by Brian Vincent
*a quick disclaimer- my nice Canon had a massive malfunction right before this trip, so I was forced to rely on a GoPro and my iPhone.
The Jackson Kayak Dealer Summit was held on Oct. 12-14 at Rock Island State Park in Tennessee. Personally this was my first time attending, as Tom, our GM, had attended previous events. I was psyched to head down south and get my JK learn on. But first, I took Friday off from work and went kayak fishing.
A storm was coming in and I made a quick trip to Briery Creek Lake before it hit. After searching some shallow spots, I headed to an old familiar point. It’s a secondary point that extends out into the lake. You can paddle up, tie off to a stump and just start slinging along the point. I’d been out here before, right as a storm was approaching, and the bite was red hot. This day was no different.
Once again, I had a blast throwing a PTL Sick Stick on a drop shot rig and letting it shake around the point. In the next photo you can see the smaller bass waiting for me to release his buddy.
On Sunday I loaded up the ARC truck and headed for Tennessee. I arrived after dark on Sunday evening and found a spot at Rock Island State Park. Luther, from YakAttack, had called earlier and we’d agreed to meet up. He rolled in shortly after me. A lot of folks were at the Jackson Family Ranch, but Luther and I posted up at the campground, cracked open some beverages and caught up on each other’s travels. Our businesses are only 20 minutes apart, but with the hustle and bustle, sometimes these events are the perfect time to reconnect and hang out. It was great. Luther is someone who’s perspectives on family, kayak fishing and business, I always appreciate.
The rain arrived as we headed to bed and stuck around until the morning.
The rain burned off a bit and the Jackson Kayak Dealer Summit officially opened. We headed down to the water for some Marketing seminars, lunch and on-the-water fun.
The seminars were fantastic. If there is one thing JK rocks(the rock a lot of stuff), it’s brand marketing. These guys make it look effortless.
Following the seminars, we had lunch and then headed to the water. The next day’s weather looked heinous, so the Jackson Kayak team decided we’d spend maximum time on the water the first day. In true fanboy fashion, I had to snag a photo with a couple of legends in whitewater and kayak fishing, Eric Jackson and Jim Sammons.
The wind was whipping up a little, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast on the water. Rock Island State Park is a beautiful place.
I got to paddle the new Coosa HD, Cuda LT and the Kraken. Each of them was impressive. The Coosa HD was very impressive from a freshwater fishing standpoint. Jackson made a lot of awesome improvements. The stability is drastically improved, as is the overall tracking. The bow sat down in the water much better and on a day when the old Coosa bow would have been blown all over the place, the HD shined. The Kraken was fast! It was also very stable for a sleek fishing rig. It really shined when you tried to attain up river into the strong current. It was immediately apparent that the Kraken is a big, rough water performer.
I had the most fun watching the Jackson Kayak whitewater team guys playing on the fishing kayaks.
After the day’s activities we headed to a local restaurant, the Foglight Foodhouse. The food was spectacular, as was the ambiance. I spoke with the owner and we waxed poetic on making it in beautiful, small southeastern towns. He has a good thing going in Walling, TN. Check him out when you’re down that way. Following the drinks and camaraderie, Luther and I headed back to the campground. The next day was the JK factory tour. I was excited to see, first hand, how kayaks are made in Sparta, TN.
“Build It Like It’s Yours” – Jackson Kayak
Luther, of YakAttack, brainstorming with the Jackson crew in the factory.
Jim Sammons, of Kayak Fishing Show with Jim Sammons, filming some segments for his show and speaking about his baby, the Kraken.
The first thing you realize walking into the Jackson Factory is that they hide nothing. We were able to snap pictures and amble about talking to the great folks who work there.
Jase Bouldin, in the hat, right background, is the first Jackson Kayak employee. He’s still there doing amazing work with the Jackson molds. Here is the Coosa mold that’s made upwards of 7000 Coosas and will make many more. That is a lot of fun times rolling out the door off this one mold!
While at the factory, I also got the chance to see the new venture, Orion Coolers. These coolers are made in the Jackson factory and come stock with a ton of features, including standing pad, bottle openers, cool colors, reinforced handles, etc. Below you’ll see a 65qt. Orion next to a Yeti65. Only one of these is a true 65 qt. cooler.
Also got to check out the new Jackson Kayak Kilroy with Reeltree Camo. This is going to be the ultimate sportsman’s paddle craft.
Following the factory tour we all headed to the Jackson Kayak Family Ranch for the end-of-summit party. If you’re unfamiliar with the Jackson family, they are all great people and great whitewater competitors, from Eric down to his children and son-in-law, Nick. I stumbled across this example of their winning ways.
I had a great time at the party visiting with all the other dealers, reps, athletes, etc. It was a great atmosphere with good food, good beer and good music.
I walked away form the Dealer Summit with an increased respect for what they do down in Tennessee and across the world. From Eric Jackson – founder, Dave Olson – Finance , Marty Cronin -VP of Sales and his wife, Sonia, Damon Bungard – Product Manager, James Mcbeath – Marketing, Emily Jackson – Marketing/ Athlete, Ian Stewart -Dealer services, Jase Bouldin – Welding, etc., David Blanding – Rep, Brooks Beatty – Team Manager, Drew Gregory – Fishing Team, etc, etc. Everyone is awesome. I could go on and on about people I met and hung out with, and I’d be able to recite their names, because it’s important at Jackson. The intimacy and camaraderie of the paddle-sports lifestyle is of utmost importance there, and that sentiment permeates the culture through out the Jackson family.
That was my biggest takeaway, family. Jackson Kayak started with the Jackson family. Eric, his wife Kristine and their two kids Dane and Emily are the core of what the kayak brand has been about from the onset. That feeling of family is prevalent throughout the company. I saw it on the floor of the factory as people shouted greetings and the smiles were abundant. Cruising the factory, one thing stuck in my mind more than anything else, it felt like home. It is the same sense of family I get working at Appomattox River Company. Jackson Kayak has husbands and wifes, mothers and sons, best friends, etc all working in the company. It’s the same here at ARC. The family atmosphere is one fostered not only by actual family relations, but a sense of duty to each other and the brand. Both Appomattox River Company and Jackson Kayak started as true small businesses and have grown into major players in the industry. We’ve both done it with a strong sense of family, a dedication to strong customer service and big passion. My father-in-law, Bob Taylor, started ARC in the basement of his house in 1977. My mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and my wife were the core support group for ARC in the early years, much like Kristine Jackson and the kids were for Jackson Kayak. ARC like Jackson Kayak has also grown to incorporate other, very important, families into the fold, and those members continue to drive the original mission forward. What is that mission? To spread the joy of paddling. Pure and simple. Jackson Kayak does that. Appomattox River Company does that. I’m proud to be associated with both.
See ya on the water!
P.S. Oh, and I brought a few of these back with me. Release the Kraken!!! Shop the Kraken here: http://www.paddleva.com/shop/all/APP02757-jackson-jackson-kraken-kayak-2015
P.S.S – Look for me to post all my photos from the trip to our Facebook Page this evening.
by Brian Vincent
Here is what caught my eye this past week.
The 2014 New River Gorge SUP Race happened last month and the SUP community came together to pay homage to one of West Virginia’s beloved sons, Brian Jennings, who lost a battle to cancer earlier this year. The event raised money that was then donated to one of Brian’s favorite charities. The NRG SUP Race is a cool grassroots event and this video captures a little of that vibe. Local RVA SUP’er, Ben Moore – BIC SUP / Werner Paddles, had a good showing with a 2nd Place finish in the Down River Race. The rest of the results can be found here.
Here is the video.
Jonathan Leavitt, Feelfree Kayaks / Accent Paddles, showcases the Lure 11.5 fishing kayak from Feelfree. He stars and produces Live Like Jon, a webepisode series, and has been a good addition to the PaddleVa community. Check out his video below.
The Pro Perspective on AT Paddles with Clay Wright and Stephen Wright of Jackson Kayak. These guys are rad, and do rad stuff, so you should listen to them.
Jay Brooks, of Wilderness Systems / Adventure Technology Paddles, has been out getting after it. Rumor has it Jay is considering a move down south. C’mon man, does it get any better than this?
We hope only the best for ya and keep catching them up! You can see Jay’s full post by clicking the link below the photo.
Click the link for Jay’s reports from the past few weeks, including how to refinish your kayak: http://www.virginiakayakfisherman.com/
I revisited the video that first introduced me to the Grant and Josh combo, of Peelin’ Drag Extreme Fishing. These RVA buddies have been tearing it up and this first introduction was solid. This video still gets me psyched to go chase musky. The enthusiasm is contagious.
Check it out:
Kayak Kevin and Lee Williams, of Ocean Kayak, rock out another podcast featuring the release of Kayak Kevin’s latest DVD. Check it out and support Kevin and the gang’s great efforts.
by Brian Vincent
The new Air Pro Max seat from Wilderness Systems is a pretty sweet kayak seat. We recently received our first shipment of Wilderness Systems Ride 115X Max kayaks and the Air Pro Max seat comes standard. But that isn’t the only awesome improvement to this battle tested kayak fishing machine. We’ll get to the others shortly. First, a picture.
Here’s what Wildy has to say about their seat.
“Fully functional in existing Ride models with great ease of installation, the patent-pending seat has a full forward/aft trim range and three phase high, low and recline positioning without any clipping or loosening of straps. Standing room remains ample and the seat back can be folded and sat upon for even more height on the water. The aluminum tube frame construction is highly durable with an all-weather, breathable textile that affords both comfort and functionality with opportunities for side pocket and tackle box storage.”
The seat even has a”laid back” setting for those moments when you need to deploy a little gangsta lean.
So, what else is awesome about the new Wilderness Systems Ride 115X max? Well, the whole Wildy line-up is getting a make-over. The seat is pretty baller, but what caught my eye was the new foot braces. I like the added surface area and the padded grooves. I think people will be quite impressed with this simple improvement.
The other sweet modification is the new hatches. Wilderness Systems has updated the Orbix hatches and they appear to be awesome upgrades in the watertight realm. The hatches, with their enhanced groove track, now pack a much tighter seal.
So there is my first, quick look at the new Wilderness Systems Ride 115X Max. I’ve been a fan of the Ride 115 for a while now. It has a surprising amount of speed and maneuverability built into that super stable tri-hull design. Now you add the improved foot braces, hatches and Phase 3 Air Pro Max seat to last year’s removable console and you have a pretty cool kayak fishing rig. The Air Pro Max seat is definitely worth the hype. It’s comfortable, well built and extremely well thought out. We currently have the Ride 115X Max and the Ride 115 Max Angler in stock and we’ll be getting more Rides in shortly. If you want to check out these fishing machines hit the links that follow or visit one of our locations.
And yes, the new 2015 Tarpons we got in all have the new hatches and foot braces as well. The classic kayak just got better.
by Brian Vincent
Ok, I know everyone has anxiously been awaiting the pictures of my epic TKAA day. I’ve struggled to find the right words to describe the amount of dedication and good fortune that goes into catching such magnificent fish while kayak fishing. So I’ll just post the pictures. As you can imagine, these majestic specimens really put up an amazing fight. It was touch and go with each. Should I take a photo, or hook’em in the tail and throw’em out as bait? I slapped them on the board and felt a bit of my soul die.
All jokes aside, some monsters were caught during the TKAA, just not by me. One of our fave anglers, Rob Choi, cruised into 2nd Place in the Redfish Division with a 48.5″ bull drum. Yes, folks, that is correct. The 48.5″ drum was only good for 2nd. That’s crazy!
You can check out Rob’s TKAA write-up by clicking the following photo.
Yea, his fish was a little bigger than mine. Yes, Rob braved much rougher conditions than I, but I caught 5 fish, he only caught one. Who’s the real baller here?
But I digress. Let’s get to the heart of this event.
The TKAA Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament benefits Heroes On the Water and Project Healing Waters. Both of these great organizations endeavor to assist our military men and women through therapeutic fishing missions. The tournament is the largest fund raiser for our local HOW Tidewater Chapter. Last year it was the third largest kayak fishing tournament in the country. This year the attendance stayed strong, and the money raised jumped up! The exact numbers aren’t’ out yet, but all indications point to a record haul. Kayak anglers continue to prove themselves a very generous and compassionate bunch.
I took photos from Friday’s Captain’s Meeting, but forgot my camera cord and couldn’t upload them, so I had to dump them before tournament day. You must have a clean memory card on tournament day and it’s a good thing I followed the rules because……actually it wasn’t. You saw my fish. Oh well.
After a fun Captain’s Meeting evening complete with a BBQ food truck, outside the event headquarters, I headed to bed. The next morning I joined Mark and Kris Lozier, of Native Watercraft/ Werner Paddles/Astral Fishing and Megan Kieninger, our Werner Paddles Rep.
While the fishing wasn’t great, the company and the scenery were pretty top-notch.
So I finished the day off with some small catches. Everybody headed back to the tournament HQ, and I stuck around playing with the Wilderness Systems Ride 135. I hadn’t paddled it much, so I wanted to check it out. It’s a pretty solid rig and like I’ve always told folks, the tri-hull design on the Ride series provides a surprising amount of speed, stability and maneuverability.
After paddling around and catching a few more small guys, I headed back to Norfolk. The parking lot at the tournament HQ was filling up fast. Kayaks could be seen covering the roofs of cars throughout the lot.
If you look closely you can spy another drone in the air. All told, 3 drones flew over the TKAA tourney. It will be cool to see what footage comes out of it.
The awards ceremony featured many of our fantastic local anglers taking home prizes. Big Congrats to Joe Underwood, of PowerTeam Lures, for throwing down and winning the slam! And Congrats to all the winners! Well done all around!
The Results of the Tournament:
Joe Underwood Williamsburg, VA Slam Total 69.5” slam
(Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14)
2nd- Brandon Poulter Virginia Beach, VA 66.75”
3rd-David Langtston Hampton, VA 59”
Hurricane Kayaks Speckled Trout Division
1st- Tim Morris Hampton, VA 24.5”
(Hurricane Skimmer 14)
2nd- Walt Litchfield, Chesapeake, VA 24.25”
3rd-Forrest Short Yorktown, VA 22.75”
Appomattox River Company Redfish Division
1st- Jeff Depfer Glen Burnie, MD 51”
($500 ARC Gift certificate)
2nd- Rob Choi Richmond, VA 48.5”
3rd- Mike Rosa, Olney, MD 48”
(3 way tie determined by check-in time)
Wild River Outfitters Flounder Division
1st- Edward Crumb Suffolk, VA 21.25”
($500 WRO certificate )
2nd-Jeff Singleton Manassas, VA 20”
3rd-Jacob Harmon Troy, VA 20”
Kokatat Striper Division
1st- Dan Smullen Virginia Beach, VA 24.25”
(Kokatat Hydrus Dry Suit)
2nd-Kris Ron Cagle Hayes, VA 18.25”
3rd-Ben Kleeger Virginia Beach, VA 17.5
Wilderness Systems/KayakBassFishing.com Largemouth Bass Division
1st- Tom Hipple Lightfoot, VA 19.75”
(WS Ride 115 kayak)
2nd- James Taylor Windsor, VA 17.5”
3rd – Josh Dolan Glen Allen, VA 17.25”
Dick’s Sporting Goods Youth Division
1st- Jacob Mattauch Henrico, VA 28.5 redfish”
(Field & Stream kayak)
2nd- Gehrig Girard Linden, VA 18” Speckled Trout
3rd- Lila Oast Bloomsburg, PA Ribbonfish
Female Angler-Largest Fish
Kelly Routh Virginia Beach, VA 27.5” Redfish
(custom paddle from Werner)
Kris Lally Lozier Virginia Beach, VA 22”
Temple Fork Outfitters Rod
Bryan Hamel Hampton, VA 10 Species
Ocean Eagle Kayak Adventures Rod & Reel
I had to roll out of the Awards ceremony and hang-out session early, as I had pressing family stuff to do the next day, but it was hard to leave. The Virginia community of anglers, and all the other folks from out of state, is just awesome. I posted a little message the day after the event on my Facebook page and I thought I’d close with it here. It encapsulates how I feel about the camaraderie and community I always experience when I travel down to the coast. Generally i feel this way when I am anywhere kayak anglers are hanging out, but the hometown VA family has a special place in my heart. I haven’t been in the kayak fishing game long, but these folks are the reason I ventured into it.
- I’ve long been a man at home in the mountains, but I have to say, every time I hang with the Virginia kayak angling folks along the coast, my perspective shifts a little bit more. Such an awesome community, full of great people, supporting great clubs, supporting great causes and having a blast along the way. Thanks for welcoming me to the fold. It truly has been a pleasure getting to know soo many of you. As I drove back down to Hampton Roads today, to spend time with family, my mom remarked, “You seem to have met some really nice people in kayak fishing.” Yes I have. See y’all sooner than later I hope.
I’d like to close by saying well done to all those involved in making the TKAA Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament a huge success. This was my second year and once again I had a blast. I especially love the opportunity to help out Project Healing Waters and Heroes On The Water. It adds soo much to the experience to know that just by participating, your helping folks do good work and helping our military folks get on the water.
by Brian Vincent
From Kayak Kevin releasing the trailer for his new dvd, to Rob Choi resurfacing with a giant red, to the Peelin Drag boys competing strong, to the YakTastic crew chasing the dream, to the small lessons of Live Outside and Play, a lot of awesome stuff has been going down in our Virginia community. Much more than I could cover here. So, this is the kayak fishing edition, with a little Daddio thrown in for good measure. I’ll try to highlight some of the whitewater stuff soon. Like Be Moore out there tearing it up on the BIC SUP in WV and beyond. Until then, enjoy this installment of Friday’s Fresh Finds: the content that caught my attention.
Ocean Kayak paddler, Kayak Kevin’s new dvd, Kayak Fishing the Chesapeake Bay 3, is in the pre-order stage!! Kevin’s videos are essential viewing for anyone with any inclination towards fishing our local saltwater arena. Not only do they feature great fish fights, and rock-n-roll, but you’ll also find amazing tips and techniques spread throughout. Really, I can’t stress it enough, buy his dvds. They are way worth it, and I’m not just saying it because he works at ARC-Hampton or because he’s a great guy. His dvds fire you up with motivation and fill you up with knowledge. Below is the trailer for #3 and you can pre-order here: http://kayakkevin.com/home/kayakkevinstore.html. Rumor has it we might have some autographed copies at ARC-Hampton when they come out.
Rob Choi, of Ocean Kayak, posted a great little report on the TKAA Tournament. Rob always posts excellent content and this post is no different. You have to see it for the tail slap gif alone. You can read the report by clicking on the link below the photo.
Click the link for the story on this beast: http://www.angling-addict.com/2014/09/big-tournament-red.html
Another Rob Choi bit of awesome. Seriously, dude kills it. Check out this video of Rob in his Old Town Predator MX, slinging the fly for smallies.
Grant Alvis and Josh Dolin, of Peelin Drag Extreme Fishing, have been having a pretty good tournament run. These two are always getting after it with mad passion. Check out there great write-up about their past two tournaments and the past year on a whole. Click the link below the photo.
Click the link for the full story: http://www.fishhardorstayhome.com/2014/09/shake-and-bake-teaming-up-for.html?m=0
The guys from YakTastic Adventures have been turning out some fantastic videos. This is a great little behind the scenes video showing these guys doing what they love. Robert Lee, of Native Watercraft, is one half of the Yaktastic team and located in Va Beach. Him and Rob De Vore do good work. Check it out.
I’ve featured Jess Daddio, of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, on here before. She’s engaged in a year long ‘Live Outside and Play’ project for the magazine and I’ve been really enjoying her posts, etc. Jess seems to be a bit of a kindred spirit in her pursuit of all things awesome. My wife and I always joke about our girls that they never want to miss a good time, a trait they inherited from both of us. Jess is the same way, and her sentiments about those adventures are always spot on. This post grabbed me for obvious reasons. I have two daughters, and raising them to be leaders is front most in my mind. Check the link below the photo for the full story. it’s a good one.
Click the link for the full story: http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/liveoutsideandplay/good-people-little-chief/
And lastly, the latest Kayak Kevin Podcast from the TKAA Tournament. Kevin and Lee set up at the tournament and had a revolving door of guests come through and sit down to chat. Check it out. Great stuff from Tommy V of HOW Tidewater, Rob Choi, John Oast, Luther Cifers and Dan Smullen of YakAttack, etc.