Saturday, December 13, 2014

Kayak Fishing is a sport, Train like it!

I am an athlete, or at least I still think I am. Over the years I have participated in a multitude of competitive sports including basketball, baseball, football, golf, and softball. I still hit the gym regularly and eat pretty healthy, but a few years ago, as my age crept near 40, my body started feeling the cumulative effects of some of those sports. I needed a way to stay active and still feed that competitive fire that a lot of us have without continuing to punish my back, knees, and ankles! Then one day in a local bookstore, I ran across a magazine that was focused on kayak fishing.

Fishing has always been a love of mine and I had dabbled in competitive bass fishing with my father in law, which was always a blast. But I always considered it a skill or activity, definitely not a sport. As I flipped through the magazine the first thing that struck me was the physical aspect of kayak fishing. These guys were low to the water, fighting the fish and the elements using only a plastic boat and a paddle. I was all in, after some heavy internet research and browsing the local shops I purchased my first boat, a Wildernesss Systems ride 115.

First Beaver Lake trip in my ride 115

The first time I hit the water in the kayak I was hooked (pun intended). Fishing from the kayak was exhilarating and relaxing all at once if that makes any sense. I loved it, but I still felt myself missing that competitive atmosphere some of my prior activities provided. Back to the internet, I found a local kayak club that was doing tournaments. Unsure of how that would work from a kayak I went and once again the experience was even better than I could have imagined. It was a shotgun start, six hours on the water, grinding out a five fish limit. The tournament was physically taxing and in the midst of it I realized, tournament kayak fishing is a sport!

Testing the my balance in the Wilderness Systems Ride 135
Immediately I started tailoring my gym sessions to improve my performance in the kayak. I combined weightlifting, endurance training, core training and flexibility drills into a series of workouts. Kayak tournament fishing had given me motivation to hit the gym even harder. Over the next several seasons I reaped the benefits. Being able to paddle faster, harder, and longer than other anglers gave me a clear advantage over the rest of the field. If the wind blew hard that day I welcomed it, my added strength and stamina helped me fight through tough conditions and catch fish while others hid in wind protected coves. Core training improved my stability, standing to cast became much easier. Training for tournament fishing has given me countless more casts per tournament upping my catch rate and I know it has been key in helping me capture the angler of the year title twice on our local trail.

Push/Pull movements are the cornerstone of my strength training. Pull ups, pull downs, and rows are routinely part of my back training. I use the bench press, push ups, and fly's to strengthen my chest muscles. There are a variety of legs, arms, and shoulder exercises I also incorporate into my routines. Several times per week I also work my core doing planks, sit ups, and leg raises. Stretching/flexibility moves are always part of my pre/post workout plan. Cardiovascular training is boring to me but still important, so I use cross training to keep things varied (walking, recumbent bike, paddling session's etc..). I choose to maintain a gym membership but there are plenty of ways to complete this training at home with minimal equipment. Your training plan can be as simple or complicated as you want to  make it. Exercise is like CPR, a little bit is better than none at all. The bottom line is competitive kayak fishing has rekindled my competitive spirit and helps me maintain a healthy lifestyle. So as the title of this post states, Kayak Fishing is a sport...Train like it!

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