Going Full Circle

2020 has been quite the year.

Kayak angler using a Bending Branches Navigator paddle.

That one, brief yet pointed sentence sums up what has proved to be one of the most difficult and most mentally exhausting years of my life. In many ways, 2020 has forced me to give up what I considered to be some ability to control my life and how my day to day existence typically takes shape. There were changes in my job, which in turn impacted my life at home. Stress was coming at me from a myriad of angles even before CoVId19 interrupted the entire world.

In February of 2020, I decided that I wanted to change from a paddle driven kayak to that of a pedal driven kayak. I had put a lot of thought into this change, and I purchased one of the nicest pedal kayaks on the market. This change required me to leave a kayak fishing team that I had worked for years to be a part of, so I did not take the move lightly. I spent a solid four years trying to earn my way into a coveted pro-staff position, and walking away was not an easy decision. But, I was at a time in my life that I felt I needed a change.

When CoVid19 blew onto the scene in March of 2020, I felt as powerless as ever. By profession, I am an administrator for a large school district in Tennessee. The Coronavirus halted us in our tracks the week before spring break. I found myself working with other district level administrators on how to continue to educate over 6000 students in our school system remotely. It was challenging to say the least.

When the weather broke in late March, I made time to get back out on the water. I had to be active. Putting my kayak on the water not only allowed me to be socially distanced, but it also allowed me to have an outlet to relieve some stress. I enjoyed being on the water in my pedal drive kayak. I fished, and I took some pretty pictures, but I continued to miss the feeling that came from paddling my way up a river or through some mild rapids. Nothing seemed to replace the feeling of having an actual paddle in my hand. I think the paddle represented a way for me to feel like I was somehow in control again.

By June, I started to gravitate back to paddle kayaks. I spent a lot of time looking at a variety of brands. Then I recalled a kayak that I had first laid eyes on at iCast in 2019. I started reading more about it, and in a few weeks, I ordered my new kayak online. Shipping was slow due to the viral outbreak, but soon enough, I had my new kayak sitting in my garage. I was in love. I quickly ordered a new, wider Bending Branches paddle for my new kayak. I could not wait to get back out on the water.

Kayak angler

The first chance I had, I was on the water at Rock Island State Park in Warren County, Tennessee. Rock Island is only minutes away from my home. I had to get back there and feel the movement of the paddle against the green water. And paddle I did. Hearing the familiar sound of the paddle quietly gliding through the water made all of the stress that I had dealt with for months go away. In that moment, order was restored to my world.

Angler with a fish.

I have been back on the water many times since the arrival of my new kayak and my new paddles arrived. I am looking forward to continuing to fish through the remainder of the summer and into fall. For me, peace comes when I am sitting on my kayak in the middle of nowhere. Catching a fish and releasing it after a picture is just icing on the cake.