Friday’s Finds: Big Whitewater Kayaking Fun and Chesapeake Bay 3 Commentary

by Brian Vincent


The Friday’s Fresh Finds have become a great way to highlight the content generated in our local Virginia community, like kayaking fishing and whitewater kayaking. I strive to find good stuff from local paddlers, but occasionally I reach outside our region. The other reason for highlighting videos, blogs and photos on Friday is to provide some inspiration and psyche as we roll into the weekend. At least that is why I originally started surfing the web for great content in the first place. So here is what caught my attention this week. There is a lot of whitewater kayaking in this week’s post!

First Up:

Ben Moore – BIC SUP/ Werner Paddles, Brianna Molchan, and Mitch Davis all hail from Richmond, Virginia and they stand tall as great ambassadors to the downtown James River whitewater community and the stand -up paddle-board community. Here, photographer Elli Morris, captures the trio having a blast on a beautiful Fall day  in RVA on the James River.

Second Up:

Rush Sturges recently joined the Jackson Kayak team. Rush makes amazing videos and this brief explanation of why he moved is definitely amazing.

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Third Up:

Shane Groves, Wave Sport Kayaks paddler, lives in my old stomping grounds, Fayetteville,WV, home of the New River Gorge and the Gauley River. Here he is on the Gauley in the gorgeous fall weather.

Fourth Up:

From Dagger Kayaks : “This year, over 50 women gathered to paddle the Green River in North Carolina, to build the female paddling community and honor Shannon Christy. Check out the inaugural Green River Takeover!” This is a pretty cool thing.

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Fifth Up:

Kayak Kevin, Rob Choi and Lee Williams of Ocean Kayak sit down and provide a DVD commentary to the freshly released Chesapeake Bay 3 : Cold Water Species Kayak Fishing from Kayak Kevin. If you’re somehow unaware, Kayak Kevin has been putting out awesome DVDs for years. Now you can watch the DVD and listen to these three share the secrets behind the scenes. Pretty cool!

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The Dilemma of the Kayak Anglers Choice Awards

by Brian Vincent


TheKayak Anglers Choice Awards (KACA) is a joint venture between and Each year kayak anglers from across the globe nominate and vote for their favorites in various categories like Kayak Angler of the year, Kayak of the year, and more. The KACA are the only kayak fishing specific awards driven solely by kayak anglers.” – from their website.


It is the last sentence that always gives me pause when the awards come up. This is the third year running that I’ve paid attention to the KACA. Last year we avidly campaigned, as Appomattox River Company had been nominated for Retailer of The Year. It felt a little weird. I shared the voting page across our social channels and my personal channels. That means that many folks who are not kayak anglers had the opportunity to vote on “kayak fishing specific awards driven by kayak anglers.” There in lies the dilemma.

I know it’s silly. Ultimately, the more people aware of kayak fishing the better. And the guys running the KACA are just doing their part to increase awareness. But still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had slummed for votes. Enter 2014 and the just announced Round 1 voting is here. Once again, the dilemma. What should I do? How should I support what the guys and gals at KACA are doing, promote our local folks and mention the shop nomination without feeling dirty? After a little internal debate and consulting with Tom, our GM, I decided to post a blog about the dilemma in which I would highlight all the Virginia nominations, including ours, thereby absolving myself of the guilt of soliciting votes. Also silly, I know, but it makes me feel better. ;)

So here goes. First up is Kayak Angler of the Year 2014. There are a lot of great anglers up for this award, but we’re throwing our support behind all the Virginia anglers. Go cast a vote!

Drew Camp – Jackson Kayak, Werner Paddles


Rob Choi – Ocean Kayak/ Werner Paddles

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Kayak Kevin Whitley – Ocean Kayak/ Bending Branches


Jay Brooks – Wilderness Systems/ Adventure Technology


Next up the Tidewater Kayak Angler’s Association aka TKAA is up for Kayak Angling Forum of the Year. We love our local kayak fishing club and think they’re awesome! Check them out!


We also want to give a shout out to Kayak Angler Magazine because editor, Ric Burnley, is a member of the Virginia kayak fishing community.  The magazine is up for Kayak Fishing Magazine of the Year.


Oh, and low and behold, it just so happens that we, Appomattox River Company, are up for Retailer of the Year. We think we’re pretty cool, but there are lots of cool folks in this industry. Cast your vote accordingly.


The Chesapeake Bay is up for Kayak Fishing Location of the Year. We all think it’s the best place to be for fishing and  community. What do you think?



YakAttack has many products up for vote in the Innovative Product of the Year Category. Our Central Va neighbors at YakAttack have been killing it for many years now, and they show no signs of slowing down. These guys design, manufacture and use great products all right here in Virginia. We love these guys! Show them some love!


Kayak Angling Video of the Year! I love this award. These folks put a lot of passion into their videos. I salute all the nominees, but we’re highlighting our PaddleVa Family here.

Drew Camp – This is Why I Fish

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Robert Lee – Yaktastic Adventures – Just Go!

Rob Choi – Striper on The Fly -or- Swing

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Jonathon Leavitt- Snakehead

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Last but not least is Kayak Fishing Blog of the Year. We have some strong content creators in Virginia. Here are the ones up for a vote.

Rob Choi  – Angling Addict – Rob puts up some of the freshest content and with great style.

Kayak Kevin Whitley – Kayak Kevin – Kayak Kevin is the OG. He’s been posting informative fishing reports and videos for a long time.

Fish Tails – Drew Camp – Drew is part of the youth brigade and enthusiastic and his reports are super informative and engaging.

Brian Vincent- PaddleVa Blog – I read all of the above blogs. They are all excellent. My blog is a mix of personal stories, event coverage, community highlights and product info.

That’s right folks! This here blog is up for a nomination with some amazing company. I started out a couple years back reading these guys above religiously, so it’s truly an honor to be nominated alongside them.

So, there you have it everybody. The Kayak Anglers Choice Awards are here. Click the previous highlight to cast your votes. The Virginia community is definitely well represented! I know my hesitation about the KACA awards is warranted, but I believe the good out weighs the bad. This world is cynical enough, we don’t need it in kayak fishing as well. This lifestyle is about fun , camaraderie and relaxation and I think the guys and gals who put the KACA together get it. Yes there have been some bumps in the road, as there always are when people are trying to break ground in a new arena. But their heart is in the right place, kayak fishing. That’s what we all love. So let’s vote with that love in mind and when the results come out, let’s celebrate our community. Debate is healthy and I’m sure the folks at the KACA welcome constructive criticism, but let’s remember to have fun and be supportive of one another. That’s my two cents and it’s probably worth about that, but as a critic of the KACA in the past, I felt like I needed to make amends and drop my cynicism. Or maybe I just feel that way because I was nominated this year. ;)

Go Vote!

Jackson Kayak Dealer Summit Recap – 2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  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.

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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.

Clay Wright dancing a jig on the Coosa HD

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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.

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“Build It Like It’s Yours” – Jackson Kayak

Luther, of YakAttack, brainstorming with the Jackson crew in the factory.

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Jim Sammons, of Kayak Fishing Show with Jim Sammons, filming some segments for his show and speaking about his baby, the Kraken.

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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!

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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.

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Also got to check out the new Jackson Kayak Kilroy with Reeltree Camo. This is going to be the ultimate sportsman’s paddle craft.

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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.

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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.

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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:


P.S.S – Look for me to post all my photos from the trip to our Facebook Page this evening.

From WV SUP to Giant VA Musky; Friday’s Fresh Finds, Kayak Fishing to Whitewater

by Brian Vincent

Here is what caught my eye this past week.

First Up:

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.


Second Up:

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.

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Third Up:

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.

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Fourth Up:

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:


Fifth Up:

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:

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Sixth Up:

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.


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Unwrapping the Wilderness Systems Ride 115X Max Kayak

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.