When you make plans to take a kayak fishing road trip, you don’t know how things will pan out. You get in your car and never know what you will find at the end of the road. For me, a spontaneous trip covering nearly 3,500 miles and several states over the course of a week showed me the true meaning of friendship — and forced me to find myself once again.
In April a good friend connected me with 2018’s Bass Fishing Utah Angler of the Year, Erin Mathis. Erin was hosting a kayak fishing seminar at Peoa, Utah’s Rockport Reservoir. I made the hasty decision to drive 15 hours to support Erin and to help get more people involved in this great sport. Mike McKinstry, of Bassquatch Hunter TV, would also be flying out to speak at the seminar and film for upcoming episodes on Waypoint TV. He reached out and asked if I could pick up a kayak for him. Happy to help a fellow YakGear brand ambassador, I agreed.
I loaded up my car, hooked the kayak trailer up and headed out with just a bag, ice chest, fishing gear and my kayak. I arrived in Parma, Idaho, at 6 a.m. — now with two kayaks — and found a place to park and rest while I waited on the others. We launched our kayaks and got on the water, and within minutes Erin hooked into a 3-foot sturgeon. The battle was on. Her rod was bent in two and she was towed around like she had a motor on her kayak, but after about a five-minute fight Erin got the fish to the boat and released it. She handed me her rod and, after a short cast, I hooked into a fish, too. As I started to reel, the sturgeon — an incredibly strong fish — decided to dive. My adrenaline kicked in and all I could hear was Erin yelling encouragement and the whine of the reel as the fish pulled drag. The fight lasted what felt like hours, and soon a 3-foot sturgeon was pulled up the side of my kayak — and released to fight another day. Throughout the day many fish were caught and released, and many memories made.
The next day, with fast-running waters thwarting our plans to fish Idaho’s Snake River, we accepted an offer from Jim Schwartz to stay on property and fish the pond. We focused primarily on filming for Bassquatch Hunter TV, fishing all day and going live on Facebook to talk about what was going on for the week. Later we loaded up and headed to Erin’s stomping grounds in North Ogden, Utah. After several hours of loading, reviewing footage and just sitting around to talk, we finally went to bed.
On May 4 we traveled to Rockport Reservoir for the seminar — the real reason I drove 15 hours — and I couldn’t wait! Excited people filled the area and, as Erin spoke, her contagious passion for kayak fishing drew everyone in — even those who knew nothing about the sport. With other presentations by Joe Randall of Shoot Fish Life and Mike McKinstry of Bassquatch Hunter TV, and the opportunity to try various kayaks on the water, it’s safe to say everyone left the event having gained something valuable.
The following day we loaded up for Moab, Utah, to fish a small reservoir called Ken’s Lake and do some more filming. The breathtaking drive and transition of landscapes — one minute flat and barren, the next huge red sandstone mountains, cliffs and mesas — was like nothing I’d ever seen. That night, as the sun disappeared behind the mountains and I caught the last rays shining on the red rocks, I knew this part of the trip would change my life forever.
The next day, after a successful day of fishing at Ken’s Lake — well, successful after learning that afternoon and evening were the best times to fish — we geared up to spend our final night huddled around the campfire. I realized that the three people sitting in front of me would be lifelong friends. We stayed up until 3 a.m. taking pictures of the night sky and just enjoying each other’s company before it was time to head home.
When I left Fresno five days prior, I hadn’t even realized I was lost. Moab made me realize I had forgotten so many things about myself. In two days, in one of the most awe-inspiring places I’d ever seen, and with three of the most amazing people, I found myself. I urge anyone who has an opportunity to take a trip like this to do so. Not only was it an amazing time, but I met so many people who will forever be friends of mine. Don’t leave your home base expecting to find anything. All of it will find you along the way.
A journey well-traveled and a journey remembered forever.
About the Author
Kyle Matlock was born and raised in Fresno, California. He has been fishing since he could walk, as both of his parents are avid anglers. Kyle got into bass fishing about two years ago, and it quickly became an obsession. In October of 2017 he dipped his first paddle and decided to explore kayak fishing, and today he finds amazing satisfaction and pleasure in the sport. In September 2018 Kyle qualified for KBF Nationals, and the Tenvitational as he won his first tournament win during a KBF One Night Stand. Kyle looks forward to the coming year and the many friendships, both personal and professional, that will be made.