I would like to preface this blog post with a little information about myself. One very defining quality I have (and have been told I have by many people) is that I am inherently girly. Everything from my walk to the way I talk screams feminine. So imagine the surprise on my coworker Sam’s face when I took him up on his offer to take me fishing. Mind you, I have no qualms about being outdoors and in the water- I have always been naturally drawn to lakes, rivers, oceans, pools, and any other body of water. I just have never been a huge fisherman (fisherwoman?) nor am I an excellent kayaker, so kayak fishing was definitely something new for me. That’s exactly why I figured I should give it a shot! Sam accepted the challenge and we decided that the best time to go would be that Saturday morning.
That Saturday I met him bright and early down at Lady Bird Lake in Austin ready to enjoy the already gorgeous morning. He started setting me up in his extra kayak as well as setting up his fishing gear in his Diablo Chupacabra. This was my first time ever seeing a kayak that you could also stand up in and I immediately became a little bit obsessed with the combination! After the initial set up I hopped in my kayak and slid out into the glassy waters of Lady Bird. We paddled away from the city and he directed us towards a small enclave covered by trees, which according to him, was filled to the brim with fish.
This was about the time I decided to give casting a shot. I watched him throw his line out a few times and thought to myself, “Ehh, can’t be that hard!” Little did I know there is an entire science behind casting a line. Initially, between tangling up the line and getting caught in the surrounding trees, I thought I would never get it right. However, with a little practice I was able to finally get a technique of my own down and successfully cast my bait a solid distance. Sam was surprised and, dare I say, proud that I was able to pick it up so quickly! Shortly after I managed to get casting down, Sam told me to focus on catching a fish. This obviously was the main goal of the trip however it was also my main source of anxiety. Needless to say, I was able to get over that anxiety the minute I felt a tug on the line. With Sam’s help, I was able to reel it in and finally catch my first fish! I was absolutely elated until he proceeded to tell me to grab it by the mouth…something I definitely was not expecting.
I had never touched a fish before this trip and it was not something I was interested in doing. So when he let me know that it was time to hold the fish I may or may not have freaked out a little. Eventually I decided to man-up and to be honest, it really wasn’t all that bad! With my thumb and index finger I gripped my first fish by its mouth while Sam took a photo to document the moment. I was convinced that it would wiggle around in my hands but to my surprise the fish stayed perfectly still. I like to think that it was posing for the picture. The second the flash went off I happily dropped the fish back in the water – mission accomplished! I watched it swim away and decided to quit while I was ahead. We paddled around a bit longer then called it a day. As I drove home I recounted the story to my friends and provided the proof (like I knew they would ask for). I still fondly remember the surprise on their faces as it sunk in that yes, I not only went fishing but also held a fish long enough to get a snapshot.
The memories of that day will always be looked back on with rose colored glasses as one of my favorite firsts in Austin.
Do you remember the first time you went fishing? Comment below and tell us about it!
Around the last week in April I received a phone call from Thomas, the owner of Diablo Paddlesports, about helping out for a local children’s event. He told me they would be working with Generation Outdoors to teach fatherless kids how to kayak and fly fish. The amount of kids that had rsvp’d for the event was growing in numbers by the minute and both Thomas and Generation Outdoors were worried that they wouldn’t have enough kayaks and adults to help staff the event. Of course I couldn’t leave them hanging and gladly gave him the thumbs up. The second we hung up I penciled it into my calendar and set about getting my hands on some rental kayaks and games.
As the second part of my on-boarding process here at ACK, I was tasked with working a half day at the Austin Store location. Much like my day in the warehouse, I was excited about this as it was going to be a new experience for me. As a long standing ACK customer prior to becoming an employee, I had been in the store many times. I went in frequently for new ideas and products to outfit my Diablo Chupacabra so I figured this day would be a breeze. I would come to find that things were definitely different on the staff side of the store experience.
As I started my day, things were normal and familiar until I received the section by section walk-through of the entire store. For me this was like a kid in a candy store. I got to look at how every section of the store was built and why. It’s truly about customer experience. I understood the layout from a customer perspective but it came together a little more when I looked at it from the staff perspective. Normally I would browse through products I normally need/use but the walk-through opened my eyes to many new products.
After the store walk-through I was introduced to the install service section. I had always known this was there but never went in. I came in at a good time as one of the team members was right in the middle of installing a rudder on the back of a Chup. This was perfect for me as this is a pending project on my list. The install team was good! They were quick, precise and obviously had done this many times. Next to the service area was the layaway section of the store. I never knew ACK had layaway program or I would have taken advantage of it a long time ago!
Next, I received a tour of the rental and boat storage. I never knew this section of ACK existed. This is where I learned about their huge stock of rental inventory. I got excited when I saw which boats were available to rent. I have a long list of boats I’ve been wanting to try, one being the Hobie Pro Angler. I’ll be taking this one out very soon!
The rental section wrapped up my tour and now it was time to work the floor. As customers came in I did my best with the kayak knowledge I had to give them a good experience. I walked several customers through kayak models and features. This was probably the best part of the day. I got to talk about kayaks with people who love kayaking; it doesn’t get much better than that.
While working the floor I got to experience the expertise of the store staff. When talking to customers they were able to dissect exactly what the customer’s needs were and point them into a kayak choice that made sense. I was impressed!
The rest of my time flew by. I thoroughly enjoyed working the store. When I was engaged with the customers, it didn’t feel like work- it felt like I was talking kayaks with some long time friends I had never met before. I guess that is one of the many great things about kayaking and the ACK community. Ultimately, I think my experience working for a half day at the Austin store allowed me to learn the ins and outs of what makes ACK so different from other outdoor retailers as well as a little extra knowledge in customer service.
Texas River Bum Staffer Anthony Perez Recaps the Texas Double Haul Fly Fishing Tournament
It took me several seconds to stop laughing. It was cold. It was real cold- but the chill of the South Llano River only lasted for a few seconds as I slowly chuckled my way in. The area I was putting in the river is where the Master’s Tournament contestants for the Texas Double Haul had put in the day before. The difference is however I was throwing in day and a half later with the sun full up. When the tourney competitors put in before sunrise on the previous day it was in the low 40’s. As I stood there it was 54° with little promise of getting much higher.
As far as we know, the Texas Double Haul is the only multi-species fly fishing tournament in Texas. The first “haul” of the tournament began on August 30th with participants fishing the entire month of September. Throughout the month participants entered their fly fishing submissions online thru the tournament website. In the end, the top six competitors received invitations to attend the second “haul”, a Masters Tournament at the Oktoberfisch Fly Fishing Festival.
The night before the competition most of the anglers met at Lum’s Barbecue for an optional pre-brief and to discuss on request strategy for the day ahead. Additionally, all angers received a TRB Hill Country Sampler of flies and a copy of Texas River Bum’s latest guidebook, the South Llano River Pocket Guide. Some of the talk might have been a little dry but the barbecue certainly wasn’t. When you’re in the area it’s worth the stop before or after the river.
Reportedly, nearly no one slept later that night. Nor did we allow anyone to sleep that morning either with a 6am check-in time for the competitors. While we did our best to remain quiet in the Shady Morgan Campgrounds, the site and venue for Oktoberfisch, we may or may not have awaken the Living Waters Fly Fish (tournament sponsors) staff. Actually, the staff was probably sound asleep snoring away, but we may have kept a spouse or two of said staff from some shut eye. Sorry!
With all anglers officially briefed in the brisk October morning, they set out on their way in hopes of big fish and tight lines. Assisting in their pursuit was none other than two time sponsor Diablo Paddlesports. During last year’s tourney, Diablo provided the lead angler and overall tourney winner a Diablo Chupacabra kayak to take home and call their own. This year Diablo stepped up with a fleet of decked out Amigo and Adios kayaks for our competitors to use.
Winners and Prizes of the Texas Double Haul
In a quick down and dirty run down here is how the final sorting shook out. Here’s who won and what they took home with them:
4th-6th place: Derik Donald, Trey McNeil, Grayson Jones received swag shirts, hats, and gear provided by Howler Brothers, Diablo Paddlesports, Austin Canoe & Kayak and Texas River Bum.
3rd place: Mike Schlimgen received a Fish Pond boat bag from Gruene Outfitters, with assorted swag from sponsors.
2nd place: Chris Kowaleski went home with a GoPro3 Black series camera from their latest-greatest new product line up, ACK yak accessories, and sponsor swag.
1st place: Pat Vanek received from the Texas Double Haul main tournament sponsor Echo, manufacturer of Fly Rods, Lines, and Reels the main prize package of a 6wt Echo fly rod, fly line, and an Ion reel. Wait, there’s a lot more. Additionally he received a Howler Brothers Pescador long sleeve shirt and Howler Electric trucker hat, a Nanuk dry box and $25 gift certificate from ACK, and an assortment of custom tied flies from the fine folks at Living Waters Fly Fishing.
In total over $1,500.00 in prizes were handed out and a good time had by all. We would like to thank all our sponsors, Oktoberfisch coordinator head-man Gene Smith, and the folks at Shady Morgan Park for making this event happen. Most importantly we want to thank the anglers who participated in both the qualifying and master’s portion of the Texas Double Haul. Thank you for your participation and love of the fly fishing sport to put time in on Texas waters. Please play again next year as we are growing, looking for more sponsors, and seek to lead the way in online fly fishing tournaments!
Overall our Texas River Bum objective is simple- to inspire people to care, love, and protect our beloved Texas Rivers. We believe events such as this are a start. With a passion for activities on the water we hope that patrons will make a stand to be good stewards of such a precious gift we call our Texas Rivers.
Thank you and hope to see you on a Texas river soon. If not, be sure to swing by the TRB booth next year and say hi.
Well, my first Boondoggle has come and gone. I will be completely honest with you, I am actually really sad that I have to wait until February to attend the next one. This event shed an entirely different light on how I perceived the kayak fishing community. I had always known that kayak anglers shared a bond and helped each other out, but little did I know that they were some of the most welcoming people I have ever had the pleasure to know.
As Andrew and myself pulled into Perdido Key, Florida late Friday afternoon, we proceeded to the entrance of Big Lagoon State Park to check in and scope out the lay of the land. As we drove closer to the camp grounds, droves of kayaks kept passing by strapped to the roofs of cars, truck beds, and trailers. It was a miniature caravan of plastic awesomeness. We pulled onto the road that lead to our camp site and got to behold a spectacle that I will have a hard time erasing from my memory bank. Every single campsite was packed full of kayaks as far as the eye could see and were chalk full of the latest and greatest kayak fishing accessories you could find. Every type, brand and color of kayak you could ever imagine was present and accounted for. Even some that had been discontinued for nearly 10 years. As we got to our site and started to unpack, we heard the first Boondoggle chant, and little did we know that it would be echoing through the camp grounds all weekend as each excited kayak angler wanted every one to know just how elated they were to be at the event. A single person would scream out, “BOOOOOONDOGGLE!”, and everyone followed suit shortly thereafter. We had not even set our tents up and we had already hollered our response nearly a half dozen different times. Never once did we feel silly. If anything, we felt as if it were a right of passage. With camp completely set up, we got the kayaks loaded on top of our car and made a b-line for the beach since the offshore conditions were supposed to be about as perfect as you could imagine for some offshore kayak fishing.
When we got the kayaks unloaded and down on the sand, we really had to sit back and soak in what we were seeing. Being from Texas, it is a rare event that I see water so blue that it resembles a clear summer sky nor white powder sand that rivals cake flour in texture. To sum up what we thought in one word as to how to describe the sight….”heaven”. We launched our kayaks and quickly paddled out to about 30 feet of water to try and sabiki up some live bait so that we could start trolling. I managed to bring up a few cigar minnows and we quickly put them on our lines and began to paddle around in search of our quarry, the speedy king mackerel. The conditions were so beautiful that we easily found ourselves lost in just the sheer serenity of the open calm ocean. We also forgot to take into consideration how fast the sun was setting, so once we snapped out of our trance we decided to paddle back towards the shore. We got within 3/4 of a mile from the beach when my bait got slammed. I got the rod out of the holder, engaged the drag, and reeled down to the fish. The fight was short due to a pulled hook.
Andrew sat and watched the event unfold since this was his first true offshore kayak fishing experience. Out of no where, his reel starts screaming shortly after mine. He goes through the same process and locks down on a solid king. I got my rod stowed away and proceeded over to assist him with the catch. He was grinning from ear to ear, but you could tell it was all business with him. He wrestled the fish boat side when I leaned in for the tail grab. With his first ever kayak caught king mackerel in hand, he could now show his excitement. “I can’t believe how fast my line was disappearing off my reel,” he would proclaim several times on our paddle in. I have been doing offshore kayak fishing for nearly 10 years and it never gets old watching someone get a rush from their first big fish caught from a kayak. We got back to the sand, took the customary photos, loaded the kayaks back onto the car, and headed back to the camp grounds so as to make it to the meet and greet that night.
As we arrived at the pavilion, we were amazed by the tremendous number of people that we starting to pour in. As we began to meet everyone, it was amazing to hear just how far some people drove to be at this event. If my memory serves me correct, I could have swore that I met someone who said they had made the trip all the way down from Alaska! Now THAT is some dedication. As the meet and greet ended, we made our way back to the camp site to cook dinner over an open fire and crack open a few adult beverages. While sitting in our chairs and soaking in our surroundings, people began to stop by our camp and hang out with us. We’d chit chat for a while, exchange some fishing stories, and then it typically ended with our new friends inviting us over to their camp sites for some good food or an invite was extended to fish the next morning as a group. After a while, we heard some people chatting a few sites down from us and little did we know that our friend Thomas from Diablo Paddlesports had made the journey down to Florida from Texas as well. We hung out for a few hours and exhaustion hit us like a ton of bricks. A short stroll back to our tents and then it was lights out for the night.
We woke up the next morning later than planned and took a walk to scope out the area where we were going to set up our booth. After locating our spot, we gathered our materials and set up shop right next to the kind folks who run www.yangler.com. People started to pour into the vendor area and we were off to meeting new people all over again. Twelve o’clock rolled around and it was time for our seminar, which was titled Offshore Kayak Fishing 101. Roughly 30 eager kayak fishermen found their way into the pavilion to listen to us speak on topics such as ideal kayaks for offshore fishing, basic gear, safety equipment, and fish targeting techniques. Once the seminar was over, we made our way back down to the booth to finish out the day. That night, Andrew and I decided to take the kayaks out for a little night fishing. There was little tide movement making for a tough bite. We managed one measly trout for our efforts and headed back to camp. The next morning we would try our luck offshore again.
The fishing the next morning ended up tough as well with Andrew landing another solid king and me losing another one. There seems to be a pattern here, wouldn’t you say? When we got back to our booth after our brisk 12 miles paddle, we got a chance to catch up with some of the guys who put on the Boondoggle. Mark Watanabe of YakAngler.com sat down and gave us the back story of how the Boondoggle came to be and just how much it has grown in size, attendance-wise, since it’s inception 3 years ago. We also got to shoot the breeze with Chip Gibson, the owner of www.kayakfishingradio.com, who invited us over to his camp site that night for a pot luck dinner. We were lured in by the promises of fresh venison and shrimp called ruby reds, which I found out were caught in about 800 feet of water! The night was spent just hanging out with our fellow kayak fishermen and swapping fishing stories from the previous 2 days with all who showed up. Nothing like good food and amazing company to make for an entertaining and awesome evening. As we walked back to our camp, we would make several pit stops into various campers sites, just to say our goodbyes and exchange handshakes. Sleep came easy that night on a full stomach.
As we woke up the next morning to break camp, we were greeted by the same chants as the first night being yelled across the camp grounds. I guess the term Boondoggle can be taken several ways at this event. Not just as the name of the event, it potentially could be used as a greeting, as a way of describing a particular feeling, and as a parting phrase to your fellow kayak fishing brethren. I am beyond excited I got to attend this event, and have already made plans for the next one that is coming up in February. If I could ever recommend a family style event for kayak anglers of ALL experience levels, the Boondoggle is the one I would encourage you to attend. Until next time, “BOOOOOOOOONDOGGLE!”
Got cold weather blues? ACK Austin Paddling Seminars are just what you need!
With the Winter season slowly approaching the ACK Austin Store will be looking to take every one’s mind off of the rainy cold weather that would keep them off the water by holding several informative and fun paddling seminars. Here’s what you can expect to see coming to our Austin store location:
Fishing Beyond the Breakers with Jerron Wosel (ACK Merchandising Team & BTB Expert), 12/5
So what are these Austin paddling seminars all about?
The first on the list is the Fly Fishing Seminar with guest speaker Thomas Flemmons of Diablo Paddlesports. Thomas is the owner of Diablo Paddlesports, a local Austin kayak manufacturer, and is an avid fly fisherman. He has fished some of the most popular bodies of water across the country. The seminar will focus on casting techniques, choosing the right flies, gear, and fly fishing techniques from a kayak. As an added bonus the first 15 people that sign up at the seminar will be entered in a raffle for a half day kayaking/fishing outing down a local central Texas river with Thomas and Justin Fees (ACK Austin store manager). The seminar will be held Nov. 9th, 2013 at 1pm at the ACK Austin Store. Sign up for the seminar (and raffle) will start at 12:30 pm the day of the seminar at the check out in the store.
The next seminar, Hunting from a Kayak, will be held Nov 16th and 17th at 1pm. It will be offered both days so you wont have to cancel your other plans. The seminar will focus on choosing the right gear, hunting from a kayak techniques and safety.
The third big seminar, Cold Weather Kayaking, will be held Nov. 23rd and 24th at 1pm. This will also be the same seminar offered both days. In it, our store experts will go over how to select the right clothing, choosing the right gear, safety and places to paddle. This will be a great seminar for those of you who don’t want the let the winter season keep you off the water.
Our 4th seminar for the Fall season BTB or Beyond the Breaker Fishing will be given by Jerron Wosel. Jerron has spent years fishing offshore off the Texas coast, Florida Coast, as well as of the Coast of Baja California and serves as the buyer for ACK’s kayak fishing gear (plus a whole lot more). With his knowledge and experience he will be discussing techniques, gear, where to fish and safety. This will be held on Thursday Dec. 5th at 6:30 pm at the Austin store. Store hours will be extended until 8 pm for the event. There will be pizza, drinks, and raffle prizes for everyone that signs up (rsvp) and attends the seminar.
Where to learn more:
Find one you like? See details about each of the events on our ACK Austin calendar of events. To RSVP, call or email the store to RSVP at (512) 719-4386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye on the Austin store event calendar for any other Seminars and events that will be added in the near future. See you there!
Meet Big Names of Kayak Fishing at ACK Austin this Weekend
I was scrolling through the list of representatives that we have coming to our ACK Austin store this weekend for Demo Days when I realized how many awesome people we have coming together for this event. If you’re a local Austin paddlers who is looking to further your kayak fishing knowledge and skills, you won’t want to miss this event. Here are some of the people you can expect to see:
Captain Fil Spencer will be here representing Ocean Kayak, Necky and Old Town Canoes and Kayaks to discuss how he utilizes their line-up of different models on the coast. Fil has been a big presence in the IFA Kayak Fishing Tours over the past couple years, placing 3rd in the recent Aransas Pass event and grabbing up the biggest redfish. He’ll be showing off his personal rig, talking about the new Predator kayak and answering any questions you might have about kayak fishing.
Husband and wife team, Thomas and Megan Flemons, run the show at local Austin kayak manufacturer, Diablo Paddlesports, and kayak fly fish in their free time. They will both be out showing off their lineup of ultra stable kayaks, including their new roto-molded Amigo kayak which has been generating some buzz since it was announced a few months back. Thomas will even be holding a “Fly Fishing from a Kayak” clinic Saturday at 10:45 and Sunday at 1:30 PM.
Native Watercraft’sTom Jester along with angler prostaff Ryan McDermid and Jose Jimenez will be on site and talking about how models like the Manta Ray, Ultimate, Versa Board Angler, Mariner and Slayer serve the different needs of kayak anglers. Don’t expect to see their new Slayer propel or Ultimate FX yet since those aren’t released until later in the year, but they’ll be able to answer any questions you might have about the new models.
Wilderness Systems angler prostaff Joe Poole will once again be on the scene. Joe has been a favorite resource for Demo Day event goers regarding kayak fishing for many years now and operates his GoinCoastal kayak fishing charter service in Corpus Christi. He’ll have his personal rig to show off and will hold Kayak Fishing clinics both Saturday at 1:00 PM and Sunday at 12:45 PM. His clinics have been known to draw a crowd and are not to be missed for those getting started!
Cully & Ester from Hobie Kayaks will be on hand to discuss the Pro Angler, changes coming to Hobie models for 2014 and how the Hobie Mirage Drive makes kayak fishing easy. Cully and Ester are long time Hobie veterans and have participated in a wide range of trade shows and events, including the Hobie Fishing World Championships (as staff). See the video below from the beginning of this year where Cully discusses the Pro Angler:
You can also expect to see representatives from companies like Feel Free, Scotty and Optic Nerve who will be sure to have some products on hand that will interest anglers. Hope to see you there!
For its second year, ACK hosted KATS (Kayak Angler Tournament Series) in the Austin, Texas area. Competitors from all over Central Texas and beyond gathered at 6 events beginning in January and finishing up Saturday, September 7th at Inks Lake State Park for the Classic Championship.
2013 Saw Growth for the Kayak Angler Tournament Series
The first five tournaments were qualifying events in which contestants could compete in one of three divisions: Pro, Semi-Pro, and Rookie. Those looking for a more serious competition would choose Pro and keep track of their progress over the season for a stake in the Classic Championship and for prestigious titles such as Kayak Angler of the Year and King of the Fish. Those looking to get started in the sport or improve their skills joined in the ranks of the Semi-Pro and Rookie divisions competing for lots of amazing prizes and certificates donated by our generous sponsors!
2013 is the biggest KATS season yet and lured in over 116 different individual competitors with single event participations as high as 77 anglers! New for this year is the www.fishkats.com website, home to all information regarding the series including but not limited to rules, dates and locations, results, photos, registration, and discussion.
Brandon Campbell Wins Angler of the Year & King of the Fish!
Brandon Campbell earned the Kayak Angler of the Year title in the 5th event of the season at Canyon Lake. His stellar performance won him a fully outfitted Malone Microsport Kayak Trailer courtesy of Patron Sponsor Malone. Brandon also won King of the Fish, a title for the angler who catches the most inches over the entire series, and for this he will be paddling a brand new Amigo kayak courtesy of local Texas Patron Sponsor, Diablo Paddlesports.
Classic Championship Tests Top Anglers
The Classic Championship took place on Inks Lake and tested the skills of the Top 20 contestants from the series. A tough day of fishing on a hot September day made for grueling competition allowing long-time KATS veteran Ryan Herzog to win Classic Champion with a 69 inch stringer. Next in line was Steve Garcia (2012 Kayak Angler of the Year and King of the Fish) with 35.5 inches, and taking third place was Mark Nordstrom with 31.5 inches. An informal and fun casting competition took place following the Classic and tested the casting distance and accuracy of several die-hards with Chris Coufal beating out his competition: his prize a fossilized relative of the modern day shad, estimated at 50 million years of age.
When asked, “What’s the best part of running KATS?” tournament director Kristian Kolflat, answered “seeing the camaraderie and fun that the competitors have all the while hosting a fierce competitive battle for cash, prizes, and pride!”
The KATS Staff wishes to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support and for making this series possible. We’re all looking forward to 2014 and beyond!
The hybrid kayak/paddleboards from Diablo Paddlesports have been making a big splash here at ACK and especially among our local kayak fishing customers who like to fish calm fresh water & saltwater flats. That’s why we were very excited when we picked up Sawyer’s new 3-in-1 Versa paddle, which functions as a kayak paddle, SUP paddle & push pole. Recently, one of our Houston store customers submitted the following review of how the Versa paddle performed with his Diablo Adios kayak. Here’s what he had to say:
I recently added a Diablo Adios to the fleet and as a consequence, needed a SUP paddle to get around. My dream paddle would: work as a SUP, convert to a traditional kayak paddle, be a push pole in the shallows and be available as a stake out stick as well. That sounds more like a dream than realistic requirements! Tom Flemons with Diablo showed me a broad range of choices at the Houston ACK Demo Day. I settled on a high tech / high dollar choice: the Sawyer Versa Trident. Great thanks go to Dave Graves at ACK-Houston for help in ordering and tolerating my impatience prior to delivery.
So here is the review:
This is my first encounter with a carbon fiber shaft + carbon fiber paddle. The space age materials rock! Blade and shaft stiffness translate to really moving through the water. Similar with Werner, I suppose. The wood inserts in the paddle add some weight. They look pretty but I would probably trade them for less weight and increased durability in our marsh. Most of my paddling is in less than 2 feet of water along salt marshes and shorelines. I generally don’t need to paddle great distances but fight constant wind.
SUP Paddle Review: Set up as a SUP Paddle, the Trident really pushes water. The non-traditional shape worried me in pictures: would I be able to maneuver as well as with a standard “shovel” paddle? The answer is yes and no. Paddling and turning is actually a bit easier with the trident shape. When the blade is further from the board edge, it catches maximum water. This makes positioning exceptionally easy. The trade off is less raw power in a touring set up.
Kayak Paddle Review: The Trident has a quick lock system that allows you to take off handle and replace it with a second trident shaped blade. Voila! You now have a traditional sit down kayak paddle in your hands. This is a great convenience for my needs. I will often cruise flats with a wind at my back in SUP mode looking for fish. Then I need to get back to my launch site with a facing wind. Not much fun standing, to say the least. Being able to convert to a traditional kayak paddle confuguration really makes the Trident a valuable tool. As a sit down paddle, it has less cup to the blade than you would like and tends to twist a bit with strong strokes. With that said, paddling the Adios in a sitting position is a perfectly vialbe alternative wit this paddle and my speed is good.
Push Pole Review: Dave Graves graciously suggested that I protect the pretty wood handle on the SUP extension before using it as a push pole. Two dollars of commercial neoprene, some glue and electric tape covered the wood well. This matters for my, as there are plenty of oysters in my marsh and I dread the thought of shredding a $500 paddle with oyster rash! and WOW this is where the Versa Trident shines. I can plane my Adios across a mere inch or two of water by turning the SUP upside down and going to push pole mode. Perfect for getting into grass, across flats and positioning for the perfect fly cast. It doesn’t work as a stake out stick, so I still carry one.
Bottom Line: Like EVERYTHING in the paddle world, the Versa Trident has a number of trade offs. It is neither the best touring SUP paddle nor traditional kayak paddle on the market. But its quality and design make it a reasonable alternative for both. Where it shines is in shallow water real life fishing conditions. My real need is to slip quietly along a grassy shoreline looking for tailing reds in shallow water. I drag and whell more than cross open water. I want to be able to stop and turn easily. The Versa Trident fits that requirement perfectly. The telescoping extension makes it a good tool for big craft (i.e. Hobie Pro Anglers) in shallow water where peddling may be a challenge. It is costly but worth the investment to carry one tool for three purposes.
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.
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!