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.

ACK Supports Local Paddlesports Community With 8th Annual Spring Demo Days Event

Demo DaysAustin, Texas (March 11th, 2013) – Outdoor retailer Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings, LLC., announces its 8th Annual Spring Demo Days & Outdoor Exposition. A total of four events will be held in locations based around ACK’s physical stores with Austin and North Houston (Spring) on April 5th and 6th, and Houston and San Marcos/San Antonio on the 12th and 13th. In addition to providing over 90 kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards to test-paddle, this expo will also offer informative and educational clinics for attendees.

Catering to outdoor enthusiasts ranging from the seasoned angler to the novice paddler, ACK Demo Days creates a platform for anyone interested in paddlesports to ask questions, receive product guidance, try out different models and expand their knowledge about the sport. Educational clinics will be held throughout the day by knowledgeable ACK staff members and select industry manufacturers, covering topics such as “How to Paddle”, “Fly Fishing from a Kayak”, “Paddling Safety” and “Basecamp Basics”.

“There is no such thing as an all-around, perfect boat for every paddler.  Each kayak has its own strengths and downfalls depending on where and how you plan to paddle,” explains ACK Company President, Steve Messana. Continue reading ACK Supports Local Paddlesports Community With 8th Annual Spring Demo Days Event

Kayak Fishing the San Marcos River, a Personal Best

Ryan, assistant manager at ACK San Marcos, headed out for a day of bass fishing with Grant on the San Marcos River. Little did he know it would turn into a personal best!

Start to the day
Cold start to the day – 28 degrees at launch!

Grant and I started things off planning our trip based on the forecast. We typically like to be on the water at or before sunrise but this time decided to launch at 8:30. The reason being was that it was supposed to be partly cloudy until about 10 am, when the wind was supposed to shift to the North East and the sun was supposed to come out. The sun was the key. Leading up to the trip, it had been very cold, very windy and cloudy. After not seeing the sun for days I knew those river bass would be hungry!

Statistically in Texas all of the biggest bass are caught in the month of January and I knew this beforehand so we decided to forego the fly rods and bring out the conventional tackle. We were targeting river bass of all species but it seemed like all of the Lunker Large Mouths were in a feeding frenzy.  Less than ten minutes after launching I landed the first fish, a 13 inch large mouth. I had a feeling it was going to be a good day.

About a half mile downstream I hooked into something good and she took off. I fought her for about two minutes before going airborne and spitting my lure right back in my face. She was easily a four pound largemouth that I had lost! I was already kicking myself at losing my one opportunity at a big river bass. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme for my trips. Little did I know this was not going to be my only opportunity… not by a long shot.

Ryan with his personal best large mouth bass.
Ryan with his personal best large mouth bass.

I was still beating myself up after losing the last fish as we were approaching the first section of water that is shallow and swift moving. I casted to a spot behind a rock that was in less than three feet of water and in a nice sunny spot and it was no more than 12 feet away from my boat. I tried to move my bait and thought I was hung on the rock so I paddled a little bit closer. As I did so the so called “rock” I had hooked took off with blazing speed. Instinctively I ripped my rod back at the right angle and set the hook.  Seconds later the biggest bass I have ever laid eyes on in person surfaced and jumped almost completely out of the water trying to throw my hook and she was less than three feet from my kayak! I knew this fish would be a new personal best for me so I HAD to land it! Normally when I hook into a fish of this caliber and I know I have a good hook set I just sit back and hold on. Some people refer to this as a sleigh ride but I like to put my own twist on it and call it a Central Texas Sleigh Ride.

Where I hooked up with this Lunker was going to take much more finesse than just holding on. I hooked her in moving water, in a large Eddy that was about 10 feet long by 10 feet wide, just big enough to fit my Moken 10.  The rock she was hiding behind and another rock approximately 7 feet down river formed this Eddy and immediately after the farther rock the river gets real shallow, I am talking 8 inches at most. So I knew if I did not keep her in the Eddy that she would get so beat up on the rocks going down river she might not make it. Over half the battle was keeping her in the eddy, when she would try to break out I would use my weight and the weight of the boat to keep her inside. During the whole fight we did not move more than six feet from where I hooked up because every time I brought her back into the Eddy she would hit that Eddy line and we would go in a circle. It seemed like she spun me around 10 times or so but in reality it was probably closer to 3 or 4 times.  Finally landed her and let out a yell of triumph! Needless to say Grant and I were in awe of this Behemoth of a River Large Mouth! She was 7 pounds on the nose and just under 25 inches in length.  We took lots of pictures and released her safely to keep those Big Bass genes in the River.

Ryan with his second big bass of the day of kayak fishing the San Marcos River.
Ryan with his second big bass of the day of kayak fishing the San Marcos River.

After that I felt like I was done for the day and we were not even a 1/3 of the way through our trip! Pretty hard to top your personal best! Feeling rather accomplished with my feat I began to fish much more lazily and was trying to put Grant on a nice fish because I fish the San Marcos much more than he does. Just over an hour after catching my personal best I hooked into another nice one.

I yelled over to Grant, “Got a good one on, it’s at least 4 pounds.” Just as I finished my sentence she jumped and I saw a gaping mouth wide open facing me. I remember saying “Well, Grant its way bigger than four,” to which his responded, “You have got to be kidding me!” I hooked this one in open water so she towed me around 40 yards or so and then I landed her! 6 pounds on the nose after quickly measuring with my Boga Grips! Two of the three biggest river bass I have ever caught in one day!  I remember asking Grant over and over “was that real?” “Did I really just catch a 7 pound bass out of the river….and then an hour later catch a 6 pounder?” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! At the very end of the trip I hooked up with a 5 pounder but lost it after short fight but I could not complain!

After it was all said and done I had caught over 20 pounds of bass by myself including three different species: Large mouth, Small Mouth, and Guadalupe. It was the best day I have had on the River yet!

Kayak Fishing San Marcos with Assistant Store Manager Ryan Schaper

Written by San Marcos Assistant Manager Ryan Schaper

All loaded up for a great day of kayak fishing!
All loaded up for a great day of kayak fishing!

Having the opportunity to work at an outdoor retailer like ACK gives us, the employees, many awesome opportunities to learn about and use products so that we can better understand how they work and relay that information to you, the customer. One of the biggest opportunities is what’s called a Go Play day, where we get to leave the store, office or warehouse for the day and pick up a paddle (or whatever other outdoor gear we most feel like ‘playing’ with).

For my first ever Go Play day, I decided to take a typical kayak fishing day trip down the beautiful, clear, spring-fed San Marcos River, approximately 5 ½ miles of paddling. My target species, bass. The neat thing about river bassin is you can catch 4 species of bass in one water body including: large mouth, small mouth, Guadalupe, and the occasional rock bass.

The boat that I own and use way too much is a Moken 10 standard. Not the fastest of boats but very stable, so stable in fact I stand close to 90% of the time I am fishing on it. The reason I like to stand is I can see much better, cast much farther, and, with the lures I am typically using, the hook set ratio goes way up while standing.  Other than my kayak, there are many things that I use every time I go kayak fishing but the three things I would like to showcase and are arguably the most important are my Boga grips, paddle and sunglasses.

The Boga Grips in action.
The Boga Grips in action.

Boga grips are an amazing pair of fish grips that simultaneously double as a very accurate scale. Once you get your fish on the Bogas, it will not be coming off until you hit the release. As you can see from the picture they are safer for both you and the fish. They allow you to safely handle the fish and you can easily pull it through the water, allowing the fish to regain oxygen and lost strength from your fight. Once the fish has recovered hit the release and it will swim on it way.

My paddle is also very important to me and is something I most definitely never leave home without. I own a fiberglass Shuna paddle from Werner Hooked which I choose because it has a wider blade and with the Moken being so wide it allows me to move more water, especially while standing because I am not able to get the blade as deep.  Compared to my old cheap paddle the Werner makes a world of a difference. I hear the argument often from guys stating that they would rather have a cheaper heavier paddle because they want to get more of a “workout.” That is not necessarily true; a higher end paddle makes you more efficient on the water and allows a higher cadence which provides a better workout. My Shuna has bailed me out more times than I can count. For example fishing a river you are always dealing with current and I tend to catch my bigger fish either in or very close to heavy current.  With my Werner paddle I can get in sometimes 2 to 3 more casts than I could previously with my low end paddle because I know with 2-3 swift strokes of the Shuna I can easily change the direction of my boat in preparation for going down or getting sucked into a heavy rapid.

One of my bass for the day!
One of my bass for the day!

The final pieces of equipment that I NEVER leave home without on any day of the week are my Costa Del Mar Sunglasses. I cannot stress enough the importance of good sunglasses.  I own the Black Fin frames with the 580 G green lenses.  I have the green lenses because I am predominantly fishing clear water but they are many lenses options for different water bodies.  These glasses reduce glare off the water dramatically and even allow you to see through the water! Depending on conditions I can sometimes see more than 8 feet under the water! This helps drastically because I can determine varying depths in the water and occasionally even see the fish and sight cast to them.  The biggest bass pictured here was one that I actually saw his tail sticking out from under a rock ledge 4 feet under the water, casted to him and the fight was on! The fish was over 19 inches and over 3 lbs on the Boga grips!

When the day was over I had caught and released over a dozen bass ranging from 10 to 19 inches in length and 3 different species. Overall was a great fishing day on the San Marcos River!

Customer Appreciation Week at Your Local ACK Stores!

We Want to Show Our Appreciation

ACK Houston's Customer Appreciation Display
ACK Houston’s Customer Appreciation Display

ACK Customer Appreciation Week is being held this year at every ACK store location from November 29th through December 8th, 2014. We want to thank everyone who has helped us get to where we are today by offering raffle items, rental coupons, discounts and more during the Customer Appreciation Week. We understand everyone is busy this time of year getting ready for the holiday season and hope we can help make things easier!

How It Works

Each store location will have several accessories that will be raffled off at the end of the event on December 8th. Customers will receive raffle tickets when they make an in-store purchase during the appreciation week. We will also be handing out 2 for 1 rental coupons to everyone that comes into the store. To make things even sweeter we will be offering discounts on accessories* during the event.

Seminars and clinics will be held throughout the 10 day event at each store location and they will cover thing susch as  places to paddle, cold weather kayaking, kayak fishing, kayak camping, accessory installations and more. See this week’s schedule of events for each store:

For more details or to make sure items you are looking for are in stock, contact the ACK store near you http://www.austinkayak.com/location.

We couldn’t exist without all of you!

Thanks from ACK!


* Hobie products are excluded from all discounts, raffles and giveaways

ACK Ignites Outdoor Adventure in the Community through Paddlesport Exploration

Austin Canoe & Kayak Holds Its 6th Annual Fall Demo Days & Outdoor Exposition

Austin, Texas – August 13th, 2013Outdoor retailer Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings, LLC., announces its 6th Annual Fall Kayak Demo Days & Outdoor Exposition.  Each of ACK’s physical store locations will host its own event with Austin and North Houston (Spring) on September 14th and 15th, and Houston and San Marcos on September 21st and 22nd. In addition to providing over 90 kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards to test-paddle, this expo will also offer informative and educational clinics for attendees.

Catering to outdoor enthusiasts ranging from the seasoned angler to the novice paddler, ACK Demo Days creates a platform for anyone interested in paddlesports to ask questions, receive product guidance, try out different models and expand their knowledge about the sport. Educational clinics will be held throughout the day by knowledgeable ACK staff members and select industry manufacturers covering topics such as “How to Paddle”, “Fly Fishing from a Kayak”, “Paddling Safety” and “Basecamp Basics.”

“There is no such thing as an all-around, perfect boat so it is hard to know which will be your perfect fit.  Each has its own strengths and downfalls depending on where and how you plan to paddle,” explains ACK Marketing Director, Kelly Leff. “The key is getting it on the water so you can get a true feel for how it paddles and what your comfort level is. Demo Days gives people the convenience of doing that with a variety of makes and models all at one time.”

Come try out over 90+ kayaks at the ACK Demo Days!
Come try out over 90+ kayaks at the ACK Demo Days!

ACK’s Kayak Demo Days & Outdoor Exposition is held bi-annually in the Spring and Fall seasons. Running for its 6th consecutive year, this event is open to the general public. Additional information and maps to each location can be found at www.ack.com/demo.

Dates & Locations


Hyde Park Quarry

Sept. 14th & 15th

Sat. 10 – 4

Sun. 12 – 4

N. Houston (Spring)

Conroe, Texas

Sept. 14th & 15th

Sat. 10 – 4

Sun. 12 – 4


Independence Park

Sept. 21st & 22nd

Sat. 10 – 4

Sun. 12 – 4

San Marcos

Texas Ski Ranch

Sept. 21st & 22nd

Sat. 10 – 4

Sun. 12 – 4

About MSP Holdings, LLC

MSP Holdings, LLC operates Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), an award-winning paddlesports and outdoor retailer and Rack Boys a vehicle rack and sports travel outfitter dedicated to providing exceptional customer service. Both retail outfits are based out of the central Texas area, with their respective online stores at www.AustinKayak.com and www.RackBoys.com and within four physical locations in Austin, San Marcos, Spring and Houston, Texas.


For more information about Austin Canoe and Kayak, contact:

Kelly Leff
Marketing Director
Tel: 512-687-3010



ACK at Troutfest 2013

Getting some fly instruction at Troutfest 2013

On February 15th and 16th, I had the opportunity to attend Trout Fest which was held at the Rio Raft Resort and put on by the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. I am fairly new to ACK so this was a great opportunity to interact with a lot of our fantastic customers and meet several people that are very influential to our sport.

Lefty Kreh, who is considered a legend in the fly fishing world and has over 60 years of instruction under his belt, drew a huge crowd for both days of the festival (he had some really good jokes too!). Wanda Taylor, the 1st woman to become a master certified casting instructor by the International Federation of Fly Fishers, was also there to offer both group and 1-on-1 casting demos for any ladies interested in getting into the sport.

Kayaks from ACK and Diablo for demo

It was a great event for people of all ages with a BB-Gun shooting range and small fishing pond to keep the kiddos occupied. There was plenty of tasty grub to go around and I know that Grant from ACK San Marcos walked out with some killer deals on lots of flys and other new gear. Thomas and Megan from Diablo Paddlesports were there with me to show off the Chupacabra and Adios and how great of a fly-fishing platform these can be. I am fairly confident that we turned several kayak fishing skeptics into believers that just about anyone can easily stand up and fish or paddle from one of these. All in all, it was a great weekend and we could not have asked for more beautiful weather or a better venue for the event, and I most defiantly look forward to next year! If you were one of the unlucky ones who didn’t make it this year, you really should make it a point to stop by next time! 

Andy @ACK

Employee Spotlight: Andy Bruce

Andy enjoying some time outside with his wife.

This month we focus on ACK San Marcos’ fearless leader, Andy Bruce. His official title is Store Manager and it comes with plenty of responsibility. He’s in charge of everything that goes on at our San Marcos location and that includes staffing, inventory, community involvement plus much more. Despite all of his other responsibilities though, Andy keeps focused on the customer and the majority of his time is spent talking with anyone who walks through the door.

Andy joined ACK in August of 2012 after obtaining a degree in Recreational Administration from Texas State University. He’s a hard worker and paid his way through school as the head cook of the The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar. Before coming to ACK, Andy was the Director at the LBJ Student Food Court for Texas State for three years. I bet this guy could cook you up a good meal if you asked nice enough!

Nowadays, Andy spends his free time with his wife of two years and their two dogs, floating or paddling the river. While he loves San Marcos, he often visits his hometown, Freeport and Surfside beach where he grew up surfing and fishing. You wouldn’t guess it from just talking to him, but Andy has also quite a collection of game systems including a PS3, Xbox 360 and a PlayStation Vita.

Most of the time, you’ll find Andy at our San Marcos store with one of his four employees who he says have been very helpful with the transition from managing restaurants to outdoor retail. He’s caught on quick as someone who lives an outdoor life and has even made friends with several store regulars who come by daily just to talk kayaks or show off their most recent catch.

His favorite aspect of the job? Andy has really been enjoying the change in career and having the opportunity to be doing something that is both new & exciting, specifically NOT involving him working in a kitchen. Recently, he’s enjoyed his first Texas Boat Show season with ACK and is looking forward to the next.

Joseph @ACK

Rythym of Drum and Bass

Natural rhythm needs a good drum.

Rhythm permeates everything in nature.  Especially when there is a human involved. It was Bill Monroe in this case, while drifting along a line of lily pads on a pond in Independence, Texas that synchronized the landscape with my easy cadence of cast and tug. I have been to places where the drums drown out any other sound in the vicinity, as well as to clubs where the bass is so loud it shakes the worms up from the ground (not a bad idea to test before heading to the bait shop). But on this day it was my mental stereo that was blaring the fiddle tune to which I tried to imagine my swim bait was dancing. It was not long before senior bass joined in the dance, imparting his own accent to the line, backed by the falsetto of my reel drag. I like to think of myself on such occasions as a mufician, a sweeter tune I do not know.

Besides (and pardon) the inevitable puns, I think the idea could be a beneficial one to an angler with two left feet. Changing rhythms during your presentation is a good way to locate the depth and mood of the fish you are after – I heard that from Mr. Bill Dance, who ought to know a thing or two about musical environments.

And don’t forget the bass!

Obviously song choice is a matter of personal taste, but I also think that certain settings call for different tunes. Water temperature and depth is the overt factor to think about when deciding the speed of a jig, but I think there is more to it. Red Drum up in the flats are partial to the staccato tail twitch of Ledhead Zeppelin, while Bass along the Colorado might prefer a good slow Muddy Waters tune.

Paddling definitely has its own rhythms and cadences, imagine Ben Hur’s crew attaining ramming speed without the help of a big kettle drum.  If one is not careful, a big plastic kayak can turn into a pretty effective tom, but most of the time it is futile to think about scupper noise and the occasional paddle hit.  I have caught plenty of fish while blasting a portable speaker, which are so easy to take along these days.  I usually have one on hand just in case a band aid or box of goldfish triggers a particularly annoying mental  song loop. Mostly, though I like to make sure and end the drive out with a song that will set a good tone for the day, and go from there.

Cheers, and happy fishing,

Randy @ACK San Marcos

Mud and Mosquitos

As a kayaker, I am fortunate when I see new water but it never seems to come often enough. When you do find yourself somewhere new, it forces, and teaches, you to focus on finding a new technique or a different rhythm to the way you kayak or more importantly the way you fish. This is one of the reasons even a bad day of paddling or fishing is better than a good day at work. Trust me, I’ve had just as many unproductive days as I’ve had good ones. Being in the industry I hear so many people saying “you have to do this” or “there aren’t any fish there”. I personally find this completely wrong. There are different methods to productive fishing and it’s all different for each of us. It takes the ability to seek out those different places that allows you to learn new things.

I was able to tear out of town right after eating turkey on Thanksgiving to fish with a friend of mine, Jeremy Chavez, around the Houston area. After listing to so many tall tales about the fish around that area I had to see it for myself. Despite the endless cloud of mosquitoes and bottomless pit of mud, it was by far the most ridiculous area I had ever seen. Being so much closer to the Coastal Bend area, I’m used to fishing completely different water and having the opportunity to see such a different place is what makes kayaking so unique.

Anyway, check out these pictures (courtesy of Jeremy Chavez), I know you’ll enjoy!

Grant @ACK San Marcos