and couldn’t wait to get the kayaks wet. We launched two hours before sunrise from the marina right at KARS Park. We were paddling out of the marina when suddenly the water around my kayak erupted. It appeared that I had spooked a couple of manatee and when spooked, they can really displace a lot of water! Once my pulse dropped down a little and my heart dropped down out of my throat Ryan and I had a good laugh and continued on to a small cut in the lagoon. There were signs of fish everywhere and we even paddled past a school of red drum but we were on a mission. Nothing could distract us from chasing down snook! Once we got to a good spot and anchored down it wasn’t long before Ryan had landed the first snook of the trip. Soon after Juan Carlos and Tod caught up and things really started to heat up. All four of us caught our first snook with Ryan staking his claim to fame by managing to catch one on the fly.
Eventually we made our way back to shore and got straight to work. ACK’s goal at Boondoggle was to promote kayak fishing and engage with our customers so we took a couple of fully rigged boats to display and made sure to talk with everyone who stopped by. I also hosted an hour long seminar on offshore kayak fishing that had a pretty good turnout! It was an absolute pleasure meeting everyone and getting to know so many great customers.
Friday night Ryan, Juan Carlos, and Tod ventured out without the kayaks in search of more fish to bite on the fly. Ryan got another impressive species checked off with the fly rod landing a tarpon while casting from the bank. To say he was excited is an understatement. Then we all gathered back up to play rock, paper, scissors against Woody Callaway for a Native Ultimate kayak. Yes, everyone at the pavilion played rock, paper, scissors for a brand new kayak. How can you not have a good time at Boondoggle?
Saturday morning I stayed at the park to catch up with some old friends and ended up meeting some new ones too. While I mingled, the other guys headed out the jetties to see if the mullet run was still going on. The conditions were pretty spotty but they were able to land a red drum and jack crevalle.
Saturday night it was time for the Boondoggle dinner and the raffle to benefit Heroes on the Water. The prizes were amazing; shout out to all the awesome sponsors who were able to donate, including my very own ACK!
Sunday the guys headed out to a different spot in search of more tarpon but unfortunately they just weren’t biting. However the speckled trout made up for it by being super aggressive. All the trout were smaller, but when you can land a fish with each cast it’s hard to not have fun. A couple ladyfish jumping on lures even put on a show but the tarpon refused to play. Sunday was my day to check out the mullet run and I was not going to miss it Once I got to the jetty it wasn’t long before I had a snook landed and a red drum giving me as much fight as he had. I then landed my second snook of the day that decided to jump after I released him. He definitely wasn’t camera shy. I spotted some birds on the other side of the jetty so I ventured around to see if it was what I’d heard. I wasn’t disappointed. I was already past the breakers coming out through the channel and almost back to shore when I spotted large mullet stacked up in the rollers. They weren’t being pushed by predatory fish but I casted in the schools anyway to see what I could come up with and sure enough my line tightened and I was reeling in more red drum.
After a few red drum I paddled my way back to shore to wrap up Boondoggle with Ryan and Juan Carlos. We all met up back at the camp to gather and pack our things. Once packed and after one more small trip to try and catch some more tarpon on the fly, we got in our cars and set out on the 20 hour drive back to Texas. We had an amazing time at Boondoggle and it was hard to leave- but we weren’t sad to leave those pesky no-see-ems!
-Barrett @ ACK