Take the time to keep track of this guy. As an avid competitor he is always at the top of the heap in any tournament that he enters both locally and at the national level. His continual top placement in tournaments and giving back to the sport through seminars and overall support of the kayak fishing community has put him at the top of anyone’s short list for sponsorship. Rob is on the Pro Staff with YakAngler, a Team Member with Werner Paddles, a Hook1 Crew Member, and has most recently joined the Pro Staff at YakAttack as well. Both Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association (TKAA) and Pirates of the Lynnhaven (POL) are proud to have him as a member. Heroes on the Water Tidewater Chapter are very happy to have him as a volunteer.
You can follow Rob’s latest fishing experiences by following his blog Angling Addict and be sure to check out his videos on You Tube as well.
We are honored to have Rob Choi as today’s guest blogger. This is a repost of his experience as a HOW volunteer during the 2011 TKAA Kayak Fish For Charity Tournament. The day was rainy and cool, but because of volunteers like Rob, the weather was only a nuisance and didn’t dampen the spirit of the veterans that they accompanied on the water.
Rob's original post...
Rob's original post...
It had been raining on and off all day. My hands were exceedingly pruney, my hat was soaked all the way through and I was yet to feel a fish on the end of my line. Other tournament anglers started heading in and many of them asked about my luck. Every one of them had either a perplexed look or thought I was joking when I told them I hadn't hooked a single one. I was running out of time so I decided to make one more pass by my favorite spot in the inlet as the rain got heavier. I was trolling a MirrOLure when it got crushed...
by a big...
Yet, for some reason, I was still smiling, happy and had a supreme sense of satisfaction as I drove to the weigh-in/awards ceremony. The confused looks and "you're kidding, right" statements continued there, but I went on to explain to them that I had a different goal that day.
Every year there's a group of people that take some veterans from the near by hospitals and gets them out on the water to fish during the tournament. I decided to be a part of that group. At the end of the day, Ben Swenson of Virginia Wildlife Magazine wanted a quick interview, so I obliged, and most of the questions were easy... was this your first time volunteering for this... yes... do you think you'll do it again... yes... but there was one question that I couldn't answer very quickly. "Why?" "What made you decide to do this?". My mind was running so fast... I'm usually a very competitive person and I love these types of events... so why did I decide to forego the enjoyment of competing? Why would I use that precious time away from my family and personal fishing endeavors for something like this? I don't have any strong connections to the military. I dislike politics. I just didn't have an immediate answer for him.
Maybe I just wanted something cool to write about on my blog. Maybe I thought it would make me look like a "good guy" in the kayak fishing community. Or maybe it was the perfect opportunity for me to really help someone by sharing the passion I have for this sport. And not just anyone, but someone who has put his country before himself... someone who did what our country as a whole needed him to do and now he's stuck in a hospital. I know if I was in his shoes, I'd love it if someone took me fishing.
Maybe I volunteered because I've always felt like I owed a debt of gratitude to the veterans of this country. I was born here, grew up here, and enjoyed the freedom my entire life. My parents came here from South Korea back in the mid 70's, not only because this country opened its doors to a certain number of immigrants from there, but also because of the veterans who fought the Korean war. The outcome of that war would obviously be very different if it hadn't been for those veterans and I would not be here today loving life to the fullest, and you would not be reading this.
Maybe I didn't have an answer for Ben Swenson because I didn't know how to bring up the subject of my wife's beloved grandfather, who recently passed away last month. He served in the United States Army and was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge and three bronze stars for his service in Korea. You can imagine the sense of gratitude I have, especially when I was around him. Here I am, in the greatest country in the world, enjoying all the freedoms that come with it because of the service and sacrifices made by him and the other veterans of the Korean War. And to top it off, I got to marry his granddaughter. I made sure he knew that she was in good hands with me, and he was many times the recipient of a fillet or two from my outings along with the treasured visits from his great grandkids.
I know this would have made him happy and proud.
|Mark Lozier gives a few pointers to the veterans|
Heroes on the Water page and Project Healing Waters page.
All the proceeds from the tournament went towards those programs so even those that didn't fish with a veteran still helped out. They are two great organizations that definitely deserve our support. If you live in the mid-Atlantic, enjoy kayak fishing, and have not attended this event before, please consider trying next year. The camaraderie is second to none and the raffle is out of this world. Here's a link to some more info about the tournament and the results.
On a side note, after the weigh-in and award ceremony, I ventured back out to the HRBT for a few more hours of personal fishing time. I quickly picked up a 19" flounder, 5 schoolie stripers and a few good size croaker.