I started fishing with my grandfather when I was 8 years old. My parents had built a house on a 22 acre lake when I was in elementary school, so each day when I got home from school, my grandfather would bring his plethora of fishing poles and tackle to my house where we would sit on the bank and fish until dark or until my mother would call me in for supper.
My grandfather always out-fished me, but he was always quick to cheer me on when I caught a fish of my own. I caught many Bluegill under his watchful eye.
Time passed and I went on to college to become a teacher. I moved away from the lake house and left my grandfather to fish alone on the bank. He didn’t live to see me graduate or to become a teacher, nor did he ever get to see me go on to earn my doctorate and become a school principal. My grandfather valued education, so much so that when I was in high school, he wanted to check my report card when I would bring it home. When I brought home A’s, he would slip me some cash. He knew what was important to a teenager who always needed money for gas or clothes.
Twenty years passed before I picked up a fishing rod. My husband, James, a recently retired high school principal, decided we should go fishing. I wasn’t quite sure I could even cast after so many years of being out of practice. James and I packed up our fishing gear and headed to beautiful Rock Island State Park for our first fishing trip together. We stood on the bank that sunny summer day and caught nothing. We talked and laughed and ate Vienna Sausages and saltine crackers. I was suddenly back home.
While James and I were fishing that day, we saw a man in a bright yellow kayak casting a fly. The man looked so comfortable on his kayak and so peaceful. I stood speechless a few moments in awe of each perfect cast he made. “Lets get kayaks,” I exclaimed to James! He didn’t instantly agree with me or seem to share my sudden enthusiasm, but after a few seconds of thoughtful deliberation, he answered me. “Why not,” he said and smiled. It was the verbal go-ahead I needed to begin researching the best kayak options for us.
With our living so close to Sparta, Tennessee, James and I knew we wanted to look into the Jackson Kayak brand. Although the plant was geographically close to our home, the brand was a global kayak leader. James and I combed through the Jackson website, looking at both recreational and fishing kayaks. The fishing yaks appealed to us as they offered the platform we wanted for river fishing.
Living near the Barren Fork River meant we would need kayaks that were stable enough to get us through some mild rapids, but would also offer good tracking ability. After several hours of reading and research spread across a few days, James and I singled out the Jackson Cruise 10 Angler kayak as our beginning platform.
Five years later, our equipment and experience levels have evolved tremendously. We each use a Jackson Coosa now and we keep a Jackson Cuda 12 and a Jackson Kilroy in our fleet for flat water paddling.
Kayak fishing is so much more than simply floating down a river trying to catch a fish. It’s the about the friendships I have built along the way through meeting others who share the same passion. It’s the excitement of paddling through a decent rapid and the rush of excitement from landing a fish in a kayak while sitting in no more than 2 feet of water. It’s the absolute adrenaline rush of catching that first Musky that you never expected to latch on to your crankbait when you were targeting Bass. Quite simply, it’s about making memories to last a lifetime.
This year, I plan to document my experiences on the water through pictures, video, and text. I hope you join me in my adventures. I also plan to do some basic product reviews. Kayak fishing is certainly my hobby, but it’s more. It’s what excites me and gives me something to look forward to each season.
Here’s to tight lines, old friends, and new adventures in 2018!