For as long as she can remember, Kayla Lockhart has always been drawn to the water. Born and raised in Minnesota, she was the only one of seven sisters to gravitate towards the hunting and fishing her dad loved. “I didn’t have the easiest childhood, and I would use the outdoors as a tool for healing,” she says. “When things were tough, I would seek out water and walk to the lake. Luckily, in Minnesota there’s always a lake nearby.”
A committed angler, Kayla is constantly on the move in search of new water and new challenges. In 2019, she got a lot of both. “Last year I experienced some intense highs, and some serious lows,” she says. “I got married, fished incredible water in Colombia, and caught my Holy Grail of fish in Mexico. But I was also in a serious car accident and went through some really down days. Now I’m looking forward to a slightly less crazy year.” Knowing her, it may be less crazy, but probably not less busy.
A Year of Gear
Going through a few vehicles in one year, Kayla definitely put her Yakima set-up to the test with her on-the-road lifestyle. “We road trip every year to Jackson, WY, and last year on the way home our brand-new van broke down—like all the way broke. We had to buy a new van to get home,” she says. “Then a few months later, we were hit by another driver and that van was totaled.” Luckily, the van suffered the worst of the accident.
“Honestly, I was dreading the transfer of our rack system,” recalls Kayla, “But it was so easy! We just unlocked the racks and switched it all over to the new vehicle.” Kayla uses a combo of a SkyBox 16, SlimShady Awning, and LoadWarrior cargo basket to carry her gear and keep her camp dialed, but she’s most fired up about her newest Yakima addition: the DoubleHaul. “I’m super excited about the DoubleHaul rod carrier!” says Kayla. “It’s so nice to be on the river and when you’re ready to check out a new spot, just slide your rod in and move on.”
Fishing Line = Lifeline
There’s plenty on the list for her in 2020, including another trip to Mexico, but it’s a project closer to home that she’s really excited about. “In the summer of 2020 I’ll be helping launch the Portland, OR chapter of the Mayfly Project,” Kayla says. Founded in 2015 in Arkansas, The Mayfly Project is a non-profit organization that uses fly fishing as a catalyst to mentor children in foster care and give them tools to manage their mental and emotional health. “I grew up as a foster child, with some challenging family circumstances,” says Kayla. “I didn’t start fly fishing until I was in my 20s, and I fully believe if I’d discovered it when I was 10, it would have helped so much.”
Kayla knows firsthand the positive impact of holding a rod, and the power of community to help people navigate challenges, both of which have guided her to a life connected to the water. And she’s committed to expanding that community, to help protect the outdoors she loves. “The more people fly fishing and caring about the waters, the more people who can give a voice to the fight to protect our watersheds and our natural resources,” she says. Spoken like someone who knows how to read the water.