I’m not sure how it happened, but it did; we had a sunny day for our semi-annual North Texas Kayak Anglers Get-together at Grapevine Lake here in the Metroplex. You see, over the last couple of years we’ve had a run of rainy GTGs, and so even though it was windy, we at least stayed dry for a change.
If I had to describe this GTG with one word, it would be: newbies. We had a good turnout of newcomers, and it was fun welcoming them to the sport. They came and paddled the demo yaks and asked lots of questions. Of course, some of the more experienced kayak anglers brought their rigs and shared their ideas and maybe even showed off their yaks a little. One older gentleman who goes by the nickname ReelbigReel, and is known for his ability to pull fat hybrids out of the lakes and rivers down south, brought his homemade wood and epoxy, pedal-drive kayak to the GTG and it occurred to me that he did such a good job, most of the newbies probably never even realized the man had made the kayak with his own two hands.
One of the coolest things about the growth of kayak fishing is the relationship between the yak vendors and their customers. It’s nice to see stores like Mariner Sails, of Dallas, and the way they interact with the kayak owners. Not only are they an invaluable provisioner but also an ardent supporter of our causes. Whether providing kayaks for our GTGs or loaning them out for use by disabled paddlers at Baylor Hospital’s RISE events, they continue to demonstrate a commitment that make them seem like part of us. I really like that.
For this GTG, like most of the previous ones, Mariner Sails hauled in a trailer full of kayaks for the folks to demo. Their rep, Mike Stovall, also stood around all day long and answered lots of questions as he launched one demo after another. I’ll bet that at the end of the day, Mike was exhausted, though he’d probably say it was a labor of love. Mariner also provides kayak demo rides at White Rock Lake in Dallas on Thursday afternoons during the warmer months.
There were other sponsors as well. Classic Chevrolet of Grapevine always steps us big and provides both logistic support for the GTG as well as financial donations. Jason Foshea, who is a Fleet Manager at Classic, personally spends a lot of his time supporting HOW events, and his help with the GTGs is always welcomed. Mountain Sports, an outdoors specialty store out of Arlington, also stepped up and provided some great gifts which were given away during the GTG. Kayak Instruction, Inc (www.kayakinstruct.com) and Bass Pro Shop also provided gifts and demo yaks.
There were so many good things about the GTG, but I would say that for me personally, the best thing we did was use the event to raise some money to Heroes on the Water (HOW). We collected $1,300 and I can’t think of a more worthy organization, or a more worthy endeavor. Dave Potts, the DFW Chapter HOW Coordinator not only attended, he rolled up his sleeves and pitched in by helping me check in attendees for a couple of hours that morning. HOW founder Jim Dolan and his wife Sally, also stopped by with their bulldog and chatted with the folks. It was good to see Sally, who I’d not seen since I posted the 10 Questions piece here on LSC. Best of all, a few of the rehabilitating veterans made it out and it was good to meet and hang out with them.
As if hanging out, eating mudbugs and drinking a frosty beverage with salt of the earth kayakers weren’t enough, we were joined by some online all-stars, proprietors of some of the best kayaking blogs around. Chris Payne of Payne’s Paddle Fish (www.paynespaddlefish.com) drove up from Temple to hang out with us; it was good to meet him. Also in attendance was one of the sport’s better photographers, a gentleman by the name of Dusting Doskocil (http://dustindoskocil.blogspot.com) whose work has been featured here on LSC. We also got to hang out with Dean Brown who writes and photographs Up Down Bass (http://updownbass.com), which is one of the more aesthetic fishing blogs that I track. It was an honor to hang out with these guys and more importantly, it was fun.
Kayak fishing has exploded over the last couple of years here in Texas–the whole country for that matter–and people are starting to catch on. The word is getting out that at a minimum, a kayak will change the way you fish. It might even change your life. That explains the exponential increase in the number of yak anglers out there, and it’s the same thing that attracted me to the sport that brings the newcomers to the GTG. Whether chasing hybrids on a deep lake or pitching a jig into a lay-down in a slow flowing river, the kayak allows you to fish any way you want and on your favorite bodies of water; the adventure are endless. Just you, your kayak and a bunch of fish all in harmony with the world. It was put best by Chris Payne, who eloquently described kayak fishing as “a beautiful symphony of man and nature.”
Let the show begin.
Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish