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My fishing history goes back further than I can remember. There are pictures of me as a little kid sitting on the bank of a river with a rod in my hand and the line in the water. I have always been fishing, and I do not see that stopping.

Around the time I entered high school fishing became more than just a hobby; it became what my wife would now call an obsession. Outside of baseball, which I loved and still love, fishing was my life. I spent every free moment in a canoe on the the San Marcos or Blanco Rivers, in a Jon Boat on local stock tanks, or in a bass buggy on Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake) or Lake Austin. Usually I was with one friend or another (most often Matt Moccia) but often times I would fish alone. I just wanted to be on the water catching fish.

After graduating high school, I thought I was a hot shot who could catch a bass anywhere anytime. And for the most part, I was, haha. This is when I began my days as a tournament angler. I fished in a few local bass tournaments and several that had national implications. I always fished as a non-boater, because I could not afford a boat. This is a huge disadvantage, especially, as you can imagine, in tournaments that you are competing against the guy in control of the boat. Even though I was getting “front-ended” and being forced to fish patterns and methods that I would not have chosen, I beat the guy driving the boat most of the time, never got skunked, and usually ended up doing pretty well in the final standings. But…things happened that drove me away.

What wore on me the most was the demeanor of most of the anglers and their absolute disregard for anything but themselves. Believe me, I am a competitive person, maybe the most competitive person I know, but I also have a respect for other anglers and, more importantly, the environment. Anyway, there are too many details that I do not want to bore you with. But when it was all said and done, I was driven away and quit tournaments and fishing all together.

But…fishing is in my soul, and I could not stay away forever. Shortly after, a buddy of mine (Matt Moccia again) came in possession of an old kayak and called me up one day wanting to know if I wanted to head to the Blanco River to fish. He said we could just fish from the bank and that he has a kayak that we could experiment with fishing out of. I had never heard of kayak fishing, but was intrigued at the idea so I tagged along.

It was a cold January morning, probably in the 40’s. And we fished from the bank for a while without too much luck, so we took turns in the kayak. We paddled around and fished a little. I did not have much luck, but I was hooked. I knew this could transform fishing for me. I would be able to fish the river of my childhood again, and access new waters on the river that I really had not been able to fish much before.

I soon went out and bought my own kayak. It was an Ocean Kayak Frenzy (all that I could afford.) At the time I loved it; it got me out on the water and helped me to fall back in love with fishing. It was uncomfortable, but I did not care. I am overly happy that companies, such as Jackson Kayak, are making kayaks specifically for the kayak angler now. I currently fish out of a Jackson Coosa for rivers and a Jackson Cuda for lakes, and I love them!

I started to notice other anglers fishing from kayaks on my local lakes and rivers. I perused the internet and realized that kayak fishing was really gaining in popularity and there were clubs and forums forming specifically for kayak anglers. I got to know a few other kayak fishermen and realized that most of these anglers fit much more with my fishing ideals. They were anglers who fished because they loved being a part of nature. They enjoyed the piece and solitude of a low flowing river or the sun peaking over the trees on the eastern side of a cove. They took pride in and cared for the fish they landed. They had respect.

A few years later some bass fishing kayak tournaments started to pop up, and my competitive nature drove me to enter. These were not much different than the “Power Boat” tournaments I fished a few years earlier, but the anglers who entered where completely different. They were just as competitive, but they were friendly. They all talked to one another after the tournaments, sharing how they caught their fish (unheard of the power boat tournament I fished before) while they hung out and ate, as they waited for the results.

The tournaments were geared much more toward the conservation side of fishing. The launch was similar, 50 to 80 boats all taking off as fast as they could to their “honey hole,” but instead of seeing giant rooster-tails kicking up behind the boats and smelling fuel and exhaust in the air, you see nothing but anglers in kayaks with paddles pushing back and forth. The only smell is that of the crisp morning air. Some of the tournaments allowed you to launch from anywhere you wanted, so you were alone for the morning piece just as if you were fishing purely for the enjoyment.

Kayak tournaments had to solve the problem of the weigh in. The competitors were not going to risk killing the fish by putting them on a stringer all day to be weighed in the afternoon. They solved this issue by creating CPR tournaments. CPR stands for Catch/Photo/Release. What happens in a CPR tournament when you catch a fish and it is of legal size, you take a picture of the fish on a measuring board and immediately release the fish back into the water where it was caught. No more pulling fish off their spawning beds or out of their territory all day to be kept in a live well and released somewhere else on the lake. These fish go right back where they belong. Awesome!

Basically, kayak fishing allows me to take care of the environment, have comradery with like minded anglers, and fuels my competitive desires. I am not saying I never fish out of a boat anymore, because I still do and still enjoy it, but I just enjoy kayak fishing much more. Anyway, that is my experience and why I started kayak fishing.