Tag Archives: cabelas

Kayakjak’s 2019 Recap

It looks like the kayak fishing season is over for me in 2019. Many goals accomplished. Numerous new friends along the way. Thousands of miles traveled and eight different states fished. The best part…just fishing! It’s the tug for me. But I do keep stats! Keeps my brain firing synapses and burning all that extra glycogen. My main goal was to catch 2,019 fish for 2019. Mission accomplished! Caught 2,371 fish this year. 2,106 of them were bass. I’m sure there are those out there who most likely catch more but with my current occupation it is difficult to fish as much as I would like. I averaged 17.6 fish caught per trip for a total of 134 trips this year.

I fished in 61 tournaments, of which 37 were live and 23 online. Finishing in the top 5 was my goal in most tournaments and I had 42 of 61 Top 5 finishes for 69%. As for Top 10 finishes I had 51 of 61 for 84% of the time. Sixteen first places capped the season. Some of the most memorable finishes were at the KBF National Championships where I finished 37th and took home $600 in addition to the National Team Cup Champions with my teammates winning $10,000. That was a lot of fun! The Major League and Kayakapalooza are two of my favorites and took first in both of them again this year. I finished 2nd in the AOY standings for The Sticks-Nebraska Kayak Anglers Trail Series behind legendary Joshua Workman. Now he’s a STICK! Finished first in The Sticks-Tuesday Night League AOY and the AOY for the Sticks Thursday night league is still pending as Jareth Kaup and I are tied for the lead there.

I’ve qualified for the KBF National Championship for the fifth year in a row and it will be held at Guntersville, AL next spring.

I also had my highest finish in the AOY for the KBF finishing 22nd overall. Total winnings were $5,492.98 which helped pay my expenses when needed. My entry fees were paid for by KBF for the year as part of the prize package of the Team Cup Challenge.

 

My favorite guide trip was with ACT guru John Baylor and his son. They were simply awesome out there! It was also fun to host 9 youth events this year introducing even more youngsters to the sport of kayak fishing. I’m looking forward to the next season even though I’ll be turning 61. I’m starting to feel the effects of the physical and mental toll but that could be caused by other parts of my life too.

All I know is that I love this sport and love to see the success of everyone out there as well. It’s just plain fun! A big thanks to my beautiful wife Diane Hughes who supports my plastic boat adventures. Also, to my sponsors Bass Pro Shops, YakGear, Bending Branches, TourneyX.com, Kayakjak’s Outfitters and Fishing Guide Service, Strike King Lure Company, Emotion Kayaks, and supporters Select Sail & Sports, LLC., The Sticks – Nebraska Kayak Anglers, and all of my friends who constantly encourage me. I am very blessed to travel and participate and thank my Lord who created all of nature for us to enjoy!

You Never Know Where a Setback Will Take You

Many of us know that Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers of all time. He is legendary in so many ways. But what a lot of people don’t know is how he got started out in his incredible journey. When he was just 12 years old he had his bike stolen in which he became very angry and reported it to a police officer. He told the police officer that he was going to beat up the thief. The police officer was also a gym trainer and encouraged Ali to get in the gym before he took on this feat. In his revenge Ali put all of his energy into the gym and trained under the police officer. Of course, you know the rest of the story as Ali dominated the sport of boxing for many years to come.

Most of my life has been spent in school either as a student or educator. In that time I was either running or fishing and playing various sports. Of course, my knees took a great beating from these activities and I ended up with ten knee surgeries (7 on one knee and 3 on the other) which hampered my ability to run or play sports. In the late nineties I had gained a tremendous amount of weight and turned to cycling. While I enjoyed it very much my true passion was on the water where I felt most at home. I spent most of my younger days on the beaches of California and local ponds where I could find lunker bass. One day, I noticed a kayak for sale on Ebay in 1997. I thought this would be a great way to get back into shape and be on the water which I enjoyed most. I was so naive about kayaking that I even purchased a nose plug and a book on how to do maneuvers like the eskimo roll. My first launch was at Rock Creek Lake in extreme Southwest Nebraska. The kayak was around 8 foot long and had a small hole where I could put my legs in and sit. It was very cramped and I could not move my legs once in the kayak. I was a little nervous at first. I put on my life jacket and entered the water paddling very close to the shore in case I capsized. My biggest worry was tipping over and not being able to get out of the kayak. I wish there was a picture of this experience! I can’t imagine what I looked like out there.

Anyway, I paddled around and found myself getting bolder and bolder paddling further from shore. At times, I could see fish below me and they seemed to not be bothered. So I brought out a fishing pole and a small box of lures. Little did I now how that first “tug” would change my life forever! I was hooked! I landed so many fish from the kayak and was simply amazed at how easy it was! Everyone that saw me in my kayak thought I was crazy. One of my former students named Dusty Birge recently messaged me and said, “I remember when you started kayak fishing, some thought you’d fallen off your rocker. But you did it anyway, because you enjoyed it.” I then purchased a second one from Florida for a thousand dollars. It was a Wilderness Systems 115 Ride Scuba kayak. I could fly across the water in that one! I paddled the perimeter of lakes to get exercise and fished at spots I thought held fish. I did this for around six years before anyone else went with me. There was the fear that they would capsize and never get out of the kayak which were my same thoughts when I started. Incredibly, I have never tipped or “turtled” in a kayak in all the years I’ve paddled or pedaled. I also purchased a Perception “Caster” which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Around 2004, a local Pastor named Chris Farmer asked me to take him fishing in the kayak. I was pleasantly surprised and agreed to take him. His intention was for me to guide him so he could catch some nice fish. Afterward, he paid me. I didn’t expect this and even told him he didn’t need to. I went home and told my wife and she said, “It’s about time!” Jokingly, of course. My Superintendent Dallas Watkins started calling me “kayak” because I went out so much. Then one day, he called me “Kayakjak!” because my real name is Jack. Everyone started calling me that and it stuck as my kayaking nickname. Then I started a guiding business at the encouragement of Pastor Farmer who I had recently taken out. We started “Kayakjak’s Outfitters” in 2004 and have been guiding since.I had dreams of fishing with others and even a tournament someday. I organized a small tournament at Rock Creek Lake and had around 12 participants. The winner got a six foot long Emotion Kayak. We gave out trophies as well. From there my business grew and we did hundreds of trips through the next 18 or so years. I did demo’s with the Nebraska Game and Parks and conducted seminars at Expo’s across the state. We grew the tournament to the Kayakapalooza and just in the last few years the sport of kayak fishing has exploded! It seemed to grow from the coasts from guys like Chad Hoover in the east and Jim Sammons and Dennis Spike in the west. There was also Dean “Slowride” Thompson in Texas. I must have been in the middle and grew it from here. Ever since that first paddle I’ve been passionate about this sport and what it has done for my health, well being, and purpose in life. Some of my fondest memories are with my kids kayak fishing numerous lakes and ponds across Nebraska. I’ve made hundreds of friends I would have never known if I didn’t take that first paddle on the water. The journey has been fun and I am looking forward to many more years of the “Tug”!

My first guided kayak fishing trip with Pastor Farmer