Rats scurry through the places where Ocean Kayak pro Kwanza Henderson grew up. There, in the poverty-stricken, drug-riddled Miami neighborhood called Liberty City, a young man found a love of fishing.
“There’s no expectations when I’m out there,” Henderson tells. “There’s no politics, no TV … It’s just me at one with nature.”
Images of Henderson flash across the screen as personal journey is chronicled online by Yaktastic Adventures, a kayak fishing-focused filmography group, in their latest feature, We Yak Too. There is Henderson paddling through a Biscayne Bay sunset, hauling in sailfish and grappling with bonito: surreal settings that every kayak angler dreams of.
But Kwanza Henderson’s life wasn’t always so peaceful.
Liberty City is the kind of place that, despite being so close to so much prime fishing water, can seem a million miles away from nature. It’s the kind of neighborhood where a walk to the corner store can get you in trouble, where a win or loss at a Friday night football game can win you a fortune or land you in the emergency room. It’s the kind of place where five-member families living in single bedroom apartments—like Henderson’s—are not out of place.
Liberty City is the kind of place that you try to get out of. And, it’s the kind of place where you can catch a fish. And not necessarily in the nearby Atlantic. A canal or apartment complex lake will suffice. But if you’re lucky, Liberty City becomes the kind of place where catching a fish can get you out.
Henderson can take you to the place, to the exact spot on the exact lake where his life changed forever. And he does just that in We Yak Too, a must-watch for any angler who loves to ‘yak.
“The way we thought about getting out of the ‘hood was either football or basketball or things of that nature,” Henderson tells filmmakers. “We never thought about other things like fishing or maybe getting a scholarship through academics.”
But fishing did get him out. And academics led him towards a career in pharmacy—away from those early, cramped apartment complexes. Fishing took Henderson from a young boy following his father’s fishing pole along the bank, to a grown man paying homage to his father far out at sea in the latest and greatest boats from Ocean Kayak, like the Prowler Big Game II and Trident Series.
“When I’m fishing,” he tells filmmakers, “That is the time I get to really spend with my father…it’s like he never left.”
We Yak Too can be found in its entirety on the Yaktastic Adventures Vimeo page. The story was made possible by Johnson Outdoors, Ocean Kayak, Old Town Canoes & Kayaks, Columbia Sportswear, Rat-L-Trap, South River Outfitters and Yaktastic Adventures.
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