In light of the recent developments regarding the Kayak Bass Series tournaments, as well as various other tournaments, the kayak fishing community has been appalled by the devious actions of one individual. Many have taken to social media to blast this one individual, while our good friend, Dustin Schouest, took to his laptop to express his feelings. We at Yak Outlaws had considered penning our thoughts in a message, but Dustin said it best in our opinion. Here’s his message to the kayak fishing family.
With the news that I got Tuesday of a cheater in the kayak fishing community, I felt anger. I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from doing what I used to do in my younger, trolling days: to find this guy’s phone number and put his personal information out there. I stopped myself, because I grew. And it was because of kayak fishing. I wouldn’t let the actions of one man set the precedent for kayak fishing as a whole. Because kayak fishing was the best thing to ever happen to me. Let me tell you all something: kayak fishing is diverse. I see a more diverse cast of characters in my local kayak fishing world than I have seen in all the animes I watch. You don’t see an exclusive group of people looking exactly alike.
At my first Ride the Bull tournament in 2012, I was almost worried I would be judged there. I had long hair, had on a black band T Shirt, and I knew I couldn’t hold my liquor compared to the people I would meet. I met one of my best friends in kayak fishing there: a tall, well dressed guy my age named Thomas Sparks. He didn’t look down on me for looking like something from a stoner metal band: we hit it off and have since gone fishing together multiple times. While walking around at Bridgeside, I saw people of all types: your typical Cajun fisherman wearing Magellan shirts with a beer pooche. Rasta-esque black dudes wearing fishing jerseys. Long haired beach bums without a shirt, wearing board shorts and sandals. It was what Louisiana has always been called: a melting pot. When I talked to people, no one made me feel unwelcome. I wasn’t called a Satanist as a few people had done in previous hobbies I had participated in. It was the best feeling I had ever had.
As I began to meet more people in the kayak fishing world, I met people of all types. There were gamers like my friends Thomas and Georges. I met hip-hop loving urbanized folk who could work a gold spoon like a pro. Metal heads who knew who bands like Gorgoroth and Acid Bath were. Stoners who made meme jokes with every breath. I have met every kind of individual born unto this Earth. But the most important thing about it was that EVERYONE WAS ACCEPTING. Perhaps when fisherman gather around to celebrate our favorite past time, biases and cares go out the window as we drink, eat, and be merry. All I know is, my kayak fishing brothers and sisters are the nicest folks I have ever had this honor of meeting and befriending.
When I started fishing in competition (for the few times I have), I always heard ribbings about different happenings at tournaments. Stories of that one red that barely crossed the 27” line, or the trout that shrank on ice, have graced my ears at many tournaments. Then there are tales told of rules being added to a tournament because someone decided to interpret a rule differently. But, even though it angered people at the time, it always ended peacefully. We, as kayak anglers, have a sense of preserving our honor. While fishing is stereotyped as something for liars and tales of “the giant that got away”, the fisherman I have met love the thrill of competition, and bettering their friends. And in the end, it always ends with hugs, handshakes, and lots of pictures.
What I am trying to say is, let’s not let this cheater and his fraud stop us from doing what we love. Yes, there may be amendments to the next tournament series you fish, but, think of it as a minor inconvenience. Don’t let it stop you from fishing the next IFA, or Kayak Bass Series, or even your local club competitions. Sometimes the most fun you’ll have is the suspense of the weigh-master pinching the tail of a flounder to see if it passes the twelve inch line. It could end in heartbreak, or in a win. Either way, enjoy the suspense. Think of it as a better version of an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Our brotherhood is strong. We are one of the few groups where a young guy blasting Slayer from his truck can pull up next to the older gentlemen lazily listening to The Eagles, the two can get out of their trucks, and they can spend the whole day together having the time of their lives chasing fish and making memories. The message is simple…
We are kayak anglers, and we will never let the actions of one person define our sport.
About the Author
“Born and raised on a boat” as his father says, Dustin Schouest, creator of Dark Marsh Flies, is mainly a fly rod and paddleboard loving Cajun fishing,
and trying to expose, the little known paradise of Pointe Aux Chenes, La. Dustin is also a team member associated with Hook1 Kayak Fishing Gear, Muddy Water Paddle Company, Salt Life Optics, and Filthy Anglers.