The Start to 2016 has been nothing less than a crazy whirlwind for me.After a very short Christmas break We dove straight back into production for an order that needed to be completed by Mid January… All hands on deck as they say.
I also took on the decision to do the Dusi canoe marathon again this year in a K2 with a friend of mine,having not paddled in a canoe since the 2014 race it was going to be a hard task to get fit enough to enjoy the race… i got stuck in have done some good training but still a long way off where i should be but hoping just enough to hang in there…Throw in a scheduled business trip to the mighty USA from January 20 till 2nd of Feb and it sure has been a crazy start.
For over a year now it has been a decision of ours to apply some solid effort and promotion of our products in the USA.After some brief planning I left on the 20th of January and flew from Durban to Johannesburg followed by a flight to Atlanta and then another connection to Sacramento in California.Here i met up with Dan Arbuckle from the Headwaters kayak shop.Dan has been involved with Stealth in the USA from our very first shipment in 2014.I landed and traveled straight to the ISE show in Sacramento where i spent the next 3 days meeting many avid kayak fisherman as well as some real Stealth fans.
Finally I got to meet our boys from Hawaii ,Adam King and Jason Schmidt who have been actively fishing form the Stealths on the small island of Kauai.These 2 legends have been catching loads of fish and often making us jealous with some great photos and videos of their adventures on the island.Recently the 2 of them starred in a kayak fishing show on the discovery channel called the Pacific warriors. Spending some time with them was a blast and 2 really passionate fun fisherman.I have no doubt I need to make my way over to visit them and test out the Hawaiian waters.Along with meeting these 2 legends I next got to meet Ruben Ludesema an all round great guy with a passion for kayak fishing and most importantly paddle powered kayak fishing.Ruben runs an annual event called Simply fishing and is actively involved in whatever kayak fishing he can be.
Dan was crazy busy as always so we saved all the serious stuff for after the show but i enjoyed networking and catching up with many anglers, listening to their feedback, stories and of course future adventures, the only advice i could give was just buy a Stealth it will change your life..lol
After the show i moved onto Lodi and spent my time with Dan and the team from Headwaters kayaks.Learning more about the USA market, customers needs and of course their desires was an important part of my puzzle.Although us kayak fisherman are a unique bunch of crazy adventure seeking people the one thing I have learnt is how markets differ in the smallest kind of way and adapting to these is imperative.Dan is a top class guy with loads of kayaking knowledge and experience and it is simple to see why he has managed to grow his business into the success it is.He is passionate, understanding and adventure seeking and he has a clear vision and understanding of what is best for his customers.His knowledge of all the different brands and models makes it very easy for him to find the right kayak for the individuals involved.Working with his close knit team which almost feels like a family is a great experience and naturally would make buying a kayak even better.
We took the time to chat about the kayaks, the market and what we need to plan.Dan’s artistic skills and our vast kayaking brains(OK maybe not vast) and a new type of kayak was designed… well nothing new in terms of inventions but rather a new project for me to work on.We discussed the sales of the previous container which have been very good with us selling every fisha 500 except one which is now on demo in the Florida area.Someone also bought Dan’s custom colour Pro fisha 575- looked too good he said.
Next up Dan took me for a paddle on the Delta and what a great experience.We had decided to leave the fishing rods behind as this would probably lead to us being very late and missing our afternoon meeting.One of the reasons i have always loved kayaking is the ability to constantly explore and see new places from the water.It is often these places that are the most untouched and lots of natural beauty.After the fun we went back to the shop where i met up with KayakGreg and we finalized his complete set up on his Fisha 500 and then Eddy put together a great fishfinder installation and custom work. Eddy Stamp works for Dan and like everyone at headwaters is passionate and he really does some great work on the kayaks making sure the customers get what they need.
Sadly my time here was ending and I needed to rush off to Florida to make my way over to the Sailfish smackdown.With some great help from some ex South African friends the very complex logistics was sorted.My good friend Jasper Pons had overlapped a business trip with this weekend as well so he could join me on the water.I had organised a Pro fisha 575 and a Fisha 500 for us to fish from and I also wanted to have kayaks in the Florida area so that customers could see them.These are still in the Florida area and are available to view and purchase.
With extremely limited resources, and of course borrowed tackle, rods and reels we did like any South African would and WE MADE A PLAN.Standard procedure here is to “order” your live bait who will be on the water in the morning.Here you just paddle up and collect before your days fishing.It goes like this….
JASPER-Hi guys. we would like to order some live bait please…
LB guys:Sure that will be 80 dollars….
JASPER AND BRETT: holy sh…. ummmm ok Jas lets share these suckers and we go 3 each.
Yup we ordered 3 live baits each for each day.. considering we would be fishing for 8 hours a day this was going to be interesting.In our terms one live bait was more expensive than a Halco or Rapala Lure in South Africa so it was a little hard to stomach..We also had to buy some tournament circle hooks and at a the mighty price of R290 for 6 hooks things were not looking so good.
We stayed up until about midnight that night trying to make a few plans with some dead baits by googling how to rig them and so on… needless to say our dead baits were a nice ornament for 2 days.. but what else do you do when you limited to 3 live baits for 8 hours.A long story short i struggled due to very limited resources..I worked out our leaders were too heavy and this was only on day 2 so it was too late and due to limited resources we had no other options.After some dodgy rigging of my first live bait it escaped…damn it… now i only have 2 and it is 8 30am.
I persevered and of course with the luxury of having our lightweight and super fast kayaks we could cover lots of ground.Mid morning on day 1 I raised a sailfish onto my bait while fishing on the weed line…at the time i was sitting backwards just enjoying the drift when i watched it come up and “bill” the bait.It turned away did an arc and came back…fishing a very loose drag i could only wait and hope it would follow up.. the pesky fish just played with the bait and proceeded to murder my poor live bait without me getting a hook up.Later that day I hooked up on a king mackerel but as fast as my reel screamed off my live bait was borrowed and never returned. Day 1 = fail.
Day 2 we decided to go deep and just hope for the best…We paddled about 5km straight out and found the really clean water..after about 2 hours while doing a drift I really nice size sailfish take my bait good and proper.The fish screamed off took one flying leap and threw the hook…I calmy said oh dear what a nasty fish….ya right i will definitely not repeat what was shouted or cursed.Jasper then managed to hook an Amberjack over a wreck that we had googled and after a good fight a rather dodgy knot tying technique failed… yes he proceeded to lose the fish… we smiled and laughed after all why not we were still having fun.Not a single sailfish had been caught and it was almost 1pm.
Eventually with egos dented and no more live bait we decided to paddle in…but then to rub salt into the wounds as we hit the beach the radio crackled.. fish on fish on…in the last hour 8 more sailfish were caught and released.. all while we were suntanning on the beach… and that folks is why we call it fishing and not”catching”
That evening and of course through out the weekend we had the pleasure of meeting some great guys like Tod Johnson.A real standout guy who was quick to help us when our Uber Taxi was no where to be seen was Fred York.Fred told us some epic stories from his adventures on his bike especially when he rode to raise money for a charity.
As quick as it had all started it ended and the long haul home was made..next up for me is the Dusi canoe marathon where i will be sure to share my adventure followed by some more kayak fishing fun… till next time happy fishing , paddling and just all round adventure…