Vincent Rinando

 

Vincent Rinando is a Houston, Texas based angler and founding member of Team Ocean Kayak.  Currently holding five Texas Parks and Wildlife fly fishing records and a coveted listing among the state’s Saltwater Elite Anglers, Vincent is widely recognized as one of the sport’s leading talents.  Vincent’s on-water abilities are matched by an immense propensity to promote and develop the sport, a trait that often has him speaking at demo days, festivals, and clinics.  Vincent is a chapter director with, and helps organize outings for, the nationally recognized injured-veteran kayak program known as Heroes On The Water.  When not bringing awareness of the sport to the masses, Vincent can be found promoting the sport to a more localized audience of his young son.

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

I was introduced to kayaking while attending Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.  The landscape is dotted with spring fed rapids and fresh water lakes.  I spent many weekends paddling the Guadalupe and San Marcos Rivers.  Once back on the coast, my brother in law introduced me to coastal kayak fishing.  I remember watching him paddle his kayak from my bay house, around deer island and back, about 3 or more miles.  He did it so quickly and effortlessly; I knew I had to have one.

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

Yes.  I took my kayak on a maiden voyage to San Louis Pass, in Galveston.  I went with several of my wade fishing buddies.  Everyone was bellied up to the main gut of deep water fishing, and I paddled my way across the pass to the other side and setup.  Within one hour I had a full limit of big speckled trout, and paddled back across to find that my friends had very few fish to show for their efforts.  It was a great time to rub my new toy in their faces; soon afterwards all of them were owners of kayaks.

 

 

As a founding member of Team Ocean Kayak, you have served on the promotional side of the sport for quite some time.  With regard to industry and the development thereof, what changes have you seen?

Before the economy crashed and oil prices went through the roof, and kayak manufacturing costs and shipping costs tripled almost overnight, things were much different.  Vendors could hold large inventories of kayaks in a rainbow of colors.  Manufacturer’s warehouses were full of ready to ship kayaks.  As kayak costs rose, vendors were forced to hold smaller inventories, and the risk of having large warehouses full of last year’s model kayak or a color that just didn’t sell as well, made many of them reduce the color selection of certain kayak models and consolidate other business processes in an effort to balance the need to reduce some costs while continuing to improve their products and develop new ones.   Local kayak shops are struggling; always support your local kayak shop.  There has been an explosion of kayak accessories that have been introduced into the market.  Many didn’t exist 5 years ago.  Visit your local shop, check out the new goodies, and make a purchase no matter how small.  The ability to visit a kayak specific shop, where kayak enthusiasts and knowledgeable sales staff can answer your questions, should not be taken for granted.  Almost every consumer has had the experience of purchasing something from a big box store where some high school kid is trying to provide customer service for something they know nothing about.

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

I always have my Ipod and otterbox around my neck and one ear piece in my ear.  I call it my soundtrack to life.  It helps during long hard paddles back to the truck, or times when the fishing is slow.  As far as food, give me a Snickers bar, a Dr. Pepper, and a pack of cigarettes, and I’m good to go.

 

 

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

All of us.  Manufacturers listen to their customers, and make adjustments and new innovations based on feedback that they receive.  Kayak anglers are resourceful; they will make an anchor from a brick, stake out poles from broom handles, etc.  Manufacturers take note of things that fill a need and develop a product that fits that need.  I’ve seen manufacturers make changes to products based on feedback that I have provided, and have seen those changes make it to the next generation of their product.  I have seen kayak anglers start their own company, produce their own products, and take them to market based on interest they received from fellow kayakers.  Social media and message boards are a great way for kayakers to share ideas, techniques, tips, and lessons learned.  They also provide kayakers with a forum to voice their opinions on products and provide feedback to manufacturers.

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

Access to water.  Just recently, the federal courts shot down the long standing Texas Open Beaches Act.  This Texas law keeps Texas beaches public.  Since the damage caused by hurricane Ike, some have put a few houses on Galveston Island’s west end – either on or near the beach.  The court system has been battling over whether or not the state of Texas owns our beaches, or if that is the domain of private land owners.  The battle and appeal process is not final, but one day instead of being able to walk down the beach, you will see fences up and down the beachfront restricting access to private property.  With our sport growing, and the sport of fishing in general still on the rise, we need to ensure that we continue to have public boat and kayak access to public waters.  Texas Parks and Wildlife recognizes the sport of kayaking, and have created paddle trails for kayaking.  They also have a survey on their website gathering feedback from the kayaking community on how to better provide kayak launch parks, kayak paddling trails, and other programs for the kayaking community.  The kayak community need to continue to reach out the their local fish and game authorities to ensure that they receive all the information they need to make good informed decisions.

 

 

Your name is one of but a handful to be associated with the Texas Parks and Wildlife  Department’s list of Elite Saltwater Anglers.  Tell us a bit about this program, and what it means to hold such a title.

Team Ocean Kayak has established a great relationship with Joedy Gray, the program administrator for Texas Parks and Wildlife inland fisheries.  It started off with team mates submitting various state records, then competing for, and taking, state records from each other.  So we are very active in Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Angler recognition program.  In the past 2 years, they have added state catch and release records and body of water catch and release state records to the program.  The Elite Saltwater Anglers, is a program in which anglers who catch trophy class fish of five different species will be recognized as Elite Anglers.  To be eligible, an angler must earn five saltwater Big Fish Awards.  Anglers who achieve Elite ranking will be announced at the end of the year, and will receive a special certificate.  This is just another way for anglers to participate in the various angler recognition programs.

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

Either Belize of Costa Rica.  I would love to fish somewhere for monster bones, rooster, tarpon, and snook in a remote location.

What’s in your milk crate?

Very little.  I don’t carry a crate.  I will leave my soft plastics in their package and place them in a dry bag, roll it up and clip it to the bungee in my tank well.  I use a kayak seat that has rod holders and a tackle pack attached to the back for my hardware.  In Texas, we often fish for redfish in shallow mud flats with less than two feet of water.  Many times the tide will fall out and you might be dragging your kayak to deeper water, so you want to keep things simple and light,  I only weight 125lbs; if I get my kayak loaded down to near my body weight and have to drag it around that can spell trouble, so I keep it simple and light.

 

Tell us about your best day on the water.

It would probably be the final event of the 2008 Third Coast Kayak Tournament Series.  Going into the final event, I was in 1st place for the series by 4 points over team mate Filip Spencer.  The tournament series comprises five events in Galveston, Port O’Connor, Port Aransas, Corpus Christi, Port Mansfield, and South Padre, covering the entire Texas coast in a catch, photo, and release trout and redfish tournament.  I launched into a promising area I had been catching trout in the day before.  But after about a 4 mile paddle in 20+ mph winds and a couple hours without a bite, I began to get nervous and loaded back up and launched at location number 2.  I passed a fellow fisherman on the way out that told me “The trout bite just stopped about 30 minutes ago.”  I fished for about 2 hours without a bite, and time was running down, so I loaded back up again and drove from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas and launched again into a steady 25 mph wind.  The area I wanted to fish was a 4 mile one way paddle out to some islands in the bay.  The way out would be fast, as the wind was at my back, but the return trip would be brutal and I was beginning to wear down.  I got a good blow up on a topwater at the entrance to a small lake, but the fish missed the lure.  For the next 20 minutes I received 5 more blowups from the same fish before finally getting it to commit.  It was a 27 inch redfish, and finally I had a fish.  With time running out, I started my trip back to the truck – fishing along the way.  I had a small pop on my topwater that missed, and I started to speed burn it on the surface back to the kayak to try another cast into that brutal wind, when a 20 inch trout blasted the topwater right at the kayak.  Slam complete, I made that paddle back to the truck.  I knew Fil was going to get his fish, it was his home waters, and as fate would have it, Fil brought in bigger fish, but I held him off by 1 point to win the Angler of the Year title.  It just reinforced a mantra that we have, fish hard until the last second and never give up.  There were many times when doubt crept into my mind that maybe it just wasn’t going to happen this time, and maybe this wasn’t going to be my year.  I just kept telling myself not to give up – that as long as there was time left I still had a chance.  It wasn’t the best fishing day that I’ve had, but it was the most satisfying.

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

For me, the kayak fishing lifestyle is about spontaneity.  Always ready for the next adventure.  Very rarely are trips planned.

 

 

Tell us a story, any story.

For the past couple of years the members of Team Ocean Kayak that live around the Galveston Bay complex near Houston have been fishing in tournament series that are dominated by power boats.  The Spectacular Galveston Redfish Series and the Galveston Trophy Trout Series.  In both events, we field the only kayak teams entered.  We took the initiative to meet the tournament directors – we have taken them out fishing in kayaks, even loaned them kayaks to fish from, all in an effort to educate them on the sport.  In both cases, the tournament directors allowed kayaks in their series.  Both tournaments have some of the biggest heavy weights in the state of Texas who enter, and most are professional guides in the area.  We have done pretty well in both.  We won the Redfish series bracket championship title in 2010, and have placed in the top 3 several times.  But our main love is fishing for big speckled trout.  We have placed in the trophy trout series last year, and decided that this year we would try and learn as much as we could about tournament trout fishing with the big boys this year.  We had some unspectacular finishes in the first few events held in October, November, and December, but we learned a tremendous amount talking with the competitors, getting tips, learning new areas, new techniques for catching big trout, and applied that over the month of January in preparation for the next even in February.  In that event, team mate Clint Barghi caught what turned out to be the biggest speckled trout weighed in any Galveston tournament since 1996, a monster 8.49lb trout.  We were one bite away from winning the entire tournament, but fell a bit short.  However, we qualified for the two day championship to be held in March of this year. Clint Barghi, Sam Rinando, and myself fished the event as a three man team.  The event requires that you bring in 3 LIVE speckled trout, easily done in a powerboat, but somewhat difficult in a kayak.  We learned a lot about making decisions that keep our fish alive.   Day one started out rough with high winds and heavy rains the entire day. We battled the elements and brought in the heaviest stringer of the two day event with 15.61lbs.  The closest competitor weighed in 12.78lbs, giving Team Ocean Kayak nearly a 3lbs lead after day 1. Most of the talk around the scales centered around, “Did you see the trout the kayak guys brought in?”  Day two brought the passage of a cold front and a 180 degree swing in wind directions.  Confident we could relocate our fish in the same area, we decided to return to the same spot on day 2. Winds were pounding into our location, and the waves and chop were pretty bad. We spent most of the day grinding out in 23-28mph winds. We finally located our fish around 11:30am, and managed to string up 3 fish weighing 10.89lbs. With time running out, the team connected and lost a 6 to 7lb trout that would have easily secured the championship, but the fish was lost during landing. Team Ocean Kayak placed second, just a mere 1/2 pound shy of the leader. The team of Havens and Renteria are considered some of the biggest heavy weights in coastal trout fishing, probably the favorites going into the tournament, and there is no shame in placing second to such an outstanding team.  As it would turn out, the team of Haven and Renteria also won the spring Galveston Spectacular Trout series championship this year as well, over taking 1st place on day two of a two day event.  During each of these tournaments, we spend hours talking to the pros, asking advice, educating them on kayak fishing, and building friendships with many of them.  At one tournament, Clint and I had five of the top guides in the state of Texas, standing on the end of a pier, showing Clint and I how they work a Corky lure to catch big trout.  That type of education you can’t put a price on, and it’s something I look forward to next year,  I almost can’t wait for it to get cold again so that I can practice some of the things I learned this year.

 

 

You learned to fish from your father and grandfather, two men said to be gifted saltwater anglers.  Have you had occasion to discuss with them the concept of kayak angling, and, if so, what were their reactions to the notions of the sport?

My father is very active now in the sport – in his seventies, he still gets out in the kayak and fishes.  He owns an Ocean Kayak Trident 13 and an Ocean Kayak Torque.  The MinnKota trolling motor-equipped Torque allows him to keep up with much younger paddlers, and last much longer on the water.  He was actually the first one in our family to own a Torque.  It didn’t take long for us to recognize that he might be onto something.  Now both my brother and myself own Ocean Kayak Torques; it’s a great break from the rigors of paddling on windy or cold days, and has really extended our range in search for secluded fishing areas.

What does the future hold for you?

My son, Jordan, is now 4 years old.  I am in the process of passing down the sport of fishing and kayaking to the next generation of kayak anglers.  He loves to fish, loves to kayak, and loves the outdoors.  If I can instill a permanent love and respect for the outdoors, I will be one happy Dad.

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