Barrett and the Bob Hall Pier Launch – Offshore Kayak Fishing

I’m very fortunate that with my job I get to meet a lot of people that love to kayak fish.  I met Mike Morales  from Fin Factory Kayak Charters in Corpus Christi when he and his wife visited the store.  We’ve talked pretty frequently about getting offshore down to the coast, so when  Mother Nature recently gave us a break with the surf conditions we decided to go for it.  

We launched from just South of the Bob Hall Pier. Seeing the oil rigs from the shore really got me amped up for the trip; I’d never fished a rig Bob Hall Pierbefore and I was dying to try it. Our group of five had a variety of experience levels, this would be my first TX trip but I have 400 hours/700+ miles logged on my Humminbird, however this would be the first offshore trip for a few in the group.  All five of us were in Hobie Pro Angler 14’s so I had no doubt we could keep everyone upright through the surf with a little coaching, especially considering the mild conditions. Once everything was leashed down we broke through the small breakers and gathered up to get ready for trolling. We decided it would be best if everyone only trolled a single lure to minimize any possible tangles offshore and used a good variety of baits at different depths. One of the first things I noticed during the trip was a lot of bait getting dived on by birds and blown up by schools of Spanish mackerel, the other thing that caught my attention was the scattered clumps of Sargassum grass.  The scattered clumps never materialized into a true weed line but it was encouraging.  I cut my teeth offshore in Florida so I didn’t really know what kind of a hand Texas was going to deal me.
Bob Hall Pier Closing in on the rig I decided to do some long and narrow NASCAR type loops past the rig heading directly into the wind and then letting the wind push me back past the rig.  On my first pass I had a boat cut right behind me and almost foul my line, which most times is frustrating, but my rod quickly bent over and I am pretty sure the boat driver could hear my drag squealing over the sound of his motor.  As the fish got closer I could see color but couldn’t positively ID it until it was beside the yak, I ended up boating my personal best 28″ spanish.  The next kayak through hooked up with a king mackerel boating a nice healthy 40″+ fish.  Taking a little bit of a break I moved in close to the legs of the rig and dropped down my bottom rig to see what kind of reef fish were hiding out.  It didn’t take long to land a few undersized red snapper but I was pretty relieved to find that the things that work in Florida were also working in the cloudier water West of the Mississippi.  Eventually persistence paid off and I landed a legal red snapper, so it was time to start trolling again to see what was lurking just off the rig.  After a few passes with a king rig with a green skirt I decided to switch baits on my Tactical Anglers Power Clip back to a deep diving hard bait, this time a Yozuri.  My first pass through the area where I caught my spanish and the rod again doubled over and drag started to peel.  I knew pretty quickly this was a bigger fish and when I finally got eyes on him it turned out to be another king in the 40″+ neighborhood.  Bob Hall Pier
With about 6 hours on the water we decided it was time to head back in with a nice slow troll just soaking up the day and enjoying the gulf.  Once we got close to the breakers we put everything away and made sure it was all leashed down again.  A quick pep talk on how and where to attack the surf on the way in was the last thing we did before we had 5 flawless landings on the beach. All totaled we landed plenty of fish for the grill; final count was 3 kings, 2 spanish, and a snapper while having a great day on the water with new friends.
Barrett Fine
Manager, ACK-San Antonio
Photo Credit:  Sandra Morales from Fin Factory Kayak Charters!

Calling All Texas Sea Kayakers and Beyond to the 2012 Corpus Christi Paddlefast!

All sorts of kayaks show up!

Here at ACK two of our favorite things are camping and paddling. That’s why, for the second consecutive year, we’re very excited to attend the Corpus Christi Paddlefest. The event consists of 3 full days on the beach of camping, product demos, instruction, tours, beach fires and, of course, some Texas BBQ (another one of our favorite things). We are particularly excited this year because Ben Lawry, an internationally renowned kayak instructor, will be attending and instructing event goers on a variety of subjects. This is an event that draws paddlers from all over the state to attend so if you’re even remotely in the area, you should consider coming out to see what it’s all about!

For those interested in attending courses during the event, please see below for more about Ben and how to sign up. We hope to see you out there… I will be there, can’t wait! – Joseph@ACK

About Ben:
Ben has been paddling for over 35 years, and teaching/guiding for over 20. He has taught paddling on five continents and competed on three. Presently he works as head instructor and owner of Kayak Camp. He has taught kayaking at most of the leading Kayak Symposiums around the country, and now will teach at Paddlefest in Corpus Christi.

Ben presented at both the US WW symposium and the National ACA Conference in 2010. He has led trips and traveled extensively in South America, South Africa, Europe and North America. Ben splits his time now teaching paddling and working with stores to promote kayaking.

Ben’s Qualifications:

  • Outdoor Education Management Diploma, Bicton College, Exeter, GB, 1992
  • ACA Advanced WW ITE (Level 5), Advanced Open Water ITE (Level 5), Surf Level 4 ITE, Level 4 Swift Water Rescue, Level 2 SUP instructor and former Level 4ww OC + OC Level 2 coach.
  • 2010 WW Symposium Presenter and ACA Nation Instructor Conference
  • AFAA Certified Personal Trainer
  • BCU Senior Instructor and Advanced Proficiency Inland Kayak and 4 Star Sea
Learning to roll at the 2011 Paddlefest.

Signing Up for Courses:
Ben’s Teaching Schedule for Paddlefest 2012:

Friday afternoon, Sept 28, and Saturday morning  and afternoon Sept 29.  Ben will teach his famous Forward Stroke class (see video below) and a Kayak Surfing and Rough Water Handling class in addition to other classes.

The normal charge for Ben’s classes is $150 per person per class.  Fortunately Austin Canoe and Kayak and P&H Kayaks have sponsored him for Paddlefest so his classes can be offered at $25 per person per class. There will be no more than 10 students in each class.

If you would like to sign up for Ben’s classes at Paddlefest 2012, please e-mail the event coordinator at by coping the below ‘form’ (ending with ‘Name of Paddler’) and indicate what subjects you would be interested in, when you’d prefer the time, your name and paddling experience level:


Course Topics:
Kayaking  Basics for Beginners
Forward Stroke
Turning  the Kayak
Edging and Bracing
Surfing and kayaking in rough waters
Greenland kayak strokes

Please indicate your kayaking experience level:

Best time for your classes:
Friday afternoon
Saturday morning
Saturday afternoon

Name of Paddler: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________________________


There will also be other instructors offering free basic kayaking skills instruction at Paddlefest on all three days (Fri, Sat & Sun). You can sign up for those classes at Paddlefest.

All the above classes will be scheduled at appropriate locations depending upon the weather at the time.

Once they have determined the number of kayakers interested in this instruction, they will form  the classes and let you know what classes you are scheduled to attend.

2011 Paddlefest or Bust

ACK employees, Nate from Houston and Seth from Austin, will be heading down to the 2011 Paddlefest in Port Aransas, Texas. For those of you who haven’t heard about Paddlefest it’s a four day long event being held in Port Aransas, Texas by a group of like minded paddlers from all over the state this Halloween weekend. There will be camping, guided kayak tours, kayak demonstrations, basic sea kayaking instruction and a swap meet amongst a variety of other activities. What better way to spend a weekend! We asked both Seth and Nate to give us some insight into this event and here’s what they shared with us.

Paddlefest looks like it should be a huge hit this year. With paddlers from all over the state coming together for this weekend’s event, I look forward to meeting them and offering up my advice and experience any way I can. I’ll be spending most of my time helping fellow paddlers with repairs on their boats, assisting with paddling trips and teaching clinics.

This is also going to be a perfect time for me to pass on roach motels to put some great camping gear to the test. The main items I am interested in using are the Kelty Salida 2 and the Sierra Designs Zeta 3 tents. I guess Nate and I will have to do a coin toss to see who uses which tent. I’ve had my eye on the Kelty LumaCamp LED lantern to help light up our base camp kitchen along with the GSI Bugaboo camper cookset so we’ll be bringing those along. We are also going to try out a few different boats this weekend including the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140 and the Hobie Revolution. Personally, I am looking forward to hitting the surf with my personal Pyrhana Rev whitewater kayak. Nate was able to round up a small generator so I’ll also be bringing an extra heat gun and scraps of plastic to do on the spot repairs as needed.

I am really excited about this trip and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you when I get back. Just checked in on the weather report and this cold front that blew in is going to keep the conditions perfect for paddling this weekend.

– Seth @ACK Austin

Both Seth and I are excited about attending Paddlefest 2011 and honored to be representing ACK — you should be too! Why you might ask? Because we’re bringing demo boats and paddles! Expect to see us with a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140, Wilderness Systems Tempest 180 (composite), Current Designs Kestral 160 (composite) and one of Necky’s newest, the Vector 14. As for the paddles, we are bringing a Werner Camano Fiberglass 230, Werner Camano Carbon 230, Werner Kalliste Carbon Bent Shaft 230, Werner Cyprus 220 and a Bending Branches Navigator 230 — yep, some nice paddles.

In addition to product, we’ll also have tools, hardware and spare parts available to assist anyone who is having gear malfunctions. If you are planning to attend this weekend you can look for us at the IB MGEE Beach Park headquarters in the mornings and afternoons. This is where paddlers will be meeting before they disembark on various trips in and around the area and where we’ll be camping.

Seth and I are looking forward to paddling with you guys and gals!

Nate @ACK Houston