Mother’s Day 2014 – Sunshine & Quality Time

Mothers Day Family Outing

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching and if you’re still grasping at straws trying to figure out what to do May 11th (Mother’s Day if you didn’t already know that), look no further. Some of us at ACK came up with a few awesome ideas that will surely have your mother anxiously awaiting work on Monday to partake in the office morning brag fest near the Keurig.

The Camping Trip

Devote your weekend to spending some quality time with your mom under the stars. Camping is a great way to get outside, unplug, and unwind. Pack up your car with all the necessities, a tent, bedding, chairs, a portable grill, s’mores supplies and a Yeti cooler to keep that food safe from bears and sneaky neighbors. Then head out to your nearby camping grounds to enjoy each others company and a fun weekend spent outdoors.

Take A Hike

Being active and outdoors is always a great way to bond with your mom and enjoy some beautiful spring weather. Hiking is another inexpensive option that doesn’t require an army’s worth of effort and delivers great results every time. Check out your local park, pick a trail, pack a lunch, and get outside. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and take the necessary safety precautions

Kimberly out for a paddle with her little friend. beforehand.

Hit The Water

Take your mom out for a day on the water this Mother’s Day. Whether that entails kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, fishing, or just going for a dip; a day in the water is a good day indeed. ACK is currently offering a great deal on Custom Packages – including kayak and SUP packages. Build her something beautiful and keep her smiling from ear to ear.

She’s Not The Outdoorsy Type?

How about setting up a backyard oasis? A lazy Sunday could be the best gift you could give your mom. Set her up with a hammock, sweet tea, good music and some homemade BBQ then sit back and relax. In the end, it’s not always about the gifts you get her, but the time you spend together.

Happy Mothers Day! XO Dayvee @ ACK

10 Reasons To Go Paddling

At ACK we love paddling for a number of reasons- but we don’t want to focus on why we are obsessed!

We took to our Facebook page and asked all of our customers what makes them want  to go out

Werner SUP Paddles
Werner SUP Paddles

paddling and got some great answers. Y’all answered with everything from waking up to getting excited about the weather hitting 55 – so we thought we’d share a few with you.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. A bad week at work! Plus a beautiful sunny day!

  2. A good 6 inch rain

  3. When I’m out on the water all of the BS in life disappears for a while

  4. Rain, snow, sleet, hail and even sun makes me want to go paddling

  5. Work!

  6. Good weather and good friends

  7. Owning my first kayak I bought at demo day

  8. Just being out there. Fishing is fun but the joy of paddling makes it special

    Sunset Paddle
    Post-Work Paddle
  9. It’s such a peaceful and relaxing time that I get to share with my husband/wife and no other distractions

  10. Fishing!

  11. The “itch”

Of course we cant forget about some of the smart answers y’all sent in like “I don’t need no stinkin’ reason!” and “Why would you need a reason?!”

We have to give it to them though- a paddler never needs a reason to get out on the water.

Learning to Fish the Hard Way!

Brad and Grandpa Fishing

The Early Years

I have found that most people who enjoy the outdoors as adults were exposed to the joys of nature at an early age through a grandparent, uncle or parent. I however, was lucky enough to experience it with all three. I grew up hunting and fishing and enjoyed it all the way until I turned into a baseball obsessed teenager. After I discovered baseball, nature took a backseat. I had found a new passion and let that take over all of my time.

After high school I went to a college in East Texas (Go Kats!) that happened to be near a great state park and a wonderful lake. I spent many a class periods in the woods and along the shores of Lake Raven redeveloping my love of the outdoors. Unfortunately for me, not many of my fishing lessons from my childhood held over.

Back At It 

Brad Fishing @5

I quickly realized that I wanted to get back into fishing so with a credit card and a dream I made my way to a nearby big box store. While shopping I called on my past experiences with two of my grandfathers – Grandpa River (a fisherman) and Grandpa Tractor (a farmer). I fondly remember fighting reds and speckled trout with my Grandpa River, my mom’s father, and his advice when it came to line. “Hardheads will eat your line if you let them” he always said as I clung to a long rod with a heavy line attached to even heavier sinkers. “Big bait gets the big fish” was another favorite of his and everyone knows that a child will always want the biggest! So with these memories in mind, I headed down the fishing aisle of the store and purchased some familiar look fishing gear. I made my purchases and walked out carrying a brand new long, heavy and strong fishing pole, thick as steel line, and some mean looking hooks. I also grabbed some heavy sinkers, bobbers, and other “essential” fishing items. “Yep.” I thought walking out, “Grandpa River would be proud!”

After my successful trip to get my gear I headed out to the lake where my buddy and I planned to go out fishing. When I pulled up my buddy gave me a funny look and laughingly asked if i planned on catching a gator. I asked in confusion, “No, why? Are there gators near by?” I found it both funny and odd that he was laughing at me but continued to unload my gear regardless. I finished unloading after about fifteen minutes- within that time my buddy had landed two bass and a cat! I then began to fix up my rig while he laughed again at my expense as I fumbled around with my new toys.

After a few more minutes of rigging I was finally able to get my bait- worms! – in the water. I remembered that I was fishing fresh water and that dead shrimp was not the best choice for the lake- well that and the store didn’t have any. As I waited for my bobber to sink I glanced over at my buddy’s pole and gear as well as another fellow’s gear who was fishing nearby and noticed that their poles were much smaller than mine. I began to wonder why when I felt a tug on my line- not much but it was something! I jerked the rod back causing me to lose the fish. “Oh well.” I thought to myself as I re-baited and got back in the water. This time I decided to keep the bait closer to the dock and use a giant worm wrapped around my hook. I was not going to miss this time!

I slowly reeled the worm in towards the dock and let it sit almost right about against it and then WHAM! My line took off. I tightened down the line and gave it a good strong pull back and before I knew it I was yelling DUCK! That fish took off like a rocket- flying out of the water faster than you could snap your fingers. My buddy once again, could not stop laughing.

You see, what I didn’t realize was that I was drawing on memories of fishing with my Grandpa River on the Texas Coast – not a shoreline dock in East Texas lake! I had always gone saltwater fishing with heavy rods and reels made for salt and offshore fishing; hence my earlier purchases. Needless to say, my 7 ft heavy action spin reel, much like a broomstick for offshore fishing, and 60lb mono line, which might as well have been rope, was a bit overkill for catching bass and cats off a dock. That cat took my bait in what was probably about 3 feet of water and had no idea what was in store for it.

Passion Rekindled

Brad with fish

After having a good laugh with my buddy over my flying cat, I decided then and there that I needed to consider some fishing lessons and reconsider my choice in gear. I quickly realized my buddy wouldn’t be able to stop laughing long enough to re-teach me how to fish but thankfully the gentleman on the other end of the dock was more than willing to share his fishing tips and knowledge. After a short conversation with him even my laughing buddy was was taking notes. After he gave me an hour long lesson, my passion for fishing was rekindled and I had a good idea of the new gear I needed to go purchase. I had a plan and I was going to dive head first in! Before that however, I was in need of a road trip- to the coast.

Author: Brad Martin, ACK Employee

 

Viking Kayak Comes to ACK

As many of you have seen/heard, we will now be adding Viking Kayak to our lineup. These boats are imported from over in New Zealand and we’re very excited to be the first US retailer to offer them.

Three Viking Kayak Profish Reloads ready to launch!
Three Viking Kayak Profish Reloads ready to launch!

We plan on carrying 2 of the Viking Kayak models: the Profish Reload and the Profish 400 with 2 color choices per model. The Reload will come in a Yellow/Black combination called Yellow Mist as well as a Gray/Black combination called Shades of Gray. The Profish 400 on the other hand will come in Green/Black called Lime Mist and also Orange/Black called Sunrise Mist.

Viking Kayak Profish Reload
Rigged Viking Kayak Profish 400

The Profish Reload measures a hair over 14.5 feet, is 29.5″ wide and weighs in a 63 pounds. This kayak is ideal for tackling large bodies of water, but drafts shallow enough to handle the flats with ease. The center console, called the Tackle Pod, comes with the boat and provides an enclosed area for on-board tackle management. The pod also allows for the easy mounting of a fish finder. A recess on the bottom of the pod provides a safe tucked away location for the transducer to ride up in too. A replacement center console can be purchased to replace the Tackle Pod, and it provides a flat deck space with an included child seating area.

The Profish 400 measures just under 13.5 feet, is 31″ wide and weighs in 53 pounds. Unlike the Reload, the 400 has a molded in well in the center of the boat that can be used for gear storage or even as a live bait well. Due to its wider stance, the 400 is relatively easy to stand in and provides a great sight casting platform.

The Viking Kayak Chill Pod
The Viking Kayak Chill Pod

We will also be selling various Viking Kayak accessories that go with the new boats. The Chill Pod is a very easy to open ice box for kayak anglers looking to keep their catch cold. Both the 400 and the Reload’s rear tankwell will accept this cool product. A rudder kit is available for either boat, but it is a little different than what we are used to here in the US. This particular rudder does not extend down past the bottom of the boat, but in no way does that detract from its performance. These boats will turn very quickly due to the surface area of the rudder blade. Other accessories we will carry will be a Viking branded hatch bucket with screw on lid, additional flush mount rod holders, and a clear center pod lid for the Profish 400.

We are very excited to have Viking on board and hope you are too! These are now available for pre-order and will actually start shipping near the end of April. Let us know what you think by commenting below.

Yak Gear Announces US Distribution of Viking Kayaks

The Vikings are coming!  The Vikings are coming!

Yak Gear is proud to announce the United States distribution of Viking Kayaks, a New Zealand based kayak manufacturer. As the United States distributor of Viking Kayaks and the accompanying line of paddling and fishing accessories, Yak Gear is distributing the newly designed Viking Kayak Profish Reload and the Viking Kayak Profish 400 Lite sit-on-top fishing kayaks.

Three Viking Kayak Profish Reloads ready to launch!
Three Viking Kayak Profish Reloads ready to launch!

About Viking Kayaks

Viking Kayaks has been designing kayaks for the New Zealand market for almost 15 years.  After recent success as a dominant kayak manufacturer in New Zealand due to their unique tracking and stability designs for offshore compatibility, Viking Kayak is now bringing their designs to the United States.

The development of Viking Kayaks is the result of the collaborative efforts of both Stephen Tapp – one of New Zealand’s most well know and experienced kayak anglers – and Grant Montague, owner of Viking Kayaks, New Zealand.  Together, Stephen and Grant have a combined 28 years’ experience manufacturing and designing fishing kayaks.

Viking Kayak Models

The Viking Kayak Profish Reload (14.8 feet long, 29 inches wide, 64 lbs.) is a sit-on-top kayak that is fast, stable, and easy to manage on and off the water.  The Profish is the choice for anglers seeking touring endurance combined with stability. The Profish Reload features the Reload Tackle Pod.  The Reload Tackle Pod System offers the ability to have a fully integrated and removable depth finder, battery, and transducer setup combined with a large tackle storage space. It’s now quick and easy to remove or reload your valuable depth finder, transducer, and tackle – the ultimate in convenience. The Profish Reload will be available in two colors: Grey Mist and Yellow/Black combo.

Viking Kayak Profish Reload
Viking Kayak Profish Reload

Also offered is the Viking Kayak Profish 400 Lite (13.2 feet long, 30.5 inches wide, 54 lbs.).  The Profish 400 is an excellent paddling kayak suitable for long offshore excursions as well as inshore paddles. Being lightweight makes it easy to load on to roof racks and carry to and from the water. The detachable tackle pod option makes setting up for your fishing trip quick and easy. The Profish 400 will be available in two colors: Green/Black combo and Orange/Black combo.

Viking Kayak Profish 400 Lite.  Notice the stability while sitting side-saddle!
Viking Kayak Profish 400 Lite. Notice the stability while sitting side-saddle!

Built for Customized Rigging

Customization is key when rigging fishing kayaks for different types of fishing or individual preferences.  Understanding this, Yak Gear is bringing in the two Viking Kayaks to the United States with the intention that the customer can finish much of the accessory design.  Customization options include varieties of options for seat choice, flush mount rod holder placement, center pod configuration, anchor trolley positioning, and even external mount placement.

Not into rigging for kayak fishing?  The two Viking Kayaks make great recreational and surfing kayaks as well!

Where to Find Viking Kayaks

Austin Kayak, headquartered in Austin, Texas, will be the first retailer to offer the two models of Viking Kayaks. Inquiries about availability can be sent to customer@austinkayak.com or sales@yak-gear.com. Yak Gear will be adding three more retailers to the exclusive list of Viking Kayaks Dealers by 2015.

For more information on the Viking Kayaks Profish Reload and the Viking Kayak Profish 400 Lite, check out the kayak walk around videos below!

YakAttack Surface Mount Retractor + StakeOut Pole Clip = Safe Boga Grips

I recently had some time at the house to play around with the YakAttack Surface Mount Retractor and found it is quite handy to use in conjunction with the 3/4″ StakeOut Pole Clip that we sell. I use this combo to hold my Boga Grip to the lid of my Ocean Kayak. If you’re on the fence about buying a Boga but do not because of the risk of losing a high dollar piece of gear over the side of your boat, this is the solution for you!

I’ve attached some photos for you to see how I have rigged my boat, as well as a couple more that the gang over at YakAttack sent me so that you can see what they are doing as well. 

Native Ultimate FX Has Landed at ACK!

Native Ultimate FX 15
A solo lime green 15.

Native’s long awaited update to their highly popular hybrid canoe/kayak Ultimate series has landed at the ACK warehouse and for my unwrapping I couldn’t resist going with a St. Patty’s Day Green.

So what’s new on the Native Ultimate FX? A whole lot. I opened up Ultimate FX 15 Solo, but it also comes in a 15 Tandem and a 12 Solo.

The first thing I notice is that it is covered in Native’s Groove Track system. They’ve dotted the Solo FX 15 with a total of 10 tracks, 3 strips along  each side of the hull, one just in front of the seat, two either side of the molded in thwart, and a single 5″ strip on the bow. There’s a good chance you’ll never have to hard mount anything to this kayak.

After counting up the tracks, I start playing with their new high/low seat. The seating system isn’t new per se, as we’ve seen it in models like the Slayer, but it is a new feature for the Ultimate. The 15 is meant to be paddled either solo or tandem and what’s neat is that they came up with a way for the high/low seat slide to different positions to accommodate this, just like in the old 14.5 Ultimate.

If you’re into kayak fishing, camping, or photography, I’d definitely give the Native Ultimate FX Series a look. With the pronounced hump in the middle of the kayak, I imagine it will be even easier to stand in the FX than the old Ultimate model, and it’s got plenty of storage area to hold your gear.

See it for yourself:

You can place your orders for the FX 12, 15 Solo or 15 Tandem here. Let me know what you think of the new FX series by commenting below!

Fitting Railblaza To The Old Town Predator 13 & Ocean Kayak Big Game II Mounting Plates

From the Railblaza Team

Railblaza sponsored UK angler Ian Pickering (Ocean Kayak UK Fishing Team) has been putting his thinking cap on and applying a little DIY to make use of his Railblaza accessories on the Old Town Predator 13 fishing kayak. The Predator 13 comes with mount plates fitted to the gunnels, which allow the mounting of accessories without the drilling of holes into the kayak. Ian has used these plates to recess mount the Railblaza StarPort. Here’s what he had to say:

The mounting plates fitted to the Old Town Predator and Ocean Kayak Big Game II are a fantastic idea. No holes to be drilled in the kayak and you can change your mind as often as you like without worry. I’ve started off by fitting a star port to the left hand forward plate. If I change my mind I could rotate the plate 180 degrees to move it further forward or even swap it with another position.Very versatile.

10 Pieces of Advice For 1st Time Paddlers

Giving some advice to a 1st time paddler.
Advice for 1st time paddler.

We asked our Facebook fans, “What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a 1st time paddler?” Some of the responses were serious and some were just downright funny. Here’s 10 of our favorites:

1. Don’t go without wearing your PFD. — Advice from Don P., JT L., Gary L., Lisa W., Billy M., Jonathan B., Travis A., Michael P., Laura B., David F., Alan D., Heath G., Erica H., Eric B., Robert R., Chuck B., Lee H., Bobby C., Robin L. and Randy V.

When 20 paddlers give the same advice, you gotta think it’s important, huh?

2. Relax, breath deeply, and enjoy the view. — Advice from Loretta H.

3. You are going to get wet. Plan on it. — Advice from Don I.

4. Just enjoy yourself! You will never forget it! — Advice from Cathie G.

5. Remember, however far you go, you have to go the same distance to get back. — Advice from JW E.

6. Buy from Austin Kayak. — Advice from John M. Have to agree with this one! :)

7. Bring a fishing pole and enough beer for you and your kayak buddies you’ll meet along the river! — Taylor S.

8. Paddle faster if you hear banjos! — Advice from Norman T.

9. Your paddle is just as important as your kayak. — Advice from David T.

10. Tie your gear down! — Advice from Carla M.

 Share your advice for 1st time paddlers by commenting below! The entire collection of responses can be found here.

6 Tips On Surf Launching For Offshore Kayak Fishing

From the Yak Gear / Railblaza Team

Paddling through the rough surf for an offshore kayak fishing adventure, more commonly referred to as surf launching, can be challenging depending on your specific location, the weather conditions, and the size of the swells you are battling!  Done properly, surf launching can be a painless hurdle on the path to large offshore fish waiting to be caught, photographed, and either cooked up or released to be caught another day!  However, there is some inherent danger involved.  How do I prevent flipping or “turtling?”  How do I keep my balance?  What if all my expensive gear falls out?

To help ease your worries about surf launching and get you on those big “beyond the breakers” fish, we have developed these 6 introductory tips for surf launching on your next kayak fishing adventure.

We understand, surf launching can be really rough! Those waves look ready to rob you of all of your gear, right? Not for long… Photo Credit: Andrew H
We understand, surf launching can be really rough! Those waves look ready to rob you of all of your gear, right? Not for long… Photo Credit: Andrew H

1) Leash All of Your Gear

Yeah, yeah.  You get it.  The paddle sport accessory company wrote a blog telling me to leash my gear.  How cliché!  Hang on! All sales pitches aside, everyone knows that the more expensive the pliers, tackle boxes, boga grips, or even reels are…the much faster they sink.  Leashing your gear is simply a built in safety net for the rough conditions you are admittedly going to face while beyond the breakers.  During a moment of confusion or while you are losing your balance, these leashes allow you to focus 100% on correcting your movements and staying afloat.  What if in this same moment you had to reach back for your expensive Penn reel and that new GoPro camera you just got for Christmas?  With your focus off of staying balanced and maneuvering through the waves, drinking saltwater is inevitable in your near future.

2) Timing, Timing, Timing!

In general, successful surf launching is heavily dependent on timing.  Without getting into the details that are far better explained by your local meteorologist, waves come in sets.  This makes the ideal time to launch fall in between the wave sets. These wave sets vary based on many variables, however, typically the last wave in the set is the largest.  Once this has passed and you are in between wave sets, there is a lull in the surf.  Now its “Go Time!”

3) Be Visible

Large swells can limit your visibility to others.  Having some sort of elevated safety flag during the day or 360 degree light after dark is highly recommended to ensure safety.  These visibility tools are also very helpful while out beyond the breakers where much larger boats may lose sight of you and your tiny kayak in the swells.

Surf Launching4) Know your Weight Distribution

This is one of the tips that is often forgotten.  Paddlers in any boat, paddling any water must always be conscious of how the weight is proportioned on their kayak.  Paddling offshore for a kayak fishing trip is usually done on longer, wider kayaks.  Having a weight balance in the center of your kayak can cause a nose dive when a wave either a) breaks onto you or b) you hit the peak of a large swell.  Try to lean back and keep weight closer to the back of the kayak to maintain optimum balance.

5) Keep your Paddle in the Water!

Always remember, when encountering waves or other turbulent water, you and your boat are always more stable when your paddle is in the water.  Having your paddle in the water is crucial to maintaining balance because it acts as an easily controlled fulcrum point.  We know what you’re saying, “Oh, well I have Mirage Drive”, “Not me, I have the pedal drive system”, “I’ll just turn on my trolling motor!”  We understand.  This is why we aren’t advocating that you solely use the paddle for means of propulsion.  However, we are recommending that you keep the paddle in the water for added balance.  Those pedals can’t correct you from tipping, but your paddle can.

6) Practice Makes Perfect

If you are inexperienced, practice playing in the waves without any gear before you take all the expensive gear out on the water.  Some beaches even have lifeguards present to further provide safety while battling this learning curve.  While practicing, make sure there are not many people around.  Runaway kayaks can be dangerous to surrounding swimmers.  Here is a “How To” video showing how not to surf launch from a kayak.  Video courtesy of our buddy YakYakker.