…and the winner is….us!

Since I have written my pity post talking about my performance at the 2019 KBF National Championship in Shreveport/Bossier Louisiana, I will not rehash that at all.  I developed a solid pattern; launch, fish, come back empty handed – it just wasn’t a winning pattern.  (stole that line, think it was a Ron Himmelhaver quote)

Congrats to Mike Elsea for taking us all to school. A great tourney for our 2019 KBF National Champion!

It was just awesome to see the area community so involved with what we were doing; being so informed.  There was not a gas station, ramp or restaurant that I visited where someone didn’t ask about kayak fishing.  I spent hours just talking to folks about kayaking in general; where to get boats or how much they cost, how do weigh ins happen, where are we from, what we were catching and how – even suggestions about where to be or why the fish were not biting…it was the most welcoming bunch of folks I ever met!  They taught me what a chinquapin, sac-a-lait and white perch were (that the last two are the same), and how to say them correctly in spite of my Tennessee accent.

The Shreveport KOA was extremely accommodating to Joy and myself; suggesting restaurants like Sam’s Southern Eatery and Crawdaddy’s Kitchen, selling me too much ice cream.  Harrah’s Louisiana Downs casino was all too willing to take my money; but also provided a pretty cool venue for our check in and captain’s meetings. I did have some major wins!

I have been a part of the KBF family for two years and am impressed with the growth of the organization and the professional manner in which the staff conducts the events and just need to get some “thank you” love out there.  I have no idea what you all do during the months up to, or the days during the event; but I know that this ole boy really appreciates that I can show up and take part in this (and all events) every year.

  • Chad Hoover thanks for bringing this to the world stage, for having the vision
  • Kristie Hoover thanks for keeping him straight and raising the bar, for helping to organize the days
  • Joe Haubenreich thanks for all you do, for the shared conversations about points; for helping me poke at Brent Lanier (always fun!)
  • Richard Wohlwend-Penny thanks for the open and honest dialogues about tourney management and where we are headed with KBF
  • Amanda Brannon thanks for excellent judging and somehow managing to keep all of us straight – and for the kind words about my writing
  • Lynette Brentlinger thanks for organizing all of the stuff and the mail and all that jazz, has to suck dealing with us at times
  • Josh Martin thanks for the reports, the standings on Facebook
  • Scott Beutjer thanks for the shared enthusiasm for the sport and the passion – and the Westbrook Supply Ketch board I barely used. Look forward to seeing the photos and video; also look forward to sharing some water and conversations with you
  • To all the folks in the KBF organization that video, take pics….do stuff that I cannot begin to understand is required for an event this large..I wish I was better with names! Thanks!!!
  • Dwayne Walley and TourneyX; man, I love your software and its simplicity – thanks for the conversations through the year

If I missed anyone at KBF…I am truly sorry….I appreciate you all!

 

Thank you Caney Fork for hooking me up with my first, second, third, fourth and fifth kayak…or hooking Joy up – y’all still need to not talk about boats with her ever!  Thanks for the opportunity to represent you with the Hobie team this year.  Thanks for helping me to have the best gear on the water!

 

To all the National Championship sponsors – I am pleased to be a consumer of many of your products, proud to share this community with you all.  I look forward to opportunities to talk with you all, to meet the innovators and creators who make our lives on the water so much easier.  You guys don’t catch fish for me, but you make it easier for me to do it myself.  I mean let’s be serious, it wasn’t that long ago that the entire bass fishing community was geared toward bass boats, not us; now I can buy gear for my kayak that is made specifically for that kayak!

A special thanks to Jody Queen and Brian Aliff for putting me on some fish and helping me to lose the skunk on Caddo!  Thanks to Jay Minor for snapping the pic!

I left it behind because these two saw a brother struggling and helped him out when they did not have to do so…but then that is who this community is to each other!  Those two personify kayak fishing to me!  It is why I love this so much!

 

As always, I got to talk and laugh with old friends…made new friends…

 

Just realized this is sounding like some award acceptance speech, and I only won a door prize of some Gruv tackle boxes (thanks so much!). I will stop gushing like I am at the Oscars and naming all of the folks who made it possible….but I will not before I again say how proud I was to represent the KBF community on And off the water in the National Championship and was able to share that with all who asked…and give thanks that I can do that the rest of the year; not only for KBF and Hobie, but with those of us who live and breathe kayak fishing across the world.

 

Going to get out of here….see you all at the next tournament.

2019….let’s do this…

The Nissan has just shy of 120,00 miles; almost 30,000 of those miles came from last year. It definitely does not have that new truck smell – more like fish slime and dirty clothes mixed together.

The R-Pod, our camper, has new tires and a new fender; the old fender blew off when the tire exploded just outside of Tennessee after leaving the Santee Cooper tournament.

The Tennessee trailer has a new tire and fender; somewhere in Illinois, a deer ran head first into it on the way from LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

My garage looks like a small tackle store exploded, leaving remnants everywhere; not to mention the four kayaks that consume every free inch of space that once existed there.

I blew out my favorite pair of flip flops wading in Arkansas’ Beaver Lake while trying to find water less than 70 foot deep; bought some of the ugliest I have ever seen at a Dollar Store in Toledo Bend.

Drove over eight hours to several tournaments so I could sleep in parking lots for an hour or two (often less), then drive back home; was awakened at Guntersville by a car that had parked beside me – the occupants were, well, it was a guy and a gal…you fill in the story.

Ran over a brand new Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon paddle, broke two rods, kicked four others off the kayak (fished them out)…lost the cover off my depth finder in South Carolina…had a fish knock my identifier out of the boat in the first hours of the Hobie Open on Kentucky Lake….sat on my iPad…ate a dry biscuit off the floorboard of my truck because I forgot to pack food for a 24 hour tourney…

…retired my favorite rod (crying) Read about my old friend

….Made many new friends, but lost a good one in Louisiana…#goldenhour….

…and I just finished planning my vacation days and sent it to the folks I work with; this year, I will (again) fish my vacation away.  I booked a room and signed up for Bienville Plantation this month…signed up for the Hobie BOS at Chickamauga…

Why?!?!?

Because:

I did make those new friends, and have some great memories of conversations on the water and at tournaments; memories with my Joy on those trips.  

We ate at some great local places, visited a Buddhist Monastery, lighthouses, stayed on the beach, carried dishrag camping…visited way too many Pilot stations….a yarn store or three…collected drift wood and rocks from some of the most beautiful shores in America!

I fished many great bodies of water; caught my first walleye, my first pike…placed high enough in enough tournaments to believe that I will win one, or more, this year.  

Made it into a KBF video or two; even if they called me Matthew during my seventh place finish at the National Championship (smiling)…I got my fifteen minutes of fame while fishing with Brad Case in Arkansas.

I was blessed with the opportunity to represent Caney Fork Outdoors on their fishing team, and am being added to their Hobie Fishing team.  Both opportunities will allow me to talk about, teach kayaking and fishing while getting others in kayaks…snd share the passion for fishing that has existed in me since I was a child; all while doing something I love.

 

I could go on about the reasons I am going to be willing to drive countless miles and hours just to close my eyes long enough to pretend I slept…on and on about the fish I hope to catch….the friends I know I will make this year…I thought a long time about not doing it again…

But I have to admit that a big factor in in doing it is because I am married to a beautiful woman who believes in me, who encourages me to dream.  She supports me, eats bad food all across the country with me…laughs with me on the long rides.  She tells me that all I have to do is catch bigger fish…suck it up buttercup.  My Joy tells me that I need to “fish with soul” when I get so wrapped up in myself that I forget I am fishing after all – when I forget the love of it and make it a chore; not to take a bad day so seriously. 

Listens when I tell her to not buy me a new kayak…wait, technically buying a non refundable gift certificate for the cost of one is the same…so maybe that last one ain’t true!  But I am fortunate beyond description to have been stalked by her….she may not agree to my version of our first days…but I am the one typing so….

I cannot make you understand the why I will, or what it means to travel across the states just to chase a bass or two….but that was not my intent.  This post was really just to convince myself that I am not insane….I failed, reading this it makes no sense…but I am heading to the garage to clean up the pile of senkos, spinner baits, crank baits…yes, a jig or two…because I absolutely love fishing tournaments from my Hobie and need to pack it up and get ready.  Here we go 2019!