The Toy Store

The wife and I took a 200 mile drive yesterday to the YakAttack headquarters in Burkeville, Virginia.

The shop is not some giant mega store or a comprehensive manufacturing giant.

Many a person drives by this place everyday and has no idea what is going on inside.

Founder and President, Luther Cifers, greeted us as we pulled into the parking lot and took us inside.

Once inside, one wouldn’t be immediately overwhelmed by what they saw, but it wouldn’t take long for that to change.

YakAttack has been in their current location for about 10 months now, but it almost appears as if they just moved in. That tends to happen when you have a successful small business that grows by the day.

Once inside, a friend and YakAttack employee, Dan Smullen, came over to say “Hi” and then I was also greeted by a former guide client, Wayne Tu.

One of the first rooms Lisa and I saw was a room that was still under construction. It is being built for one purpose and one purpose only–to film rigging instructional videos.

Based upon the specs Luther shared with me, the room will be awesome for this purpose upon completion. With great sound and excellent lighting, there will be many a great video being produced in this room in the future.

We were then lead into the next room. In this room, several people were buzzing around the rows and rows of shelves that contained bin upon bin of YakAttack and RAM Mount products.

Some people were placing product into YakAttack packaging, while others were grabbing the packaged products and placing them into boxes to be shipped to distributors and clients who had ordered through their website.

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As we were taken down a small corridor, we began to see individuals assembling products and creating them from scratch. There was a room with a couple of guys manning computer guided machines that were steadily cutting seaboard for the BlackPak storage solution and could also be used to cut a number of other YakAttack products.

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 By now, this small, 13 employee business had come to life for the wife and I.

One cannot judge a book by its cover.

There truly was a whole lot going on in this almost invisible, medium sized, metal building.

After the tour, meet and greet, and a decent conversation with Luther — Dan and I were off to start unloading kayaks from my trailer to be rigged.

Now you might be thinking that Dan and I are about to work over my kayaks with gear, but that is the farthest from the truth.

Actually, we only traded out the stock, black Slide Trax on my Wilderness boats with some of the different colored trax that Luther offers and my center mount rod holders on most of the boats.

I went with some colored trax to make the boats stand out a little and to show clients that like a car–there are infinite ways to customize a yak and make it your own.

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 I had Scotty rod holders on my kayaks forever, but they could be a little tricky at time for clients to deal with and I needed an easier option for them that still provided the strength I require.

I like a spine and post system which for me offers a lot of strength and positioning.

So, we outfitted the consoles with the Zooka Tube.

The base mount has a push button locking mechanism that allows for quick and easy removal or repositioning of the holder. The post can be inserted into the base from the top or from either side, and all lock with the automatic button. This does allow for a variety of uses and positions.

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The posts can have multiple posts or bar bell arms attached to it in order to get the perfect height or reach one is looking for.

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 The tube is awesome–as it can hold and lock a spinning reel on one end or be flipped over and hold and lock a bait caster on the other. This is a great and simple solution for me as I have clients that like to fish their own rods and I never have to worry if the holder on the boat can accommodate their reel.

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 Some of the boats I took to be rigged were a year old, while others were brand new.

The beauty part was on the old boats that had Scotty base plates already on them that the new RAM bases had exactly the same bolt patterns and lined up perfectly–so all we had to do was unbolt one and rebolt the other. No holes to fill or drill for that matter.

After getting the other boats done, Dan and I grabbed my new, personal Ride 135 to rig it.

While this yak was only getting some new yellow trax and a Zooka Tube, we were also going to rig this one for GoPro cameras.

YakAttack offers several ready to go solutions for videoing, but I was looking for something different, as I like a variety of angles and have been experimenting with several different angles from the front and rear of the kayak.

This was where Dan and I hit our wall and that’s solely because of the endless possibilities.

Every time we thought we had a way to mount or configure a camera angle– Dan came up with something different.

At one point, Dan looked at me and jokingly said, “I think we have too many options”. After having driven 4 hours that morning, being at the shop for 5 hours, and knowing that I had another 4 hour drive home, I was definitely in agreement— but only for a brief moment.

YakAttack prides itself on having “Rigging Solutions”.  So… having too many options is a good thing! It may be tiring, and at times frustrating, but knowing that there is a 99% chance of accomplishing exactly what you are trying to achieve is a good thing.

There is no right or wrong way to rig your kayak for fishing, filming, or whatever else you might want to do.

There is only the right way that works for you, your particular type of yak, and your style of fishing.

If someone tells you their way of rigging is right and your way is wrong, then that individual is a fool.

One may find that something they thought would be great for their rigging is not so great after trying it for a while, but that person just needs to look at other options and continue to test new gear until they find the sweet spot.

YakAttack and RAM Mounts offer, almost, endless variety and possibilities for one’s rigging needs.

After toying around with the camera mount for quite sometime, Dan and I had configured many solutions, and I actually left with plenty of parts to come home and fine tune everything just the way I want it.

The wife and I enjoyed a nice company lunch with the gang. There was a table garnished with potato rolls, chips, homemade cupcakes and a giant bowl of homemade chicken salad that we sat around and enjoyed together, while talking fishing.

I asked Luther’s wife, Vicky, if this was how they rolled everyday for lunch and she said no, but it does occur often.

After reloading the yaks and saying our goodbyes, the wife and I headed out bound for home.

Lisa and I agreed that we had just spent the day inside a great American company.

The employees knew their job and kept their mind focused on the task at hand. Everyone stayed busy and you could truly tell that everyone loved their job.

Luther Cifers has his eye on the prize and has come a long way from manufacturing and packaging product in his garage in 2009 with his wife and kids.

Luther is a “mad scientist” with never ending visions of new products. He knows some will work and some won’t, but he isn’t scared to try and that is true innovation.

Luther is the type of businessman we all wish most were. The type that wants to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly from his pro-staff, distributors, and his customers, so he can fix or adjust it. He wants his products to be the best they can be for all, not just a few. There is no status quo at YakAttack.

I do not align myself with a company because they give me something for free or because I get something at a discount. I align myself with a company that I believe in and want to truly tell others about. Too many people out there are getting with companies just to say, “I am a pro-staffer” and the product is junk.

I am not going to pee on your leg and try to tell you it’s liquid gold.

Not every  product from YakAttack and RAM is going to work for me and my style, and they all might not work for you either.

But, one would be hard pressed not to find multiple rigging solutions between YakAttack and RAM Mount that does not work for them. They offer a variety of easy solutions for difficult situations.

The phone rang numerous times during my visit and on many occasions, it was a  potential buyer looking for advise on how to accomplish a certain rigging scenario and the crew worked hard to help them solve it.

If you are unsure– I would send an email or make a call.

I could make a 3 page long list of all the products, but I am not.

I am going to tell you to check out RAM and YakAttack’s websites to see how they can help you achieve your ultimate kayak.

I am looking forward to a long and continued relationship with YakAttack and RAM Mounts.

YakAttack…They truly offer “Rigging Solutions”.

www.YakAttack.us

www.RAMMOUNT.com

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Puppy Love

Outer Banks Kayak FishingI swear I feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone when I think about three different snow events hitting the Outer Banks in almost as many weeks.

The first two snow events definitely had an impact the north beaches more than Hatteras or Ocracoke, but this past event finally gave a fair amount of snow to the islands. Pictures of kids and families finding just about any type of incline or hill to play on were all over the Internet.

The snow storm that hit on Tuesday was fairly strong for a brief period of time and actually caused brief periods of white out conditions. That’s not something you generally see around here. The event had the least amount of impact since it was mostly melted by the next day.

We are mighty lucky in the big picture, as a great deal of the Eastern Seaboard has been crippled by the snow and ice. Massive power outages and traffic jams have plagued many areas.

The Outer Banks has been inconvenienced by the storms, but we have had little suffering to speak of.

And the surf fishing has been crazy good despite the weather.

Puppy drum have been blitzing the shoreline from Oregon Inlet to Hatteras in numerous locations.

This is hard to wrap your head around, since in some locations the water temp is around 40 degrees. In most cases, drum become very lethargic in those temps and have no desire to feed.

But, these puppy drum are moving in fair-sized schools and feeding regularly throughout the day and week.

Hatteras saw something similar in the winter of 2010 when the sound temperatures dropped and forced puppy drum into the ocean to seek warmer waters. The bite was incredible and lasted roughly three to four weeks, but during that blitz the fish were highly concentrated, mostly around Frisco.

This time around anglers are finding fish in a lot of different places.

The fish are in tight schools that lead to puppy drum being caught in the mouth one moment and being snagged in the body the next.

I am sure that most anglers do not care how they are catching them right now, because 99 percent of those anglers are local residents who are very much over the weather and will take just about any action they can get.

There used to be a time in January and February when local anglers could count on a little action from the striped bass in the surf, but it has been sometime now since that has happened.

Getting a little “puppy love” right now is a great distraction from the weather, but who would’ve thought that you could catch a few dozen pups in 32 degree air temps and 38 degree water?

I had friends who whacked puppy drum during the first few hours of Tuesday’s snow storm–that’s nuts.

But, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Basically, about the only good thing that has come from these extreme winter weather patterns is the puppy drum bite.

I did speak with a North Carolina Marine Fisheries officer, who is a friend, and he told me that the trout kills he saw in the past couple of weeks were depressing.
2011 and 2012 saw mild winters and this helped the freshly spawned red drum each of those years have a high survival rate in their normal sound habitat. Most young puppy drum will spend the first 18 or so months in the shelter of the sound learning how to survive.

Since the puppy drum can be just as susceptible to cold stuns as the trout, the mild winters lead to a boom in their population that most anglers capitalized on all year long in 2013.

Outer Banks Kayak FishingThese recent storms are forcing these pups to push out of the sound in search of warmer, deeper water. They are using a lot of energy doing so and when any living creature uses energy, they need to feed.

I went down to Oregon Inlet to observe some catching and to take a few photos.
The fishing was a little slower, as it was late in the day and the fish had made a stronger appearance earlier in the day, but I did see a couple caught and snagged.
There were also a couple seals stalking the schools of fish in search of a good meal. The pups definitely had more to fear than just a few anglers.

Standing on the catwalk of the Bonner Bridge, I could see small schools of fish racing around and at times being stalked by the seals.

It was five times more entertaining than watching the Discovery Channel. Seeing 20- to 30-inch puppy drum spraying out of the water like finger mullet, running for their lives from the seals was quite impressive.

The pups are being caught in a few different ways, but most anglers are using trout rods with lead heads and a variety of grubs or Berkley Gulps.

On the days that have had moderate winds, the fly fishing guys have had a great deal of luck.

If you go to chase the fish, make sure you dress warm under your waders and raincoat. The water and air get cold fast.

I don’t read tarot cards or try to predict the future, so I can’t say how long this bite is going to last, but I know a whole lot of anglers that are going to enjoy it as much as they can while it lasts.

The weather has continued to make fishing a hard go for the fleets and the offshore fishing has been scarce for the most part.

I hope we see a break in the weather, but not from the surf fishing.

Summer will not get here fast enough.

Go fishing.