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Wilderness Systems Pro Staff Growing the Sport of Kayak Fishing

Posted: 09.29.2015

Wildy Pro Staff demonstrate personal passion for kayak fishing and eagerness to introduce others to the sport.

Wilderness Systems Pro Staff: Growing the Sport of Kayak Fishing
What it means to be Wilderness Systems Pro Staff varies for each member on our roster. The common thread is that they all do something to grow the sport of kayak fishing. Some run tournament trails, some are founders of kayak fishing clubs, and some teach others how to kayak fish through their guide services. Many of our team members are leaders of conservation groups and charitable causes. However they choose to make the sport better, they do so with a generous spirit so that others can enjoy what has become such a big part of their lives.  Here are a few featured Pro Staffers and the ways they chose to improve and grow the sport.

Eric Tebbets, Founder, Estero Kayak Challenge
In the Spring of 2014, Eric Tebbets decided to host a benefit kayak fishing tournament. The idea grew from the desire to promote and share the sport while bringing together anglers from around California. After spending a few months planning the event and enlisting the help of fellow Wildy teammates, Andy O’Brien and Chad Britton, the Estero Kayak Challenge was born. On June 7, 2015, 49 anglers competed in 4 saltwater categories. Jim Gosciminski of Santa Cruz took home the title of Tournament Champ.

Following in the long tradition of kayak fishing tournaments supporting local causes and charitable organizations, the Estero Kayak Challenge was able to raise $3,000 for the local Central Coast Chapter of Heroes on the Water. The tournament is now planned as an annual event and is held in Cayucos on California’s Central Coast. Eric also owns a kayak fishing store called PRO Kayak Fishing.

Tim Perkins, Founder, River’s Edge Camps
In 2010, Tim Perkins left behind a successful bass boat tournament career spanning over 20 years to do something that spoke more to his childhood fishing experiences: kayak fishing for bass in rural Alabama rivers. As a kid, he plied the waters with a small homemade boat. A year later, he hit the kayak tournament scene with force, winning the Riverbassin’ National Championship. Realizing the impact that fishing remote waters in a small boat had on his childhood, Tim and his wife Michelle established Rivers Edge.  The nonprofit organization grows kayak fishing from the ground up. Tim explains, “We put together paddle camps for rural kids in Alabama. We wanted to offer the same opportunities that we had as kids growing up on the river.” The Riverbassin’ national title opened a lot of doors for Tim. One of them was an invite to the state office for the Alabama Scenic River Trail. He was appointed to the position of Ambassador of the upper Tallapoosa River region. The role of Ambassador involves conservation efforts including an annual river clean up. Tim speaks with pride about the position and the river he grew up on, “It’s like looking after an old friend.”

Jeff Malott, President, Arkansas Kayak Anglers 
Several years ago on an early winter trip to a lake in Northwest Arkansas, Jeff Malott and a few buddies decided to put together a last minute kayak fishing tournament, "just for fun". The vision was simple, use the tournament as a means to draw anglers out to meet new friends, share ideas and have fun. The tournament drew 15 anglers. Jeff looks back, “Everyone had a blast, and it gave us the confidence to push forward the next year.”

The following season he established Arkansas Kayak Anglers and the Razoryak Tournament Trail. In just a few short years the club has exploded, with nearly 1000 members joining the Facebook group. The Tournament Trail has partnered with other smaller clubs to grow into three separate tournament series covering the entire state of Arkansas. With several events still remaining on the Northwest Arkansas series, there have already been over 100 unique participants recorded in 2015 on that series alone. This fall the Razoryak Tournament Trail will crown its first state kayak bass fishing champion with qualifiers from all three trails and invitees from other kayak clubs across the state. Jeff credits some of the keys to the trail’s success, “Keeping the tournaments low cost, paying back 100% of the entry fees, zero membership fees, and having a leadership team that is willing to sacrifice their time to organize successful events.” As a result of the tournament participation, the AKA has had the platform to market the social aspect of kayak fishing to a large number of anglers. The AKA has held multiple camping trips, hosted charity tournaments, and is a proud supporter of Heroes on the Water.

Here are several other Wilderness Systems Pro Staffers and the positions they hold in various organizations related to the sport:

Rob Alderman, Owner/Guide, Outer Banks Kayak Fishing

Mike Baker, Owner/Operator Kayak Fish New England Guide Services, Registered Sea Kayak and Tidewater Guide Maine

Chad Britton, Co-founder Estero Kayak Challenge, HOW California Volunteer

Cody Carpenter, Founder, The Colony High School Bass Fishing Club

Brad Case, Founder/Director SweetWater Kayak Tournaments

Bobby Clark, Tournament Director, KBF Texas benefitting HOW

Sam De La Torre, Assistant Chapter Coordinator, HOW South Florida

JD Desrosiers, Board Member, Upstate Kayak Fishing Club

Cory Dreyer, President and Founder, Carolina Kayak Anglers Tournament Series

Craig Dye, Tournament Director of Kayak Bass Fishing Tennessee

Matt Eikenberg, Sponsorship Coordinator, Mid Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing Series

Neil Farley, Founder and Director, Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail

John Franchot, Moderator, BassResource.com

Chad Hoover, Host, Knot Right Kayak Fishing TV show, Owner, HOOK1 Kayak Fishing

Rob Knoles, Coordinator, Nor Cal Heroes on the Water

Chris LeMessurier, President of Kayak Fish the Great Lakes Region, Founder/Director of the No-Mo Charity Kayak Fishing Tournament

Jeff Little, Producer, Tight Line Junkie Journal Instructional Video Channel

Kris Lozier, Board Member, Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association

Mark Lozier, Board Member, Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association

Andrew O'Brien, Administrator for Central Coast Kayak Fishing. Volunteer Guide- HOW California Central Coast Chapter

Thomas Philippi, Founding member, South Jersey Kayak Bass Fishing Club

Alex Post, Governing Member, Massachusetts Freedivers Association

Tanner Preciado, General Manager, Scappoose Bay Paddling Center, Oregon Licensed Guide and ACA Certified Instructor

Scott Shrader, Founder, Iowa Kayak Anglers

Bill Sikora, Founder, Florida Bass Paddlers benefitting HOW

Jim Smith, Volunteer, Maine Chapter Trout Unlimited

Jason Stock, Owner/Operator JW Snooky Guide Service

Brenden Terrill, Director, Indiana Smallmouth Alliance

Dean Thomas,  Owner/Guide, Slowride Guide Services

Manny Torres, Owner/Operator, Rodbenders LLM Kayak Fishing Guide Service

Robert Vaughn, Founding Member, SC Kayak Fishing Association

Juan Veruete, Owner/Paddling Instructor Kayak Fish Pa LLC

Wes Widrig, Adminstrator, Southwest Va Kayak Anglers

Dwayne Walley, Founder, TourneyX (tournament hosting software company), Founder Mississippi Kayak Fishing

Mike Zilkowski, Tournament Director, Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic