Colleen took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.
YakAngler (YA) How long has Heart of Texas Kayaks been in business?
Colleen (HTK) My brother and I opened our first location in Temple in the spring of 2007. In July 2009, we opened up the Grapevine shop. We actually started off in a little building on our personal property, and we only carried one kayak brand—Heritage. It’s been amazing to watch this little business idea that started out in a building that was less than 1,000 sq.ft. grow into a company that now has two locations totaling over 5,000 sq.ft. in less than 3 years.
(YA) What brands of kayaks do you carry?
(HTK) Right now, we mainly carry Native, Wilderness Systems, Perception, Heritage, Liquid Logic, and Freedom Hawk. We try to make sure that we have all those brands in stock in multiple colors so that our customers can get their kayak and get on the water immediately.
(YA) What types of accessories do you carry?
(HTK) This company began when I went looking for a smaller fishing kayak. Since I mainly use my kayak for fishing, I’ve tailored the shop to cater to kayak fishermen. So, a majority of our accessories are to rig kayaks for fishing. This includes Scotty rod holders, Sea Dog flush rod holders, comfortable kayak seats, and the usual kayaking necessities—paddles, PFDs, whistles, kayak skirts, and other safety equipment. I also have outfitted the Temple shop with a small fly-fishing section where we carry TFO fly rods, Ross reels, and a variety of leaders, flies, and other fly-fishing equipment.
(YA) Are kayak rentals a big part of your business?
(HTK) If you ever spend time in Temple, Texas, you’ll find that there isn’t a whole lot to do in town. So, kayak rentals have been a huge part of our business because it offers families a way to get out and enjoy the local lakes without having to invest in a boat, gas, etc. We also encourage everyone who’s looking at buying a kayak to rent first. That way we make sure that we get them in the right kayak the first time.
(YA) Besides kayak accessories, I see you carry toddler day packs; can you tell us about them?
(HTK) We were at Outdoor Retailer (a yearly show for vendors and retailers where new gear for the year is presented), and we were walking down one of the aisles on the way to check out some new water bottles that we were going to carry. On the way there, we passed by a booth and the Little Life Toddler Days Sacks jumped out at us. They were the cutest things we’d ever seen! They are backpacks designed specifically for toddlers, but they are all different “animals” such as a backpack that looks like a turtle shell or a backpack that has a shark fin. We have a lot of customers that take their children out kayaking with them. These day sacks are a great way to make it fun for their kid to carry their own gear—their juice box, snacks, etc. Plus, they are the cutest backpacks we’ve ever seen!
(YA) With the economy the way it is, do you find more anglers moving away from conventional boats and going to kayaks?
(HTK) When we opened in 2007, it was during a huge flood in Texas. Most of the local lakes were closed to boats because they were worried about debris in the water. Kayaks were still allowed on the lakes, though, so we saw a lot of people switching over to kayaks in order to continue to enjoy both Lake Belton and Stillhouse Hollow. Then along came 2008 with the sky-rocketing gas prices. We had a lot of customers selling their conventional boats and switching over to kayaking because they didn’t want to pay the high gas prices. When the economic crisis hit, we were sure that business was going to drop off completely, but we found that most people still wanted to get out and enjoy the local resources. While more people started looking at less expensive kayaks in 2009, we still saw a lot of new people getting into the sport because it was an economical way for them to get out of the house and go chase bass on Lake Belton.
(YA) What types of waters are available for kayaking in Central Texas?
(HTK) I’m biased since Central Texas is where I was born and raised, but I don’t think you can find another area that offers the array of kayak fishing opportunities that the Central Texas area offers. In fifteen minutes, I can be on the local lake chasing stripers and smallmouth bass. In less than an hour, I can be on a crystal clear, limestone-cliff river fishing for bass and perch. In less than two hours, I can be on the San Marcos river and enjoy up to Class III rapids as well as a man-made whitewater park. In less than four hours, I can be at the coast with some of the best Redfish and Speckled Trout fishing in the Texas bays. So, we have rivers, lakes, and the coast all within reach. The best part is that a lot of the areas are still relatively under-utilized which means we can sometimes spend all day on the river without seeing a single other person.
(YA) A little bit about you; what kind of fishing do you do?
(HTK) I’m in love with the Texas rivers and the art of fly-fishing, so a majority of my time is spent fly-fishing the local rivers for bass. In the winter, I usually switch gears and start heading to the Guadalupe River to fly-fish for trout. One of the best days I’ve ever was spent on a local river chasing bass, and then we finished the day off with BBQ at the Salt Lick outside of Austin. Bass and BBQ…it doesn’t get much better than that.
(YA) How often do you get out on the water?
(HTK) My house is 3 minutes from a great put-in spot on the lake and 15 minutes from a put-in spot on the river. The one downside of owning a kayak shop, though, is that it really cuts into my kayaking time! During the summer, when it doesn’t get dark until after 8pm, I’m usually out kayaking at least a few times a week.
(YA) Do you have a favorite yak?
(HTK) I’m a Heritage Redfish 12 addict. It’s been my hands-down favorite for the past 5 years. When I’m playing on the San Marcos River, though, I prefer my Liquid Logic Remix. It has the best seat of any whitewater boat that I’ve ever sat in!
(YA) Country or Rock n Roll?
(HTK) Texas country and my fishing partner is a Bluegrass fan. Since he usually drives, I’m slowly coming around to Bluegrass.
(YA) In closing is there anything you would like to add about Heart of Texas Kayaks?
(HTK) I think the main thing about our shop is that we’re a home-grown and local company. I’ve personally paddled every kayak that we have in our shop, so the info that I give comes from experience. If you want to know how a kayak handles on a certain river, more than likely I’ve been on that river in that kayak. And if I haven’t been, I know someone that has and will get you in touch with them. My brother and I love what we do, and we try to convey that to everyone that comes through our shop doors. We would also like to offer 10% off to all YakAngler's, click on the COUPON for your 10% off code. This will be good now through the end of April.
I would like to thank Colleen of Heart of Texas Kayaks for taking the time to talk to us, for more information about them please check out www.hotkayaks.net
Note you must be registered on YakAngler.com to access this coupon