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This past Friday, I loaded up my Coosa HD and headed south after work, bound for Big Lazer Wildlife Management Area in Talbotton Georgia. I was meeting some friends to camp before Saturday’s Flint River kayak bass fishing tournament. It’s roughly 80 miles from Atlanta to Big Lazer, and with Friday traffic in the city, the drive usually ends up taking right about two hours. I’ve always felt a good drive is a great place to do some thinking. As I snaked my way through the country roads of middle Georgia, I got to thinking about what kayak fishing has “given” me.

I thought first about all the cool places across the Southeast I’ve been over the last few years, trips fueled by kayak fishing. In October 2015, I headed up to Tennessee to fish the River Bassin’ National Championship. On my way up I stopped by the Jackson Kayak factory and got to tour the facility and see how Jackson kayaks are made – a great experience! I’ve been to Terrapin Creek in Alabama, chasing big spotted bass. I fished the Catawba River in Rock Hill, SC earlier this year hoping she would give up some of those monster largemouth she holds (unfortunately she didn’t). Countless more great places came to mind, places I would have never gone without kayak fishing.

Photo Credit: Jason Hopper

Then I got to thinking about the amazing things I had seen in all these great places I’ve been. There was the time at Lake Acworth here in Georgia where a doe and two fawns came down to sip water from the lake as I fished along the bank from my Coosa. I’ve been fortunate enough to see countless bald eagles, the symbol of our country and our freedom, flying over the rivers and perched in treetops along the banks. I’ve had curious otters swim and play around my kayak. More times than I’d care to count I’ve come a little too close to a beaver for it’s liking, only to have it slap it tail on the water surface to ward me off. Speaking of beavers, I collected this beaver-chewed piece of a tree on Center Hill Lake in Tennessee.

As I got closer to Big Lazer, I started wondering if the friends I was meeting were already there. That was when I realized the most important thing kayak fishing has “given” me are new friends. I’ve met hundreds of people, not only here in Georgia, but across the country, through kayak fishing. People I fish with regularly; people I fish with occasionally. People who will travel a couple hundred miles to partner in a tournament and fish new water. People that have come into my life and become friends. People who have been a part of memories I’ll not soon forget. People I would never have had the opportunity to meet, had it not been for kayak fishing.

Photo Credit: Andy Middleton

As I pulled into the campsite at Big Lazer, I realized how fortunate I was. I’ve never expected much from kayak fishing – just the chance to get on the water and chase fish. Yet kayak fishing has given me so much more. The places I’ve been, the experiences I’ve had, the friendships I’ve found, the memories I’ve made – all through kayak fishing. I’m a lucky man.

I’d love to hear about some of your great kayak fishing experiences. Please feel free to share in the comments below!