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VA Whitewater 1sts, Snakeheads, Summer Kayak Bass Fishing, Merced Madness, Mahi Victory, and Kayak Kevin

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.

First Up:

Gordon Dalton, Pyranha Kayaks Pro, is a long time member of the PaddleVa Family and is always getting after it in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Here is a video of him and a crew of others knocking out a first descent of Upper Tumbling Creek in Va.

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Second Up:

Rob Choi, Ocean Kayak Pro, usually frequents the salt, but when time is tight he’s known to venture into the VA sweetwater as well. Here he, Jeff Lockhart and Matt Anderson find the skinny sweet stuff in Virginia contains a lot of life.

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You can read the full report by clicking here: http://www.angling-addict.com/2015/07/skinny-sweetwater-shenanigans.html

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Third Up:

AJ Morton, a Feelfree Kayaks Pro, out of Northern VA has been getting after the summer bass bite. He put together a nice video with some of the highlights.

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Fourth Up:

Steve Fisher, of Jackson Kayak, is a big name in whitewater and he’s always dreamed of dropping down the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. It has been illegal, until now. Check out Episode 1 of the Merced run.

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Fifth Up:

In Part 1 of  the Extreme Offshore Kayak Fishing miniseries, Robert Field, of Yak Fish TV and Manley Rods, takes his Hobie Outback into the deep blue for bucket list fish. Check out what he found.

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Sixth Up:

Kayak Kevin and Lee Williams, of Ocean Kayak, welcome William Ragulsky, of Hurricane Kayaks, into the studio for Podcast #61. Welcome to the party.

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Kayak Fishing and Good Gear at ICAST in Orlando, FL – Part 2

by Brian Vincent

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Yesterday I posted my first in a series of ICAST posts. ICAST is the largest sportfishing tradeshow around. Because there is so much to see there, I’ve started these posts by just doing an overview of what I saw. Later I will go more in-depth with products that are due to arrive in our stores soon. My ICAST recap Part 1 left off with some new Astral offerings. I closed out with a mention of their new sandal line for 2016. They also had a waist belt inflatable PFD in the works that looked pretty good.

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Over at the Jackson Kayak booth, they had some new Orion Cooler colors that looked pretty slick. Orion Coolers have been building some serious momentum in the fishing and hunting industry.

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Jackson Kayak had a RealTree Camo Kilroy and Cuda LT in the booth. Both of these looked great.

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Jackson also debuted the new angling kayak for kids, the Skipper. Jackson Kayak consistently innovates in the kid’s kayak category. Proof that they believe in growing the next generation of paddlers.

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Pelican International displayed their newest fishing kayak, the Catch 120. This camp chair seating, standing platform kayak looks to be a solid offering from Pelican. The flame one in the front is the standard option and should retail around $750 and the Angler specific one, in the back, comes in around $899.

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I stopped in at the Diablo Paddlesports booth and saw the Sea Dek padded Chupacabra. The guys had also constructed an aluminum frame that connects to the tracks on your kayak to create a catamaran party barge with a 10 horsepower torqueedo motor. The preliminary name is El Gato.

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The Old Town Canoe & Kayak booth had last year’s Best In Show winner, the Predator Minn Kota, in the front of the booth, but I spied a little gem in the background. The Loon Angler is a new sit-inside offering and it looks good.

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The boys at Viking Kayaks/ Yak Gear showed off their Pro Model Viking ProFish Reload with Bocagrips, Truth reel and more. It was a sweet package set-up.

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Speaking of Truth Reels, the Virginia crew had it going on. The booth looked great!

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I visited the Eddyline Kayaks booth to peek again at the C 135 Stratofisher. The C135 Yak Attack Edition, comes with a custom BlackPak and many more goodies, won Best Boat and Best in Show at this year’s ICAST. Pretty cool for this first time exhibitor. This was the second year in a row that a kayak won Best in Show. Kayak Fishing is making waves.

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ICAST is a fisherman/ gear junkies paradise. It’s the next best thing to catching fish. This was my second year at ICAST and it’s cool to see kayak fishing garnering so much attention. Everywhere you turn at this event people are talking about it. I had a couple of professional bass anglers come up and talk about getting into a kayak, and ask for advice.

It’s an amazing time in kayak angling. This growth will come with some pain, we see it already, but if anything, ICAST reminds me that we’re all in this big roller-coaster ride together. Kayak fishing will branch out into little subsets. People will have different ideas about what’s good and what’s bad. It’s ok. You don’t have to like everything. And you don’t have to complain about anything. All you have to do is remember to have some fun. That is the draw. That’s why we all got into this lifestyle, and that pursuit of fun is what’s driving this growth.

I had a blast hanging with the tribe in Orlando. We’re all a big family and it was good to reconnect and meet up with so many from across the country.

I’ll post the rest of my ICAST photos on our Facebook page later today. And in the coming weeks I’ll highlight certain things I’ve over-viewed in these posts and go a little more in-depth on them.

Kayak Fishing and Good Gear at ICAST in Orlando, Florida – Part 1

by Brian Vincent

Have you ever seen a 5-10 year old in the week leading up to a Disney World trip? That’s me as ICAST draws near. I have a hard time containing my psyche. This year was no different, and the psyche was warranted. What a great show! ICAST is the annual trade show for the fishing industry and took place July 15-17 in Orlando, Fla. The show is not open to the public, but rather is an industry event for retailers, exhibitors and members of the media. It’s basically a new gear showcase, a fishing industry brainstorming session, and a media hype fest.

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ICAST is billed as the largest sportfishing tradeshow around, and kayak fishing has started to make major waves within it’s halls. As you cruise the Orange County Convention Center it becomes increasingly clear that kayak fishing is here to stay, and grow. The sportfishing industry generated 53.5 billion dollars in 2014. Kayak anglers currently account for 7-12% of all anglers. Most anglers fish from land, and many from boats. What does that tell us? Kayak fishing has a lot of room for growth. It’s happening.

Here’s a shot of the Jackson Kayak / Orion Cooler booth drawing a lot of attention. Jackson Kayak continually strives to be in the forefront of this burgeoning industry and their push into coolers is indicative of that drive.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. I cruised down to Florida a day early and fished Monday morning in the Indian River Lagoon near Titusville. I hooked a juvenile tarpon at a creek mouth, watched in excitement as it leapt about, and then had it spit the hook 3 ft from the kayak.

After that tragedy I spooked some shallow reds with my terrible fly casting and then hooked on the smallest catfish in the lagoon on a popping cork. The face says it all.

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That evening I ventured over to the Banana River and a cove in which I’d hooked and lost a snook last year. After an hour of nothing, I started to feel discouraged. Why was nothing biting? Then I spotted two dolphin frolicking, four manatee stampeded past, and this guy popped up 5ft off my bow.

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So I resigned to watching the sunset with my scaled friend and headed for some sleep before the first ICAST On The Water demo. Tuesday I awoke and drove to Lake Toho in Orlando for the demo. It was a pretty sweet location.

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I took the chance to paddle the latest Eddyline Kayak, the C 135 Stratofisher. I liked it immediately. I gushed online and even texted my wife, this kayak was pretty sweet! I found the C 135 to have that usual Eddyline buttery feel in the water, the Cloud framed seat was comfy and the open deck provided a very stable platform for standing.

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After the Demo it was New Product Showcase time at ICAST in the convention center. Due to the strict adherence of the media only photography rules, and because a lady in uniform shook her head at me when I tried to snap some cell phone pics, I refrained from going all paparazzi on Tuesday afternoon.

But the next day it was on. Here are some of the cool things kayak fishing related that I came across.

The Hobie Outback Limited Edition. Word is they will only be making 500 of these kayaks to celebrate 15 years of Outback goodness. We should get our hands on some, and they will be a hot item. Good marketing idea by Hobie Fishing and the kayak looks great!

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Next I saw the Native Watercraft Ultimate Propel with a slick wrap job. This beauty was stunning.

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It featured a new tackle storage system that looked very promising as well.

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Another hot item on the floor was the Torqueedo motor for the Wilderness Systems ATAK. The hype train has been chugging along in the week lead up to ICAST and folks were psyched to see what all the fuss was about. It looked pretty good. Are you ready to go farther and faster?

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What really got my attention in the Confluence booth though was the Perception Pescador Pro 120. The price on this is rumored to be around $899 and I believe this kayak will be a real winner.

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I hopped over to the NRS booth and checked out their new line of kayak fishing specific clothing. The line looks good and everything had a nice feel to it. Stay tuned for this category because it will be a hot one. Kayak fisherman need quality clothing for all day adventure.

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Feelfree Kayaks was next. These boys are always innovating. They added an electronics pod to the Lure 11.5, started making coolers, added a stand assist bar, and debuted a prototype non-electric anchor pole kit dubbed the “Po Kit.” The color coordination of their product line continues to impress.

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I visited Astral Fishing’s booth next. The crew from Asheville has been busy.  The debuted the Realtree Ronny Fisher, the Murica Brewers, and a host of other cool colors for their footwear. They also revealed their sandal line-up which grabbed a lot of attention.

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ICAST is a whirlwind of cool stuff. I’ll post a Part 2 tomorrow featuring more great new products. ICAST can be overwhelming and so with these first two photo blogs I’m just seeking to highlight, with overviews, all the things I saw. Later, in subsequent postings I’ll narrow down and individually review some of the things you can expect to see in our stores for Fall 2015 and the 2016 season.

Southeast Whitewater, YakAngler TV, Sailfish Smackdown, Paddling Buddies, Billy’s Kayak Fishing Tips and Kevin’s Fla Tour

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.

First Up:

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine posted a great overview of the Best Rapids at each level in the southeast. If whitewater kayaking is your gig, check this list out. What do you think, did they miss anything? Click the link below the image for the full story.

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Get the full story here: http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/paddling/head-of-the-class-best-rapids-for-every-level/

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Second Up:

Jameson Redding, Jackson Kayak/ Bending Branches/ Astral Pro, is putting together a little web show with YakAngler and the Intro look very promising. Check it out and stay tuned.

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Third Up:

Christina Weber, Hobie Fishing and Astral Pro, is based out of Florida and recently hit up the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament Summer Slam Part 1. This is a video of her battling a sailfish. Pretty damn exciting and definitely on my bucket list. Check it out.

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Fourth Up:

Jess Daddio is the BRO Magazine travel editor and has been sharing her journey on the road through Live Outside and Play. She puts down some good stuff. Click the link following the photo for her recent story about having “bad influencers” in your life. Hint, it’s important.

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Click here for the full story: http://blueridgeoutdoors.com/loap/friends-like-these/

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Fifth Up:

William Ragulsky, Hurricane Kayaks, Werner Paddles, Astral Pro, recently put together a must have list for kayak anglers and it is done with his usual thoroughness. Click the link below the photo for the full list. What’s on yours?

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Click the following link for the full story: http://coastalkayakfishing.blogspot.com/2015/06/kayak-fishing-top-10-must-haves.html

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Sixth Up:

Kayak Kevin, Ocean Kayak, Aqua Bound Pro, has been celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Florida tour with video podcasts. These are excellent resources for those more adventurous souls. Check out the Everglades episode here.

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Good Gear Makes For Good Kayak Fishing

by Brian Vincent

I recently posted a Tips for New Kayak Anglers post that definitely erred more on the side of whimsy than gear technical. This time I’ll try to focus on gear, but simple stuff,  for those who’ve gotten into kayak fishing and are curious about what’s out there. With ICAST next week, I’ve got great gear on my brain. I’ll be traveling to Orlando for the “World’s Largest Sportfishing Tradeshow” and I’ll report in to our social sites (Facebook , Twitter , Instagram)  with all the good gadgets I come across. In the meantime, these are some of the things I’ve found that currently help me have a good time on the water. These are some of my essentials.

Good Gear

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1) Get a good cart. We stock quite a few, here. Currently I’m using a Sea To Summit Solution Cart for SOT kayaks. A good cart allows you to load up your kayak with the gear you need and wheel it to whatever launch you want to use. Do the back and forth kayak to car loading trips enough, you’ll invest in a cart.

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2) Invest in a quality paddle. Seriously, it’s an integral part of your propulsion. We have a stable of paddles that get used by our staff,  including Cannon Paddle Wave Slider,  Bending Branches Angler Pro, Werner Paddles Cyprus Paddle, and the AT Paddles Oracle Angler. These paddles all range from $275-$400. They are light and they will save you energy. But you can get a decent paddle starting in the $130 range. Here is where you hit the lighter shaft, carbon sticks with a fiberglass blade. Look at the Werner Hooked Series, The Bending Branches Angler Classic, the AT Search, etc.

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3) A good PFD is essential. Above is the Astral Ronny Fisher. There are many great fishing/paddling PFDs like the NRS Chinook, the Stohlquist Fisherman, and the ExtraSport Osprey and they’re all designed to be comfortable with today’s high back kayak seats. I have a lot of tools attached to my PFD that I need on the ready. It’s as important a tool as any other. Above I’m scanning depth for ledges on an app on my iPhone, which is in an E-Case, which has velcro adhesive attached to it so it sticks in the pocket on my Ronny Fisher. Solid.

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4) A good hawg trough aka a measuring board. If you plan on competing in any tournaments or just want to jump into the lifestyle, a Hawg Trough is a necessity. Kayak anglers typically measure and release their catch after photographing it, at least for tournaments. Measuring boards are good for determining if your catch is in the slot for table fare as well.

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5) Speaking of handling fish, this is my set-up for holding my catch before I measure or take a picture. I have the T-Reign Track Mounted Retractor with my Fish Grip looped on it. When I catch a good fish I lip grip’em and then keep them fresh in the water while I set up my board or camera.

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6) Setting up the camera. I’m usually fishing alone, so capturing the moment is something I work at diligently. We carry Yak Attack and Yak Gear products. Both of these companies have various mounts for your cameras. Check out the Yak Attack Panfish Portrait, and the Panfish Camera Pole, or the Yak Gear accessories. Look at what others have done, figure out what will work for you and then experiment with different angles. I get a lot of enjoyment out of a cool fish pic.

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7) An anchor trolley. One of the first things I install on a kayak is an anchor trolley. I use it to tie off to stumps on Briery, or drop anchor in the river, or I drive my stakeout pole through the ring when fishing flats or close to shore. Add a little bit of wind to your day, and having a way to hold position becomes critical, to both success and sanity.

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8) Footwear. It seems silly right? I mean you’re in a kayak, why is footwear important? I can’t sit for multiple hours. I have to get up and move about. Often that involves me wading and fishing with my kayak tethered to me. I like stretching my legs and cooling off in the water, but you need to be sure of foot when wading in creeks, lakes, flats, etc. So I wear some Astral shoes with sticky rubber. They also flush water out, and dry very quickly. I combine these with some Farm To Feet Blacksburg Low Water socks and it’s the perfect on the water/ off the water combo.

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9) Lures. Don’t be scared to throw big baits. Don’t be scared to break with convention. I have this Egret Baits Vudu Mullet I’ve been throwing lately. I threw it in the NC salt over Father’s Day and snagged some speckled trout. July 4th weekend I decided to throw it at a local lake and snagged a bunch of quality largemouth. I have the same fascination with the Powerteam Lures Swinging Hammer. Throw big baits and big fish will try to eat them.

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10) A good pair of shades. Yes, it’s another thing that seems silly, but for me it’s essential. I’ve had some terrible days fishing when I’ve forgotten my shades. Why? I couldn’t see the fish? No, though being able to break the glare off the water is cool, I got tired of squinting into the sun. Pure and simple. Not having sunglasses on caused me to squint, which caused me frustration, which led to bad fishing. Seriously. I have a lot of little fishing quirks, things I need to have in place to feel confident and relaxed, and a good pair of shades is one of them. Lately it’s been my Smith Optics Touchstones. But I’ve also enjoyed shades from Native Eyewear and Salt Life Optics.

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Once again, this was not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather a fun look at good gear. None of this stuff is essential to kayak angling, and many an angler gets by with much less. I’m a certified gear junkie, and there is a lot more gear involved in a day on the water, but if I gave it all up now, I’d have nothing to write later. 😉 These are some of the things I personally need to have with me to make for a good day on the water. If one of these things is missing, it dampens my psyche. It’s kind of ridiculous, but that doesn’t make it any less true. These are some of my essentials. What are yours?