ProStaffer of the Month: Jim Russell
Aqua-Bound’s ProStaffer of the Month for August 2018 is Jim Russell. Jim’s specialty is ocean fishing offshore near his northern California home, especially diving. Let’s meet him…
AB: How did you get started in kayak fishing/diving? What do you love about it?
JIM: I grew up fishing the offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico with my Dad and started diving at the age of 15. I’ve been hooked on kayak fishing/diving since the first time I tried it here in California.
I love the adventure of paddling out in my kayak and diving off it to see what kinds of fish and other critters I can find. Monterey Bay is literally in my back yard. I also like exploring up and down the coast from Big Sur to Humboldt County.
Kayaking allows me to get to reefs and areas that would otherwise be inaccessible due to the rugged coastline and lack of ocean access.
I also REALLY enjoy sharing the fish I bring home with family and friends. Cooking for people who have never had FRESH fish before is something I really enjoy. I hardly ever freeze fish and prefer to have people over to eat with my family. :)
AB: Do you give back to the fishing community? How?
JIM: I helped start the NorCal Kayak Angler’s (NCKA) “Pay It Forward” efforts. Pay It Forward (PIF) raises money throughout the year in a variety of ways to help NCKA members dealing with cancer, serious illness or tragedy. Since 2010 we’ve raised and donated well over $100,000.
I also helped start the NCKA’s Diver of the Year (DOTY) competition in 2012. DOTY was the first online competition of its kind. DOTY competitors must take and enter pics of length of various species of fish, and they get different points per inch for each species. The diver with the most points at the end of the year wins.
DOTY pushes divers to learn about and successfully harvest the different species found here in Northern California.
I helped coordinate DOTY from 2012 through 2017. I stepped down at the beginning of this year to allow other divers the chance to run the competition.
AB: Are you involved in your local fishing scene? How?
JIM: I post videos, pictures and reports on a variety of websites and social media and regularly interact with a large group of divers, kayakers and anglers. I’ve organized two competitions that pitted free-dive spear fisherman against kayak anglers.
AB: Is there a local Aqua-Bound dealer you help out?
JIM: I’m good friends with Dave and Jess Grigsby, who own Kayak Connection with locations in Santa Cruz and Moss Landing. Both locations stock and sell Aqua-Bound products. They’re a GREAT resource for the local paddling community and support a lot of our competitions and fundraising events.
AB: Do you introduce new anglers to kayak fishing/diving? How?
JIM: I take out new divers I meet through NCKA. I’ve done informative articles and podcasts that provide basic information on hunting different kinds of fish here in Northern California (here’s a podcast interview with Jim).
I’ve also presented at the International Sportsmens Expo (ISE) on kayak diving.
AB: Do you work with any specific groups in fishing/diving (veterans, youth, families, etc.)? How?
JIM: I’ve volunteered with the NorCal Heroes On The Water chapter. And I’ll always go out of my way to help a veteran or a young person who’s interested in getting on or in the water.
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