Kayak Fishing – 501c3 Style!

Recently I broke a bone in my hand and had to have my hand/arm cramped up in some silly clostrophobic contraption called, oh, what’s the word, a “cast.” Well, I never had one of these “cast” thingamabobs before since this was my first broken bone, but I knew what to do for rehab as soon as I got it off – go fishing!

Fellow Jackson team member, Brooks Beatty, and I had the pleasure of taking David Hickman, the director of a cool non-profit organization in Charlotte (Charlotte One) on his first kayak fishing trip. I have been fortunate to volunteer at Charlotte One for some time now and, during that time through talks with Dave, I learned that he had some fishing roots from his time growing up in east Tennessee. He would often ask when we were going to do a kayak fishing trip, so I knew he was eager and ready to take the kayak fishing plunge. Knowing how hard Dave works to make a positive impact among the 20 and 30-somethings in Charlotte, I thought this would be a great way to thank him for what he has meant to so many young adults in the surrounding area.

My parents operate a non-profit as well and, like Dave, I know how hard they work to simply try and makes people’s lives better by putting others first, so this was Brooks and I’s chance to give back and put Dave first! Brooks and I knew this trip on a scenic, remote stretch of river would do just that!

We finally got on the water around 10:30am, after setting our shuttle and teaching Dave a few basics about the Coosa and kayak fishing in general. Dave took to it real well and was even standing and fishing very soon. I picked up a few fish early and then soon after Dave and Brooks got on the board too. It was perfect and we all had that “all is right in the world” kind of feeling that you get when you’re on the water!

Half way through the float Brooks landed a very nice largemouth bass as you can see in the photo above (right).We all had a blast shooting some small rapids, and the look on Dave’s face in these photos tells you exactly how much fun he was having!

Brooks ended up catching this nice smallmouth bass just before dark (photo right) and we figured this might be our last fish, afterall we were already out of the best water and it was almost dark so it’s mostly just paddling from here until the take out. Of course, not if you’re Dave Hickman it wasn’t mostly paddling! He literally couldn’t stop fishing and disregarded all care in the world for getting off the river before dark and kept fishing! Brooks and I even paddled on down so Dave would get the hint to stop making casts, because we were ready to get to the restaurant!

We were well downstream of Dave at this point and were waiting on him to eventually catch up, because we were about to lose sight of him. All of the sudden we start hearing him yell, “help, help!” We were like, “oh no, what did Dave do?” Did he lose his paddle? Did he get a hook stuck in his hand? Did he flip over? Well, after 9 hours of fishing and paddling I had to make one last arduous upstream, up rapids, to find out. Brooks wisely sat right where he was, laid back his Coosa elite seat and took a nap. I, however, am busting it upstream thinking to myself, “This better be a legit cry or I’m not taking Hickman with me ever again! Turns out, I get close and could tell he is holding a nice sized smallmouth bass! Which, for the record, is a legit cry. ‘

I got up to him and he said, “Sorry man, it was chaos, I caught this big fish, then brought it in the boat and it went nuts flopping around, knocked my paddle out, then my fishing rod, and I didn’t know what was going on!” He went on to say, “By the way, what is this thing?” I said, “Dave, that is a trophy-sized smallmouth bass and not many people are lucky enough to ever catch one like that, congratulations.” We then took some photos and a short video of the fish being released and laughed about the whole experience.

We paddled off the river in the dark and didn’t really care because the moon was nearly full and the temperature was a perfect 68 degrees. Of course I’m not sure if Dave would have known it was 40 degrees after that experience. He was grinnin’ ear to ear and just had to take a photo of a photo off my camera’s screen to text to his wife and kids, “Look what daddy caught!” For Brooks and I the day couldn’t have been better, catching some fish on the river, enjoying great fellowship, watching Dave land the lunker, and getting to give back to someone who gives so much to others. That’s what life is all about…

To see all our photos from the day play the slide show below.