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2021 was an interesting year to say the least. I made the choice early in the year to scale back on my tournament rig, going from a BigRig FD in 2020 to the brand new YuPIK in 2021. The transition had its issues for sure. I found myself asking “now, where do I put these?” quite often. Having to choose which of my 5 rods would make the trip to the lake with me, instead of powering on with about 15 onboard. And last but not least, waking up my “paddle muscles”. All of these aspects had a major impact on my year. But I am so happy I did it, and truly believe everyone can benefit from going back to their “core”.

First thing I had to tackle when getting into the YuPIK was the space issue. The BigRig really spoiled me for never having to worry about tackle and gear, if I considered it, I packed it. And didn’t think twice. I pulled my back out every time I carted it from the truck to the launch, but I did not care. The BigRIg was a heavy duty, fully loaded, fishing beast! But because of this I spent a lot of time out on the water over thinking what I was going to throw. 3 or 4 cast without a bite, I’d have to try something different. When I switched over to the lighter craft, it forced me to learn about the water I was going to, it made me really understand the conditions and plan for what would be most efficient.

I am all about, “more” I want to always have more of anything. I think that’s pretty common. So it has always been my goal to fit as much onto my kayak as possible, and this included rods. Sometimes with the same things tied on too. I would literally have anywhere from 12 to 15 rods on my kayak come tournament day, my kayak would look like a porcupine out on the water. The YuPIK made that not logical. However going from 15 to 5 rods on the kayak made my workspace much more organized and I was able to maneuver around and work with ease. Once I started doing my homework and learning the lake, I was able to plan more on what lures would be the most efficient and able to streamline my fishing plan for tournament day to the point that 5 rods was plenty.

I know that a lot of people have blamed the pandemic on gaining weight, and rightfully so I’m sure. However I strongly align it with the fact that the BigRig had a motor attached to it. I took time at the end of 2020 to really reflect back on that year and found that I had veered so far away from what actually got me into kayak fishing in the first place, the kayak! While there is a time and a place for a big kayak with a motor, for me there is nothing better than being able to get out on the water, and hear nothing but nature around you. So when I decided to get back to a pure paddle kayak my arms and abs were just not ready for it. I spent the first few weeks sore as can be. Even though I hurt, I loved how I felt, I was getting a work out again, and enjoying nature.

Now, I am not saying I will never go back to a large motor powered kayak, far from that actually. All I am saying is that there will never be a time in my personal armada that I don’t have a pure paddle powered kayak. Getting back to my core was the best thing I have done in a long time, and I cannot imagine not having that option down the road.