Monday, February 25, 2013

Am I dreaming?

A yearning feeling has been growing inside of me now for the past four years.  Almost daily, I had visions of joy and splendor dancing through my mind as I long awaited the day.  Would I ever get the chance?  If I did, would I actually do it?  Is it even possible?  Others have done it, so why can't I?  Questions, doubts, worries, fears, trepidations were all present in front of me so thick that I could practically choke on the shear volume of it all.  When opportunity presents itself, sometimes you have to take the risk.  I've done it in the past in my fishing trips or fishing equipment purchases of higher end gear or accessories, so why am I so cautious when it comes to this?

This past week, I ended all of those questions and extinguished the flames of doubt and the fires of fear that had consumed my mind for the last four years.  I finally made the decision to purchase the Hobie Pro Angler, in my case the Pro Angler 14.  Now, for anyone that has any exposure to the world of kayak fishing, the name Pro Angler elicits a variety of reactions.  To the kayak purist, the first thought might be one of distaste, since the Pro Angler is not a kayak.  In fact, Hobie does not even market it as a kayak.  For those that either own or respect the Hobie product line, feelings of elation or even admiration come to mind at how innovative the Pro Angler is with regards to the fishing world.

Believe me, each of those sides weighed heavily on my mind, since I do represent the Hobie brand in my daily life as a Local Pro Staff member.  In the end, I came to the realization that I had to select a model that supported and embodied my fishing goals for the coming year.  While I love the Revolution 13 for it's speed and traditional hull profile, it does have a few limitations relative to my preferred angling tactics and fishing goals, most notably sight fishing and standing for extended periods of time.  Additionally, anyone that has ever approached me about the Hobie line of kayaks has always asked about the Pro Angler and if I had one.  Now I will be able to share my experiences with these individuals and show them the different features in real-time.

As with any kayak purchase, the initial purchase is something special.  The feelings of excitement and anticipation were so intense this past week that I didn't eat properly for the three days.  On that magical day, I forced myself to set the cruise control on my vehicle once I made it to the interstate to control my enthusiasm as I made the trek down to Appomattox River Company in Hampton, VA.  A tremendous weight seemingly dropped off of my shoulders as I crossed the threshold of the front door into the store, and I saw my new Pro Angler 14 anxiously awaiting my arrival.

After the sale was complete, I quickly processed my mental checklist of worries and fears......

1. Am I really doing this - YES!!!
2. Am I nuts? Others may offer a differing opinion, but NO!!!
3. Crap, how am I going to load this thing?  Well, it was actually easier than I thought!
4. How am I going to setup this one?  Simple but efficient like my other kayaks of course!
5. What am I going to do with my other Hobie? Re-home it if possible (in progress as we speak).

I spent the last four years dreaming of this day, and I can't tell you in words realistically how excited I am.  All I know is that I have not stopped smiling yet!  I'm still in shock and awe that I was able to do it, but now the real fun begins - the rigging!!!  I'll have an update in the coming week or so with the rigging I have completed, so stay tuned.......

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Change is inevitable.........

.......and often times unplanned.

2012 is all but a faded memory for me now.  As I look back on the year that was, I still have a hard time comprehending the amount of time I was able to fish with the many demands my family and I have throughout the year.  As most of you are aware, I am a loyal and regular volunteer with the Central VA and Tidewater HOW chapters.  I found myself often times participating in no less than three events each month, and in a couple of cases, events for each chapter on the same day at opposite ends of the region.  I also am an assistant coach on my son's baseball team which requires at a minimum two days each week associated with practice and sometimes a third or fourth day for tournaments.  Add in the weekends for the YakAttack, CBKA, Peninsula Area Angler's Club Challenge, TKAA and HOOKED Benefit for Cancer tournaments and every weekend starting in February of last year through October was booked.

Even with this type of schedule, I was able to accomplish a few of my informal goals last year, including:
  • I competed in several tournaments, winning two of them and placing in a third.
  • I learned more about fishing the tunnel and bridge complexes.
  • I caught my first spadefish, tautog (a quick release :) ) and almost boated a sheepshead.
  • I had a brief chance at a big striper (slow to make the hook set - my own fault).
  • I learned a little more about Speckled Trout.
  • We fished as a family using kayaks on multiple occasions and caught fish.
  • I was afforded the chance to join Powerteam Lures as a Pro Staff member.
  • I was selected to present a discussion on Speckled Trout to local area kayak anglers.

Now that 2013 is well underway, I find myself looking to set loftier goals for myself as an angler, a Pro Staffer and as a person.  Even though the year is somewhat young, I have high expectations for the year, including:
  • Be a supportive husband and grow as a father to my son and expectant daughter.
  • Be competitive in the tournaments and challenges I participate in.
  • Continue to represent HOW when my schedule permits.
  • Improve my sight fishing skills and techniques.
  • Target citation class fish in both fresh and salt water (specks, bass, sheepshead primarily)
  • Add a Hobie Pro Angler to my kayak flotilla.
  • Continue to lean out my gear to only what I will actually use.
  • Help people learn more about the Hobie brand of kayaks
  • Hone my skills with the Powerteam Lures line of soft plastics
Of all the goals listed, the most important one is being a supportive husband and growing as a father.  If I can accomplish this, then the rest will fall into place when time permits.  I know that my time on the water will be limited more this year with the family changes fast approaching, so I am planning on focusing my efforts on tournament level fishing for two reasons.  First, I feel that tournaments are the best way to measure your skill as an angler.  Whether you place in the money or not is not the ultimate goal.  To me, it is being able to share unfamiliar water with fellow anglers under the same rules and still be competitive.  Second, fishing tournaments is more straightforward, because you know in advance when and where the event will be held, so planning your schedule around it is somewhat easier.  It also helps my wife plan out her work schedule far enough in advance as to not cause conflicts.

I am in the process of fulfilling one of the goals by adding a Pro Angler 12 to my home.  While I do have my beloved Revolution 13 currently advertised for sale, I am confident that it will not be too long before I add another Hobie to the home for my wife and son to use.  If I am unable to re-home my Revolution 13, I will just keep it and try to sell my son's kayak.  He's already big enough to where he can use my Revolution, so he won't miss his old one at all.  I'm sure he wouldn't mind a Hobie Revolution 11 of his own either.  IF that comes to fruition, then a trailer will most certainly need to be added to handle our little Hobie armada.

Another one of the goals I have set for myself will be tested in short order next month.  March 14th-17th is a two event challenge for me.  The first event on the docket is the KBF Open where I will be competing against a field of over 200+ kayak anglers from across the country on the Santee Cooper chain of lakes in hopes of placing high enough to earn not only the respect of my peers, but also a chance at a payout.  Following the two-day Open is the Invitational which I also qualified for from last year's YakAttack Tournament win.  This event is limited to only a handful of kayak anglers and will be even more competitive in my opinion.  This event will be held at a privately managed facility in the South Carolina and should be an awesome challenge.

So as the year gets underway, I am already pumped for what will be a year full of of change and new challenges.  As the saying goes.......change is inevitable.