Morgan Promnitz

South African born Morgan Promnitz is the fishing products manager of Hobie Fishing Products, and a seasoned waterman with unparalleled experience in the kayak angling industry. An angler since his formative years, Morgan brings to his job a wealth of knowledge learned in the surf, under the waves, and atop the very boats he has helped to develop.  When not tinkering in his Encinitas, CA workshop, or fishing the offshore waters, Morgan can be found traveling the world promoting and advancing the Hobie Fishing brand.

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

The search for larger fish and more variety from a vessel that was affordable and could get me out past the waves to the kelp forests off of the southern California coast. I bought my first fishing kayak in July, 2000. It opened up a whole new world of fishing territory to explore, along with new tactics to learn. Catching large fish from the kayak gets the adrenaline pumping, and provides an experience different to that on a boat or from the shore.

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

I remember my first yellowtail that I caught – a 20 pounder that “hooked” me forever. I caught it trolling a live mackerel off of the La Jolla coast. It towed me at hi-speed for 10+ minutes, made me realize I needed to upgrade my gear, introduced me to how fish use kelp and structure to try and break you off, and offered me a brand new feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment that I had never experienced before.

Hobie, and your team in particular, have a reputation for listening to, and interacting with, the end user base.  Be it through trade shows or online forums, customers seem to readily offer ideas and suggestions, many of which appear to be taken quite seriously by the company.  Why do you feel it is important to preserve this way of doing business?

Most of the employees at Hobie Cat Company are users themselves. When we make products, we have to make decisions based on the how the majority of us feel about it and several other factors. We get it right most of the time, but when we don’t, or when there’s something missing, our customers are quick to let us know. We have some of the most loyal customers ever, and it’s because we take good care of them when issues arise, and I think that is why they are so eager to share ideas with us. They want our products to work the best, and if we ignored their wants and needs, we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.

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

Coffee and a donut for breakfast, Monster energy drink, water, Gatorade, sandwiches, leftovers, fruit for lunch, fresh fish and a beer for dinner!

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

There are so many influences form great people and companies in the industry that it’s hard to pick just one.

In addition to your managerial skills, you are known for your propensity to bring to the office your own garage-derived tinkerings.  Are there any products currently in the Hobie lineup that started life on your home work bench?

I believe that some of my tinkerings have had some influence on some of the products that Hobie has produced. There are a few products that stand out to me, but the team that we have, and the levels that our engineers reach, baffles me every time. It really is a group effort. It’s awesome to tinker with something for a bit and hand it over to a group that elevates it to a new level beyond your initial perception – that’s when the excitement really hits and you know you’re on to something.

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

With regards to product: safety, performance/fishability, comfort. I think that most kayak anglers are conservationists and driven by the environment we get to fish in – I would like to see more launch areas provided for kayakers and less unreasonable closures of fishing areas that we have very little affect on.

You played a role in the development of the Pro Angler platform, and thoroughly tested the prototypes for the boat.  Like many Hobie products, the Pro Angler has garnered serious and passionate devotion from the user base, with fans holding the design in high regard.  How did it feel to learn of the boat’s popular reception?

My predecessor, Vince Console, and our engineering team were the master minds behind the Pro Angler. Being friends with Vince, he involved me in some of the testing of the product. I was incredibly proud to watch him receive the “Best Product in Show Award” at ICAST in Orlando, FL in 2009. I looked up to Vince as a source of inspiration and we worked alongside each other. When Vince moved on, and I accepted his responsibilities at Hobie Cat Company, I had big shoes to fill. He planted a seed with the Pro Angler that made a footprint in the fishing industry, and has sparked many exciting things to come.

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

A trip to Cuba kayak fishing the backwater mangroves for tarpon and snook.

What’s in your milk crate?

Live squid – you know you’re going to catch something good when your milk crate, or in my situation, a Hobie Livewell, is filled with these ink-squirting aliens.

Tell us about your best day on the water.

Wow, this is a hard one. I’ve been very lucky to share several outstanding days on the water with my best friends where the fishing was on fire. You know you’ve had a good day when you look over to your buddy and you both start shaking your heads in disbelief while you scream out and laugh about the awesome few hours you just experienced together -  without needing to say a word!

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

It’s changed for me over the years. My kayak used to constantly be strapped to the roof of my car; heck I used to go so often that I quit washing my truck and kayak for almost 3 years (note to everyone – not a good idea, my truck is a rust bucket now). Every spare moment I had, you’d find me out on the water fishing long hours – skipping school, calling in sick to work when the bite was good. Nowadays, my time on the water is not as plentiful. My drive has changed, too, from focusing on fishing extremely hard to relaxing and enjoying my surroundings more. I think the solitude and peacefulness that kayak fishing offers is really what calls me now.

Tell us a story, any story.

One opening night of lobster season, a few friends and myself decided that it was a must to launch through 6 foot pounding waves at midnight to hoop net for the bugs. With 5 nets a piece rigged with bloody tuna heads, we made attempt after attempt to punch through the thumping surf.  We did backflips, cartwheels, you name it – glasses were lost, cell phones were destroyed, but finally 2 of us made it out. We hooped around for a few hours but the swell was so big it would move our nets and push them in towards the surf zone again. After catching one measly short lobster, we battened down the hatches and prepared for a beating as we headed in. Lesson learned – when the conditions aren’t right, go do something else.

While most college students are marginally employed in often less-than-ideal jobs, you spent your undergraduate years running your own kayak angling guide service, working for Hobie as a sales associate, selling tackle at a retail outlet, angling for the Hobie Fishing Team, and testing prototype products.  Without doubt, these experiences must have served as an informal training of sorts.  How does your current position make use of your vast and varied past?

Working in and around the fishing industry gave me a great understanding of fishing products and consumers, and allowed me to stay up to date with fishing technology and products. I also worked part time at a Hobie Kayak dealership for a couple of years, so I got to meet our consumers and learn the product very well. I spent thousands of hours on Hobies and experienced introducing new users to the boats every time I guided. All of this allowed me to confidently step in to the position I’m in today. Since then, I’ve met key people who have played influential roles in the fishing industry, and traveled all over the country, and more recently overseas, where I’ve had the opportunity to observe and take part in the use of Hobie products fishing for a wide variety of species while using the product in new ways.

What does the future hold for you?

More kayak fishing – I don’t think I’ll ever stop! I’ll kayak fish till I die.

 

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