Rock/Creek Outfitters has been involved in promoting events that encourage its customers to get out and use the products for sale at the company's retail stores.
The Rock/Creek Trail Running Series has been around for several years and has grown into a nationally acclaimed series of events in the trail-running community. The store has also been involved in climbing, sport paddling and other outdoor events to promote healthy living and adventure.
But this weekend, Rock/Creek will enter a new segment of outdoor competition as host and sponsor of the Chattanooga stop of River Bassin Kayak Fishing Trail. The kayak fishing tournament series is sponsored by Sparta, Tenn.-based Jackson Kayaks and features 33 events from Texas to New York.
Saturday's tournament in Chattanooga will be run out of the Rock/Creek Paddlesports store at 1530 Riverside Drive, with competitors fishing on the Tennessee River beginning in the morning until check-in at 3:30 p.m. for the awards ceremony back at Rock/Creek. Anglers must fish in the river and within two hours of the Rock/Creek Paddlesports store.
"[Hosting the tournament] came from our customers wanting it and asking about and one of our vendors, Jackson Kayak, ... are one of the primary sponsors and they came to us and asked if we'd be interested," said Rock/Creek marketing director Mark McKnight. "We've recently gotten into tenkara, which is a super light weight Japanese flyfishing method. We're just seeing interest growing across the industry."
McKnight said he expects 40 to 50 anglers to compete Saturday, and registration remains open online at www.riverbassintrail.com or at the pre-tournament meeting 8 p.m. Friday at the Rock/Creek Paddlesports store.
"So far it's been a pretty painless process. Jackson Kayak has really done a great job of getting a lot of other cool sponsors involved," McKnight said. "We have Subaru, GoPro and some smaller guys, too, who have put up some serious money -- we have over $1,000 in gift cards and products that people will be competing for.
"I've been surprised with how much a response we've had. As soon as we announced it, we had a lot of comments on social media, and people have been stopping by the shop to ask questions in person. I'm pretty impressed with it."
The tournament is limited to human-powered fishing craft, and winners will be determined by overall length of the top three fish caught rather than weight. Anglers submit their catches by sending photos back to team officials before releasing the fish. There are individual, team and youth divisions as well as special prizes for first catch, big bass, top female angler and the GoPro "Be a (photo) hero" shot of the tournament.
McKnight said that Rock/Creek hopes Saturday's tournament will lead to other events the company can be involved in that are outside of its normal range of events while still remaining true to the culture of the Rock/Creek customer base.
"It's important to always be feeling out new areas that are complimentary," he said. "I don't think you'll be seeing us doing a big powerboat fishing tournament, but this is a great fit for us because it is that human-powered element and the sense of getting out.
"Paddle sports has been a big part of our business since day one, so it's a great fit for us."
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