It was May 2012 when I was trolling around in an online kayak fishing forum and I came across a posting asking for volunteers to take wounded warriors out kayak fishing. They were looking for guides and gear as this was to be their first event ever. Now I have never “guided” before, but I have been fishing for nearly 40 years and I’ve shown plenty of people how to fish. I also have an appreciation for on-the-water safety and knowledge about how to handle various situations that may arise out there. So I responded with my offer to help out.
I had no idea what to expect. I’m an extremely competitive person. I fish tournaments. I play hockey. I play poker, and I’m focused in my day job at moving up the corporate ladder. So it was no surprise that I then started trash talking in the kayak fishing forum about how my vet was going to catch the most, and the biggest, fish. To me, it was game on. My vet was going to win.
As the day got closer, I meticulously planned out our day. The group was going to launch into Raritan Bay from Port Monmouth. This is a fantastic fishery which I am very familiar with. I know a channel that runs from shore to about 3 miles out. The channel started about 3/4 of a mile east of the launch. The plan would be to follow the channel out, looking for the fish and then work our way back. It would be as much as a 7 and a half mile paddle in search of fluke.
Our New Jersey Chapter Coordinator recently shared the following with us. They have several veteran participants that have made the decision to purchase their own kayaks and gear. We are excited to see our program benefit the veterans we are serving so much that they want to make a personal investment so that the program continues to grow. Every time a participant makes the decision to purchase their own personal equipment, it opens up a spot for a new participant to get involved.
From Jim Reinknecht, New Jersey Chapter:
Lately our vet “regulars” are buying their own kayaks in droves, two last week and three this week alone.
One of the NJ chapters longest And biggest supporters has really stepped up their game for our vets recently.
Thekayakfishingstore.com is our main kayak dealer. They’ve been our gateway to native kayaks since we started up. They literally provide us with almost everything we need at dealer invoice cost and sometimes even below. We get first crack at their year-end liquidations, rentals, you name it. They also have negotiated with manufacturers on our behalf (without us asking) to stretch our dollars the farthest. They host events for us and literally single handedly fundraised with tournaments the money for our entire fleet of kayaks. In the winter season they donate space at trade shows for us to do outreach, raise
awareness, and fundraise.