Blog – Kayak Fishing, Whitewater Kayaking, Canoeing, Family

The 8th Annual YakAttack Kayak Fishing Tournament benefiting Heroes On the Water and Project Healing Waters

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by Brian Vincent

“I look forward to this tournament every year. More so than just about anything else on the kayak fishing circuit.”

It’s a common refrain heard around the Annual Yak Attack Kayak Fishing Tournament benefiting Heroes On the Water and Project Healing Waters. Both HOW and PHW are exceptional organizations endeavoring to help with the physical and emotional rehabilitation of our military veterans, by taking them fishing. It’s proven to be very effective.

This year the Yak Attack tournament was held May 20-21. Once again, tournament headquarters was Twin Lakes State Park outside of Farmville, VA. Big thank you to VA State Parks and Twin Lakes State Park for continuing to donate the facilities for this event.

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Luther Cifers, owner of YakAttack,  kicked off the Friday night Captain’s Meeting talking about his inspiration for starting this tournament years ago. Giving back to our veterans and building community are always at the forefront of his message and it resonates with our tribe of kayak anglers.

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Oliver Hughes, from Heroes On the Water, gave a heartfelt speech about going on his first HOW trip, volunteering , and becoming a representative of HOW. Many veterans praise HOW for saving their lives, but Oliver credits the program with saving his marriage.

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After the speeches, the food line was opened. Kayak anglers all along the east coast have heard tales of the food at this event, and rightfully so, it is always delicious. The first night everyone queued up for ribeyes, smokey ribs and hot dogs.

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We sponsor a “Have a Drink On Us” cooler bar for both Friday and Saturday night. We filled some Orion Coolers to the top, and they didn’t last long!

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Saturday morning, the fishing portion of the tournament dawned a rainy, cold mess. It didn’t deter anyone from getting out though. With two trophy bass lakes in Farmville and a pile of smaller lakes in the area, anglers had a lot of options for finding fish. I braved Briery Creek Lake and caught 11 largemouth for the day. All of them were in the 15″-18″ range. Not big enough to place in the Top 3, but a ton of fun.

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Kayak fishing tournaments are catch, photo, release, which means you measure your fish on a board, snap a photo of it and then release it back into the water. Most folks just use a simple point and click camera, no need for the over kill demonstrated by me.

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All the prizes for the tournament are awarded through raffle to raise funds for Heroes On the Water and Project Healing Waters. And there are always great prizes. This year it was an impressive line-up of fully YakAttack rigged kayaks and SUPs.

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Because of all the great sponsors, there was a fully rigged Old Town Predator 13, Jackson Kayak Kilroy, Live Watersports L2Fish SUP and Wilderness Systems ATAK on display. All of which were raffled off. That’s not to say that winners don’t walk away with something, because they do.

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photo courtesy of Chris Poe facebook

Chris Poe, who won the Bass Division, walked away with this killer Goyotaku bass print from the famed angler and artist, Rob Choi. The Crappie Division winner, Nik Brown, and Bluegill Division winner, Carter Clevinger, got fresh prints from Rob Choi as well.

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Photo Courtesy of Carter Clevinger facebook

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Nik Brown, Jackson Kayak Pro, also won the Slam Division and was awarded this cool plaque.

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Nik was also the Director of the fishing portion of the tournament, which explains this face when he realized he’d won two divisions in that tournament.

🙂 ha!

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Following the awards, dinner was served. Another night of fantastic food. Saturday usually features smoked chicken and pulled pork, all the standard delicious sides, and Vicky Cifers’ famed desserts.

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As the line dwindled, the raffles kicked in, and kayak anglers from across the country settled into the camaraderie of the event. There were a lot of psyched raffle winners. From the great assortment of paddlecraft down to the homemade VA wine, the YakAttack Tournament is all about fun, fellowship, raising funds and a little bit of fishing. It sells out super quick every year, and those that have attended can attest to the good vibes and excellent atmosphere.

As the event wrapped up, Luther stepped to the mic and gave an estimate on the amount raised. Over $20,000 would be donated to Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters!

Well done YakAttack, well done.

And as we take this Memorial Day weekend to remember those who gave all in service to our country, it’s nice to know that so many are willing to give of themselves, to honor those who’ve served and are still battling the wounds of war.

In Oliver Hughes’s pre-tournament speech he referred to HOW and their volunteers as the helping hand that reached into the darkness of his life and offered hope. If you’re out there, and you feel that darkness closing in, know that there is a whole community of people ready to offer their hand, and you can find a great many of them at the YakAttack Tournament every spring.

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Did we mention the food?

John Hipsher, Yak Attack, takes a well deserved smokey, succulent rib break on Saturday night.  Big props to John for all his work in organizing this year’s tournament. Well done!

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*If you’re looking, here is some info. Click the name and go to their websites Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters.

You can always call our toll free # 800.442.4837 and we can put you in touch with good people.

Quit Your Job, Scott Martin Kayak Fishing, Hobie Eclipse, Rules of the Road, and a Slasher Film

by Brian Vincent

Check out all the quality content coming from our community of paddlers, both whitewater kayaking and kayak fishing. Tune in, read up and get psyched. This is the Friday’s Finds, where we seek to highlight some of the paddlers who call Virginia home. PaddleVa is about all of us. While some of the stuff shared in these posts will come from outside our waters, Virginia will always be the primary focus.

This week features predominantly out of state content, with the exception of the last video on John’s Creek here in VA. Although the first video does relate to some VA content to come.

First Up:

Yak Gear Marketing Manager, Mark Vlaskamp, walked away from his desk job to go on an extended paddling trip. He grabbed  some support from paddlesports industry partners, loaded up his cat and his canoe and hit the open road. His blog at www.canoevibes.com is excellent. He’s also being featured through Rapid Media. Mark will be making his way through Virginia on this Monday and Tuesday and joining me for some Central VA bass fishing. In the meantime, you can hear from the man himself what this trip is all about.

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Second Up:

Pro Bass Angler Scott Martin still goes fishing on his days off, but he uses a kayak to get places his bass boat can’t. He’s not the first Pro to jump into a kayak and I’m sure he won’t be the last. Here’s his Old Town Predator MK video.

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Third Up:

The Hobie Eclipse Pedal SUP has been all the rage here lately. We recently got a chance to try them out ourselves. They are fun! Here is a quick run down on how to assemble and get out on one. Seriously, you should try it. Our Demo Day is June 11th.

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Fourth Up:
Jeff Herman, Jackson Kayak Pro, has been narrating some great kayak angling videos lately with Kayak Fishing Tales and the ACA. Jeff is one of my favorite non-Va kayak anglers out there. Tune in and watch what he’s been putting down.

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Fifth Up:

We teamed up with the young guns from FreeFall Visuals because we believe they make great whitewater content. Here’s a video, POV style, of a run down the famed John’s Creek here in Virginia. Find these guys on Facebook and Instagram and check them out!

Throwing it Back: 4 Years at Appomattox River Company

 

by Brian Vincent

“So take a trip. Create some epic content. Engage with people in places you’ve never visited before. Because even if the customers (and sales) don’t come right away, you’ll be building a lasting brand. And that’s what counts in our increasingly noisy world.”  theHustle, May 25, 2016. Ace & Everett: A Lesson In Content Marketing.

Exactly. I read the above Content Marketing piece today and it gets at the essence of what I strive to accomplish.

I’ve been at Appomattox River Company for 4 years, this weekend, and more than anything, this is what I’ve tried to do: To tell an authentic story, engage and connect with the communities we serve, and break through the noise.

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I want to thank all of you that I’ve met over these four years for your friendship, for influencing me and assisting me, in telling our story. The story of Appomattox River Company, of the Paddleva Family, and of my journey have become completely intertwined, but there have been so many other voices, far more powerful than mine that have “contributed a verse.”

I am truly grateful.

There are many instrumental people involved in Appomattox River Company’s success and I hope that I’ve honored their significant contributions in these years. I look forward to telling more of those stories in the years to come.

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There are many talented people who’ve aided me in building the PaddleVa Family community. Many who’ve opened their hearts and shared the knowledge that their passion for paddling has fostered. Thank you. Thank You. I cannot thank you all enough. I truly find great joy in your adventures and in sharing those adventures.

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And lastly, but not least, thank you to my family. Thank you for putting up with me.

“Always remember there was nothing worth sharing
Like the love that let us share our name.”

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When I first started at Appomattox River Company, I was told to find where I fit in. As the son-in-law to the owner/ founder, coming into a well established, successful business, things were not always easy. There were a lot of eyes on me, some expectations, some reservations, and some hesitations. But I found my place, and in doing so I found an extended family, both at Appomattox and in the larger Paddleva community.

It’s been a fun ride. I’ve met so many excellent people. I feel very fortunate that a big part of my purview is telling the story of this very storied enterprise. I feel especially fortunate that with the telling of those tales, comes travel to many new places, and that travel brings me into contact with all of you, the paddlers. There are many subsets of the tribe, and I’ve found smiles and laughter within each one. From whitewater, to canoeing, to SUP, to touring, to kayak fishing, the world of paddling is full of eccentric, exceptional, and deeply engaging individuals.

Thank You all for the great memories over the last four years, and I look forward to meeting more of you, while hanging with the tribe, in the years to come.

PaddleVa

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See ya out there, on the water!

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Hobie Eclipse Pedal Board : A Revolution In SUP

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by Brian Vincent

We recently got the chance to test out the new Hobie Eclipse Pedal Board. Hobie once again has done a great job keeping this innovation out of the public eye until it was ready to roll. And these things definitely roll!

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For any skeptics, just try it. It’s smile inducing. Seriously.

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The 10.6 version is 33″ wide and weighs 44lbs. unfitted, while the 12.0 version is 35″ wide and weighs 48lbs. unfitted. The max capacity for the 12 is 275lbs.

The handle bars are adjustable and have controls to turn the board exactly where bikes have brakes. It’s a very intuitive design. Squeeze right, go right, squeeze left, go left. You can also shift your feet on the pedal pads to achieve different levels of resistance and speed. The turning radius is fantastic. I found the controls to be super responsive. When pedaling and turning the nature inclination is to lean, but there is no need.

Everyone in the shop got to try them out and everyone had a blast. We’re betting you will too. Come to our Super Demo Day on June 11th to try it out for yourself.

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Kayak Fishing with Jackson Kayak’s Drew Gregory : The Briery bend

by Brian Vincent

For the past few years Drew Gregory, Jackson Kayak Pro, and I have been talking about kayak fishing together. It’s usually confined to the standard trade show / event banter where nothing is ever set in stone, but the general psyche is there. The problem is, like most folks these days, our schedules are hectic.

 Drew was scheduled to come up for the River Bassin Tournament Event in Central Virginia this past Saturday. He and his lovely wife Christina were on tap to arrive a little early for some James River smallie fun with yours truly. Mother Nature had other plans. The rains came and the section I’d picked to fish had swollen to 11.5ft. No point in jumping on the big chocolate milk highway. We adjusted the parameters of the tournament to account for the blown out rivers, moving it to an online format, and opened the geographic boundaries. It looked like once again, our fishing trip together was a no go.

I was psyched when Drew called and said he’d loaded his RV and was headed up for a day of Briery Creek Lake bassin despite the tournament no longer going down as planned.

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photo courtesy of Drew G.

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We met at one of the Briery Creek Lake launches in the morning and started gearing up. Both of us were grateful for this chance to slip into the water and just fish, no hype or pressure. I loaded up my Jackson Coosa HD in Sunrise and Drew geared up his Jackson Cuda 12 LT in Realtree Camo and we started knocking on the wood. Drew Gregory also fishes for 13 Fishing, Kokatat, Smith and Bending Branches.

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Drew started off with two giant blow-ups, but I was the first to shake the skunk off our day.

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Briery can be a tough place to get acclimated your first time. It’s flooded timber can give some folks fits. But Drew attacked it like the seasoned angler he is and eventually started boating some bass. He was pretty pumped about his first one, despite the size, as he was down 3-0 at this point. 🙂

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I don’t typically have as much experience fishing as the anglers I wet lines with, so I’m always watching and learning. Studying Drew on a our timber-choked lake, as he moved, explored, and changed tactics, was enlightening. I texted a buddy later and relayed how the day went. His response, “that dude can fish.” Yes he can.

But I wasn’t just sitting back letting him have all the fun.

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It was a beautiful calm day out on Briery which made the fishing a bit tough. But the local fauna was out in full effect.

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Life has been busy for me between Appomattox River Company and family, and I know Drew’s been busy with the River Bassin Trail and his new life touring with his wife and dogs. It can be hard to find a little quiet time for simple pursuits. On this day we got the recharge we needed. We paddled, we soaked in the sanctuary of Briery’s beauty and we caught fish. It was pretty darn fun, and isn’t that why we all started kayak fishing?

As the trip closed, I got the best bite of the day, and Drew finished with another solid fish. We didn’t hook one of Briery’s legendary lunkers, but we had a great time looking for one. For many of us, kayak fishing is as much about the relationships we make above the water as it is about what we pull up from below. This day was good, because it involved good people, good scenery and good fish. It’s a pretty simple equation, and blissfully effective.

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Thanks for driving up Drew! (and Christina!) Hope to see y’all soon. And next time we find that lunker.

PostScript: I think we finished Vince 8 – Drew 5 . I’ll just leave that there as motivation for next time. 🙂