Contributed by Corey Stansifer
Is there a division among kayak anglers currently forming? Is the sport we love growing so uncontrollably that we are now forming sub-groups? Can’t we all just get along?
Lately, it seems that everywhere I look at and at every level (local, regional, national), there seems to be a growing division among kayak anglers. From message boards and social media to tournaments and local gatherings, people feel the need to express their opinions and philosophies ad nauseum. It would be nice to be able to pinpoint what is causing the division, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that.
Several discussions have popped up recently and one I always seem to shake my head at is the “what kayak should I buy…” followed by the canned “Buy American!” response. First off, I’m an advocate for American made products and more importantly, supporting local businesses whenever I can. However, those so adamantly opposed to foreign products are likely airing their opinions on a foreign-made device be it a phone or computer. The great thing about kayak fishing is there is such a wide range of options for which to choose! You can start off in a $300 boat or go all in and buy a $4,000 boat. The choice is yours but in the end, you’re getting on the water and doing what you enjoy. Also, there is no requirement on how much your boat has to cost in order to enter a tournament.
Another discussion is sponsorships and pro-staff positions. The kayak angling community seems to divide among themselves when discussing this topic for a multitude of reasons. There are three main reasons someone may be sponsored: You’re really good a fishing, really good at Facebook, really good at hashtags, or really good at selling product. Some folks even PAY to be sponsored by buying X amount of product in exchange for a discount. Find out what works for you. Sponsor or no sponsor, you’re still fishing and will always be welcome with me.
As the sport grows and more opportunities arise, there is an increasing demand for higher stakes tournaments. We now have larger tournament series such as the Kayak Bass Series, Kayak Bass Fishing Opens, and Kayaks ‘n Greenbacks along with individual state championships and National and World Championships. Will these big-time tournament series swallow up the local clubs? Will there still be a need for the local level? For me, this has challenged several decisions at the local level. In the end, I felt there to still be a need for local, less expensive tournaments. Between time, money and desire, I feel there can be a co-existence between the “big time” angler and the “local legends”.
Who makes the decision on what constitutes kayak fishing? You! You can choose to be a DIY-er or a buyer. You can choose to paddle with a $100 paddle or $400 paddle. You can choose to paddle or pedal. You can choose to use a dog leash anchor or buy a power pole. You can even choose to use a trolling motor on your kayak. It’s all up to you and what you enjoy. We all know what opinions are similar to…try not to show yours in public. Be constructive and be informative.
In the end, it’s all fishing. Let’s all remember why kayak fishing was so refreshing in the first place as opposed to other “communities”. We can all co-exist with different philosophies.