It’s been over a decade since I bought my first kayak and loaded it with fishing rods. Since then, a lot of water has passed under my keel and many fish have flopped into the cockpit. Years of paddling, dragging, lifting, heaving and flipping takes its toll. Everything hurts, nothing works and I’m slow. Terrified my body will not be able to keep up with my ambition, I reached out to older and wiser colleagues for advice on paddling past my expiration date.
CHAD HOOVER Age 44 | 21 Years Paddling
Bonafide Kayaks pro, President of Kayak Bass Fishing and host of Kayak Bassin’ show
I’ve lost 72 pounds since early summer using a combination of high-intensity interval training and walking; I average 10,000 steps per day. Before I got in shape I had stopped dragging my kayak through the woods to distant spots. Now I’m looking for that shit again.
I’m excited to develop new products and concepts and see people’s reactions. An eternal optimist, I think the next fish is going to be the trophy. I’ve caught 139 bass over 10 pounds, so I’m excited to return to saltwater fishing.
Today’s young kayak anglers have never known a world without kayak fishing. Twenty years ago, we were inventing the modern sport, but these kids consider kayak fishing just another way to fish, another tool in the box. This will allow the sport to grow even larger.
KAYAK KEVIN WHITLEY Age 47 | 20 Years Kayak Fishing
Ocean Kayak pro, video/blog producer, host www.kayakkevin.com
As I got older, I realized I would have to live an athlete’s lifestyle. I am disciplined in what I eat and drink. Practicing yoga keeps my body and mind in shape. When I’m injured, I take time off to heal.
Last year, I totally changed my focus. After years of open-water, saltwater fishing, I’ve turned to river fishing. Not only is it physically easier, I fell in love with paddling rapids. My stoke was reignited figuring out this new-to-me fishery.
The new generation seems weak. Modern technology makes it easier to kayak fish, so young anglers don’t have to fish as hard. Motors, pedals, computerized cast control, and electronics take the work out of fishing. Back in the day, we didn’t have an option, we just paddled.
DENNIS SPIKE Age 58 | 25 Years Kayak Fishing
Fishing guide, host www.kayakfishing.com
Imagining my life without kayak fishing keeps me exercising every day. Before I became a guide, I was an acupuncturist. I understand the mechanics of paddling and work to build up my abdomen, wrists, back and shoulders.
After all these years, I still can’t sleep before a big day on the water. Each cast presents a new challenge, another opportunity to catch a trophy. Kayak fishing is a lifestyle. Being part of the community keeps me engaged.
Kayak fishing is attracting more diverse anglers. More women are getting into the sport. It’s popular with teenagers to grandparents. People recognize me and thank
me for introducing them to kayak fishing. Maybe new anglers are more safety conscious, but I don’t see many young guys launching through big surf on what we call veteran days.