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A ‘COVID’ Angler!
By: Trevor Thomson

No, I do not have COVID19, nor have I had it, that was intended to get your attention, and read this blog about my experiences this year Kayak Fishing on Western Canadas Trail Series. Hope it worked? Now read on…………………..

Like everything this year, our world was turned upside down when it came to the growing Kayak angling community in Western Canada. Aquabatics, our local Alberta paddle shop, was closed partially. Kayak orders were cancelled for spring/summer delivery, and all Kayak fishing derbies were cancelled on the Western Canada Kayak Fishing Trail (Facebook @WCKFT) but like Aquabatics owner Simon Coward says, “When Life gives you Lemons, Make Lemonade”, and so we did!

11 Kayak Fishing derbies were to be held this year across 3 different provinces (SK, AB, BC). Our biggest tournament of the year, Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic, draws more than 50+ kayak anglers each year, was in its 10th anniversary year! It was planned to be an epic, 2-day angling derby for the first time since its conception. All this was gone, just like much of our everyday life was, normality was no more……..

The derby vibe was resurrected though with quick thinking from WCKFT manager Mike Zilkowsky. Mike put the feelers out to fellow tournament organizers, such as myself, to get feedback on a potential online Kayak Fishing Platform! Feedback was positive, and within a matter of days, the Western Canada Kayak Fishing Trail – Freshwater Summer Slam Series Online Kayak Derby was born! (Check out the page on FB @WCKFTSS) It was a welcomed platform for us hardcore anglers missing out on the live derbies. It certainly filled the void and not only attracted the common everyday veteran anglers familiar to the trail, but successfully reached out to new anglers, looking to join the growing Kayak Fishing community.
The online derby was simply structured. June 15 – September 15, fish as much, and as often. No restrictions to water bodies (fresh water only), catch any species listed (up to 5 of each). Submit photos of your catch’s to admin for your entries, must be on an approved measuring device, must have tournament tag with anglers name & province in photo. Human powered watercraft only, no powerboats. Open to all residents of Western Canada. So pretty status quo!

Fall Tiger Trout in their majestic colour

So why the title “A Covid Angler” then you might be asking? Well, for me, Covid19 has taught me a lot this year, in an angling sense. When I first saw the list of fish species for the online derby, I was familiar with them all, and I initially thought, “no big deal, I got this in the bag”! What I soon realized was that, although I know of all these species, I commonly only target 5-6 of these on the list. 26 different fish species allowable to catch, my experience and knowledge on fishing is good, but certainly not 26 species deep. Once this all settled in and I absorbed what it meant foe me, I knew it was going to be time for me to explore now more than ever, time to fish and discover outside my normal boundaries.

Now that’s a Species List! Yikes……

Covid pushed me, it forced me outside my normal fishing bubble, my comfort zone, it got me out adventuring for more angling experiences than ever!
I love to compete, the WCKFTSS Online Derby helped me expose myself to new species, new bodies of water, and even more time alone on the water than usual.
My goal for this online platform was to finish Top 5. I managed to finish in 3rd, and I am extremely happy with my results, and proud of my accomplishments. Goldeye, Mooneye, Cutthroat Trout for new species list checks. A couple new PB’s for Tiger Trout, and a new love/passion for river fishing and mountain lake fishing.

Just squeaked in at 3rd place!

Covid19 is not a good thing, we all know that. But to take the huge, ugly negative and turn it into a learning experience full of positive outcomes on a personal level, I couldn’t be happier with that and I think many more folks that joined in on the WCKFTSS Online Fishing Derby would say the same.. To me, this platform has shown itself to be a huge success, and I am looking forward to doing it again next year, along with the return of our live derbies!!!
Its early October only, there is still lots of open water season left. So, see you out there, on the water, while the snow melts on our face, until the water turns hard! Fish On!

Trevor Thomson
Aquabatics Ambassador (Edm, AB, CAN)
Jackson Kayak Regional Fishing Team Member
Insta @paddlepowerangler
Facebook @Alanthomson