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Boondoggle (noun): work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.

Our experience with this event will forever change that definition. The Kayak Fishing Boondoggle is a 3 day event organized by YakAngler.com. This year it was hosted at the Fountainebleu State Park in Mandeville, Louisianna on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain where hundreds of participants or “Boondogglers” as we are called, traveled from all over the United States to enjoy camping, fishing, relaxing and ultimately meeting people with the same passion for the great outdoors and the sport that we enjoy so much.

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The three day event offered free time (for exhibitors) to fish and paddle or simply relax under the massive moss covered oak trees. Chase and I opted to head down to the small fishing town of Reggio, the redfish capital of the world, on day one and two while David Mariscal (ACK  North Houston store) and his brother Allan went to fish the trestles.Once down in Reggio, the scenery was breathtaking and fishing was just as expected — absolutely fantastic! We both had the chance to slime out paddleboards with speckle trout and redfish within minutes of hitting the water. Chase caught his first redfish which made that trip that much memorable. One pleasant surprise, at least for us Texas boys, was reeling in largemouth bass right after the reds and trout. The Mariscal brothers had the same luck on the productive waters of the lake, hooking on bull reds (mature redfish) and numerous speckled trout.

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Chase with his first Redfish

unnamed-2Once we got back to the park, we set up our booth next to some of the best paddlesports brands in the industry, including: NRS, Viking Kayaks, Werner, Native Watercraft, Wilderness Systems, and Bending Branches to name a few. The evening started as a meet and greet between exhibitors and attendees but soon turned into a fun gathering of what felt like lifetime friends. The night closed with the always loud and entertaining raffling of prizes and a fun game of Ro Sham Bo AKA rock, paper, scissors for a Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. The second night was a continuation of the celebration but this time the raffle was to benefit our friends Heroes in the Water.

Vendor Village is where everyone gathered to “boondoggle” (see what I did there). The area had lots of products displayed and representatives of several brands eager to answer any questions. We are thankful to all who stopped by and spent some time with us at the ACK booth chatting about experience, exchanging information and sharing fishing tips, kayak models, rigging, accessories, and everything else under the sun.

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we decided to raffle a Plasma Pink Orion 25 cooler with the proceeds of the sale of tickets going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. We had great participation and our friend Liz Davis from Lynn Haven, Florida was the lucky winner!

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Photo Credit: Adam Miles

Outside of the event we were able to meet a ton of great individuals and customers, both on and off the water. One particular encounter marked the beginning of what would be a great weekend! After our morning fishing session we stopped, like most, to get a cold refreshment and meet with two other paddlers that were fishing the IFA tournament. After a short conversation about the kayaks on both of our vehicles they soon realized that Chase has helped them with an issue with their kayaks as ACK customers. Hugs and high-fives were exchanged after realizing the connection between the four of us.

Boondoggle is not a tournament but there is competition, it’s not a festival but there is celebration and it’s not an expedition but there is adventure. It’s crucial for ACK to have a presence at Boondoggle because it’s a valuable opportunity to meet and engage with our customers in a way that cannot be done at the store or on the web – it’s more personal. We are able to paddle and fish together, exchange stories and simply validate and share our love for the great outdoors. We came back exhausted and with a smile that the 9 hour drive could not erase. Both myself and Chase are glad we had the opportunity to meet so many cool people in such an amazing setting.

Till next year my friends — boondoggle!!

-Carlos @ ACK

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