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Friday Fresh Finds: From the Grand Canyon to Extreme Kayak Fishing.

 

by Brian Vincent

Google

Sorry for the delay with the FFF, but we’re working on updating our website and it’s keeping us busy. If you’ve visited our site recently you’ve probably noticed some small changes. It’s been in development for a couple months now and the site went live 2 weeks ago. We have a lot of work to do. We’ll have a web unveil next month after we work out the bugs and figure out all the bells and whistles.  Things will continue to evolve, as we tinker and learn all the capabilities of this new web home, and the appearance may change a bit, but we’ll still have the same easy to navigate site. Heck if you’ve noticed, it looks pretty familiar. One of the big differences is our mobile site. Check that out! So, yea, we’ve changed some things and in the future we’ll be adding a little pop, a little sizzle, but we’ll still be the same grassroots, family orientated business we’ve been since ’77.   In the meantime, if ya notice something funky, give us a heads up. Thanks!

In other news, stay tuned for a lot bigger changes as we roll into winter! We’ve been extremely blessed to have a great customer base that is like family to us and we are looking to improve upon our already proven track record of service. What does that mean? Oh, man it’s going to be good, but we have to hold tight for a little bit while all the details are ironed out.

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Here is what caught my attention this past week, from the web world.

First up:

Martina Wegman, a Dagger Kayak athlete, posted this video of her trip down the Grand Canyon. There is even a shot of her standing in the Dagger Green Boat! Who else could use a 20+ day trip down the Grand with no electronics?

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Second up:

Jay Brooks, of Wilderness Systems and Adventure Technology, took a run down deep south for the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament. Jay has been getting after it and traveling far and wide to catch big fish. Below the photo is his report of an exciting time with the “Maryland Boys.”

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Click the following link for the full report: http://www.virginiakayakfisherman.com/

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Third Up:

Coming out this fall is a new line-up from Werner Paddles. Check out the teaser for Werner SUP hotness.

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Fourth Up:

Drew Camp, of Jackson Kayak / Werner Paddles, put down a nice piece on outfitting his Jackson Kayak Big Tuna. Check the blog link below the photo to get the full report.

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Click the link for the full report here: http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2014/08/24/tricking-out-the-big-tuna/

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Fifith Up:

Jonathon Leavitt, of FeelFree Kayaks and Cannon Paddles, has been doing a lot of snakehead fishing lately. I’ve been hearing more and more about how fun these things are to catch. Take a look and decide for yourself. Featured in this video is a Wilderness Systems Ride 135.

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Sixth Up:

The all new Jackson Kayak Fun is on it’s way! Check out this sweet video about Jackson’s updated whitewater kayak. It’s Fun, redone.

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Seventh Up:

Richie Bekolay, of Ocean Kayak / Werner Paddles, made the move from Virginia to Florida and spent little time getting acclimated to the Gulf Coast. He recently hit the water with Hobie Fishing Pro, Marty Mood. Richie always has sweet photos and lots of fish in his reports! You can check his full report below the photo.

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Click the following link to get the full rundown: http://www.hookline-sinker.net/2014/08/green-light-for-gulf.html

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Eighth Up:

Kayak Kevin and Lee Williams, of Ocean Kayak/ Old Town, had Jay Brooks, of Wilderness Systems, on the podcast recently to talk about the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament. These guys are always fun and informative. Check out the best video podcast out there at Kayak Kevin Podcast.

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Once again, thanks for checking in on Friday’s Fresh Finds. There is always tons of great content coming out in the paddling world. If you create some or see some, post it our our Facebook page so we won’t miss it! Thanks for your continued support and look for us to get bigger and better as we roll forward.

Friday Fresh Finds: Kayak Kevin, Why Kayaking?, William Ragulsky, Dagger Katana, Seth Goodrich, Josh Dolin, Chuck Wrenn, and Drew Camp

 

by Brian Vincent

Google

Here is what caught my attention this past week, from the web world.

First up:

Kayak Kevin, of Ocean Kayak/ Old Town/ Aqua Bound/ Yak Attack, has been steady pumping out his summer reports. Looks like the CBBT is prime time time. Click the link below the photo for a full run down of Kayak Kevin’s CBBT adventures.

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Read the full report here: http://www.kayakkevin.com/weeklycatchsummer14.html

Kevin’s also been busy with the Podcast. Here is a recent episode with Jimmy Miller of Speedy’s Hot Sauce.

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Second up:

Here is a fun little video from a young lady who paddles across the pond for Jackson Kayak. She answers the question, “Why kayaking?”

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Third up:

William Ragulsky, with Hurricane Kayaks/ Werner Paddles/ Astral and All Out Kayak Fishing, wrote a great report about the start to his summer season. Click the link below the photo.

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Read the full report here: http://coastalkayakfishing.blogspot.com/2014/07/pulling-trigger-on-some-spades.html

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Fourth up:

Here is a cool little video about the Dagger Katana crossover kayak that I found. Looks like the Katana is a performer. ;)

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Fifth up:

Seth Goodrich, of Bent Rod Chronicles and All Out Kayak Fishing,  posted a great write up on his Spring Drum fishing. Click the link below the photo for that story.

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Read the full report here: http://bentrodchronicles.blogspot.com/2014/07/spring-drummin.html

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Sixth up:

Josh Dolin, of Peelin Drag Extreme Fishing, recently put out a cool report on flat-head fishing in downtown RVA. Josh’s kayak was in our shop for repair, so he was forced to go old school and wade in. Check the full report on the link below the photo.

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Read the full report here: http://www.fishhardorstayhome.com/2014/07/welcome-to-thunderdome.html?m=0.

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Seventh up:

Chuck Wrenn, of Hobie Fishing, recently posted a RVA flattie report as well. You can check out Chuck’s write-up at the link below the photo.

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Read the full report here: http://froggin4bass.blogspot.com/2014/07/riverbound.html

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Eighth up:

Drew Camp, of Jackson Kayak Fishing, continues to slay bass. I’m telling ya, Drew is on fire. Check out his full report below by clicking the link below his photo.

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Read Drew’s full report here: http://fishtailsbydrew.blogspot.com/2014/07/quick-trips-for-big-bass.html

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If you have any canoeing, whitewater, kayak fishing, SUP, etc adventures that you’d like to share with us, post up on our Facebook page and maybe we’ll share them in the Friday Finds.

Hanging with the Heroes On The Water Tidewater Chapter

 

by Brian Vincent

Google

When I first started at Appomattox River Company, a group of folks came in the shop wearing these American flag emblazoned shirts with rods, reels and paddles on them. I had no idea who they were or why they were getting the hook up on kayaks. After they left I asked, “What’s the deal with those guys?”

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Tom, our GM, told me, “They are the Chapter Coordinators for this group we work with, Heroes On The Water. Check them out, they do cool stuff with kayak fishing and veterans, as therapy and healing.”

I started researching, and immediately donated money and set it in my head to donate my time. My father was killed in active duty. I grew up a military brat, and so, I have a strong affection for groups who endeavor to assist our nation’s warriors. One of those groups had even helped put me through college after my father was killed. I decided that I had to get into this kayak fishing thing. If the way to volunteer for HOW was to bring some kayaking and fishing knowledge to the table, then I knew which direction I was going.

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In the 2 years that have followed that initial goal, I’ve participated in some HOW fundraisers, but never had the right opportunity to get on the water. that changed last month.

On the weekend of June 21st, the Heroes On The Water Tidewater Chapter, ventured out to Central Virginia for an overnight event.  Bob and Katie, of PowerTeam Lures, opened their doors to the Tidewater crew.  HOW Tidewater planned to come into town Friday night, fish Briery Creek Lake on Saturday, and then fish a local pond on Sunday. My wife worked in the ER on Friday, so I didn’t meet up with the crew until Saturday morning at Bob and Katie’s house. Everyone seemed pretty psyched and I was glad to meet Andrew, John, Dave, Thomas, and Tom V’s wife, Debbie. It was great to see old friends Wayne and Tom V, plus Bob and Katie. This was How Tidewater’s inaugural overnight trip and it already seemed to be going extremely well.  After a great breakfast, we all started gearing up. Powerteam Lures were a popular choice.

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After rigging up, we headed for the boat ramp at Briery. The day started out a little overcast, but spirits were high!

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We gathered around the honey hole, but nothing was hitting. It was nice just hanging out and bantering with everyone though.

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Things started to heat up as we spread out and hunted among the timber.

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As the heat rose, I headed in to work for a spell and everyone else  loaded up and headed back to the PTL compound. By the time I showed up out there, the food was flowing.

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I brought my eldest daughter to the Saturday evening hang session and she’s such a ham that she insisted I take a photo of her.

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After gorging on food and fellowship, I headed home, eager to get back in the morning for the pond fishing mission.

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We spent the day wandering around the banks of the pond hunting for fish. It didn’t take long for the rods to start bowing up.

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It was such a relaxing time that some folks took to just laying down and casting. ;)

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It was great to walk the rim of the pond talking and hanging out.

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At one point I stopped to talk to one of the guys, Andrew, as he stood casting into the pond. We started on fishing and then the conversation drifted into life. Both Andrew and I shared our stories. I talked about losing my dad while he was on Active Duty in the Army and Andrew shared the story of his injury while out to sea with the Navy. Both of us had probably shared our stories a thousand times, but as we bonded over those tales of adversity and pain, I realized something I’m sure I knew, but never put to words. Each time you tell that painful story, it loses some of it’s sting. Each time you share that with someone, you put further distance between it and who you are now. With each telling, the storyteller becomes more in tune with the inner strength that has been born of that memory.

Everybody has a story, and it’s in the telling and the listening of those stories that we find strength, both in ourselves and in each other. Friendships are born that way.

Yea, you can fish solo, but most of us know, that the true therapy of fishing lies within the camaraderie of those days on the water with good friends. Those days when the fish are biting, the bantering is high and smiles come often. The mission of HOW is best seen in those relaxed smiles that come during a day on the water. That is what Heroes On The Water does, “Paddle. Fish. Heal.”

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Big Props to all the guys! Tom Vanderheiden, of HOW Tidewater, organized the overnight trip and Bob and Katie Bernotsky hosted it and everyone else sat back, relaxed and got our fish on. I’m glad I finally got to participate in a HOW event and I look forward to attending more. If you’ve never heard of HOW or are interested in their efforts, check them out at http://heroesonthewater.org/.

Fishing Missions in Florida and Life Lessons

 

by Brian Vincent

Google

I attended ICast recently for work. It was a great opportunity to see new products in the kayak fishing world and the wider sport-fishing world. But it also gave me the chance to fish some new waters. I headed down to Florida a day early so I could fish in the morning, before the New Product Showcase at ICast. I arrived in Titusville, FL on Monday evening and crashed out, eager to explore the expansive Indian River Lagoon.

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I had researched a bunch of different areas and even gotten some great tips from one of Central Florida’s most prolific kayak anglers, Dee Kaminski, a Native Watercraft and Astral angler. Dee runs her own guide service and always seems to find the fish. Check her out at Reel Kayak Fishing Charters if you are ever in that beautiful section of the country.

I awoke too late to hit any of the spots I’d researched, so I headed to the closest boat ramp.

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I put in and paddled out into the Indian River around Cocoa. I spotted some spoil islands and headed over. It was amazing to paddle alongside manatees and dolphins in this shallow water. I found some bait fish busting the surface and started fishing the drop off points around the islands.

I scored a bunch of small speckled trout, which were fun on light tackle, but nothing with size. I did have a couple of topwater blow-ups and a few tails ripped off my paddletails.

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As I pedaled back in, my mind drifted to a recent tragedy in WV.  I spent close to ten years in and around Fayetteville, WV, a small town in the mountains. I met my wife there, got married and we had our first child all while embraced by that community. Fayetteville is an amazing place, with world-class whitewater, rock climbing, trail running and mountain biking. The community in the New River Gorge is very tight knit. Everyone knows everyone. Recently, one of those great folks, Brian Jennings, found out he had cancer. A rallying cry went up and gathered steam through the social media network. New River Gorge ex-pats and members of the community banded together to raise funds to aid in his recovery. Surgery had gone well, chemo was scheduled to start and everyone felt pretty good about the prospects.

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Brian passed away suddenly, in the days following his surgery. Shock-waves of grief rippled through a nationwide paddling community. I didn’t know Brian very well, not in the way many in the paddling community did, as I mainly rock climbed in WV, but his death still stung. It seemed he always wore a smile and was easy to laugh. He was a very cherished member of the whitewater community and his influence stretched far.  When Brian closed his initial ‘I have cancer” message on Facebook, he concluded with  “time to charge! #outlivingit”

I thought a lot about those words while paddling back to the ramp that first day in Florida. Tears started streaming down my face. I thought, here I am in the middle of Florida, kayak fishing, with tears flowing, for a family I’d never met and a man I hardly knew. But that is the power of a good soul in this world. I didn’t know Brian well, but I recognized that he lived in the way I aspired to, and it brought great sadness to my heart to know such a good soul had passed.

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As I looked around, trying to shake the melancholy that had overtaken me, a pair of dolphins cruised up and started playing off the bow of my kayak.

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Instantly I thought of those words, “time to charge! #outlivingit” and I started to feel better. I thought about how sad it is in this world when we lose such a bright light, but how important it is that when a candle is extinguished, the rest of us endeavor to burn a little brighter in their memory. I promised myself and the memory of that man I hardly knew, that I would strive to bring more happiness into this world, and that i would charge ahead with that goal steadfast in my heart.

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The evening following my 3 days at ICast I ventured out into the No-Motor-Zone in the Banana River. It was a beautiful evening. Once again I caught trout and nothing else. I saw a snook, cast to it and had it rip right through my leader. It was a little disappointing, but I didn’t let that ruin the sunset.

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The following morning I took some great info from Scott Jontes, who does some work with Fisherman’s Journal and has been slaying it with a fly rod, and I headed to the Mosquito Lagoon before packing it in for home. I got up late and almost called it off, but I thought about “charging it” and headed out. When would I have this chance again to see one of the countries greatest estuaries? So I hit the dirt roads of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

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I paddled out after cursing the notorious mosquitoes of the Mosquito Lagoon and immediately started coming across bait fish busting the surface. Drop-offs found more trout, but little else.

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At one point I came around the corner of an island and spotted tailing reds. It was my first time seeing this heart pounding site. My pulse raced and I totaling bungled the presentation. After the initial spooking of the reds, I couldn’t get them to eat anything I threw at them. It was a little frustrating. At some point I looked at my phone and realized I need to get on the road for home. My wife was waiting for me to get back and move furniture from our old house to our new house and I had a 12 hour drive ahead of me.

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As I loaded up my kayak I felt the familiar tinge of frustration that follows an unsuccessful fishing day. But I quickly reminded myself  of the fortune I had,  to paddle in such amazing places. The Indian River Lagoon system is a biologically rich environment and I had charged it, despite the limited time at my disposal. All told I had 14 hours of paddling/fishing during my ICast trip and I had hit three different sections of the Central Florida mecca, the Indian River, the Banana River and the Mosquito Lagoon. I probably would have done better had I stuck to one, but I wanted to experience them all.  “#outlivingit”

I drove home and thought about how often the  memory of  Brian Jennings came up over my 3 days at ICast. The paddling community is a tight bunch and many folks at ICast, for various companies, had been involved in the whitewater scene before fishing. Brian was well known in that community and his memory permeated my conversations with people. Many folks knew my connection to WV and came up to me wanting to talk about it. I didn’t know him as well as most of them, but we all talked of his warm presence and his infectious attitude. That is the impact a good soul can have on this world.

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I hustled home, getting in around 2:30am and waking at 8am to start moving furniture. We got mostly moved in that day and I commenced hanging with my family, who I had missed immensely while on the ICast trip.

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I’ve got two young daughters and I think often about “moments” in life. I try to be perfectly present in moments with them, and my wife, everyday. The world is a big rolling ball of beautiful chaos and tragedy, and there are so many moments to be had, stolen moments, taken from the hustle of life. Our days are filled with these moments. Moments when we are alone. Moments we share with loved ones. Moments with friends. Moments at work and moments at play.  We must remember to drink fully from these moments and taste every drop of life in them. Brian was one of those people who seemed to get it. We’ve all lost people who’ve graced this place with an abundance of compassion and enthusiasm. For each of them, I say we make a simple promise, to live each moment.

There is a big campaign going on right now with Cliff Bar. For the month of July, every time you hash-tag your adventures with one key phrase, Cliff Bar will donate $1 to American Whitewater. It seems a good tribute to all those who have been lost. There are only a few more days left, so get out there and charge it!

For Brian Jennings, and all the other beautiful candles that have been extinguished too soon, let’s all burn a little brighter and promise to #MeetTheMoment.

ICast 2014 Recap: Kayak Fishing Edition – Part 2

 

by Brian Vincent

Google

Day 2 and 3 of ICast were full of more great products.  You can check out my ICast Part 1 Recap Here. I took the opportunity to look at some products we currently do not carry and to revisit the Old Town Booth, as those guys had just won a pile of awards at the New Product Showcase.

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 I also had the opportunity to pose down with Bear Holeman, in the Astral booth, which was pretty cool. He was a great dude and a good sport, and him and his brother, Travis, have a pretty baller fishing show at Kings Of Game.

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Another great surprise was running into some friends I used to rock climb with in WV. One of them had started up a new lure company called Riot Baits. It was cool to hang with my old climbing buddies in the middle of the largest fishing show.

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I checked in with Old Town Canoe and Kayak after they won Best In Show Boat Category and Best In Show overall for the Predator XL Minn Kota Kayak. It is one impressive looking piece of machinery. Old Town also introduced a bunch of new colors.

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The booth was abuzz with industry media.

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You can get the Predator XL with a variety of different consoles, which is nice.

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ExtraSport also had some new PFDs which looked very good!

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Jackson Kayak and Yak Attack did not have a booth at ICast, but their presence was felt, as their products showed up throughout the show floor. Both were represented in the GoPro booth.

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 I found a lot of cool stuff that we currently do not carry, but still felt compelled to check out.

Release Reels are Virginia made fishing reels. This is a great company with cool folks at the helm. Check them out when shopping for your next reel. I had the chance to meet and talk with Justin Mayer who handles their warranty stuff, (Release Reels carry a Lifetime Warranty).  According to Justin, they get a very infinitesimal amount back for repair, which is a true testament to the quality of their product.

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I’ve used one of the Release Reels SGs and it is on my short list of new toys I want to own.

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I swung by the Bote Board booth and was impressed with their line-up and the slick graphics. Curious how much interest people have in their stuff? These SUPs were pretty rock’n’roll.

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Next up I checked out Viking Kayaks, particularly the ProFish model. This is another coastal offshore rig. It was good to see so many offshore boats. The kayak fishing realm has been over run by large platforms and it’s cool to see the sleek kayaks coming back. The ProFish looked to have some potential.

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I stopped by the Diablo PaddleSports booth and was instantly drawn to this modified stripping basket that Thomas, the owner, had made right before the show. Pretty tight!

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Engel Coolers won Best In Show Tackle Management for this sweet little rig.

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The Fish Hunter, cast-able fish finder, was a neat little invention.

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And I have to mention the GoPro dog harness. I’m not sure how much you want to know about your dogs habits, but you can find out everything now.

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There was plenty more to see. I looked at a lot more than I remembered to take photos of and many things peaked my interest. Ultimately, ICast was a very rewarding and successful experience.  The kayak fishing community is one large family and it was great to see that family soo well represented in the wider fishing world.

Stay tuned for more info as these new products and kayaks start rolling into our stores.

And if you want to read about my brief, on the water fishing missions, click here.