When I moved back to Kansas City, from Austin, TX in the summer of 2015 I had no idea of the journey I would be led on with kayaking. Kayaking was always just a fun way for me to get away from my in-depth tech career, and a way for me to make new friends in a new town and be a more social person…..and catch some huge bass along the way.
I’ve been extremely fortunate in my years of kayaking to haphazardly land in the right places at the right times. Whether it was to meet people that would encourage me along the way, or meet people that were much larger than me in the industry and see how they succeeded for failed, and how the community reacted to them. I’ve been fortunate to live a few miles from one of the largest kayak distributors in the U.S. and be able to fish their tournament trail all over the state of TX. I’ve also been fortunate to be able to work with one of the original Jackson Kayak dealers in the country and learn about kayaks from a family that truly knows darn near everything there is to know about different waters and the canoes and kayaks that go on them. And I’ve been the luckiest guy in the world to be able to represent Jackson Kayaks and all of the other companies that have put their faith in me to represent their brands well and make a difference in our industry.
Moving back to KC was difficult for me from a kayaking and fishing perspective. I was back home, close to my family again, and was working back in my career field with little issue, but I had difficulty finding the same types of kayaking friends I had made while living in Austin. Nothing against anyone in KS, but it was just different than TX. After hanging out on Facebook and going to a few local tournaments, I decided to start the ‘Mo-Kan Kayak Fishing’ group and see if I could bridge the gap I was seeing between state lines and with all of the smaller kayaking clubs that seemed to be everywhere in this area. We didn’t have that in TX, and it was something I wasn’t used to, as everyone in the Austin area just fished together and there were no affiliations as to what part of town you were from or what part of the state you resided in. The Facebook group was formed and we were off and running with several members, and things seemed to be going in the right direction.
After a few months of meeting people online and attending some of the local kayaking tournaments in our area, I decided it was time for me to step up and bring my knowledge of tournament fishing to this area from what I had experienced, and grown to love, in TX. I’ve always had a philosophy about tournaments, and my philosophy goes like this……
The top three anglers will always be at these tournaments because they enjoy winning and taking home cash and prizes. The anglers that always finish outside of the top three will eventually get tired of handing over their money to the same people if they don’t see a benefit of attending these events. If you strive to have a tournament series that is one hundred people, then you need to set your sites on the other ninety-seven participants and make them feel welcome, help them meet new friends, help them learn how to become better anglers, and help them get a return on the money that have invested into your tournament.
This is a fairly simple concept, but a very difficult task to accomplish. Luckily, as I explained earlier, I have been extremely fortunate in my time in kayaking and I had the tools to accomplish what I really felt this community was lacking, in terms of camaraderie and a place for all levels of anglers to come and compete, have fun, and make friends and learn.
I started the Mo-Kan Kayak Fishing Series in the early months of 2016, and we had our first event in the spring of 2016. I loosely modeled my series after one of my favorite series in TX, and made the changes to fit in line more with my community and with my twists on what I thought would make a better series. 2016 was a huge success, but I was getting busier and busier with work, so I shut the series down at the end of the season so I could concentrate on my career.
Fast forward to 2018, and it seemed that every month or two I would get one or two messages or phone calls about whether or not my series would be going again for the current year. I hadn’t really thought much about it, however it was always in the back of my mind as something I succeeded at, and would like to continue with but just didn’t have the resources to do everything myself.
So, oddly enough, earlier this summer I had gotten a phone call that there was a new Jackson Kayak dealer in our area and the owner was excited to talk to me since I was on the team and could potentially help him out with how to progress with this business in kayaking. He was a powerboat, pontoon, and service center, and he had done research on the growth of our sport and decided Jackson Kayaks was exactly the premium brand of kayaks he was looking for to supplement his already successful business. We met, had a great time chatting, and to save a lot of rambling on and on, we decided to resurrect the Mo-Kan Kayak Fishing Series, and I was allowed to build a shop team of three local anglers to help with support! If you are in the Kansas City area and need a place to fish, feel free to look up Cole Spriggs, Preston Maples, and Landon Stephens on our Facebook group!
We quickly pulled together our first tournament in a few short weeks, just to have one for the year and get our feet wet again, before we dove head first into planning our series for the 2019 season. With the help of three great kayak anglers in our community, and the help of one excellent shop/business owner, Joe Falco, we are going full-bore into 2019 with tournaments on three of the most sought after lakes for trophy bass in our area. And with the help of our sponsors like Jackson Kayak, Orion Coolers, YakAttack, and several others, we are looking forward to putting several thousands of dollars of prizes into the hands of local anglers that support our series and local shop. Whether you’re a first time angler, a youth angler, a seasoned tournament angler, or just someone that wants to come out and watch and see what it’s all about, we encourage you to come out to one of our events and see how we do things a little different than most. If there’s one thing I’ve learned being on the JK Kayak Team, it’s how much JK cares about it’s community and how the companies and dealers JK affiliates with embrace the same vision. Mo-Kan Kayak Fishing is centered around those beliefs and we’ll always strive to making our community and sport a fun and inviting environment!
If you’re interested in checking out our series, feel free to look us up on Mo-Kan Kayak Fishing on Facebook, or check out our website at www.mokankayakfishing.com