Charles “Chuck” Levi Jr. is the host of Kayak Fishing Radio’s Monday Night Kickoff, and as such, begins a week’s worth of inspirational and educational broadcasts specifically tailored to practitioners of our sport. With delivery stemming from true passion, the Titusville, FL resident is known for providing informative, accurate, and well researched reports and information, much of which has been derived from his 25+ years on the water. Chuck is the owner of Chuck’s Kayak Adventures, and is a a prostaff member of the Yeti Coolers, Jackson Kayaks, Shimano, and Tackle Webs teams. When not hunting redfish, Chuck can be found spending time with his wife and two boys.
What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?
I’ve been fishing from paddle craft since I was fourteen years old. I started kayak fishing about six years ago. I have always found kayaks to be a much stealthier and eco friendly alternative to traditional motor boats. Also, the stealthiness of a kayak allows me to sneak up on the numerous gamefish species that call the intercoastal home.
Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?
It was a 28 inch redfish. I had just launched the kayak and paddled about a hundred yards, when I saw him tailing in about a foot and a half of water. I was able to get within 20 feet of him, and watched him strike the jerk shad. After that, I knew kayak fishing was the answer.
With a well-received radio hosting gig, numerous publications to your name, a successful guiding business, and sponsorships from Jackson Kayaks, Yeti Coolers, Yakangler.com, Bloodydecks.com, Bending Branches, Shimano, and Tackle Webs, it can be reasonably deduced that your life is quite immersed within the sport. If given the ability to deliver words of wisdom to a younger Chuck, as he first set forth upon a kayak, what would you tell him?
I would have to tell him to enjoy the gifts that God has given us every day! Share your love with the outdoors with as many people as you can, and live and fish everyday as if it’s your last.
What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?
Crackers and Arnold Palmer iced tea is my breakfast of champions. As far as music, anything Jimmy Buffett or country.
Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?
We all are. This sport is still in its infant stage; it seems that every day there are new products being made, new forums, new tournaments, etc.
With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?
Safety!!! I would like to see a Kayak saftey class be implemented in every state, and it should be mandatory to attend. Also I feel getting the youth involved in Kayaking is essentail in the growth of our sport.
Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?
I would love to fish the islands of the Bahamas or Costa Rica!
In an online world where avatars and nicknames serve as both introduction and first impression, you have chosen to go by the moniker of Redfish Chuck. In linking your name to a particular species, you have given your audience an inclination to believe that this particular animal holds a special tie to you. Tell us a bit about the relationship you have formed with the pursuit of redfish.
It’s funny you ask this question, because it is the most commonly asked question I get. Redfish have always been one of my favorite fish to target for a number of reasons, but none more so than the ability to sight fish them in shallow water. There are few things as cool as seeing a group of Tails waving around first thing in the morning as the sun just starts to rise. Or watching one wallow around in the mud looking for small grass shrimp or fiddler crabs with half its back out of the water! I often find myself doing more watching than casting at those fish that put on a show for me. I have had days where you can’t do anything wrong and land tons of reds to days where you can’t do anything right. I have gone from taking one home for dinner every now and then to not keeping one for years - it’s hard to explain, but I have a ton of respect for them as a gamefish.
What’s in your milk crate?
I am a simple man; I take only the things I know I will use for the style of fishing I plan on doing. You will never find me without Soft Plastics and lots of them. Sea shad style baits to be more specific, and I rig those on 1/16th oz to 1/8th oz jig heads or weedless hooks. A few topwater plugs, and a few live bait hooks. Leader wheels and sun screen.
Tell us about your best day on the water.
I have been blessed to be able to call the waters of the Space Coast home for over 20 years! During that time, I have had more hundred + fish days than I could count, but the one trip that really sticks out in my mind happend about six months ago or so. I was driving home from work, and as I passed one of my favorite fishing holes, I could see tons of bait looking very nervous. So I called me wife and told her to get my oldest Son, Trey, who was only two and a half, ready to go catch his first redfish! I got home with about two hours of daylight left, and loaded up my truck and off we went. Once we got to the spot, I could still see the bait being pushed around and knew this was the day my boy would land his first redfish. After a short paddle, I spotted a tail in about a foot and a half of water. I helped Trey to cast past the tail and told him to just reel like we had practiced. Sure enough, I watched the tail drop and a wake push at us and knew what was about to happen. “You did it!!!” I yelled out as the line was screaming off his reel! After a five minute give and take battle, I reached over the side of the kayak and landed my son’s first Redfish - and a 26″ fish at that.
What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?
For me it’s all about slowing down and taking in everything around you.. If I had to use one word to discribe it, it would be Boondoggle! Kayak Fishing Radio and Yakangler.com put on family-oriented camping/fishing trips that we have named ”Boondoggle.” The folks I have had a chance to spend time with at these events are like famliy to me now.
Tell us a story, any story.
I recently was honored to share some time on the water with Jeff Weakley, the editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine, and a guy I truely look up to. We hit the water to do a interveiw for the new Kayak Fishing Book that Florida Sportsman is about to add to their already great lineup of books. While on the water, we spoke about things like the direction the sport is going and fishing techniques. We saw more trout over twenty inches than we could count, but with a front moving in, the bite was off a bit. I did manage to land a nice fish and have Jeff take a few pictures of it and of my kayak set up! We also talked about KFR and the Boondoggles. All in all, it was a great day to spend on the water with a guy that truley lives the dream!
Your radio show, Monday Night Kickoff, launches the week’s offerings, and provides the first bit of stoke that many weekend-bound anglers experience in their countdown to the next outing. Has this notion influenced your programming, and, if so, how have you catered your words to it?
I like to talk about the past weekend’s fishing trips in order to set up the conversation about how you can use what you learned on the water from one week to the next. Plus I try to give the most up to date info and hot spots as I can; my listeners know I have no secrets and that everything I have learned from my over 25 plus years of experience on the water goes into each show. I like to think that for that hour or so the show is on, if I can help to make one person a better angler, I have done my job. I always close the show with asking for my listeners to feel free to E-mail me with questions they may have that were not covered in the show.
What does the future hold for you?
I have been very blessed to be able to share my love of this sport with so many on my show, and on the websites I write for. I take each day one at a time. I know where I want to go with it next but only time will tell…