If you spent any amount of time at your local beach this summer, then you surely noticed the rapidly increasing popularity of stand up paddle surfing. Without a doubt the fastest growing water sport, stand up paddleboards are making waves across the country. Longer, wider and more stable than a traditional surfboard, stand up paddleboards offer dedicated watermen an alternative way to have fun when the surf is flat. Although stand up paddling is an ancient practice originated by Polynesians, the sport was re-introduced within the last decade with great success. The recent emergence and popularity is likely due to the sport’s versatility, as surfers and fishermen alike are realizing the amazing angling opportunities afforded by stand up paddling.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to try stand up paddling, then you’re missing out on a whole lot of fun. Bridging the gap between kayaking and surfing, stand up paddling is the ultimate aerobic exercise that’s quickly taking the world by storm. While manufacturers originally based their designs to perform in the surf, they’re now moving towards more versatile designs that are suitable for fishing. Outfitted with rod holders and deck anchoring systems to keep tackle and gear at bay, stand up paddleboards are the next generation of eco-friendly
Although the sport is in its early stages, stand up paddle fishing is soon to be a huge hit. The East Coast’s first event of its kind was a huge success, as South Florida surfers and fishermen came together to compete in the 1st Annual Cast For Kids Stand Up Paddleboard Fishing Tournament. While everyone likes a little friendly competition, the main goal was to raise funds to support the Broward Children’s Center. The tournament was brought to Pompano Beach by a local company, ARK Paddleboards, whose mission is to encourage people to experience this rapidly growing sport for themselves, along with Board Sports Productions, a company committed to supporting and educating the local community through event coordination and management.
Hosted by the Ocean Point Beach Resort in Pompano Beach, the inaugural event was a huge success with 18 anglers transforming their paddleboards and surfboards into human-powered platforms in hopes of catching the big one. Fortunately, the paddlers were greeted with calm seas and light offshore winds. The morning of the tournament started very early—6:00 a.m. to be exact—with open registration, complimentary coffee, and a gorgeous sunrise with distant clouds glowing of red amber. Most of the competitors arrived bright and early to prepare their boards and tackle for the long morning on the Atlantic Ocean. With the inherent dangers of paddle-powered vessels operating within the vicinity of the crowded Hillsboro Inlet, let alone on a Saturday, throughout the morning there was constant monitoring of the anglers with dedicated support boats. The tournament started at 6:30 a.m., with anglers required to hit the beach in front of the Ocean Point Beach Resort by 12:00 p.m. for the official weigh-in.
Tournament regulations require all fish to be caught via hook and line, with the selection of bait up to the discretion of the competitor. All fish must be caught from a surfboard and/or stand up paddleboard and all craft must be self-propelled —canoes and kayaks are not permitted. During the tournament contestants were not allowed to receive any assistance from non-competitors. With separate divisions for team and individual anglers, numerous strategies were definitely taken into consideration. Having to compensate for current and wind, participants definitely had their work cut out for them.
By mid-morning, word got out that Roray Kam had caught the first king mackerel. Soon after it was reported that Chris Stephan had caught a king that would rival the first. The morning was full of anticipation as everyone was anxious to see who had caught the biggest and most fish in both divisions. While competitors battled it out, spectators on the beach enjoyed live music and free board demos courtesy of Ark Paddleboards.
When it was all said and done the Individual Big Fish was awarded to Roray Kam with a 10.9-pound king mackerel. The team of John Hartsock and Mike Hanstein took the Big Fish Team Award with a 15.5-pound bonito. Team Lava, with Guy DeJohn and Eric Carter caught the most fish, followed by Stihl Tight and Board Fish. Jake Portwood caught the most fish in the Individual Division, with Roray Kam taking second and Dario Tani taking third.
The tournament was a huge success overall and followed by a great time at the outdoor tiki bar of the Ocean Point Beach Resort where everyone had a chance to catch up with the participants, enjoy fresh BBQ, purchase raffle tickets, and for all who were 21-years and older there was complementary draft beer and great rum specials from Happy Rum. DJ Eugene Reidy queued some good vibes right up to the time of the raffle where some very fortunate ticket buyers walked away with some incredible items, including a 14-foot Ark Nautilus Board Package, a $200.00 gift certificate for a custom Chaos fishing rod, a $75 gift certificate to Nomad Surf Shop, a Miami Sea Aquarium Swim with the Dolphins package, a weekend retreat for two in a ocean view room at the Ocean Point Beach Resort and six apparel bags stuffed with goodies from Island Water Sports, Surf World, Nomad Surf Shop, Reef Safe Sun Care and Liquid Surf & Sail. All proceeds of the raffle went directly to the Broward Children’s Center.
“This year our community’s support is more important than ever because every cent raised will help fund our efforts to provide early education, therapy and support services to children having special needs,” said Broward Children’s Center CEO, Marjorie Evans.
With stand up paddle fishing continuing to gain popularity we can only expect to see more events like this in the future. In fact, Ark Paddleboards and Board Sports Productions are already planning an inshore event in Jupiter for this fall. Visit www.arkboards.com to stay up to date on the events and to check out their extensive lineup of fishing, surfing, cruising and racing inspired paddleboards.
The Broward Children’s Center and its affiliates specialize in helping infants, children, and young adults with special health care needs. Founded in 1971, their nonprofit facilities in Pompano Beach offer a wide range of health, wellness, education, recreation, therapeutic, daily living and advocacy services. During more than three decades of service, thousands of children and their families have benefited from the Center’s programs. Providing a home to some of the most technologically-dependent children in the country and addressing their educational, social and medical needs has led to the development of community-based residential facilities and school programs for children who are medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed. In the delivery of all these services, the Broward Children’s Centers overriding goal remains the provision of the highest quality of life possible to the infants, children and young adults they serve.