image3 (1)If you were to go out on the water on Lake Bastrop, just East of Austin, Texas chances are you’d paddle by Michael Williams seeing as it’s his favorite spot to fish. You’d probably think he’s just like any other angler out there, but Michael is much more than your average kayak fisherman.

Michael has an uncommon inflammatory disease called Transverse Myelitis that targets the spinal cord. Because of this disease Michael has been bound to a wheelchair for most of his life. Most would think losing the ability to walk would automatically rule out sports, but not for Michael. In addition to kayak fishing, he’s a member of Austin Rec’ers, a wheelchair basketball team, and plays ice hockey. Pretty badass.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 10.17.50 AMI got in touch with Michael after seeing a picture of his adorable dog, Chance, who is also wheelchair bound (poor Chance was wrongfully left for dead after getting hit by a car before Michael adopted him). ACK held a “Dog Days of Summer” photo contest this month and Chance made quite the impact holding a pretty solid place in the winner’s circle throughout the run of our contest, ultimately earning second place.

Chance loves tagging along when Michael kayaks. His Perception kayak is rigged to accommodate a converted laundry basket doggy carrier for Chance. In regards to the rest of the set up, it’s no different than any other angler’s kayak. Michael’s main priority is just keeping his anchor, rod holders, fish finder, and other gear within arm’s reach.

image2 (1)Three years ago Michael started competing in fishing tournaments like KATS which holds several events throughout Texas. His favorite fish to go after are largemouth bass, so it’s only natural his best catch was a 23 incher caught at Decker Lake last Spring (in a secret spot of course). When he’s out on the water, Michael loves that it’s “all me out there, right in the middle of the action”. He finds it freeing which is something any paddler will agree with. Michael has an extremely positive outlook, and is very nonchalant about how extraordinary his perseverance is saying, “There isn’t anything I can’t do, I better myself in what I do and nothing can stop me from doing what I want. What I do is normal. I’m just being me.”

Devyn Stewart,
Social Media Coordinator

3 comments

  1. I love hearing about other disabled paddlers! I have been a wheelchair user for almost 20 years (cycling accident) and discovered kayaking (and kayak fishing) in 2014. While the members of the club I kayak with (IYAK) were at first a bit nervous, they were still welcoming and after two seasons I have become *one of the crew*. I’m so nuts over it I have been on the water over 100 times since July, of 2014 (including 3 X in Dec and once already this month)!

  2. Mike, aka Mike wheel-iams is one stand up dude. I have had the pleasure of knowing this guy for several yrs and let me say nothing stops this guy from- just straight up doing it. Holds back nothing, thinks of no limitations, meanwhile accomplishing everything he sets to do. Most of all he’s a great guy and has friends with most everyone he meets. Keep it wheeling williams!!!