Event Recap: Alamo Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet 2011

The Banquet Hall

ACK recently attended the 2011 Alamo Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet. The event was held in San Antonio where over 200 members and guests attended making it a great success. This yearly banquet is held to raise funds to help restore, conserve and manage wild turkeys and their habitats.

The Manta Ray 12 Was a Popular Bidding Item

The NWTF did a great job of organizing this event complete with good food, friendly conversations, a raffle and of course the ever-popular auction. This year, ACK contributed a camouflage Native Watercraft Manta Ray 12 Kayak outfitted with a tag along wheel, rod holders and a Wildcat Fishing Light System with custom navigational lights. The kayak ended up being a popular item in the live auction generating an excellent winning bid that went towards supporting wild turkey habitat restoration.

While there, we had the opportunity to showcase a variety of other kayaks and handed out store coupons. ACK had a great time at this event and we look forward to supporting the NWTF in future events.

ACK San Marcos

Event Recap: San Marcos River Clean-Up

Preparing For the Clean Up

We recently participated in the 25th Annual Great Texas River Clean-Up (San Marcos River Clean-Up). Folks from all over Texas joined forces in what is known as the world’s longest river clean up. People were cleaning up the entire length of the San Marcos River (approximately 90 miles). The section of river we took part in cleaning was from Fentress to Prairie Lea 1 (2 miles) with the Spring Woods Canoe Group.

Kayaks are helpful when trying to reach hard to get items

Despite waking up to chilly 20mph winds we battled the elements to do our part in river conservation. The kayaks we chose this for this trip included the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 and Tarpon 100 for their high point of view, tracking and nimbleness for navigating through the tight waters caused by fallen timber and other debris.

It seemed to be an endless battle but we did our best to clean up empty cans, bottles and other trash, filling up trash bag after trash bag. We had very little room left in the kayaks for the over 100 feet of deserted trot and limb lines, many of which had rusted hooks still attached. These lines were camouflaged with moss and grass, just waiting for the unsuspecting swimmer to get tangled up in.

By the end of our excursion we had more trash than energy but still managed to fill up the remaining space in our bags. It will be a never-ending process but we finished feeling confident that it was a job well done. We look forward to next year’s event!

ACK San Marcos

Night Fishing with the Wildcat Lighting System

Kayak with lights installed.
Mad River Kayak with Installed System

For me kayak fishing is not just a hobby or an activity to pass time, but an obsession. I am always on the water whenever I have a few hours to spare. However, since I am a working college student, my spare time is very limited so I usually fish at night. Fishing from a kayak poses some challenges but I recently discovered a new product that ACK carries — a fishing light system by Wildcat Lighting. This system not only makes it easier and safer to fish in the dark but it actually attracts fish to my kayak!

At first I was a big skeptic because I have previously spent lots of money on fishing lights that just flat out didn’t meet my needs. Unlike most lights out there, these Wildcat lights are 100% waterproof and work well in both salt and freshwater environments. I installed the “Basic Kit” on my Mad River Synergy 12, which consisted of two 15.75” green light strips and two 6” amber light strips. The green lights are placed on the outside of the kayak and provide deep penetration into the water to attract more bait, which in turn attracts more game fish. The amber anti-bug lights are installed in the cockpit area and are designed to discourage pesky bugs and also provide enough lighting to bait my hooks in the dark.

Bait in the Water
Bait in the Water Attracted to the Lights

It works! One evening, I was fishing the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels Texas, and within 10 minutes of using the lights, I had a ton of bait schooling around my kayak. The first fish that I saw was a stealthy alligator gar that swam right underneath my kayak and shortly thereafter more fish followed. I had bass, catfish and perch chasing the smorgasbord of bait that was attracted to the light. That night I was able to reel in some nice bass, a few catfish and just before I called it quits for the night, I decided to try to catch an alligator gar for sport — I want to let it be known that reeling in a nice alligator gar at night is an exhilarating challenge.

It’s also a well-built product. The lights are super bright, durable and the system was easy to install. I was initially concerned that the lights would drain the battery but my lights stay on for over 8 hours on a 12V battery. Now that these lights are a permanent fixture on my kayak, I am not only catching fish with them, but they are also serving as a great safety feature helping me navigate in the dark and keeping me visible to motor boats.

After using and having great success with the Wildcat Lighting System, I am happy to give this one two thumbs up. I highly recommend this product to anyone who is looking for a way to fish at night and increase your visibility. Do you have one installed? As always, we want for you to share your experiences with us…comment below!

ACK-San Marcos

Don’t Leave Home Without It!

A simple anchor float is rarely an item of discussion when talking about paddling gear. However when kayaking on a less than perfect day it can really save you from losing your gear, especially if you are in a kayak in less-than-perfect conditions.


Point in case:

Recently I was kayak fishing one or our coastal bays facing 20 mph+ winds and made the amateur mistake of forgetting to check my drain plug. I quickly found my kayak sinking while anchored in deep water. I wanted to avoid a bad situation so I unhooked and flung the anchor rope off my kayak and made a mad dash to an Oyster bank and drained the water from my boat.  It was then I realized that finding my anchor rope would be next to impossible. This was exactly the issue. With no anchor rope in sight, combined with the high winds, I was forced to leave my honey hole with the fish still biting. If only I had an anchor float I could have continued fishing and not been obligated to buy a new anchor and rope. I also lost the fishing spot before I could mark it on my GPS.

When I purchased my new anchor system, I decided to add an anchor float. At only $4.99, it’s an investment worth its value when you compare it to the $25 plus you’ll spend on a new anchor system.

Once again, I found myself back out on the water on a less than perfect weather day. I felt comfortable knowing that I wouldn’t loose my anchor this time. I also found the perfect alternate use for it. I was anchored in fairly deep water and realized when I was pulling up my anchor I was pulling my kayak against the current and in doing so I was getting soaked with cold December water. To avoid getting soaked I would just un-cleat my anchor line and make a U-turn to retrieve my anchor positioning the bow of my kayak into the current and use the rocker of my boat to absorb the waves thus staying dry and of course, not losing my anchor.

By using an anchor float I don’t have to worry about loosing my anchor and I am even able to stay dryer and when Mother Nature is against me. I highly recommend these floats to anyone who finds themselves using any type of anchor. It can save you from having to replace costly gear and will help you enjoy paddling with fewer headaches.

Do you have any alternate uses for your anchor float? We want to know! Leave some comments below.

Grant Heatherly
Store Associate
ACK – San Marcos

Brrr, I’m cold!

It’s 29˚F outside and I can’t help but feel that chill creeping into our store. Sure, I’m wearing two jackets, jeans, a hoodie, beanie and a hat but what’s really keeping me warm are the Grabber Hand and Toe Warmers. I was curious and thought I would give them a try to see how well they worked and was quite pleased with the results.

Naturally, I wondered how these little pouches were able to get so hot and keep me warm for an extended period of time. I gathered this bit of information from Grabber’s website and thought it would be a great idea to share with you:

These warmers operate on a chemical reaction with air similar to rusting. The warmer ingredients are iron, water, cellulose, vermiculite, activated carbon and salt.

The heating process takes place in this fashion:
•    The iron in the pouch, when exposed to oxygen, oxidizes and therefore produces heat (aka, “Air Activated”)
•    When iron oxidizes it produces iron oxide, more commonly referred to as rust
•    The salt acts as a catalyst
•    The carbon helps disperse the heat
•    The vermiculite is used as an insulator for the purpose of retaining the heat and the cellulose is added as a filler
•    All of these ingredients are surrounded by a polypropylene bag
•    Polypropylene allows air to permeate the ingredients while holding in moisture

I usually have pouches in each glove and show and since they are so inexpensive, I keep a number of them in my truck during the winter season for days such as this. They are great for any outdoor activity whether working or playing and they save me on cold days in the store especially in our warehouse area.

Dave Graves
Assistant Manager
ACK – San Marcos

ACK San Marcos Seminar Recap

Meet and Greet at the ACK San Marcos Store

On Friday, January 7th, San Marcos ACK held an informal seminar with Chris Roberts. Chris has a long history in the paddle sports industry. He worked for Wilderness Systems in 1996 and continued on as the Production Manager after they merged with Confluence Watersports through 2001. Today Chris is working with Pyranha and Feel Free Kayaks. Click here to continue reading his bio.

The seminar focused primarily on the differences between sit-on-top kayaks and sit-inside kayaks, but the floor was open to any questions regarding kayaks and their designs. The overall discussion was a great opportunity that benefited many beginner kayakers as well as those that didn’t have a kayak yet, by getting their questions answered from an expert in the business. The group also enjoyed some refreshments and snacks.

Everyone Loves Snacks and Refreshments!

We plan to continue hosting events such as this one. If you are interested in hearing about these events in the future, join us on Facebook, Twitter and/or sign up for our newsletter. We are also working to implement an events calendar specific for each location in this blog. We will be sure to notify you when we do.

Thanks to all that attended this event and we look forward to seeing you at the next one!

ACK San Marcos

Note: If there is a specific type of class you would like for us to offer, we want to know — leave a comment below!

Kayak Racks for Trucks

If you’ve stopped by any of our stores here in Texas, you can easily see why some call this “truck country”, seems like every other vehicle that pulls up into our parking lot is a truck. Of course, this is because if you own a truck chances are you probably plan to use it to haul your kayak. It’s can be the easiest most convenient method because you can simply haul your kayak in the bed of your truck. However, truck owners have other options too! I often offer recommendations to customers looking for a better way to haul their kayaks even if they own a truck and thought it would be a great idea to share this with you.

Extend A Truck

Bed too short? Extend it!
This hauling method works well for those who do not use the bed of their truck to haul items other than their kayak. Typically kayaks are 12’+ while most truck beds, especially in today’s average consumer trucks, are no longer than 5-6’. Even with your tailgate down, that will still leave roughly 5’ of boat hanging off the rear of your truck. The solution? Open up your tailgate and add the Extend A Truck to give you another 4′ of extra support that is flush with the bed of your truck. This will not only provide an extended surface area for your kayak, it will also provide additional tie down points for added security.

THULE Xsporter

Need to use your truck bed space for other gear? Go vertical!
Try the Thule Xsporter or Yakima Outdoorsman with Cross Bars, which mount to the rails of your truck bed. These rack systems consist of two horizontal bars that are parallel to one another and are raised over the bed of your truck. When you load the kayak on top of these bars, the boat will actually rest above the bed and over the roof of your truck. No drilling required!

Have an extended cab truck? Use the roof!
Extended cab trucks provide a lot of surface area on the roof — use it to mount a set of load bars just as you would a car or SUV. Both Yakima and Thule offer a variety of roof racks that will fit just about any vehicle. This hauling method also works well for those who need to use the space in their truck bed or for those that have a bed cover or are not able to mount a system that mounts to the bed rails.

Roof not big enough? Still need to use your bed for other gear? You still have options!
Utilize a single cross bar system on the roof of your truck as mentioned above combined with a single Yakima Outdoorsman with a Cross Bar towards the rear of the vehicle. The result provides a resting point on top of your roof and another over the bed. If you can’t utilize the bed rails to mount a vertical riser and have a 2” receiver, try an Extend A Truck.

Whatever method you choose, consider some of the following items to better protect and secure your boats: Tie Down Straps, Bow & Stern Tie Downs, Roof Rack Pads, Cradles (Saddles), Lock Cylinders, Vehicle Safety Flags and Cable Locks. These and many other items call all be found here.

Do you need more information or have a situation where none of the options mentioned will work? Use the ACK Rackhelper and we’ll get you some suggestions in a snap!

Regardless of the method you choose, investing in a mounting system will provide you with a safer trip and will also help protect your kayak.

Keep on Truckin’
ACK-San Marcos

No More Holes! Attaching Kayak Accessories Without Drilling

SlideTrax System

I’ve always noticed that we sell a large number  Wilderness System’s Tarpon series and the Native Manta Ray series kayaks here at the San Marcos store. One of the many reasons these kayaks sell so well, especially among anglers, is their patented accessory attachment systems. These innovations make it easy for paddlers to add and remove accessories by simply mounting them on a pre-installed track or “rail” systems.

For example, in 2009 Wilderness Systems offered the SlideTrax system on the Tarpon 120, 140 and 160.  The concept was new and innovative and over the past two years, it has expanded from simple mounting plates to items such as the SlideTrax Anchor Trolley and Transducer Deployment Arm for fish finders. The SlideTrax rail system now comes standard on the Commander series as well. The SlideTrax system also incorporates tie downs, which can be used to secure items in the tank well.

Groove Accessory Attachment System

In 2010, Native Watercraft announced the Groove Accessory Attachment System. They offer two different sized plates, the rectangular plate (16″ x 5″) and the square plate (6″ x 5″), which can be attached to the Groove System. These plates allow for a wide variety of attachments and as long as an accessory can be attached to the plate with (nuts and bolts) the variations are unlimited. The Groove Accessory Attachment System is now offered on the 2011 Native Ultimate series as well.

These accessory attachment systems are great for paddlers who don’t want to drill holes into the hull of the kayak, are always looking to add new accessories, enjoy a variety of activities that use different equipment and simply want the ability to remove added items for easy transport, storage and cleaning.

I am always interested in seeing how creative paddlers get when utilizing these type of systems. Share your creativity with us.

For more information, come by the store sometime or visit our website at AustinKayak.com and search for “SlideTrax” and “Groove or comment below.

Dave Graves
Assistant Manager
ACK – San Marcos

ACK Seminars: Understanding the Differences Between Kayaks

Speaker: Chris Roberts
Date: Friday, January 7th 2011
Time: 5pm-7pm
Location: ACK San Marcos Store
Address: 4554 South IH35, San Marcos, Texas 78666

ACK San Marcos would like to invite you to join us for a free seminar discussing the differences between the many styles of kayaks. With so many different types and models available choosing the right one can be confusing, so we’ve tailored this seminar to help answer one of the most common questions we get — “How do I know which kayak is best for me?”. Whether your desire is to enjoy a leisurely morning paddle, conquer class 3 rapids or fish your favorite fishing hole, this two-hour seminar will fill you in on everything you need to know to help you choose the right kayak for your purpose. Time for Q&A will also be available for specific questions that you may have.

Speaker Bio: Chris Roberts has a long history in the paddlesports industry. He worked at Wilderness Systems in 1996 and continued on as the Production Manager after they merged with Confluence Watersports through 2001. Today Chris is working with Pyranha and Feel Free Kayaks. Not only does he understand the manufacturing and business side of the paddlesports industry but he is also an avid kayaker. Since 1979, Chris has been whitewater kayaking all over the US, Canada, Chile and Nepal. While whitewater kayaking is his passion, he is a multifaceted paddler with experience in kayak fishing, kayak fitness/training, canoes and everything in between.

Snacks and refreshments will be served.

For more information, please call 512-396-2386 or email us.

Want to print and share this information? Click here to download the flyer.

Kayaking Season Isn’t Over Yet!

With the proper gear, you can paddle all year long!

You are probably starting to notice a slight trend in topics related to colder weather paddling. I think it is pretty obvious why,  just because the temps are dropping, doesn’t mean that you have to put your kayaks in storage yet! This is especially true for those in the southern regions. If you prepare yourself with the right gear and take some safety precautions, you’ll find a number of activities that involve kayaks throughout winter.

For those looking for a little alone time, get out there! Now is the time when the water isn’t full of tubers, swimmers and recreational power boaters. I know lots of people that specifically go out in the winter because there are fewer people to dodge and the cooler overcast weather is very refreshing compared to burning up in the summer heat. For some ideas on cooler weather gear check out  this recent blog post about winter weather apparel from a fellow ACK employee.

Time to take some photos! While much of the country is in the middle or maybe even past the peak season for fall foliage, many still have an opportunity to take some great photographs from the water. The reflection of the red, orange and yellow colored leaves on the water makes for a brilliant photograph. Fresh snow on the banks of a river also provides a great backdrop for your pictures. Make sure you use a dry box, case or bag to keep your camera equipment safe.

For all the hunters out there, hunting season is in full swing and kayaking is a great way of getting to those hard to reach locations.  I utilize the Hobie Gun Mounts which helps secure my rifle to my yak while I go duck hunting.

Fishing is an ongoing year round sport regardless of where you are. For a more comfortable and somewhat “dryer” ride consider a sit inside kayak. Half of your body will be protected from the elements providing a more comfortable paddling experience but some models with larger cockpit openings still make it easy to keep you gear close at hand. For more warmth and protection you can add a skirt. One example of a great fishing sit-inside kayak is the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Angler.

No need to put off your kayaking until the springtime, with the proper gear you’ll be paddling all year long — unless of course your favorite watering hole freezes over!

Dave Graves
Assistant Manager
ACK – San Marcos