Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Maiden Voyage in my Bonafide SS127

     I was fortunate enough to be able to take my new kayak out on the water for its maiden voyage on Saturday. The Bonafide SS127 is a kayak that has been building hype and anticipation all across the country since Luther Cifers, CEO of Bonafide Kayaks and YakAttack, announced he was starting a kayak company. I ordered my kayak back in November and everyday my excitement grew and grew until it finally arrived. Mariner Sails gave me the call I had been waiting for and my Bonafide SS127 in Top Gun Gray had just been unloaded from the truck. 
     Except for a few stickers and a few YakAttack accessories I haven't done any modifications or installs to this kayak as of yet. The weather wasn't ideal, however it would give me a good opportunity to see what she could do in some rough conditions. The wind was blowing about 15-20 mph with gusts up to 25mph. Normally I would not get on a large lake in those conditions but the launch is about a mile from my house and big wind is a good test. On any other day and any other boat in high winds I would opt for a lower position if the kayak offers a hi/low seat but, I wanted to see how comfortable I felt in the high position here. Now you have to understand that the high position on the SS127 is much higher and any other kayak that I had been in previously by several inches. I will admit that even though I had test paddled the prototype and knew of its stability, I was still a little weary of being this high in heavy cross winds. As I got a few yards away from the shore I did feel the wind pretty strongly and I felt like my body was catching a lot of it but not once did I feel unstable or "tippy" on the kayak. A few more yards paddling cautiously and my confidence grew in that high position. I never felt the need to switch to a lower position at any time on the water that day. 
     Another point of interest to me was o see how difficult it would be to paddle a distance of a half mile or so while in the high position. It's true that the foot pedals were a little harder for me to reach in the high seat but thankfully the design team at Bonafide molded in foot holds behind the pedal rails for this very reason. I was able to rest my feet there and paddle comfortably. I'm not sure how I will manage this when I finally install a rudder, but that's a discussion for later. I will say that for me having a paddle of 240cm was extremely beneficial in getting a proper paddle stroke from that high position. 
     I could drone on all day about standing in this yak and the stability that it has but you already know from the various videos thats have been posted previously. Having paddle the prototype, the stability was exactly what I was expected and didn't disappoint. The three points of interest to me on the stability and the high position seat are the easy of standing, sitting, and reaching back. 
     Going from a seated position to standing in the high position was so easy and effortless that I was genuinely surprised. It take so little effort and feels much more natural than any previous kayak that I'd been in before. The other side of that coin is going back to seated. Usually for me when I go from standing to sitting I go through this three step progression, squat, squat lower, fall into seat. With the seat on the SS it's just so natural to get up and down combined with the stability and the ridiculous comfort on the seat. The third benefit I found from the high seat was the ease of which I could twist and reach into my Blackpack. I'm not a skinny guy so sometimes it feels a bit awkward trying reach into the tankwell to retrieve something. I did it without a strain or a grunt and was even able to reach behind my crate into my softside cooler, all while taking having a strong wind blow across my bow. 
     There is so much of this kayak that I have yet to explore or experience but for the few hours I was able to spend in it I can see that the SS127 most definitely set a new standard in the industry and sets it self apart from the competition. My hats off to Luther, Hans, Matt, and Jake and all the rest of the team at Bonafide kayaks that made the kayak that we want.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Feeling Disconnected....

     Usually I try to keep all my posts positive and informative about my experiences in kayak fishing and the awesome events around my community here in DFW, however I have something on my mind lately that may be contradictory to my usual posts. 

     2017 has been my least productive year on the water, as a kayak angler and I'm feeling very disconnected from the water and from fishing in general. I have had to step back and take a long look at what I've been doing wrong as an angler. I have several holes in my game, so to speak, that I believe have lead to my slump in 2017. As I look back I can see that I continually use the same techniques over and over and I have let my limited confidence in those baits take over my fishing trips. I have completely shut myself off from expanding out into different techniques because my "go to" baits have started to fail me. 

     I went through a three year period where I felt unstoppable and slayed fish no matter the body of water I was on. I believe that hot streak put me in a state of complacency and false comfort and has limited my ability to hone my skills and adapt to the environment around me. I also recognize that I have put fishing further down my list of priorities as I have concentrated on my roles as husband and father and re-devoting myself to my faith in the church. Those priorities will continue to supersede fishing always, but I know I have more to devote to this sport to which I still have so much passion for. 

     As with every other sport there is an off season to grow and get better, and that's exactly what I intend to do this winter. When I was first starting out and learning bass fishing I read books from great anglers, watched countless YouTube videos on utilizing different baits and techniques, and focused on using only lures that I know I needed to get better with. As I feel I have become a better fisherman I have slowly stopped doing the fundamental things that got me there. This winter I will get back to the basics and focus on fundamentals of fishing. 

     I hope my message doesn't get lost or confused as a my white flag because this isn't. I still have just as much passion and love for all things fishing and kayaking, if not more. If nothing else this is my mission statement for 2018, and I look forward to rising to the challenge.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bonafide Kayaks - Full Walkthrough with Chad Hoover

      With so much anticipation surrounding the release of the first round of finished production models of the SS127, I wanted to throw this video out there to add to the excitement. I have already pre ordered mine in Top Gun Grey and I'm chomping at the bit to see what changes were made from the prototype that I paddled to the now finished product. Retailer releases dates are coming up in a few short weeks, and everyone is buzzing with anticipation. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cover Up!! ***(Warning: Graphic Pics)***

     Until recently I thought I had taken adequate steps to ensure my protection from the sun. About five years ago I started getting annual skin checks from my dermatologist and committed to wearing long sleeves, pants, hat, and buff while on the water. I thought if I took these precautions that all would be well and I would have nothing to worry about, but I was wrong. 

     On my latest visit with my dermatologist she took a small biopsy from a very non threatening, very ordinary looking mole. I had expressed a mild concern for the mole to my doctor, I felt that maybe it had grown a little but it didn't seem to have the classic signs and symptoms of melanoma. It wasn't raised, dark colored, rough in texture, or asymmetrical. I just had a weird gut feeling that it had changed and my doctor took a biopsy to be on the safe side.

     I've had about 20 suspect moles biopsied in the past 5 years and so far every time I would receive a call from a nurse explaining that my mole was normal and no further action was required. After my latest biopsy however I knew it was good when my doctor herself called to deliver the results. She told me that the biopsy came back as melanoma and that we would need to schedule a time soon to get it cut out. I realize that melanoma can be common among outdoor enthusiast and that it's a risk we take for our passions, but this diagnosis was a little more personal to me. 

     By the grace of God my melanoma was caught very early and able to be treated by excision only without anything further. My procedure is now over, my stitches are out, and my wound is healing nicely. I am more vigilant than ever about protecting myself and I am more conscious about my exposure time and how much of my skin is exposed. My friends, no one is immune to harmful UV rays and annual skin checks can very well save your life.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

All Good Things Come To An End.

     This decision has been finalized for two weeks now but writing this post has been a hard pill to swallow. After 4 years of serving on the Wilderness Systems Pro Staff I have decided to resign from the team. I leave with nothing but respect for the products, the company, and the fine ladies and gents that make up the staff. I won't drone on with reasonings and my thoughts on leaving the team, but I will say that there was nothing negative that led to my decision. I am grateful for the four years that I spent with the team and the doors and opportunities that have opened because of it. Priorities and responsibilities in my life have changed, and I have had to respond accordingly. Again, I wish everyone at Confluence Outdoors nothing but the best and continued prosperity. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

You Betta Belize It! Part 3

     When our work in the capital city was completed it was time to relax and have some fun. Island style!!! We woke up around 5 am and packed out bags and headed back towards the coast of Belize City. When we arrived we headed straight towards the ferry station and bought tickets destined for Caye Caulker. Once aboard the ferry it was a 45 minute ride to Caulker. The ride was noisy, and bumpy, but it was great and the anticipation of getting to the island was overwhelming.
     Upon arriving on the beach it felt like we just crashed landed on paradise. The island is very small and probably the most authentic place I've ever been. There isn't a single paved road or concrete sidewalk on the entire island, just sand and more sand. Before we all split up as a group we decided to eat a bach side lunch together. I ate the fresh shrimp and conch ceviche, and it was absolutely delicious. We all had ideas in mind of what we wanted to do on the island, some wanted to swim, others wanted to shop, but I just wanted to fish.

I walked around the island for about three hours searching for a place to rent a rod and reel. I went to shop after shop but, much to my disappointment no one would rent me one with agreeing to a charter deal first. Finally at the last shop in Caulker I walked out defeated and I hear a voice from my left that hollered to me, "Hey mon, you cant have dat sad face in dis beautiful place." A little stunned, I looked at him and apologized and told him what I'd been searching for. He looked at me with a lemon pucker face and told me, "You don't need no rod an reel, just some line, a hook, and a bait." Huh!!?? I had never considered just hand lining it before. I went to the local market and purchased a spool of line, a few hooks, and a few weights. I found a cool place to buy fresh sardines for bait and even had the opportunity to swim with some very large tarpons. I found a empty pier and quickly got my new gear all tied up and hooks baited. I let out some free line and hurled my into the ocean. It wasn't but just 10 seconds into waiting I felt a hard pull and I instinctually set the hook. The fight of my first Caribbean fish on a hand line was one of the most adrenaline filled moments of my life. I remember just thinking, please don't spit the hook, as I pulled this mystery monster in. As I finally got him up to the dock I quickly realized that he wasn't a monster but he fought like one and I added another species to my bucket list, a Barracuda.

     That was my only Cuda of the day but several small "pretty" fish followed and my island adventure goal was complete. After fishing I went and got cleaned up and met up with the rest of my team for dinner. We continued to bond and discuss the awesome work that we had done during the past week and how amazing God is.
     I am so very thankful for Mr. Waller and the CSMA organization for allowing me to come along for this awesome and inspiring week of serving others and enjoying an exotic place. I very much look forward to jumping on the opportunity to come back to Belize.