Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 Beer and Gear

     This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the annual Beer and Gear event at Pack & Paddle kayak shop down in Lafayette, La. This was my first time at this particular event and it way my privilege to represent Bonafide Kayaks and Yak Attack. I didn't have any previous knowledge about this event going into but I was told to bring the finest local DFW beer I could find, and that it was going to be a big event. I loaded up with 4 cases worth of local craft beers from around the Dallas Metroplex and set off for Louisiana. 
     As soon as I arrived I quickly checked into my hotel and headed straight to Pack & Paddle to begin setting up for the event. I scrambled to get all the Bonafide and Yak Attack gear set up and then walked around to check out the shop and mingle with some of the other brand reps. There were reps from Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Alabama, all with local beers from their perspective areas. The event kicked off around 5:00 and it didn't take long for the masses to start showing up. By 7:00 the place was jam packed, and I later found out that the final attendance count was around 450 people. All comers were like minded kayakers, anglers, and beer lovers. The local beer that I brought was a great way to break the ice and welcome people to my booth and it opened up doors of communication to talk about the boat and the accessories that we brought. At the end of the night the store does a big give away of several different donated items and every goes home happy and reeling from a great night. After we got everything cleaned up and put away from the event all the store employees and brand reps went to break bread together at a little hole in the wall joint called Old Thyme Grocery  , and I ate the absolute best crawfish po boy that I'd had in my entire life. 
     The following morning Pack & Paddle hosted an on the water demo day for everyone to test out the kayaks that they had seen and inquired about the previous night. I never got a total head count on the demo day but I would guess it was around 200-300. The Bonafide SS127 garnered a ton of attention, like I knew it would, and the demo day was also a smashing success. 
     I have never been to an event before like this and all I can say is that I will be going back next year. The Beer and Gear will on my calendar each year from now on. Pack & Paddle has this event planned down to a science and it went off without a hitch. Thank you to Pack & Paddle, Bonafide, and Yak Attack for this tremendous opportunity.

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.