The sport of kayak angling can bestow upon Chad Hoover a variety of titles. The former search and rescue swimmer is the co-owner of popular outfitter HOOK1 Kayak Fishing Gear, the author of the definitive guide to kayak bass fishing, and the Pro Staff Director for Wilderness Systems Kayaks. Chad’s most recent endeavor as host of Knot Right Kayak Fishing, however, has him wearing the title of television personality. When not angling the nearby waters or traveling the country in promotion of the sport, Chad can be found adding to his popular website, KayakBassFishing.com.
What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?
It was while I was stationed in Corpus Christi, TX at a Search and Rescue (SAR) unit. It was late 1996, early 1997. While cruising the beach looking for jacks and specks in the surf, I saw a guy paddling out a bait for shark fishing . It was the cliche “light bulb went off” and I started using it to chase fish in the flats and haven’t looked back.
Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?
How could I forget? It was a 31″ redfish on a topwater, and I went on my first Texas Sleigh Ride. It was awesome, and made something that I had grown pretty accustomed to seem even more exciting.
You have penned what can be called the definitive guide to kayak bass fishing. Take us through your creative process.
I really like to write now. I didn’t about half way through the book. I wanted to shoot my laptop like a skeet trap and never look at it again. Finally, I immersed myself in the writing process. I read about proper writing style, learned as much as I could, and I had great support from Tim Shuff. He was an excellent editor, and taught me a great deal directly and through his critique of my initial submissions. I love using analogies and creative ways to help illustrate a point. I also like to use comparisons that are memorable and will stick out in your mind when faced with that situation. I also like to make people laugh, so I wanted it to be entertaining. I call it the Mary Poppins approach. The spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Some bass fishing discussions can be bland and dry; I just like to spruce it up a little.
What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?
I have very diverse musical taste. Country is my primary and favorite, but I have Eminem, southern rock, and some big hair 90′s rock all rolled into the mix. Pop tarts, breakfast bars or Habenaro Sunflower seeds are standard fare for a kayak fishing outings. Though, I get into the zone and don’t eat much on the water. It is kind of like hunting for me, and I think I hunt better hungry.
Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?
This will seem like a cop out, but we all are. I like to think that I am helping as much as I can, but innovators and business owners like Luther Cifers from YakAttack, new kayak companies, and anyone trying to innovate and “think outside the milkcrate” (sorry) are the ones that are really shaping the future of kayak angling.
With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?
Access and Impact. They are intertwined. Access increases impact, but we need access for folks to really experience the outdoors, thus developing a desire to preserve them. With increased access we increase our impact on that resource, so education if paramount in preserving or attaining access. We need to work hard to achieve or maintain this balance.
What drove your decision to take over HOOK 1?
It is weird, but it was one of those things that just fit. I had a great relationship with Karen Ezell, and had always gotten impeccable service as a customer. I am nearing retirement from active duty in the Navy and thought it would be a great opportunity.
Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?
I want to go to the farthest reach of the Mississippi River and fish it all the way South to the Gulf of Mexico taking my time fishing, camping and exploring along the way. It would be even better if I could get a half dozen Hooter’s girls to come along…….
With regard to kayak angling, your resume is quite impressive, and attaches many titles to your name. Author, pro staff director, retailer, website owner – the list is extensive, and is quite illustrative of the fact that you are one of the true public ambassadors for the sport. What does this responsibility mean to you?
Thanks. I am still not really sure how to respond to stuff like that yet. You are actually the first person to present it all like that. The responsibility means a lot, actually. In fact, I have been forced to take a long look in the mirror at times. I have an off-color sense of humor at times, and have had a few close friends “remind me” in the last couple of years that I have put myself in a position where I represent our sport, and that I must be more careful of my actions. I haven’t done anything bad; I just have to be mindful of my language (almost 20 years as a Sailor). Admittedly, it was something that was long overdue. With many of the volunteer activities that I am involved in, I interact with children and young adults, and I try to set a good example. I just had to learn a few clean jokes.
What’s in your milk crate?
A butt load of lures, 52 pounds of soft plastics, pliers, headlamp, emergency TP, first aid travel kit, leader material, a pocket knife, spare line and a plug knocker.
Tell us about your best day on the water.
My dad has been kayak fishing with me one time. He has a really bad hip injury and can’t do it that often. It was in shallow water fishing for bass, and I caught four bass over 8 pounds (one at 12.25), three others over 7, about twenty over 5 and they all came on topwater frogs. It was amazing that I got to share it with my dad. He only caught one fish, but he was grinning from ear to ear after the trip. I have had some great days with my son as well, and I hope that he and I get the chance to have a magical day like that someday.
It is fishing in vivid, color, HD, and 3-D. It is like watching a football game from the 50 yard line, on the field. It is unsurpassed camaraderie and feels like a brotherhood to a certain extent.
Tell us a story, any story.
I am “unique incident” prone. Stuff just happens to me. Just last month, my truck got hit by a flying tire that came from nowhere and smashed my windshield. As I drove down the road headed to Texas for a fishing trip, (it was Sunday and no shops where open), I was holding the windshield with an inside out sock and safety glass (snorkeling mask) to keep the glass out of my eyes. I was thinking over and over, “Wow, it just can’t get any worse that this,” when my dog developed a case of explosive diarrhea in the back seat of my truck, and I couldn’t roll the windows down for the remaining three hours of the trip. For catching fish, I seem to be in the right place at the right time most of the time. For everything else, I have a tendency to be in the wrong place.
What does the future hold for you?
I have been very blessed in this sport. With the community and friendships that we have developed on KayakBassFishing.com, and the opportunity to interact with anglers from all over the world through HOOK 1, I get immersed in kayak fishing all day every day. In addition, I have been involved in a project for a television show over the last year. That becomes a reality in the spring. It is a dream come true to get to travel to places that I have read about and watched on TV and learn about the fishery, local guides, lifestyle opportunities, and have interaction with amazing anglers from across the country. The show will debut on Versus (NBC Sports) in April, and then in another format on World Fishing Network (WFN) in July. To say I am excited would be a gross understatement. Note: Since our chat with Chad, further details regarding his television project, Knot Right Kayak Fishing, have been released. The official trailer can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI__DD85jUo&feature=youtu.be.