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Sunday, March 22, 2015

To Simplify, or Not to Simplify? A Yak Question.

I've been kayaking sporadically since I earned my first beads for a wet exit at Kamp Kanakuk in 7th grade. But, in January, we snagged a good deal on a 2014 Wilderness Ride 135, and that's when things got serious.

Me in my Ride 135

Tony drove all the way to Lafayette, Louisiana to pick up my baby and to add a Tarpon 140 to our fleet. I don't call them our "babies" lightly. When you've got four yaks carefully stowed in your garage and two vehicles parked in the driveway exposed to the elements, it's a huge statement about your priorities. Judge us if you want.
The new babies from Louisiana

The amazing thing about kayaks is that they provide a sort of simplicity to the angling sport. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
1) Boats are freaking expensive!
The cost of maintaining a boat is out of the question for most people. I believe that we'd have to take out a second mortgage on the house to pay for said boat. We'd spend all of our extra cash paying for gas just to take the boat out. Then you've got to worry about insurance and maintenance on top of that. My dad (a boat owner) often reminds me that there are two most exciting days for a boat owner: the day you buy your boat and the day you get rid of it. At this point, we've had zero finance fees, zero fuel costs, and zero maintenance issues with any of our four yaks.
2) Kayaks are extremely portable.
Unlike boats, no special trailers are necessary when you are ready to drop everything and get out on the water. I've even witnessed my 100 lb. friend whip out her tandem yak and scoot it right on top of her Pontiac Grand Am, and strap it to her roof with ease. We were loaded up and on the water within minutes.

Easily loaded and ready to go

3) Yaks provide an added health benefit.
I can tell you from experience that with proper paddling techniques, you will get a full body workout from a day on the yak. It's not just an upper body thing. Your core is constantly working to keep you balanced and aiding in a stronger and more efficient paddle while your legs are helping to brace your position and boost your speed. I don't remember having a single sore muscle on the days I was out on the boat.
4) Yaks are Eco-friendly.
That's right. No environmentally-damaging emissions given off from these babies. No worries about fuel spills in our bays that will harm the aquatic life.
5) Yaks provide the ability to navigate areas that you can't get to by boat or foot.
Man, oh man- have we been able to creep into some confined spaces with these babies. I've seen some things in an up-close and personal way that I never would have been able to experience from a boat simply because boats are much bigger.

Can your boat go here?
or here?
what about here?


All that being said--- there are plenty of yak options that will enable you to bring out your inner-techie.
1) Maybe you don't want a full-body workout or have physical limitations.
Some people choose to get a yak with system that allows them to propel the craft by foot.  Others even add-on a trolling motor.
In a world where we are always "plugged-in", it's quite a change to get out on a yak with no electronics. If that bothers you, most yaks are built with that in mind. You can easily have a fish finder  installed or purchase mounting systems  for your action camera and smart phone.
Tony- battling a red fish and his go-pro

3) Gear Storage
Holy options, Batman! I can't even begin to list the numerous choices you've got for storing your gear on a yak. Rod holders, and Black Paks , and Trax systems - Oh My! We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. I'll be the first to admit that juggling a paddle and a rod at the same time would even frustrate Ghandi.

4) Seats
After a day on the water, it's normal to get what I call "bleacher butt". This is a condition categorized by numbness and discomfort even in the most naturally padded hind-ends. This is one of the many reasons we are loyal to Wilderness Systems. They've got the best yak seats on the market. Most of their yaks come standard with a low riding seat that will easily slide forward or backward for proper positioning. You can adjust the straps for better back support which aides in the paddling process. Or--- you can upgrade to their high-seat if you want to get a better view for sight-casting. If that's not enough for you, their new ATAK yak  has what I call the "Autobot" seat option. It's actually called the AirPro Max 3D seat. This bad boy can do everything. In true Transformer- fashion, this sucker can fold all the way down when not in use, it can slide forward or backward across the length of almost the entire deck, it can lift and lower, or it can be adjusted into a standing perch for sight-casting and bleacher-butt avoidance. (Yes, please!)
air pro max.jpg
airpro 3d.jpg

5) Colors
In the kayaking world, it's always an added safety benefit to have a yak that is bright in color, so you become more visible to boaters on the water. Although, many hunters opt for something more neutral in order to camouflage the yak from their prey. If you're looking for a good deal, you take whatever color you can get then pimp out the yak with colored Trax systems, bungee , or ConSeal Kits.

It all boils down to the person in the yak. While the simplicity of yak fishing is certainly alluring, there are many add-ons that offer convenience and ease.  Gear does matter. I started fishing with a Shakespeare rod and reel combo and it sort-of got the job done. After I upgraded to a Hook Spit  Hot Stix rod with an Okuma Trio spinning reel, I quickly realized that Shakespeare don't know shit about fishing. Yet--- Hamlet's centuries-old questioning still remains. To simplify or not to simplify?

That, my friends, is a balance you choose for yourself.

Monday, March 2, 2015

40th Annual Houston Fishing Show

Today marks the end of the 40th Annual Houston Fishing Show at George R. Brown Convention Center.  Tony and I were both able to attend; unfortunately, due to our schedules, we had to attend separately.  We also had different approaches:
Tony = work
Crystal = play


This was Tony’s view of the show, as he arrived the day before in order to help set-up the Hook Spit booth.   There wasn’t much booth shopping for him in his two days at the show.  As a matter of fact, he didn’t even get to see everything since he was busy assembling shelves and such.  This is how Tony is.  He would rather move an entire house full of furniture than sit still.  Because of this, most of his time off work (when he isn’t fishing) is spent helping somebody else.  Don’t worry- he managed to make it home with a few packages of lures from Michael Bosse at Down South Lures.
He was also able to grab the much-talked-about Line Cutterz Ring .  He won’t have to bite off the line with his teeth anymore, so I view that as a plus.  I, too, planned on getting a Line Cutterz Ring, but I will be waiting until they release the colored rings.  I believe they have talked about releasing the product in bright green, blaze orange, cobalt blue, steel gray, and pink.
IMG_9420.PNG  IMG_9419.PNG

I was jealous that he got to check out the show before it even opened, so I texted him from work and asked him to bring me something fancy.  That, he did!  Later that evening, I spent a good 10 minutes practicing my casting skills while lying in bed with my brand new Hook Spit  Hot Stix Rod.  I can’t wait to put this rod to work on the water.  Again, Tony didn’t walk away empty handed, as he was finally able to get Hook Spit's TNT rod that he has been eyeballing for over a year.

I finally was able to get to the show on Saturday afternoon with our friends Josh and Jenai.  Jenai is responsible for the amazingness that occurs at
My goal was to snag some lures and jigheads while checking out the new Wilderness Systems ATAK . No such luck on sneaking a peek at the ATAK.  I guess I will have to live vicariously through the short video clips and pictures on the Wilderness Kayak Fishing Facebook page.  I was also hoping to be able to get some Hook 1 accessories for my yak - specifically wanted to check out the Conseal Kits and bungee cording, but Hook 1 didn't have a booth at the show this year. No worries since I can order online.

Plugging away, MommaShark introduced me to Reel 'em In Lures, and I promptly grabbed four bags when I found out they were made in TEXAS! The owner and creator, Clint, of Reel 'em In Lures assured me that I couldn’t go wrong with anything remotely close to chartreuse.   

I made my way to Down South Lures to meet Michael and stock up on more lures (just in case Tony isn’t in the mood to share).  Michael was a super nice guy - he even returned the utility knife Tony had left in his booth earlier in the week, so it’s really good to know that there is no thievery going on over at Down South Lures.


On to the next stop- I had to meet Vance and the rest of the Line Cutterz crew.  Even though they didn’t have the colored rings yet, we couldn’t leave without doing the signature Line Cutterz pose.  They had some great decals that will look great on the yaks, marine-grade and everything!  We also learned that this little-line-cutting phenom has sparked more than a local interest.  Apparently, even people in Japan have heard about and are interested in getting this sucker in their hands. (I promised myself I would not insert a cliched Beyonce ring comment here- you’re welcome.) These guys were awesome, and I can’t wait to see how this product explodes (globally, not literally).


There were so many booths, I was overwhelmed; however, it was clear who was the star of the show.  The Hook Spit booth was so packed, you could barely reach for a shirt without bumping somebody else.  I was extra-appreciative that everyone there seemed to be wearing deodorant.  Here, I took advantage of the sale on hats and performance wear.  I even salivated over a few rods (sorry about that).  Wade, the owner of Hook Spit, even took the time to pose with us for cheesy pics and answered some of our questions about the Deep Sea Divas fishing tournament this summer.  I’m really glad they did so well at the show and can’t wait to visit their store in League City next week to get a new reel for my Hot Stix rod.


Who knows? Maybe you’ll see a Coastie Culture booth at the show in the next year or so.