Southern Louisiana is arguably the best fishery in the country. If not in the world. Its vast marshes and bayou's are home to trophy bass and red fish fishing that attracts millions of anglers every year. It is also home to the growing sport of kayak fishing. And as no surprise, people come from all over the world to to fly fish in the "Sportsman's Paradise". With this huge attraction comes with a demand.
Luckily for us kayakers, there is a surplus of great outfitters in Louisiana and Mississippi. I can honestly say that in my 3 short years of this incredible sport, I have met and worked with all of these outfitters in one way or another. Each and everyone of them are all willing to go above and beyond what they need to just to make sure that their customers are well taken cared of and happy. This also goes for John Williams and the Pack & Paddle crew in Lafayette, La.
Pack & Paddle is a wonderful outfitter in Lafayette, La. that literally has everything you could ever need for hiking, camping, and you guessed it....KAYAKING!! But did you know that they recently added a fly fishing section as well? John and the rest of the crew over there are actually avid fly fishermen and ambassador's of fly fishing as a hole.
A few months back we were hosting a fly fishing tournament and John on side of Eddie and Lisa Mullen of PAC Kayak Rentals donated a Jackson Mayfly to our organization for us to raffle off. The tournament was considered a huge success by many with nearly 50 anglers competing. There was also no shortage of Pack & Paddle team members. John then asked me to help him with an event being held at his shop labeled "Fly Fishing Hangout". I excitedly agreed!
On July 15th, hundreds of interested guests merged on to the Pack & Paddle shop in hopes to learn what ever they possibly could about fly fishing and its amazing benefits. This hangout was definitely a family event with many of people bringing their kids to see all the really cool stuff they had to offer. Sabine Skiffs (A Louisiana made boat) was there to show off their boats. John and his team were all their to share their knowledge with anyone wanting to learn. Their was a few gentlemen there with more than 30 years of experience for each of them. I was maybe a little star struck by a few the guests.
I was asked to be a demonstrator in show my abilities (or lack thereof) of tying flies. There were a number of incredible tiers already at the table. To be honest, I purposely did not bring my vise out because I felt I didn't belong next to them. I could not be any further from the truth. After the event was done, I hesitantly broke out my fly box to show my progression in my flies. The guys were not giving me praise just to make me feel better. They were genuinely impressed with my flies and gave me an added fuel to my fire for this amazing sport we love so much!
At the end of the day, John called everyone outside for a little friendly competition that provided tons of laughs and cheers! This is when I got to see a different side of John in which did not surprise me one bit. I had my 2 youngest kids there who were wanting to learn how to cast a fly rod. John was excited to be able to show them some basics to get them started. When he was working with Jax (my 6 year old son), you could tell he was doing something that he genuinely loved to do in helping teach our sports future anglers. Im not sure what made Jax more excited, the fact he actually hit his mark or the cheers from the crowd for his success.
When it was all said and done, I left there wanting to hurry home and tie as many flies as I could. It got me even more excited to grab all my gear and hit the water in hopes of landing another one of those copper top beauties I love so much. But most importantly, it made me proud to be apart of this community that much more. There is definitely something special about the men and women that make up the kayak and fly fishing community here in beautiful Louisiana. If you have a minute, head over to www.packpaddle.com and see more of the amazing gear they have to offer.