Though sometimes referred to as a sport, kayak fishing and those involved in it, more often refer to it as a community. Recently a report of cheating brought kayak fishing to the forefront of news outlets across the United States. Many of these reports contained comments from the readers which painted the kayak fishing community in a light that made us normalized, just like every other sport or interest group and jeers of disapproval.
First let me say, I whole heartedly believe cheating is wrong and trust that this incident will be handled appropriately by those in charge of such matters. While my gut reaction is one of disgust, I also know that the kayak fishing community should not be defined by this. Many people not familiar with kayak fishing are getting their first glimpse of who we are as a group and what they are seeing is a lot of anger. I get that, I totally do. What I don’t want to do is waste this opportunity to tell them who we really are across 99.99% of the world.
The kayak fishing community is many things.
In the different segments of fishing it can often be hard to find a peer group to settle in with. I haven’t found that to be the case with kayak fishing. Kayak folks will often spend more time talking kayak fishing than actually doing it. I have had many conversations go a couple of hours at the launch or on the water, swapping stories and ideas and fishing very little. Something about the shared experience of kayak fishing makes us naturally commune. It is almost like meeting someone who knows the exact same secret as you.
Kayak anglers often carry extra supplies, paddles, gear in case someone forgot something or lost it on the water. We don’t want the day to end because of equipment so almost all of us carry extra to help our fellow angler in need. We also love to help charities.
One of the coolest things about the kayak fishing community is the desire to help those in need. We have charities like Heroes on the Water with scores of chapters across the US that taken veterans out on kayak fishing excursions. We have groups like Kayak Anglers For A Cause that do online fundraising tournaments to help folks when they need monetary help with medical bills and other situations. All of the money goes to them and then the winners get prizes donated from companies in the kayak fishing industry.
The kayak fishing community likes to compete. Competitions range from bragging rights to more than $30,000 for a win but most will tell you, they compete but the comradery with fellow competitors is what keeps them coming back. When you look at large clubs like Mountain State Kayak Anglers out of West Virginia which has grown to well over 100 members in just a few years you wonder why. And then, when you meet these guys at a large tournament like the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship, you get it. These guys love to win but they love the barbecue and fellowship just as much. Throw in a welcoming, family friendly environment and it is a true representation of what most kayak fishing anglers think when they think of community.
Kayak anglers love to see everyone involved. We applaud and encourage the youth movement toward kayak fishing. Many schools are developing or already have kayak fishing teams. It’s lower cost than bass boats and more accessible for everyone than the high stakes go fast boat world of fishing.
The kayak fishing community applauds new, different and DIY. Innovation is what got a lot of us into the sport. We wanted a way off the bank and a bass boat wasn’t in the cards. We decided to try this plastic pool toy method and 15 years later it’s a national phenomenon. I love seeing new ways guys have created carts, rod holders, paddle leashes and the like. I love seeing new innovations from kayak manufacturers. I love it all and so do most folks.
Being different is ok. While many of us have brand preferences, it is rare for kayak anglers to turn someone away because they don’t have the same brand of boat. I don’t know that I have ever seen someone say if you don’t fish in a BLASTER kayak then you can’t fish with us. Quite the contrary. Often when new kayak anglers take to social media to show off their new boat and ask if they made a good choice, the community will tell them it is about getting off the bank, being safe doing it and having fun. No special card needed. Welcome to the family.
And last but not least that I want to make sure the outside world knows about us is our overwhelming urge around conservation. Most kayak anglers you will meet are very passionate about CPR ( Catch, Photo and Release). We love to “let them go and let them grow”. I see it other places but among kayak anglers, it’s almost rabid. We care about tomorrow’s fish more than today’s at times.
I could write another thousand words on why I love kayak fishing but the above is what I want to make sure the folks not in our community learn about us as the black mark on our community draws attention.
We are each other. We are a community. We would love to have you join us.
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