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HOOKED ON EAST TEXAS: Kayak fishing's popularity

Nearly 40 million folks hit rivers, streams and lakes last year tucked inside a kayak.

TYLER, Texas — It's not the latest Tik-Tok trend, but its popularity is exploding -- we're talking about the latest fishing trend, kayak fishing. 

We gave kayak fishing a try on a perfect morning. The air was cool but the water was a little warmer so a light fog formed on top of the water. 

We put our kayaks in on Flat Creek near Lake Palestine. I was fishing with Mike Hargrove who got into the sport when he bought a kayak for a hundred dollars at a garage sale.  

A recent Recreational Boating Foundation report shows there are yearly nearly 39-million kayak outings nationally. That might explain why local retailers are having a hard time keeping kayaks in stock. 

Alex Escandon with Academy Sports in Tyler told us he's seen it first-hand. 

“Oh, just over the last few years of working here you just see an explosion of the popularity of the sport,0” Escondon said as he showed us a line of beginner to intermediate kayaks. 

Here are a few reasons kayaks are growing in popularity:

  1. They are cheaper to buy. 
  2. They don’t have to be registered if the kayak doesn't have a motor. 

These are reasons why Hargrove likes kayaks. He enjoys how peaceful it is, likes seeing wildlife, and knows kayak fishing is better for conservation. 

“A lot cleaner, kayak fishing is so much cleaner cause you are not using any oil for anything. Exactly, yeah keeping clean all the way through," Escandon emphasized. "You don’t have any fuel into the water, any oil, definitely better on the lakes."

Another advantage to kayak fishing is being able to get into some tight spots where a boat can’t go. For instance we were fishing in an area where the water was less than a foot deep. You couldn't get a regular boat in water that shallow but we did and we both caught a nice bass. 

My bass was about ten inches long but Mike landed a bigger fish that probably weighed in around a pound and a half. But it was no where close to the biggest fish he's caught on Flat Creek. 

“Biggest fish I caught out here on the creek was a six and half pound bass," Hargrove said as he cast his line out again in hopes of catching another. 

There is one more advantage to fishing from a kayak and that's conservation. Several kayak anglers not only hope to fill a stringer full of fish but also hope to fill a bag full of garbage. We picked up several cans, old bait containers, and some other trash as we cruised the shoreline. 

Academy's Escandon says several kayak anglers make it a goal to catch more than fish. 

“There are a lot of people, they say their objective is to fill that bag with baits, line whatever, any trash they see and that I like to see out of our fisherman because that’s helping us, that’s helping everybody,” Escandon said. 

Kayak fishing is so popular, there are now pro kayak tournaments. Coming up in November, the Kayak Angler's Tournament series will make a stop at Lake Sam Rayburn.

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