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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What kayak fishing means to me...

In the past few months, I've decided to step up my game on the road to professional fishing.  It seems that fishing for a living has evolved with the rest of the world in regards to technology.  A seemingly simplistic sport no longer has nature at its core; rather, it has shifted into a "he who has the most toys wins" mentality.  Not only do I need top-of-the-line poles, reels, and tackle, but I also need to be social media savvy with knowledge of photo and video editing programs.  I need a computer that has a strong enough operating system to power all of said programs, and no longer will my trusty iPhone 4 suffice for snagging pics of my catches due to something about megapixels (or lack thereof).

I now have realized how invaluable my 20 year background in sales and marketing for the restaurant industry will prove to be.  In signing with a company as field staff or becoming selected by a sponsor, I'm certain to spend multiple hours a day seamlessly displaying a brand.

It seems a bit ironic that amid all of the roles and responsibilities manuals, Google Docs, and Instagram filters, I've finally been asked by a company, "What does kayak fishing mean to you?"
Now--- I'm a self-starter, and I have no problem acquiring endless amounts of high-tech gadgets.  I have zero issue implementing my experience in marketing into the fishing field.  I don't mind sitting hours at a computer learning all these new programs.  But... I am just now realizing how far off track these goals had taken me from the heart of my passion.  I am humbled to so quickly (and with just one simple question) be reminded of why I do what I do.  A seemingly simplistic question for a seemingly simplistic sport that puts everything back into perspective: what does kayak fishing mean to me?

It means balance.

That is all it means, yet balance means everything--- such an all-encompassing idea that requires careful and extensive juxtapositions.

There are genres of classic literature that rely almost solely upon the restorative powers of nature. Books flying off shelves for all eternity and studied in classrooms around the world simply because mankind desires a balance with nature.  This concept is not one that I need a professor or Spark Notes to explain to me.  Every fishing excursion provides an escape from the chaos of every day life, a few hours to forget about the 21st century's never ending to-do list.  It is that fishing is an ideal classroom in which I can teach my kids about life: conservation and curiosity, patience and persistence.  Just as it is in life, in fishing, you must learn when to keep the line tight and when to adjust the drag, when to battle a beast and when to let him tire himself out.  Each new species reeled in is a reminder of the endless possibilities of exploration and discovery.   This sport rewards risk-taking and demands safety.  It fosters a balance between the thrill of the hunt and a respect for nature.  Kayak fishing breeds spontaneity and requires thoughtful planning at the same time.  It teaches that skill and luck are both pivotal.  The challenge is symbolic that what comes easy is not always what's best--- the constant pursuit, a reminder that things handed to you are never as cherished as those for which you have tirelessly worked to gain.  There will be days you win big countered with days you get skunked--- and either way, you are left wanting more.  Regardless of  trophies won from competitions and tournaments, the intrinsic rewards outweigh the tangible. Because of kayak fishing, my kids will know that the best dinner doesn't always come from a fancy restaurant or aisle 7 in the grocery store.  Instead, the most fulfilling meal is the one you scooped out of the water and prepared together as a team.

It is said that mastery in any area can never truly be attained; rather, you will spend your whole life bettering yourself to reach the highest level of skill and knowledge through practice.  While this is certainly the case for fishing, it holds true for self-discovery as well.  I know no other sport that offers this "Great Perhaps"; I know no other sport that is so richly ingrained in balance.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My first yak fish!!!!!!

It's not the biggest not the baddest, but after a struggling long winter, I finally reeled in a fish... 

Left the house around 7:30 am on Monday, March 25th. It was cloudy and the wind was Karate Kid part 4 early on. We headed to Seabrook Flats and looked around then drove to the Pine Gully Pier and I showed it to my buddy, Cody, who had never seen or heard of it. We chatted it up and moved around, decided to launch near the Kemah bridge and launched next to Outriggers. At this point the wind had died down, and we were off. We went left at the bridge and were fishing next to the Kemah Boardwalk. I decided to resort to some old habits and was using dead shrimp on one setup and throwing a Paul Brown Pink corky with the other.  I posted up in one spot for a good 30 -45 minutes while Cody was mobbing all around.  I sure miss shrimp! Majority of the time- I always feel bites, crabs, something with shrimp . After about 15 minutes, I got a hard hit and was pumped.  Nothing was there.  Grrrrrr.  Few minutes later - FISH ON!  I yelled to Cody, but he could not hear me.    After about 45 seconds, I had my first kayak fish.  A WHOPPING (wait for it.......) piggy perch!!!  And, to top it off, it was foul hooked in the stomach!!!! Oh well. Skunk over regardless.  We headed back toward Clear Lake. Cody was consistent in wanting to fish some marsh, so we decided to change location. We paddled back to Outriggers, tied up to the dock and ran in for some lunch.  Good food and enjoyed my first trip to a restaurant via kayak.  When we were done, we headed to Galveston and fished some marsh off 45. ( Exit 7 ish) Once again, on shrimp, I caught a black drum!!! 16" of fish, and I was pumped!! About thirty minutes later, I managed to pull up a feisty blue crab. The wind started to pick up, and we called it a day after a couple of hours. I'll continue to throw lures and hope for a more fish-filled blog in the very near future. Had a blast !!!!

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Coastie 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wintertime blues

           To some, the winter fishing brings out a chance to catch a monster, wall-mount trout, to others a shivering day with nothing to catch but a cheeseburger on the way home.
            I myself have not done well at all fishing in the crisp air of winter, but it's definitely growing on me.  When dressed with just the right amount of layers to protect you from being too cold, it can feel great out on the water. The water, gin-clear, air so crisp, on a calm day with no wind and no one around... it almost has the feel of a remote chilly paradise. Watching a pelican glide effortlessly, for miles just one inch above the water, from the kayak I paddle along into the quietness listening for clues of nearby fish. Waiting for a mullet to jump,  to show some signs of life underneath the clear water. Birds diving into the water off in a distance, liar birds just bombing the water looking for life as I am,  or are they giving clues as to bait in the area with bigger fish possibly lurking near by causing the chain event from the depth underneath? 
             Most bait is gone, no more plankton, shrimp are scarce, mullet few and far between. The winter hunter knows patience and will find them. Presentation is extremely important during this cold time.  Fish move more slowly during the winter, so your lure must move to the pace of their liking . Water is much clearer, so (in my opinion) you need a natural looking bait as the fish can more easily sense that something is off with your multi-colored, laser-shooting lure. Keep it simple, natural, and work it slow. Some, on a real bad day, will use dead shrimp as the drum both red and black will have a bite if they cross paths with it . Trout like deeper pockets with mud bottoms near shell and typically won't go for cut bait. They prefer them alive or a good lure will fool them into a strike.  Flounder can still be caught often in the winter as well.They rest on the sandy bottoms and love mullet, live or dead. Working these baits slowly by a hidden flounder in the sand can cause for a tricky strike in which one has to know when to set the hook to capture a delicious flounder.  I'm pretty much referring to the bays, and marshes . Winter fishing on the surf can be fun and rewarding too. Ever caught a Jack Crevalle? No, me neither . But many have, and they are as tough as nails and will fight the whole entire time they are hooked on your line. Thrashing and pulling, working the waters forcing you to be on your A- game and have appropriate tackle. Bull reds and monster black drum will cruise the winter surf looking for bait and if they come across yours, buckle up and hold on. Strength and a large size make these beauties a super fun catch . I recently asked fellow TKF's ( Texas Kayak Fisherman) what they thought of when it comes to winter fishing. Theses are a few of their replies .

Kosmo10 " I think of our skunk streak,and how I kept it alive this morning  in Kemah lol. But I didn't get a ticket time do the glass is half full!" 

He is one of my fishing buddies, and he was referring to the not too good luck we've had this winter.

Yakrazy  " First thing I think of is gin clear water......beautiful, but an annoying sight"

Slayer21  " Corkies and big trout! My favorite time to fish!"

 Lurejunkee   " Nice long cold wades, scanning the water looking and listening" 

Some don't even fish during the cold months; for others, it's prime time. For me, as I'm still new to kayaking and winter fishing, it is a pleasurable challenge. Even when I'm not reeling them in, I always enjoy casting the coast anytime of the year!

Those of you following my blog, I appreciate it and you will learn my journey one splash at a time! 

Shout out to my Kayak Wars team !!!
Cody, Justin, Raul, and James! 
See ya soon
I'll be going Monday, and I plan on fishing till I catch my first fish on a kayak !

Winter blues ......


Coastie 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

An Open Letter to the "Fishing Widows" from a Coastie Wife

I’m just going to say it--- if I see one more picture of a skinny, bikini-clad blonde holding up a bull red and smiling on a fancy fishing boat, I am going to puke.  That is NOT what most fishermen’s wives look like.  These cute little blondes have a rich daddy who was nice enough to send his little princess to Cancun for Spring Break, and she just so happened to try to go out on a fishing excursion to show the boys how cool she was, and she accidentally caught some big ol’ Mahi-Tuna-Swordfish crossbreed (which I’m sure she did not know the name of until she was told --- 4 times).  This is the story in my head, and I’m sticking to it.
It more than upsets me to see these pictures for a few reasons:
1)      Hell yes, I am jealous that she looks so damn good in that cut off tank top that I could NEVER pull off.
2)      Hell yes, I am jealous that she is on a fancy boat off the coast of Cancun without a care in the world, and her daddy paid for it.
3)      Hell yes, I am jealous that she caught a Mahi-Tuna-Swordfish crossbreed.
4)      But mostly---- these photos make the bile rise in my throat because REAL Fishermen’s wives do far more than giggle while looking cute in a paradise photo op.
Let me paint a real picture for you--- the real wife of an angler rarely shows up in photos because she is either at home with the kids, or she is the one taking the photo.  However, IF a fisherman’s wife did show up in a photo--- here is what you would see.  You would see her making sure that each kid had his/her line in the water before she even baits her own hook.  You’d see her rubbing 70 SPF sunscreen on her husband because GOD FORBID he have the instrinsic motivation to prevent his own skin cancer.  You’d see her running in the background toward her son’s catch because she knows it’s a hard-head from 20 feet away, and she doesn’t want him to get barbed.  You might see a picture of her cutting the bait into smaller pieces to make it last longer for her daughter.  You most definitely would see a picture of her trying to get fish guts out of her hair.  And if she is really lucky, you might catch her in a moment of relaxation trying to wipe dead-shrimp juice off the top of the can of beer (because somebody got the bait & beer coolers mixed up) while she sits down to catch her breath for two seconds.
Of course there will be a few occasions which she actually catches her own little whiting or black drum, and her hubby will be proud enough to drop his own line long enough to take a picture.  In that photo, she damn sure won’t be wearing a freaking string bikini with cut-offs and a face full of make-up (WHO are these girls?).   Instead--- she will probably have on the same grungy, baggy pants she has on in the last photo because those are her comfy, fish-gut-wiping pants, and they have enough room in the pockets to hold pliers, rags, and a flask. A real fishing wife will be wearing one of her husband’s XL Coastie Culture (or other fishing related brand) shirt.  She won’t have any make-up on because she knows that if her sunscreen runs into her eyes, it will sting and her mascara will run.  She will also be wearing a hat in order to avoid her hair getting entangled with fish guts or getting blown in her freaking eyes every freaking 5 freaking seconds.
             Ladies and Gentlemen--- THIS is what a real fishing wife FREAKING looks like.

                                At a Super Bowl party last week, my husband and I were blessed to meet Richard.  Richard is the first person I’ve met in a while who appreciates what we ladies sometimes deal with.  After introductions were made and my husband swayed the conversation over to fishing, I thought I was only secretly rolling my eyes and sighing at an all too familiar scene.  Apparently, Richard caught on.  He leaned over, and through a smile, he asked, “Are you a fishing widow?”  With one small question, he had validated every bit of what I have felt since I figuratively lost my husband to the ocean 3 years ago. 
                If he isn’t at the pier, in a kayak, or surfcasting--- then he is at Fishing Tackle Unlimited or his eyes are glued to TKF forum.  We have even sacrificed date nights due to off shore fishing trips or to meet up with fishing buddies.
 I know you other fishing widows are feeling what I’m saying right now.  I know you are putting your hand in the air and screaming out, “Preach it, Sister!” But, before you start letting that bitter streak show--- let me share with you something with which I am coming to terms---- While the ocean is pretty big competition, it ain’t a skinny, bikini-clad blonde.  Fishing is where my husband goes to refill his soul just like I do when my nose is buried in a book (or a glass of wine).  Through the years, I have seen too many of my friends lose their love to gambling, bar-hopping, cheating, or just plain indifference.  I have to tell you, sisters, I don’t see fishing being the root of any of that.  I see my husband passionate about learning, I see him reading, I see him making memories with our kids, I see him trying to spark the same zeal within me, I see him bringing home dinner like a BOSS!
I’m not so sure I’m a widow.  This isn’t a man who is indifferent or dead to his wife.  Quite conversely, it’s a man who is most definitely alive.  Can’t complain about that.
This blog’s shout out goes to all of the fishing wives I see in the background of those photos!  Go give your fisherman a big fat kiss on the mouth, and tell him thanks for choosing fishing as a habit instead of all of the other things he could have been addicted to.  Remind yourself that he has to go to sleep sometime, so unless there is a tournament going on at the pier, he will be home in time to lay his head on the pillow next to yours.  On the days when you feel like you have slipped too far into the background, I hope you find it in your heart to step into the sunlight, stand next to your man, represent the rest of us in your fish-gut covered jeans, and cast that line out into the ocean. 


(Side Note to the Anglers--- please go hug, kiss, and thank your significant others.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kayak Wars

Kayak Wars was created by Eric Ozolins in 2006 as a friendly kayak fishing tournament between two Texas teams for bragging rights... the upper coast and lower coast. Since then it has grown to be one of the largest, year-long kayak fishing tournaments in the world. An event completely free of charge to enter and enjoy. Kayak Wars delivers a unique point system for over 100 species of prized fish in the United States.  

          -KayakWars.com 



             I came across Kayak Wars on TKF, and I wanted to partake instantly . Even though I'm new to kayaking, I recruited a team and look forward to a year of great fishing and stories to share with you. Now, let's meet the team!
    First angler up, Justin Kostelnik.  Paddling a brand new 2014 MEAN GREEN WILDERNESS RIDE 115x --with all the fixings. Justin is new to kayaking and fishing, but he is ready to rip some lips. Educated Aggie, served our country in the Army, and has three beautiful daughters. A big thanks to his wife, Krista, for letting him fish! 
Krista, Victoria, Katya, Giana, Justin

Next up in the bay is Captain Cool, Raul Sarmiento. Enrolled at UHCL studying Environmental Science in Biology. At only 23 years of age, he has been fishing Galveston bay and the Clear Lake area for several years. When he is not using a fish grip, you might find him jamming the guitar (which he does quite well).
Captain Cool

 Chillin in the no wake zone is Cody Ryden! Received his education from Sam Houston and is currently a manager for Mattress Firm Warehouse. Cody is a die hard fisherman and duck hunter. Whether it's from a kayak , power boat, surf, or pier, he is always eager to reel in the big boys !!
Cody 
  Hobie Outback cruising, bull red hunting, James Jurica is on the scene next. He loves catching sharks and reds and more sharks and reds. James has a 16 month -old baby boy and is happily married. When not with family or fishing, he is working with low, med, & high voltage electrical equipment. This summer he wants to catch some king fish from the yak!
James

Last up, ME! I love my wife, kids, and life on the water!!
Me, Crystal, Rachel
Tyler, Jez

Team Coastie Culture 

Wish us luck!

Thanks Eric Ozolins for keeping Kayak Wars Crazy fun! 

      

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Big Money Red Tourney

Me, Eric, Cody

Galveston Urban Ministries ( galvestonurbanministries.org)  hosted their First Annual Big Money Red Tourney a few months ago and it ended up being my first tournament too.  

My #1 homie, Eric, and his brother, Michael, drove all the way down from Denton, Texas to represent and fish in the tournament. 

The tournament was supposed to start at 5 pm on a Friday, but we got there a few hours early to stake claim to our spot on the Galveston Fishing Pier.   I was pretty crunk when the tournament started because I was the first one to catch a red.  Unfortunately, it was only about 34" and I knew that wouldn't be big enough to place in the end.  So--- Fish on.  Most of the catches came that night.  It was cold and windy, but we tried to stay warm with a little help from a handle of Jim Beam and some of the best Habanero Beef Jerky from Mean E's Meats. (getcha some --->  facebook.com/meanesmeats )
Those two things kept us awake for 3 days straight with a few naps in between, but sleeping on the pier isn't that comfortable.  Even though we went most of the day Saturday and Sunday without catching much we couldn't complain because this was our view:




Eric ended up catching his first red at this tournament.  It was a good looking fish, but it wasn't enough to place either.  My buddy, John Stapleton showed up to fish the tournament and pulled a red in that made it on the board. My buddy, Cody Ryden (pictured above) did not fish the tournament, but he was there with a friend a few hours before the tournament started.  I actually think he is the one that caught all the reds, and I blame him for our slow weekend.    In hindsight, we probably should have gotten  a spot at the end of the pier because the guys set up down there were pulling in most of the reds.  If I'm not mistaken, that's where the tourney winners were set up.  
Eric's first red

1st catch (34 in.)


2nd catch (36 1/2 in)
Even though we didn't place--- it was a great experience.  This shout out goes to Eric Murphey for driving 5 hours to sleep on a wooden pier in the cold, and Michael Murphey from Mean E's Meats--- thanks for sponsoring us, bro.


Y'all go check out Galveston Urban Ministries to see how you can give back to underprivileged youth on the island.

"Say hello to my little boat" KAYAK


My passion and desire to learn more about the Coastie life, mastering catch and release of our salt water creatures led me to wanting a Kayak. Mobile , requires no gas , can float on less than a foot of water ! The hunt , the ride , the scenery of the birds diving for bait as the sun rises and you are watching the day awake before your eyes. I'll miss the pier , a lot , but it's time to  move around. I'll be back!

 Ok so what did I know about Kayaks . Nada, other than it's a small plastic boat ! Then TKF , (Texas Kayak Fisherman) came out of nowhere--like someone said "here's a book of information with anglers you can talk to!"  Thanks TKF and all its members for all the great info and my intro to virtual kayaking.

Next stop , FTU, (Fishing Tackle Unlimited ) where I met Devin Hood in the Kayak department, and he was more than knowledgeable and extremely helpful. Devin had no clue that I would be in to talk to him several times with endless questions, but he was captain cool about it and he was the main  reason I bought my kayak there. Thanks Devin, I hope we hit the water someday. After a couple of months of reading reviews, I finally  pulled the trigger. Say hello to my Wilderness RIDE 135 2013 model. I'm extremely happy with my choice and love my coastie cruiser! Purchased in Mid December.  My beautiful wife Crystal got me a lot off goodies for my kayak, and I was about ready to hit the h20.

But, I still needed a PFD and with a little research, I ordered a stulquist form ACK online Austin store. Here is how that went .... I'm in Houston , there was no shipping fee, the PFD showed up the next day before noon via fed x. I was like wow what great service . So thanks ACK!

Finally, hit the water first week of this month thanks to John Vining. Thanks for my first trip and I'll see you again soon. You are a pro in my blog! Also, I picked up some norton quick twist. See ya soon.

Since then I've been out a few times and haven't figured out this cold winter kayak fishing yet. Although I have met a bunch of new anglers, created a Kayak team, made some friends , and fish or no fish I've enjoyed every second on the water . Sunrises , birds giving clues to the sign of fish , the anticipation of what's to come at any moment . Fish on! Oh wait , that was a branch . Till next time