Karen and Mark Ezell

Mark and Karen Ezell are a husband and wife duo known for founding the popular online retail shop Hook 1 KayakFishingGear.com.  Their passion for the sport and its practitioners is trumped only by their love of each other and the time spent together on the water.  Though no longer in possession of their original business, Mark and Karen continue to personify the stoke that initially drove them to better serve the kayak angling community through product availability, knowledge, and first-rate customer service.

What first drew you to this style of angling?  When was that?

Mark:  The low cost.  With 3 girls I needed a cheap way to take care of my Jones. 1998, I think.

Karen:  Mark.  After we started Hook 1, I would fish with Mark every weekend.  That was in 2002.  It was so peaceful on the water; I just loved being out there.

Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?

Mark:   I was in an Ocean Kayak Frenzy using a backpack as my tackle box.  It was a sand bass in the Dana Point Harbor, California.

Karen:   I think it was a sculpin, and I’m lucky I didn’t grab it!

What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?

Mark:   Whole grain bars, bananas and almonds

Karen:   Well, Mark would carry the bait tank, and I would carry the cooler with the Bud Light and a few snacks.  This made sure Mark wouldn’t go very far.

Through your online contributions and sponsoring of events, you’ve become public ambassadors of the sport.  What does this role mean to you?

Mark:  Never looked at it like that.  I’m just a guy that loves to fish and give back to the sport.

Karen:  I take pride in helping so many people over the phone with their questions.  I always gave an unbiased opinion which I think they appreciated.  It would always be a bit funny to answer the phone and hear the “guy” on the phone immediately, (knowing I was a woman), not think that I knew anything.  Then, I would blow him away with my knowledge!  I loved that!

Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?

Mark:  The next new kayak fisherman or woman.  It’s always changing.

Karen:   It really is the people fishing and buying the equipment.  You could say it’s the kayak manufacturers, but the people really fuel them.  It’s the guys and gals who develop the message boards, clubs, etc.  It gets everyone together and makes it a community.

With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?

Mark:  Access to fish in the public waters, fresh and salt.

Karen:  Of course, what Mark said about having access to launch and fish, but I always wanted the “newbie” to be able to fish the tournaments and find groups to fish with.  I’ve always said, for many, many years, that each tournament should have divisions.  Let the newbie feel like they have a chance to win in their division.  They love to see how others are rigging their boats and what gear they’re using when they’re first starting out.

Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?

Mark:  Road Trip to fish the East and Gulf Coasts with friends we have made over the years by starting Hook 1.

Karen:  Like Mark said.  We would love to visit our kayak fishing friends whom we met while running Hook 1.  I have lots of invites.  Like one from Louisiana for a crawfish feast!  We’ve made so many friends, and we would love to see them in person!

What’s in your milk crate?

Mark:  Hard and soft baits, lead heads, egg and torpedo sinkers, Live Bait Hooks, Sabiki rigs to make bait with, leader lines and Unibutter.

Karen:  A cup to pee in.  Ha ha.  And some guts to go out in the ocean on a little piece of plastic.  And a beer!

Tell us about your best day on the water.

Mark:  Down in Baja California at Bahia De Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez.  Six of us rented a boat to pull us to a reef where the Pangas fish for Yellowtail.  Pangas trolled all around us with 1 or 2 hooks ups.  Damn near every bait we dropped down or trolled we got hooked up.  It was cool just to watch it happen.  The Captain was yelling out “I Ja Ja Ja Ja” on each hook up.  Cool.  But, that’s just one day.  I could go on and on.

Karen:  Mark and I were fishing in a Baytuber’s tournament here in Southern California.  I had my back to Mark and I hooked up.  Big.  I was getting a sleigh ride!!!!  Yikes!  I radio’d to Mark, “Turn around,” but then my line broke.  That was really fun and exciting!

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

Mark:  Respect for your environment.  Happiness and comradery with the people you fish with.

Karen:  Nice people!  I’ve never met so many nice people!

Tell us a story, any story.

Mark:  I get so much joy watching Karen catch fish.  I’m a lucky man.

Karen:  We’re fishing at Irvine Lake.  I’m trolling off the back with two rods.  I do a big loop to go back to where I started and troll over a spot again.  I feel a tug on a line, now two lines.  I’m hooked up!  Except, it was my two lines.  No fish.  Duh.  Ha ha.  I hope that happens to other fisherwomen too, so that I’m not the only dumb one!  And, why does hooking up to kelp feel so much like a fish?  Ha ha.

What products have made the biggest impact on kayak angling?

Mark:  Rod Holders like Scotty’s and Ram Mount.

Karen:  If not the gear, it would have to be the boats.  Except sometimes I wonder who told them we needed an inside pocket on the kayak that doesn’t drain?  Right?   But overall, the kayak manufacturers have really come up with some good ideas.

What brought about the decision to enter into the business side of the sport?

Mark:  Simple.  Couldn’t get the gear all in one place and with a variety.

Karen:  Mark.   I said no to a brick and mortar and started the website business.

The world of kayak angling is one that is largely male-dominated.  What advice would you give to women interested in joining the community?

Mark:  Go to local tournaments.  Join message boards.  On the boards you can find information about anything.  It’s a great resource.  At tournaments, you can see just how people rig their kayaks.

Karen:  I would give the advice to their men:  Okay men, just get your wife or girlfriend on the water.   Have her close to you when you hook up.  Hand her the rod  (better buy her a license first).  Once she feels that fish tug on her line, she will be hooked!  And, don’t take her out in the ocean when it’s choppy and scary!  And, take good snacks and a drink for her!

What does the future hold for you?

Mark:  I hope 1 fish for every 2 knots I tie.

Karen:  Anything I put my mind to!  I’m currently starting a new business in the cross stitch world!  Now, that’s very different from kayak fishing, I know, but I love it, and can’t wait to get it up and running!

3 Responses to “Karen and Mark Ezell”

  1. Loved the interview – Karen & Mark are so “together” and so knowledgeable in the Kayak world. They always have a good story to tell. Loved the pictures too! Real “beach” people (the best kind to be). Thanks again, Joanie

  2. larry kegel says:

    U Two just look wonderful together. Thanks for all that you share, most being the love U have for each other & the love of fishing.

  3. Joel Lotilla says:

    To Mark and Karen,

    Thank you for including me in the Team Hook1 family and supporting Nor Cal Kayak Anglers! But most of all, helping me and my family at the Pay it forward event!
    I’m forever greatfull for having you guys in my life!

    Much love,
    Joel “mooch” Lotilla

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