Two seasons ago Aquabatics opened up shop just off Gateway Boulevard in Edmonton. Holding the fort down (usually with his pup on his side) is Edmonton Shop Manager, Andy Watt. I (Maddie) had the privelage of meeting and working with Andy the year before the shop opened. It was a fishing kayak demo day featuring Jackson and Wilderness Systems kayaks at Carburn Park in Calgary. Kayak fishing is relatively new to me so I knew I had to depend on the guys (including Andy) with providing me all the specs and tips on kayak fishing. I was shocked at not only how knowledgeble Andy was but how passionate he was for getting people on the water. Though, I don't know if I can trust him tying down six fishing kayaks to the trailer... That was a bit sketchy. (Sorry Andy) He's our go-to guy for many things, even if you just need to chat. Though I love making the trips up to Edmonton (to see his pup Ducky) he should really make it down south more often.
This is 20 questions with one of the funniest guys I know, Andy Watt!
1. Who are you?
Hello, my name is Andy. How goes the world with you today?
2. Where are you from?
Planet Earth. I was born out east, in Hamilton Ontario , and whilst hitchhiking across Canada in my early 30s, Decided to settle in Alberta.
3. What got you into kayak fishing?
Honestly, I had my first Fort Mac paycheck and bought a fishing kayak on a whim, as my canoe at the time was on its last leg and tough to fish out of solo.
4. Why do you choose to fish out of a kayak?
See above answer. But its layout and ability to access smaller waters and rivers was the main deciding factor over getting a small john boat.
5. What vessels do you paddle?
I paddle a Old Town Topwater, and pedal a Jackson CoosaFD. They both serve a purpose, and are rad boats. I prefer the topwater for shallow, hard to access waters, and the pedal drive Jackson for everything else.
6. What would a perfect fishing kayak look like for you?
Pretty much the CoosaFD pedal drive but with slots for plano cases, and better fishfinder mounting options. Oh, and about 60 pounds lighter would be my ideal boat.
The future of fishing kayaks has to be lighter weight boats.
7. Do you participate in any fishing tournaments?
I’ve been known to enter a few; I’ve been part of the Western Canadian Kayak fishing trail since its inception a few years ago and have been part of the Eastslope kayak Fishing Derby for the past 6 years or so. I placed second in it in 2019.
8. Biggest fish?
I have yet to land the proverbial monster, but I have caught a few ten pound walleye out of the clearwater river where it meets the Athabasca. A 23inch pond trout and 25 pound chinook salmon to name a few. Nothing super epic, but I’ll get there eventually.
9. What is your advice to someone getting into kayak fishing?
Don’t cheap out on a boat. Do your research and buy the best boat you can afford. It's better to buy a used higher end boat then a new, cheaply constructed one.
10. What bait tends to never fail you?
11. Why do you enjoy working at Aquabatics?
I love it actually; I spend all week stoking myself up to go paddling on my days off and I get paid for it. It is a win win in my books. Oh and my fellow staffers in Calgary are pretty rad too, they make it easy to communicate and help set the tone for a very professional, yet fun and exciting workplace.
12. Dream fishing trip?
This is a tough one. It really is, there are so many radical places to fish. Spain for monster perch, Sweden and Norway for Monster pike, sturgeon on the Fraser in BC, sharks down in Florida. Rooster fish in South America. So many species, so little time.
13. Do you also fly fish or ice fish?
If by fly fish you mean consistently tangling in trees then yes, yes I do. I attempt to fly fish, I don’t have the artistic casts like a lot of people, but I try.
Ice fishing isn’t for me, I will get out a few times a year but not nearly as much as I do during open water season, I’m a fair-weather Angler for sure.
14. What is your favourite product at AQ to talk about with customers?
Most would think it’s a big fancy kayak, but in reality it’s the North Water Four Bailer, my favorite product in the shop, ask me about it next time you're in.
15. Do you have any pets?
Yes two dogs. A chiuaua that loves my partner and hates me, and a Cocker Spaniel puppy named Ducky that’s my new main squeeze. We lost Gemma, my long time companion this past spring.
16. Who do you hope to paddle with one day from the past or present?
There is a reason there is only one seat in my boat. But if you forced me to I would love to take my Grandpa Mitchell kayak fishing, his passion for angling while in my youth is part of the reason I’m so passionate about fishing today.
17. What are some winter activities you participate in?
I like to get out in the winter on my snowshoes and chase rabbits and grouse through the woods. I also do a bit of tackle craft and jig making.
18. Is there anything you would change about the sport of kayak fishing?
Lighter. Pedal drive fishing boats need to get lighter, as I get older, they seem to be getting heavier. I think I mentioned this once already above but its worth mentioning again.
19. Have you fallen out of your kayak while catching a fish?
Knock on wood, but no, if I flip, id loose close to $400 or more worth of gear right off the bat. I don’t secure things like I should sometimes. Fishing kayaks are inherently stable by design and are tough to flip by accident. There is always a first time for everything though, so I do stay cautious.
20. Is there anything else you want to add?