We Have the Best People by Justin Largen


We Have the Best People
The fishing community has some amazing people. That goes double for kayak fishing. I was reminded of this while competing recently at the Kayak Bass Fishing Trail Championship on Lake Guntersville. It was the most fun I’ve had at a fishing tournament in a long time. The fact that we were on one of the best lakes in the country and that the fish were cooperative helped, but the biggest reason was the camaraderie.

I stayed with Casey and Jody, a couple of great guys that I’m honored to call friends. They introduced me to another angler, Matt, who I knew of but never formally met. It was great getting to know him. We all went out and did our own thing on the water, scouting for the tournament and later competing, but we spent time hanging out every evening. Jody cooked an amazing meal one night. Another night our friend Kristine stopped by the house and brought ice cream! After day one of competition, an even bigger group of anglers went out to dinner. I met new friends there. These were anglers I was competing against. In a few hours, we would be on the water trying to beat each other. We were all chasing the same trophies and prize money, but we also recognized that our fellow competitors are like-minded people who share our passion for the outdoors and kayak fishing more specifically. We are competitors but also friends. This is something that probably doesn’t make sense to people looking in from outside. I get it. It’s hard for me to rationalize when I step back and think about it. I’m competitive, probably too competitive. I look at tournaments as a way prove myself, and I want to win every single one I enter. I’m focused on me. Yet, when I’m around other kayak anglers, some of that selfishness wears off. I’m reminded that winning isn’t everything. At the end of the day, it’s just fishing and there are more important things. Swapping fish stories with my friends and hearing about what’s going on in their lives reminds me of that.

After day two, the Trail Championship was over, but we were all getting ready for another day on the water. A few of us were fortunate enough to be competing in The Ten. Others would be competing for some serious coin in a no-entry-fee Big Bass Shootout. That night, James, another angler I’d never met, stopped by the house. We ended up talking for several hours, discussing everything from fishing techniques to cool lakes we’d visited. Before I knew it, several hours had passed. It was late and there was work to be done. All too soon, I’d be waking up and driving to the lake. A more self-interested me would have been working on tackle, getting everything ready for the next day. This time I was content to talk shop with a new friend. And if I had a do-over, I’d make the same decision again. Fast forward 24 hours and I’m having dinner with Chad and the other anglers who competed in The Ten. Breaking bread with them was another highlight of my trip. Those guys are like me. We hail from different places and walk different walks, but we share a love for chasing little green and brown fish. There’s a brotherhood in our sport that is unique. We have the best people.