BB: How did you get started fishing?
JASON: Growing up I lived on the Ashley River outside of Charleston, South Carolina. I could throw a rock from my bedroom window into the brackish water of the historic river. Being on, in and around the water was just a part of me and growing up.
After my many attempts (some successful, I might add!) at building my own floating raft or fishing vessel, I eventually received a canoe. I used this to fish out of nearly every day before or after school. You could find me on the water most weekends and all summer long.
Fishing from a small canoe or kayak has been one of my favorite things to do as far back as I can remember.
BB: What do you love about kayak fishing?
JASON: Kayak fishing gives me the advantage of being able to launch anywhere, and fish in any body of water. I can cut through passages that are barely a foot wide and just a few inches deep. I like the genuine, authentic feel of exploring the water in a kayak, and just quietly gliding on the surface of the water.
BB: What are your favorite ways to give back to the fishing community and introduce new anglers to kayak fishing?
JASON: I try to give back to the fishing community in a number of ways. I volunteer my time and experience on the Board of several fishing clubs, organizations and fishing tournaments. I’m the South Carolina Representative on the International Committee for the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
I’m a Certified Fishing Instructor for the SC Department of Natural Resources, and volunteer my time teaching children about fishing and conservation. I regularly speak to children at schools and in classrooms about conservation and our marine resources.
Through my volunteer work with Cabela’s/Bass Pro Shops, conservation organizations, area fishing clubs and children's organizations, I’ve taught seminars and workshops for more than 4,000 people last year.
I’m on the Pro Team for Cabela’s and do various kayak fishing seminars for them on a regular basis. My latest one is this month—Kayak Fishing for Rookies—in the Greenville, South Carolina store. I use my personal Bending Branches paddles, as well as ones from the store when I do these seminars.
All of my events throughout the year are open to the public. I've also done events for specific groups that include veterans, the disabled, youth, and families. If it’s kayak or fishing related and I can be of service, I'll be there!
BB: Are you involved in any conservation or environmental programs?
JASON: Yes, I also volunteer my time throughout the year with the Department of Natural Resources Game Fish Tagging Program. I collect valuable data on important fish species that’s used in fishery management applications.
Just before Christmas, I received the annual award for performance and contributions to the fishing program from the state Department of Natural Resources. It’s often called the "Yes" award, as I simply said "yes" to any invitation to assist my state in helping with youth and adult fishing clinics, workshops, tournaments, or other educational programs.
Sharing my passion for fishing with children is very important to me, as is educating other anglers on the importance of conservation of our marine resources.
BB: You’ve been a voice for Bending Branches since 2014. How and where have you used our paddles?
JASON: In the 2018 IGFA World Record book, I received a #1 World Ranking. I’ve made it into the top three of every category, including Saltwater, Freshwater and Fly Fishing. The majority of my world records have come from kayak fishing. I'm told I'm the first person in history to receive a #1 ranking strictly by fishing from a kayak.
In addition to my public service and chasing world records around the globe from a kayak, I also enjoy competing in tournaments alongside my fellow anglers. 2017 saw my 50th major fishing tournament win.
I'm credited with winning one of the world's largest kayak fishing tournaments twice, including setting the largest total slam in history in the fly fishing category.
In addition to Bending Branches, I’m also a member of several other pro teams.
BB: Your wife fishes a little bit, too, doesn’t she?
JASON: My wife, Jennifer, is my best friend and a great fishing partner. Last year she was awarded a half-dozen IGFA World Records, and finished in the top 5 in the world for female anglers. She already has another pending world record for 2018.
We have a blast traveling together with our kayaks while pursuing new fishing adventures. There have been a few tournaments where I was awarded top male angler and she was awarded top female angler in the same tournament.
Experience has taught me not to make friendly wagers with her anymore on who will catch the biggest fish of the day. There’s a good chance she'll win!
BB: Any final words for us?
JASON: I'm honored to be the Bending Branches Pro of the Month for March! It’s my birthday this month, so that just adds to an already fun month.
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