Charles Daugherty shares with us how his passion for kayak fishing grew with his interaction with the community of kayak fishing. Kayak fishing and kayak anglers are all part of a grand community; regardless of your background, financial standing, lot in life, we’re all the same. We love talking about kayak fishing, sharing our passion of kayak fishing, and simply fishing out of our kayaks. We’re a community, supporting each other and loving spending time in our yaks chasing that next big fish.
Kayak Fishing Community
I’m THAT GUY. That guy who always has a rod and reel with an obscene amount of lures floating around my truck 24/7. If I pass a pond, I’ll make a U-turn and hit every nook and cranny of that body of water in search of the big ole largemouth bass that runs the pond. Lunch break? You mean bass break. It’s searching the area via Google Maps looking for the next pond or small lake to throw a few casts while shoving a sandwich in my mouth to save time. Going down to the shore to visit friends or family? YUP, you guessed it, rod and reel with some fluke rigs and I am fishing from the nearest dock or compromising sleep to launch my Hobie Pro Angler 14 in the early hours of the morning.
A little over 2 years ago, I moved from North Jersey to South Jersey. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but New Jersey is a lot bigger than most people realize. I’ve fished 95% of the time solo; the other 5% was with my Dad. As time went by, I slowly felt myself start to slip out of love with kayak fishing. My Dad has been my number one fishing buddy since I was 5; he taught me how to fish. He lives several hours away and when you add in work, life, my lovely wife, other commitments, and we’re out on the water only 2 – 3 times a year together.
Living in a new area and not knowing the lakes, ponds, ocean, bays, launches, I was faced with a challenge to keep the passion alive. The surroundings, scenery, serenity of being out there by myself, and the chance (the reason we all fish) to hook into that fish of a lifetime is what drew me back for one more cast. But, looming in the back of my mind was the thought, “Why bother? I will just be out there alone”. So, I took a break. I concentrated all my time and efforts on my other passion, hunting. But, you can’t hunt in the summer, and I found myself losing out on more than just the chance to catch that lunker. I was losing peace of mind and a piece of myself. I realized that for me, there is no greater high than feeling the tug of a line. I love seeing that rod double over and feel my adrenaline kick in as I fight something on the other end of the line, never knowing what it is until I see it come to the surface, open the net, and put it in my Hobie. Even though I am very outgoing, it can be a daunting task to be living in a new area, fishing lakes I’ve never heard of, and not knowing a single person. My break was short-lived. After one month, I found myself getting dragged back into it. When that passion changed into a full-fledged obsession was when I found the community.
Driving around South Jersey looking for a new spot on a hot August afternoon, my dad and I passed a little sign that simply said, “HOW EVENT”. I’m thinking “What the heck is a HOW EVENT?” My Dad and I followed the signs and we see a parking lot near a lake that is FILLED with kayaks. We drive through the lot and meet a gentleman who explains about the HOW (Heroes on the Water) organization. We talked about it as we drove away, and then went to look for another lake to fish.
Fast forward one year. I found myself volunteering as a Coach for NJ HOW and I am introduced to the kayak community. At HOW events, I not only got the pleasure of spending the day with a hero but I also got the chance to meet a great group of people who share the same obsession as I do, and the opportunity to pass that obsession on to others. I connected with a few of the coaches and coordinators on social media and the ball started rolling. I attended a local kayak show with a co-worker. I kept telling myself I was doing it for him, but I was really doing it for me. I met a few great people at the event and then I found myself joining a local bass fishing club and fishing tournaments, something I had always thought about, but had never done.
Three months have passed and I am surrounded by dozens of people who I can relate to. Kayak anglers, or “The Community”, as I call them. Kayak anglers who are veterans, state employees, bartenders, bait & tackle shop owners, project managers, small business owners, marketing directors, blog writers, physical therapists, during the week, BUT by weekend, they are all kayak anglers. I have learned new techniques, rigging advice, and have some techniques and rigging ideas of my own. I have made new friends, industry contacts, and found that the camaraderie is just as powerful as the fight of the fish on the other end of the line. The passion that is inside of every kayak angler is more powerful than anything else we will ever encounter. Being surrounded by others who share the same passion is even more powerful. Now, every weekend is spent on my Hobie Pro Angler – fishing new places, meeting new people, and fully enjoying the best part of being a kayak angler: Community.
About the Author
Charles Daugherty is 34 and spends most of his time in freshwater fishing for large mouth bass. Charles has fished from Maine to Key West and in between. He is a member of the Hobie Kayak Fishing Team (representing Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown, NJ) and a Coach/Event Coordinator for Heroes on the Water NJ Chapter.