I had no idea what to expect or what was even needed to fish off-shore from a kayak. Christina Weber was a huge resource, giving me ideas for rods, reels, bait, and tackle. Maria Hector answered numerous emails and messages from me asking typical “googan” questions. Before I knew it, I found myself in Ft. Lauderdale checking my gear at customs alongside some very experienced anglers. After checking my nerves at customs and getting on the boat, I started to notice that these people were nothing like I imagined. Hearing all of the stories about the monsters they had been catching and seeing the comradery, despite an unspoken level of competitiveness among them, was awesome to be a part of.
At this time in my life I was at a critical point trying to decide if I was going to be able to chase my dreams and pursue a career in kayak fishing. There was a lot of negativity around me and way too much negativity in my mind. The very first day with this group I had completely forgotten about all of it. Joe, Maria, Doug, and all of the anglers act more like family than competitors, and they welcome everybody in. I learned more in one week with the EKFT family than I could hope to learn in a lifetime about deep water kayak fishing.
The atmosphere at this event had a much larger effect on me than the actual fishing itself. I met some of the top anglers in the sport and instantly became friends with them. The Bahamas is actually where Robert Field and I hatched the crazy idea of him finally moving to Florida and moving in with me in Cape Coral. Eight months later he took the leap, loaded up, and headed down here, permanently.
It’s been about a year now since last year’s Extreme Kayak Fishing Bahamas trip. I haven’t seen many of these guys since the Bahamas, but as soon as I arrived at the 2017 Sailfish Smack Down these guys were putting me up for the night and taking me out to crush fish all week. I got to meet so many more anglers that were asking what the Bahamas is really like, and whether or not they should go. Every single one of them heard the same response from me, “That is the one tournament you have to fish.” There is no other experience that can compare to the Battle in the Bahamas tournament. This tournament pulled me right out of a period of stress and negativity and immersed me in one of the most welcoming and real environments that I've ever experienced. It helped launch my career as a competitive angler but also reminded me why I became a guide in the first place, and that was to share the experiences and opportunities that kayak fishing affords us.
If you’re questioning going to the Battle in the Bahamas this year and have any questions at all about the experience: how it all works, gear, traveling out of country, or anything else, please feel free to reach out to Maria, Joe, myself, or any other angler that you know has been to this tournament. We would all be glad to help get you there, and it was literally a life changing experience for me. Thank you Joe, Maria, and the entire Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament family for creating such a great atmosphere and a badass tournament for some amazing fish. I’ll definitely see you there this year.
By Mike Plainte