Columbus Day weekend is quickly becoming the most anticipated weekend of the year for kayak anglers across America. For the past several years, a growing number of paddling and fishing enthusiasts from nearly twenty states mark their vacation calendars for this memorable weekend event known as the KayakFishingBoondoggle™™.
The KayakFishingBoondoggle™ is a four-day camping and kayak fishing event that occurs twice a year over holiday weekends in different locations. This was the first trip to Louisiana for the Boondogglers. Previous locations included Perdido Key, FL; Virginia Beach, VA; Charleston, SC; and the Florida Everglades.
At the Boondoggle, you’re camping under the stars, self-sufficient and self-propelled, and surrounded by like-minded people who, in a few short days, become like family. Camping and kayak fishing are also great ways for kids to get hooked on a healthy, active lifestyle.
Robert Field with a big Lake Pontchartrain jack
Spending a weekend at the KayakFishingBoondoggle™ not only puts you in touch with the water, the adventure, and friends. You also get to pick the brains of kayak and fishing exhibitors and experts in the sport, and learn about new products on the market.
Marcus Villanueva traveled from Texas to exhibit at the event for paddle maker Bending Branches. Commenting as a first-time attendee, Villanueva had this to say: “I thought it was a great opportunity to answer questions and get hands-on interaction with users. We received a lot of great feedback and heard so many stories about the use of our paddles in all kinds of environments. Overall it was a great experience and I'm glad we could be part of it!"
Vendor Village lit up with Nocqua lights, photo credit: Adam Miles
Area residents were encouraged to participate in the educational workshops, kayak demonstrations and the Vendor Village. The event was jointly sponsored by the St. Tammany Tourist and Convention Commission, and local outfitter and bait shop Bayou Adventure. “When we heard about this large and passionate group of kayakers we knew it would be the right fit for our community,” said Tanya Leader, Vice President of Sales.
"I thought it was an amazing experience,” said Kalley LeRoy a Louisiana native who attended her first Boondoggle. “I was the outsider when I got there and I didn't know anyone, but I was quickly welcomed into the event! When the Boondoggle ended, I was left wishing there was just one more day.”
Vendor Village at night, photo credit: Tod Johnson
Some Boondogglers experienced fishing from a kayak for the first time, while others tested their angling skills and strategies in the unfamiliar bayous and waters of Lake Pontchartrain. The hub of activity for the weekend was at Fontainebleau State Park, a 2,800-acre park - complete with updated campgrounds and waterfront cabins, children’s water park, sandy beach, and a fishing pier – all located on the north shore in Mandeville, LA.
"The KayakFishingBoondoggle™ was an absolute blast!” said Holly Jones of her eighth Boondoggle event. “I caught fish, made new friends, ate some delicious food, and had a fantastic time overall. My family is counting down the days to the next event!"
Holly Jones with a Lake Pontchartrain Trout, photo credit: Sean Kent
At the end of each day, which seemed to be filled with equal parts of kayaking, fishing, trophy selfies and fish stories, beautiful sunsets set the sky on fire. And the fun didn’t stop after the kayaks were stored for the night. Boondogglers gathered at the park’s pavilion to participate in a raffle with prizes valued at more than $10,000 that were donated by supportive vendors.
David Roberts from China, TX endured to the end of a long and animated group game of rock-paper-scissors, a.k.a. as "Ro-Sham-Bo" among Boondogglers. Played on the honor system against Woody Callaway from Native Watercraft, participants eliminate themselves, leaving the last few standing in the competition. The ultimate victor scored a Native Watercraft “Slayer Propel 13” fishing kayak.
David Roberts beats the Woody to win a Native Watercraft Slayer Propel photo credit: Tod Johnson
Ginger Phillips won two NRS Chinook PFD's and the Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K kayak during the raffle, photo credit: Tod Johnson
Brian Vincent of the Appomattox River Company, a two-time Boondoggler, noted, “The Louisiana Boondoggle had all the requisites of a great time; beautiful location, fantastic people, and big fish! Whether on the water or around the campfire, the smiles came easy and camaraderie was special. Oh, and catching redfish in the marshes of the bayou was heaven on earth!” Read Brian's write up here.
Brian Vincent with Appomattox River Company with a nice LA redfish
About KayakFishingBoondoggle™ LLC The KayakFishingBoondoggle™ is a four-day camping and kayak fishing event that occurs twice a year over holiday weekends in different locations throughout the southeastern United States. With several hundred attendees, the Boondoggle provides an escape for kayak fishing enthusiasts looking to relax, hang out, and fish with like-minded individuals in a new location. Boondoggle locations are chosen for their pristine waters set against a beautiful landscape, plenty of breathing room, and an abundance of fish. Learn more at www.kayakfishingboondoggle.com.