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Kayak Fishing Boondoggle: Interview with Mark Watanabe

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The Kayak Fishing Boondoggle is an event that draws kayak anglers from across the nation. And if you haven’t heard, this year it will be in Louisiana! What better way to gear up for this October event than with an interview with Mark Watanabe. If you don’t know, Mark is co-founder/owner of and originator of the Kayak Fishing Boondoggle. Mark has done and continues to do so much for the kayak fishing community.

Mark, I would like to thank you for taking the time for this interview and for giving us the opportunity to host such a great event in Louisiana.

I’ll start off by saying; there still exists a certain mystery about the Boondoggle. I know some that hear of it for the first time believe it is a tournament. So to clarify, what exactly is the Kayak Fishing Boondoggle?

“The Boondoggle is a gathering of kayak anglers for the sole purpose of getting together, fishing, and hanging out… and, you know, having a good time. It’s the only gathering of its kind that does not involve a tournament… which is pretty cool because it’s original.”

Mark, what is offered at the Boondoggle and why has it drawn so much attention among kayak anglers across the nation?

“You have people coming from all cross the country, from all over the nation, pretty much to hang out, camp, and fish. We also have vendors that come in and set up what we call our vendor village. Basically, we have vendors there from 2 to 9 in the evening on Friday and Saturday night… and that way it gives people the opportunity to check out new products… We have clinics, we have a big raffle on Saturday… It also gives people a face-to-face with the manufacturers and the manufacturers get to do a face-to-face with their customers on a more intimate basis than rather just in a trade show because the manufacturers are sitting there hanging out with their customers for the weekend, drinking beer, fishing, and hanging out with them.”

I know we feel very lucky to have the Boondoggle in Louisiana this year. With so many great spots to have such an event, what made Louisiana the choice for this year’s October Boondoggle?

“Well, we have wanted to have the Boondoggle in Louisiana since we first started doing it. But the problem is we have to have buy-in from one of the… it’s usually out of the city that’s going to host us or the tourism board or somebody because we have to find a location, a big one that will support, you know, 600 plus anglers. And so without the support of the city to help us lock down a full campsite we can’t do it. We were lucky enough to make a contact in Mandeville… and so the city really wanted us to come… so that’s how we were able to get down to Louisiana this coming October.”

I have heard the friendly jokes on about who has “bragging rights” for the most Boondoggles attended. How many have you attended and who holds that title now?

“[laughs]… Myself, Chip Gibson, his son, and Darrell Olson are all tied, all only missed one. We have had 8 other events. I have made it to 8, Darrell has made it to 8 and Chip and his son has made it to 8.”

On a more personal note, what has been the best thing for you about attending the Boondoggles?

“It is a ton of work, I mean for the October ones we are planning it for the full year and so when we get there its not like we relax so that’s not fun about it. But it’s cool seeing all the people we talk to on a daily basis online and it’s cool seeing everyone come together like that. And everybody loves it, so you know that’s why we do it, we don’t do it because it’s fun that’s for sure. [laughs]”

Is there anything else I forgot that you would like to add?

“I think we should put a note in there that they need to, like campsites are over half full already, so if people want to go they need to get up and sign up now [laughs] before they run out. Oh… Also, we are having a Ro Sham Bo with Native Kayaks, Woody is going to be doing it… it’s going to be for a Propel Kayak. They love the interaction because it’s fun, it’s not like when you go for a raffle and you’re just standing there waiting for your ticket to be pulled, I mean everybody actively engages… it’s a lot of fun. Even if people lose, they still hang out to see who wins. That’s on Friday night and then the raffle is on Saturday night.”

What is the Ro Sham Bo exactly?

“All we do is, Woody gets up on stage and essentially does rock, paper, scissors and everybody who is registered to attend plays and you play against Woody. So you have this crowd of 400 people doing rock, paper, scissors trying to beat Woody. If you tie him or beat him, you get to stay standing, if you don’t you sit down… It’s an honor system but as it gets weeded down to the last 15-20 people, you know, everybody is looking at them. [laughs] So, you’ll get called out if you’re cheating. It has been a lot of fun.”

Thanks again Mark for taking the time to do this interview and for giving us this "inside scoop" about the Boondoggle.
So, there you have it. The Kayak Fishing Boondoggle will be held at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, LA on October 9th through the 12th. If you would like more information and/or need to register for the event, you can do so at the Kayak Fishing Boondoggle website: Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity! Make your reservations soon because, as Mark said, campsites are going fast.
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Shane has been kayak fishing since 2009 and is passionate about it. Inshore saltwater kayak fishing is his addiction of choice, however, he enjoys the occasional offshore and freshwater trip as well. He mainly fishes the inshore lakes, bayous, and marshes of Southwest Louisiana but does venture into other territories. Shane is a member of the Hobie Fishing Team and holds Pro Staff positions with YakAngler, Lucid Fishing, and Ship To Shore Co. He was also the founding president of the Lake Charles Kayak Fishing Club. "My simple goal for this blog is to promote kayak fishing as it is something I love. I will post articles, reviews, videos, photos, and basically all things kayak fishing." ~Shane [Shane Coleman] (