Involvement in this industry can take a kayak angler in a number of different directions. This year I was afforded the opportunity to work with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in their efforts to educate those interested in learning more about this sport which is growing rapidly and constantly changing.
This experience took me back a bit to a time when I was just getting my feet wet. Going back to the very beginning, I was completely uneducated. In 2005 I threw my first cast out of one and in 2007 I pulled the trigger on my very own kayak, which happened to be the first year I had a place to store one. Coincidence? I doubt it.
At that time I wanted to get on the water, period. I didn’t care how comfortable I was (or how uncomfortable, as it turned out), I didn’t know what a fishing feature was and even though I always had a PFD on, I thought about safety much less than I do today. I figured I would make the best with what I had, but I was most concerned with getting out there as quickly as possible and for as little money as I could get away with so that’s exactly what I did. Luckily I didn’t make any serious mistakes.
Had I known what I know now after using many of the kayak-specific products available, I would probably have taken more time before hitting the water and I would have missed out on a few trips, but that would have ultimately saved me some time, aggravation and money. Thankfully, there are brick and mortar shops with knowledgeable dealers and programs like this one which was designed to educate the consumer on selecting a kayak and the accessories and gear to go along with it so they are best prepared to hit the water; at the very least, it will get them asking the right questions before they do. I even had the opportunity to teach a small group about my Catch-Photo-Release method when asked how I kept fish on the board long enough for a picture and got into some techniques for catching freshwater bass, my species of choice! The web is a place which can be full of conflicting information and for a new angler I know how confusing and overwhelming all of it can be, because I was there.
I think a program like this is extremely helpful, and I was thrilled to be involved both as someone who helps run a local group of kayak fisherman and as a local angler. I hope to see more of these and I have a great deal of respect to the folks at the PFBC for taking the time to organize such a program. For almost 30 folks to give up a Saturday to learn more about the sport, I’d say the future of kayak fishing is pretty bright and those interested were clearly looking to learn as much as they can before jumping into this incredible sport.