Usually it takes some time to see exactly what you want in a kayak – from the shape, style, functionality, capacity, and even the way it looks. When I heard that Florida Sportsman was putting on a Kayak Challenge, partnered with Estero River Outfitters for the grand prize of a brand new Hobie Revo 13, I knew I had to step it up. That’s the kayak I’ve wanted for awhile now. That meant sleepless nights and mornings fishing, competing with some of Florida’s best kayak anglers.
A future blog post will highlight some of the best moments of the summer as I work toward the prize and the beautiful Hobie. But before that, I would like to dedicate this post to Estero River Outfitters for being so considerate with not only the grand prize(s), but for the way they go above and beyond to help customers.
I arrived at Estero River Outfitters after a couple-hour drive west across the state on Route 70. As I pulled in to the parking lot, my eyes widened as I saw nothing but long and colorful boats besieging the back of the building. At this point, I still couldn’t believe I was here to pick up a brand new Hobie kayak! Making my way through the land of vibrant plastic, Chris was quick to ask me if I needed any help and we made our way to picking out the boat I wanted. Chris explained to me that Estero carried pretty much every color in stock, instead of having to wait and order it – that was impressive. After I had my mind set on my favorite color of blue, we picked out the one and started to unwrap it. My excitement grew after it started to set in; I couldn’t believe it! Chris helped me load up the Revo and get it road-ready for the trek back home.
As I walked into the main building, the assortment of accessories in stock and anything related to the sport of paddlecraft was impressive. To the right they had a nice collection of S.U.P. boards, immediately ahead a variety of kayak carrying carts and wheelies, then a plethora of gloves, PFDs, kayak racks, and rigs on the surrounding walls – basically something for everyone. It was nice to check out the items in hand to test and feel the quality before making purchases. In addition, they also carried a full line of Hobie parts and upgrades for any type of necessity.
Jeff helped me with my paperwork and asked me if I needed anything to go along with my new craft. I bought a few accessories such as the new deep buckets that go in the dry storage hatches of the Revo (to put lures or extra accessories out of the reach of water), and a fitted bin for under the front hatch. The bin can be used to put ice in and keep drinks or fish cool. Probably the most necessary accessory, I picked up a Hobie wheelie for transportation to and from the water.
After getting everything squared away with the kayak, I checked out the adjacent building which was all about fishing. As I opened the door, there was a great assortment of rods, reels, hats, shirts, lures, line and Florida Sportsman material. It would immediately put a spark in any fisherman’s heart as they walked in.
For those that do not own a kayak, they have a great setup where anyone can rent, easily enter their kayak, load up their gear, and make their way down a relaxing and windy waterway. Fishermen can catch a wide variety of species in the brackish water there, and leave the cleaning and storage of the boat to the crew of E.R.O.is a plus.
My experience with Paula over the phone showed that a local company is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to properly serve their customers to bring them the best experience possible. That is what I look for when dealing with a company, and even though they may be a three plus hour drive across state, it will be well worth a road trip in the future to stock up on future needs.
Now to actually get out on the water and give my new baby a soak in some salt water; just going behind my house for some bass won’t cut it.