ProStaffer of the Month: Marty Hughes
BB: How did you get started in kayak fishing? What do you love about it?
MARTY: In the late 90s I suffered a setback in my love for running with several knee surgeries due to injuries. I gained quite a bit of weight and was looking for an alternative activity that would keep me moving.
Browsing the internet, I found a kayak for sale on Ebay and purchased it. It was fairly small with a hole barely big enough to get my legs into it. I even purchased a book on how to “eskimo roll” as I was very naive about kayaking.
I set out just a few feet from shore, shaking vigorously for fear of capsizing! I soon became very comfortable and ventured further and further out. I noticed the fish below me in the clear waters of southwest Nebraska were not spooked. A light bulb lit up in my head and I went back to gather a fishing rod and box of lures.
Upon my first catch I was hooked! “The drug was in the tug” as they say! I paddled to places on area lakes that no boat could get to, and found these backwaters loaded with fish who had never seen a lure before!
The adventures started and I’ve been passionately kayak fishing ever since!
BB: How do you like to give back to the fishing community?
MARTY: I guess with my passion for kayak fishing I’ve yearned to share this experience with others from the beginning. For a few years no one would go with me for fear of capsizing. After “demystifying” this myth for people, they started fishing with me as I purchased two more kayaks.
I started a guide service in 2005 and clients flocked for the opportunity to try it out. In the meantime, my kids loved to paddle and go out with me. Through my passion for kayak fishing I’ve conducted fishing schools, promoted kayak fishing through the Nebraska Game and Parks demos through the years, and provided guided trips for those who wish to learn about kayak fishing.
I have also run a youth fishing program where we teach kids how to kayak fish. This program runs every Wednesday evening throughout May and June. I also started a youth tournament series offering a state championship as well in Nebraska for youth. All of these events are FREE!
I also conduct seminars for various fishing expos and Bass Pro Shops.
BB: Are you involved in your local fishing scene? How?
MARTY: Absolutely! I started offering tournaments in 2005 and they’ve grown exponentially. I’m a founder of the High Plains Kayak Fishing Series which has evolved into the The Sticks Nebraska Kayak Anglers Club. I offer a free fishing school in the spring and demo several brands of kayaks and Bending Branches Paddles.
BB: Do you introduce new anglers to kayak fishing? How?
MARTY: Yes! Most of the time they find me on social media or I find them on local waters and help them get started. I meet up with them and provide all of the fishing gear including the kayak and paddle.
BB: Do you work with any specific groups in kayak fishing?
MARTY: Yes! I helped start “Heroes on the Water” in Nebraska which has grown into three chapters. We offer various events that give proceeds to this valuable program for wounded veterans. I attend various events to help promote on the water experiences for veterans. I’ve also conducted on-the-water seminars for various schools across the state of Nebraska.
BB: Are you involved in any conservation and environmental measures? Tell us about them.
MARTY: Yes! We’ve conducted area lake clean-ups in conjunction with the Boy Scouts and other non-profits. We also conduct “safety days” with the area hospital in our county.
BB: Where can readers connect with you?
MARTY: You can connect with me on my website: kayakjak.com, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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