Camaraderie and Compassion at the 6th Annual YakAttack Tournament
Tournament time is upon us here in Central Va. On April 11th, the ARC-Midlo Store hosted a Captain's Meeting for the MS Shad Shootout. The Shad Shootout is a great tournament in Richmond, put on by Thom Mattauch and others. It raises money for Multiple Sclerosis research. I attended the Captain's Meeting, but unfortunately missed the tournament.
Above is a shot of our Midlothian Store, which is now open Tues-Sat. Make sure you head in and tell the guys what you'd like to see us stock in that storefront.
Word on the street is the RVA Shad Shootout was once again a great community event. To get information and see photos from that event, please visit the new Facebook page here: RVA Shad Shootout
I had a family weekend planned on the same date as the Shootout, but I plan on hitting this great tournament next year. Appomattox River Company is always proud to help sponsor this RVA community event.
This past weekend was the 6th Annual YakAttack Tournament benefiting Heroes On The Water. Luther Cifers, of YakAttack, and his family put this event on with the help of a ton of volunteers. This year the tournament was based out of Twin Lakes State Park, here in Farmville. The registered participant list rose to 131 kayak anglers. It may have been the largest freshwater tournament. On Friday I scrambled through my work load at Appomattox River Company and fired up my truck about 4pm to head over to the Conference Center at Twin Lakes. I was really amped about our PaddleVa decals arriving from Grafik Trenz in Smithfield. Anna Chapman had overnight-ed them to us so that we'd have them in time for the event. Thanks Anna!
I showed up and Vic, our Hampton Store manager, met me in the parking lot. We hauled some coolers down to the deck of the event site. Appomattox River Company was hosting a little "Have A Drink On Us" corner, complete with coolers full of beverages and free decals.
Around 7pm, after shaking hands and one-arm, man hugging some folks, I heard Luther start to address the crowd. Tina Shank, Tournament Director, spoke first and then Luther stepped up to elaborate on some of the details.
He also waxed poetic about our little Central Va, small business, triad of YakAttack, PowerTeam Lures and Appomattox River Company. It's pretty cool to have all of us in the same yard and it was very cool/ humbling to be mentioned and celebrated in that company. We certainly enjoy being neighbors with these folks!
Above: Bob and Katie, of PTL, listen in to the rules of the tournament from Joe Underwood and Aaron Dryden, members of the PowerTeam Mafia.
The first night Luther and the crew served rib-eyes, ribs and seafood chowder. The food at the YakAttack Tournament is legendary, and for good reason! It's amazing the amount of awesome food these guys turn out.
I was happy and honored to meet Jim Dolan and his wife, Sally, at the tournament. Jim is the founder of Heroes On The Water and he and Sally drove from Texas to attend this event. If you've followed this blog you know my military connection and my deep appreciation for what HOW continues to do for our veterans and their families.
The next morning I scrambled to get down to the water and meet Mark and Kris Lozier at the Sandy River launch. It was a little overcast and wet in the morning.
Mark and Kris were a little out of their element in the sweet water ;) and the weather was not helping out. It was still fun to paddle around and bump into them and a host of other great anglers from out of town.
Above: Double L - The Lozier's, Native Watercraft, Werner Paddles, Astral
Above: Rob Choi on the hunt, Ocean Kayak- Old Town Canoe & Kayak, Werner Paddle.
I had a great day paddling, a decent day fishing and a terrible day catching. It was awesome to roll back into the Twin Lakes Conference Center to this scene though. The State Park donated the use of this facility as an homage to our veterans and the two organizations, Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters, that YakAttack endeavors to help with this tournament. That is killer!
The trophies for the tournament were donated by Dan Azzatto of Fish and Wildlife Unlimited Taxidermy. He left a cool message on the shipping box.
The Conference Center was packed for the awards, raffles and dinner.
This guy with his sleeveless jersey always seems to catch fish. ;) * The Legend- Forrest Short.
Extra shout-out to the above two RVA anglers, Josh Dolin and Grant Alvis, seen here talking to Jim Dolan, of HOW. These guys have been hitting it hard. Grant took 1st at the Shad Shootout and then won the Slam division at the YakAttack tournament. Josh placed in both the Sunfish and Crappie Division. Check these guys out at Peelin' Drag Extreme Fishing. They have great blog posts and podcasts up, as well as helpful reference information.
A touching moment came when Tournament Director, Tina Shank, addressed the crowd and told everyone she would be stepping down. A standing ovation erupted.
Above: The sweet special YakAttack BlackPak that Dan Smullen put together for the tournament, featuring all three of the Central Va, kayak fishing businesses. It was pretty awesome!
Did I mention the food? Holy crap, the food is amazing at this tournament! The second night was whole hog, pig picking style and it was delicious. Oh, and America. Enough said.
Aaron Dryden forwarded me the above photo and the following photo as well. Thanks Aaron! The above photo is a Wilderness Systems Ride 135 Kayak that we donated to the tournament. Glenn, the man on the left, won the kayak in a raffle. All prizes were raffled, which was refreshing. Funny enough, Glenn told me he used to manage our Richmond store way back in the day. It was before my time, but he remembered when my wife shattered her ankles whitewater kayaking the Tallulah Gorge back when she was 19.
Bob and Katie, of PTL, sponsored the Big Bass portion of the event as well as doing a ton of other stuff for the tournament. They couldn't be at the awards as their long time companion, an 18 yr. old Jack Russell, had passed away that morning. We were all pretty bummed. Bob and Katie are family, kayak fishing family, PaddleVa family, bass fishing family, etc. You get the point. They are good folks, who give a lot of love to the sport of fishing and the friends they've made along the way. The PowerTeam Mafia decided we should pose with the Big Bass winners and send them a photo to show we were still representing in their absence.
The YakAttack Tournament is top notch. From Luther and his family, to the volunteers, the sponsors and through to all the anglers, it is an exceptional gathering of family, friends, fellowship, food and kayak fishing. At one point while standing in line for dinner, Luther and I started talking about the kayak angling community. It truly is a unique sector of the paddle-sports industry. These folks are all heart. Over $10,000 was raised for Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters. It warms your soul. I told Luther how I can still mark early, seminal moments in my kayak fishing. I only started a year ago. ;) Â One of those was last year, I attended the Captain's Meeting for this event, covering it for work. Â After hearing Luther speak about family and community, I knew I wanted to participate the following year. I have acquired some great friends in this community and it was a great weekend in their company. Luther, of YakAttack, has put this event on for 6 years now. It lives up to all the hype. None of that hype has to do with money won, or accolades awarded. Rather it is the giving nature and the camaraderie of this community that shines through and serves as a guiding light as our season kicks off. Thank You to Luther and his family, thank you to YakAttack, thank you to the volunteers, thank you to the sponsors and thank you to all the anglers and families who participated. Be humble and be proud. If there is one thing I've learned from this community, you can be both.
***I'll post photos to our Facebook page tomorrow
********Rob Choi and his fellow Ocean Kayak teammate Richie Bekolay also wrote about the tournament. Check them out here: