Kayak fishing has evolved over the last ten years from a couple of guys doing their own thing to something with a life of its own. I am reminded of the old Frankenstein move when Dr. Frankenstein screamed "IT'S ALIVE!!!" It has evolved from its humble beginnings to something that has surpassed all notions of normal expansion.
There is a social aspect to kayak fishing that has also evolved drastically. In the beginning there were a few guys that were using things like yahoo messenger or other instant messaging formats to communicate amongst themselves to coordinate trips and discuss tactics. That evolved into using sub forums on other larger outdoor forums, then the eventual migration of each regional group hosting their own forum. This was an awesome source of meet people in your region and also most forums had a treasure trove of information in their archives for information seekers . Today Facebook is really expanding the ways in which people communicate and are exposed to kayak fishing. This one may be responsible for exposure to kayak fishing by those who were not first online looking for information on kayak fishing. Unfortunately Facebook has drastically reduced the amount of traffic on all but the biggest kayak fishing forums, this is a shame because a lot of the kayak fishing forums archives are a wealth of knowledge.
Kayak fishing has also affected the direction and growth of an entire industry in just a short time. The commercial aspect of kayak fishing has moved into the future from a place where one bought a recreational kayak and with ingenuity, duct tape, bailing wire and PVC pipe made his vessel a fishing kayak to a place where there are a plethora of options and products designed just for the kayak angler. The amount of support and desire for kayak fishing products have really facilitated the rapid growth of this Industry.
This rapid growth has been exciting to watch however it has created its own set of unique problems. As with any sport the more people that get involved, the more everything will fragment into specialized sub cultures. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of unity and sometimes does create friction between the different groups. As with any category I may put someone into; there is always pros and cons about each group that can attract people to the sport or send them running from the main stream culture of kayak fishing.
One of the first groups to evolve were the recreational angler. This is the person who could not afford to purchase a powered boat to go out fishing and settled for a kayak. This person originally thought that they were settling on something of a lesser value so they could just get out on the water. However as the case always is, they soon realize that they no longer want a powered craft because of the advantages of fishing from their little plastic boat.
Another of the groups that evolved from kayak fishing is the kayak tournament angler. These guys and gals often travel great distances to compete against their fellow anglers for the chance at winning prizes, cash and notoriety. In the beginning Anglers petitioned the larger Bass fishing tournament organizations to allow them to compete against their counter parts in powered craft. This however never could be because of huge sponsorships by boat manufactures, Motor manufactures, Fishing electronics, rods, reels, and tackle. It has always been my opinion that if some guy went out in a plastic kayak and beat all these highly sponsored anglers, people would be less likely to purchased their overpriced products and settle for a kayak. Therefore this would never be allowed and Kayak anglers went out on their own and organized their own events.
The next group that evolved would be what I call the Promotional kayak angler. This is the guy or gal that has official endorsements, sponsorships or represents a Company or product. However we can not discount the sub group here that just promotes the sport of kayak fishing and safety out their love of the sport and passion to share it with others. Many new kayak anglers look up to these people as experts and ambassadors. All Promotional kayak anglers should have the desire to help others and share their passion and experience. Unfortunately this is not always the case, Some get into positions of leadership in the sport and it completely goes to their heads. When this happens it is because they took the position for selfish reasons and do more damage than good. I would caution anyone about entering into any agreement or sponsorship as you always put more into it than you get out of it, and if you do not put more into the promotion instead of what you may get out of the arrangement you will not be around long.
The final group will be the Professional kayak anglers. These are the people who make their living off of kayak fishing. Whether it be working for a kayak manufacturer, Guiding or working in kayak retail. These are often the people who have the most tenure and experience and are commonly a wealth of knowledge. They love the sport so much that they have honed their skills and are happy to work in the industry they love. Most are also very liberal in sharing their passion and knowledge with others.
These groups will also subdivide into smaller groups like the river guys, the Lake guys, the pond guy's, the salt guys, the Flats guys, ect. you get the picture.
There have been many good things that have come out of this sport we all love so much like Regional kayak fishing clubs, Charities that help those in need, product testing and advancement, better kayaks and most of all a sport that we can all call our own. I have made some of the best friends a guy could have from a kayak. There is a connection that most kayak anglers feel one for another. However as with any rapidly growing entity there will be growing pains. Most of these stem from elitism, money, and lets face it some people are just jerks. However the good far outweighs the bad in this community and lets face the facts people, we are all Kayak Anglers! Doomed to enjoy fishing from a small tupperware container for the rest of our days.