As this years interesting, paddling season draws to a close for most, I've had time to get back into my blogging groove. Resurrecting our twenty questions blogs that fell to the wayside during covidcation and the following paddling season. To kick things off again, I think Mike Zilkowsky or MIke Z. as he's more commonly referred to among the kayak fishing community, is a great choice to get back into it. He's been a huge supporter of the shop for as long as I've known him and continues to be an organizing voice within the kayak fishing community in Alberta and all of western Canada. Read on and learn a little about one of Alberta's OG kayak anglers.
1. Who the heck are yeah?
My name is Mike Zilkowsky, Trail Director for the Western Canada Kayak Fishing Trail and Pacific Northwest Pro-Staff Manager for Wilderness Systems Kayaks.
MIke cooking up a storm !!
2. Where yeah from?
I live in Blackfalds Alberta now, originally from Kelowna BC.
3. What made you want to start kayak fishing?
It was the next natural progression for me. I grew up fly fishing from a canoe, moved onto a belly boat and then found the kayak was a great means to get on the water and close to the fish.
4. Why fish from a kayak when there’s so many other ways to get on the water?
The ability to get into lakes and spots that a normal boat could not get into and being able to take my kayak with me everywhere I go.
5. If you could build the perfect fishing kayak what would it look like?
So many of the new kayaks have a great set up. I would have to say, after seeing the new Wilderness Recon in a few "Eyes Only" videos, it might just be the perfect.. time will tell.
Like father like son.
6. You represent a few great companies when your on the water, how would a person go about finding a sponsor?
I get asked that a lot. You need to first understand, that Pro-Staff doesn't make you a professional. You are a Promotional Staff member. Have a social media following, be positive, don't trash talk every brand except you you represent. Before you ask a company to be an angler on their staff, be sure that you actually have their gear and use it. Team managers want to see content you have created about their products and that you actually believe in their product before you are given a chance. Anyone can write about something they were given for free... Show that you are invested in the company before you ask them to invest in you. Also, having friends on the inside can help out.
7. Where’s your favorite place to fish, well one your comfortable sharing with the world anyway?
So many... Wabamun Lake, Battle Lake, Bow River... But Medicine Lake near Rimbey Alberta will always be special to me.
8. What's the longest commute you’ve made for a weekend of kayak fishing?
1608 kms one way.. Moutcha Bay Kayak Derby!!!!
9. How long have you been organizing tournaments in Alberta, why did you get started?
I have been running the Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic for the past 7 years and organizing other events on the trail for the past 2 years. I got into it because I saw a great opportunity to grow what was already started and to bring our great group of kayak anglers closer together.
10. How are you pushing yourself as an angler?
I have been spending more and more time getting others out and into kayak fishing. I realize that I have to get fishing more cause my 8 year old son is starting to outfish me at every turn. This year I will be make sure I can compete with Ben!!!
11. What challenges have you faced with kayak fishing?
Getting out... I seem to spend a lot of time organizing and running events that I end up not getting enough time in the yak to fish. But when I am heading out, it was always what to bring. It took me a few years to get my gear minimized but now I think I can actually get on the water in 10 minutes instead of an hour gearing up
12. What would you say your biggest fish was?
Fresh - Winifred Lake - Northern Pike 44" out of a canoe & 39" out of a kayak
Salt - Moutcha Bay - Chinook Salmon 22.8 lbs
Salmon for dinner anyone?
13. What's your favorite lure to throw?
Len Thompson Green Frog #2
14. What’s your dream fishing trip?
Upper Zambezi for Tiger Fish or Florida for Permit, Bone, Barracuda and Tarpon from the yak on a fly.
15. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen while paddling?
My son standing in his 10' Pescador casting and landing a northern pike all by himself
16. being an experienced paddler, what advice would you give to someone just getting started?.
Dress for the worst and always wear your PFD. Weather changes too fast and if you aren't ready you can be in a world of trouble. Get fully dressed and jump into the water to see how your PFD works and then try getting into your kayak.
17. If you could go kayak fishing with anyone in the world past or present who would it be?
Just one more chance to fish with my dad. No contest.
Loaded and Ready to Roll
18. Is there anything you would change about sport?
Peoples confidence that they do not need to wear their PFDs. It is a great sport and amazing community of people. I don't want to see any of the have an unfortunate incident.
19. If you were a type of beer, what type would it be and why?
Definitely a Kettle Sour... Some people really like me... some not so much... lol
20. Is there anything I missed you wanted to add?
Just hope to see more people attending all of our events here in Western Canada that all of the organizers are working so hard on. Everyone who is involved in organizing these derbies are doing so on their own time and dime. Their effort to promote this sport in Western Canada is what makes us such a tight knit community. Thank you all for being a part of our Kayak Fishing Family.
Big Thanks for mike for taking the time and answering some questions for the shop. He's always been a huge supporter and we appreciate all he's done for the shop and the community.
if you interested in kayak fishing tournaments in Alberta and throughout western Canada I strongly recommend checking out the Western Canadian Kayak fishing Trail Facebook page and the Eastslope Kayak fishing Classic website.
Hope to see you on the water, making ripples.
written by Andy W, Manager, Aquabatics Edmonton.
Questions answered by Mike Z.