Josiah Pleasant, The Adventure Angler

Location: Searcy, Arkansas

  • Model paddled: AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak.
  • Water that he paddles: Lakes, Bays and Estuaries, and Slow moving rivers.
  • What he uses his yaks for: Kayak Angling and Adventure Travel.
Josiah’s passion for kayak and wilderness fishing as family time, lifestyle fitness, team building, and time for personal reflection and contemplation is a part of his DNA. He does not feel whole if he is not on the water fishing at least once a week, keeping the same unbridled joy for kayak/wilderness fishing as when his dad put his first rod in his hand as a toddler.

His life having been shaped by salmon and trout fishing, he began kayak and SUP fishing as a way to more deeply connect with his passion for nature in a sustainable way. His applied understanding of downstream economic development, community development, purposefulness, and adventure have been formed in part through his experiences with friends and family on a kayak and with a rod in hand and pristine water before him. During his childhood, he watched as Washington’s salmon runs collapsed under “business as usual” and an underlying goal in his career has been to be a part of both lasting restoration and conservation of the natural gifts people have been blessed with. His background in tourism development, economic development, and teaching has shaped his world-view in a way that guides him to strive to meet people where they are at when it comes to conservation; translating the complex realities of human impact on the ecosystems they rely on with the goal of bringing about positive change.

As a guide and instructor, he knows what it means to depend on pristine natural resources for income, recreation, and family meals. He has the experience and passion to show that economic development can be achieved in rhythm with our natural resources. After decades of exploration, with a rod in hand, he does not take for granted the fact that his formational fishing experiences have taken place in some of the most pristine rivers, lakes, and fjords on the planet. He is passionate about the preservation of this reality and the conservation of the resources that truly set wilderness apart as an enlivening experience in one’s life. He is passionately committed to bringing innovative and creative solutions to the table to create awareness, engage in partnership, and ensure that generations to come will be able to enjoy the experiences and abundance he has been blessed by.

Favorite AE Story:
There is a storm raging outside. 120+ mph winds and torrential rains have flooded the rivers and the previously turquoise lake is producing surging grey waves that remind me of salmon fishing in between PNW squalls my dad taught me to confidently respect as harbingers of life and death.

Internally, my body is still recovering from a storm that I did not expect and couldn’t see coming. Whether we anticipate them or not, storms, and our reaction to them, define our path in life. The beauty of a storm is that it reveals our foundation. If we are founded in relationships and purpose that endures, we can face storms with confidence. Through a lifetime of backcountry fishing, I have learned to train, plan, and anticipate by selecting and trusting only the gear that has proven trustworthy, especially in storms. So it is with life.

Storms enhance our gratitude. When I was younger I didn’t appreciate shelter, warmth, and sustenance as much as I do now. It isn’t that I was ungrateful, I have faced death before and learned what the grip of hypothermia feels like in my youth, however, my gratitude for being able to enjoy the journey during and after the storm has grown. Sharing my journey with you now, with a cup of hot tea heated on a crackling wood stove in a rustic backcountry hut, means more to me now than ever before.

The sound of screaming drag is one that warms the heart of anyone who loves to fish, but my first trophy brown after multiple surgeries and months of recovery will always denote a step forward in my reaction to storms. Months earlier, after enjoying a maiden voyage with the Kayak Fish Magazine team on the Little Red River for their “My Backyard Adventure” segment, I was blessed with another opportunity to develop a New Zealand feature with them and, a few weeks later, I hooked the largest brown trout I have ever seen, going for an unplanned cold-water chase in fast current that left me hungry for another opportunity. Three days after that fish, I was rushed to the ER for emergency surgery that has enhanced my commitment to living life to the fullest. New Zealand fishing buddy Marty Fraser and the Kayak Fish Mag team were among the first I contacted when I regained consciousness. The thought of missing an opportunity at inspiring moments in pristine backcountry with friends instantly inspired me to do everything I could to physically recover.

Once in New Zealand, after two months of intense recovery and pushing back my originally planned trip, the emotion of seeing a beautiful 8lb green-tinted Salmo Trutta turn and dive into clear turquoise water surged through my body. I was overcome with gratitude for the purposefulness of being able to live out this moment, and hopefully many more to come, with friends that are like family.

On the first day of my return to backcountry fishing, I crossed one of the deepest lakes on earth in my AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak. With my trusted gear in stow, I set out across pristine waters and a series of islands that, to Marty’s extensive knowledge, had never before been crossed in an inflatable.

Having learned about trout and salmon habitat and behavior throughout my life, I knew the access provided from a kayak would open up new opportunities in places that have already provided epic experiences. Sure enough, gaining expedient and stealthy access to one of my favorite freshwater estuaries on earth proved to be a new element in my journey. Aside from burning arms, thanks to intense New Zealand sun and paddling with recovery-tender skin, my nautical voyage was perfect. My kayak handled 6’+ waves with surprising tracking ability. My reward for the crossing: trophy brown trout, salmon, and rainbow trout awaited me at multiple remote destinations.

After crossing the lake via kayak to gain access to new fishing opportunities, I met up with my crew to hike into the backcountry. I happily climbed the foothills and first ridges of the Southern Alps, anticipating the joy of sharing a view of, and perhaps even interaction with, trophy trout I had the opportunity catch on the fly on three separate occasions. I particularly looked forward to seeing a 12lb king of a brown trout, now regarded as an old friend, that I had caught twice before. As we gained elevation, it became clear that months of drought had taken its toll on trout that had long ago fled for deeper, cooler water. How apropos that I am writing to you now, sheltered in the backcountry from an epic storm, in anticipation of how this very storm will bring trout up from the depths. There is always good that can come from storms, always a reason for surging waters.

Being from the mountains of Colorado and the PNW, and married to a Montana girl, my wife and I have worked all of our lives to more fully experience the beauty of a life lived on purpose. My increasing understanding of the fleeting nature of this life has only reinforced our mutual commitment to taking intentional time to share with each other, and our friends, in places that inspire us to grow, reach deeper, and go further. The fact that my personal storm has taken place before this trip and a series of backcountry trips in Washington, Wales, Nepal, Ireland, and Scotland makes me evermore grateful to share the joy of the journey.

Once the storm showed signs of passing, I was stoked to see what new world was created and the impact the storm had on the trophy trout that have called me back to this epic place.