Q&A with Jay Tye

Editor’s note: Nancy Cox is the founder of Research Story Consulting and former CPG corporate researcher. Her work and play include words, sketchpads, cooking (not baking) and the occasional sock puppet.

Passions, hobbies, healthy distractions and even guilty pleasures – discover how the research community plays and how that plays out in their work life. In the Venn diagram of work and play, what happens when work and play overlap? Research colleagues share their work and play stories in this interview series by Nancy Cox. 

Hello to Jay Tye, MR Alumnus

What is the “play” in your life?

Fishing is my lifelong passion. I grew up fishing off the coast in Clearwater Beach, Florida. On my way home from school, my buddies and I would get bait, drop our books off at home then go straight to the pier – catching enough fish that at home we’d have fish for an entire month. When I moved to Austin in 2020, I thought, “OK, I’m landlocked but surely there are some places to go fishing?” I decided to try freshwater fishing, which is a different animal. Freshwater fishing is more of a game as bass, for example, are very tricky to catch. Whereas in the ocean, you’re practically reeling fish up as soon as you drop bait.

I got my fishing gear, mapped out the lakes and then as I started showing up at fishing spots, I saw people out on the lake in their kayaks. And they’re fishing! They’re sitting up on a chair on the kayak, switching rods or having two rods going at once, eating their breakfast tacos, going anywhere on the lake they want.

I started conversing with the kayakers and I learned these are kayaks specifically built for fishing. Not a kayak where you slide your legs into a compartment. The chair, the rod holders are all built into the kayak. Also, these kayaks are a little bit wider at the bottom so you’re less likely to roll. You can stand up in a fishing kayak when you need the leverage to reel in a big fish. Yes, you can still fall off if you lean too far over – the key is to keep your head inside the space of the kayak.

After I bought my fishing kayak, it was a total game changer. I take my Bluetooth speaker, my lunch or breakfast. It’s very relaxing. If fish aren’t biting in one area, you just paddle over to another area. You also get a workout. The workout starts with loading and unloading the kayak because fishing kayaks are heavier than regular kayaks. There’s more stuff on them. The paddling is definitely a workout as you may paddle all the way across the lake. Then you have to paddle it all the way back to the loading ramp. Some lakes in Texas are the size of 10 football fields. 

How has your play influenced your research work?

Research and kayak fishing share a sense of discovery. Both present uncharted territories, challenges and the sweet satisfaction of a job well done. There’s also a sense of adventure. I look at every research project as a new adventure. The adventure of learning along the way. Oftentimes, you’re avoiding obstacles in kayaking; you might get stuck in seagrass and have to navigate your way out. Same in research – do you find a way around; do you navigate through an obstacle? Also, the success of bringing in a new client or delivering well on a project is equal to the success of reeling in a fish. 

My work habit is that I’m caffeinated and at my desk by 4 a.m. when I do my deep work that requires heavy focus or taps into the creative side of my brain. Since being up freakishly early is my habit, I use my work habit to fish in the Texas summer heat. I’m on the water by 5 a.m. then done by 10 or 11 a.m.  Kayak fishing is so relaxing. One cool thing is that even if the fish aren't biting that particular day, I still reel in a fresh idea or solution so it's always a win! The calm of the morning. The calm of the water. The quietness. Ideas come that might not have otherwise. In the tranquility, ideas flow more freely – suddenly there’s an idea to try at work on Monday.

I create songs as another hobby-business, and I will listen to my music while fishing to hear how I might tweak things. My music hobby then actually pays for my other hobbies. My album sales and my royalties go right into my other hobbies like kayak fishing.

What would you tell readers who want to know more about your area of play?

If you love being out on the water, fishing and getting some exercise – give kayak fishing a shot! Anywhere there is fishing, kayak fishing is a thing. And it’s not limited to freshwater. In California, the Pacific Northwest and even Hawaii, there’s a lot of saltwater kayak fishing. The kayak fishing community is a good mix of men, women, young, old. You don’t have to hulk a kayak over your shoulder to carry it to the water, there’s a little trolley so you can slide your kayak onto that and roll it to the loading dock or ramp. I watched a video of an 80-something woman demonstrate how she loads her kayak. On YouTube, you’ll see everything you need to learn. #KayakFishing is a thing plus there is a very active subreddit. People are very sharing in the kayak fishing community. 

Don’t rent a regular kayak to try fishing. You will tip over! Don’t buy the cheapest gear – you’re out on the water and you want to be safe. Buy a quality kayak and rods, after that it’s not an expensive hobby as everything else is cheap – lures, fishing string, fishing weights.

Do get a good anchor. On the kayak, your body acts like a sail catching all the wind gusts – there are a lot of wind gusts in Texas. I learned this very quickly after being pushed around and getting exhausted constantly paddling back to the good fishing spot. 

One more thing – early morning. Boaters using engines don’t usually arrive until later, so you’ll avoid wakes. Also, early in the morning, the lake is quiet and sound travels over water, so you can have a conversation with fellow kayakers. There’ll be five or six of us, 50 yards apart, drinking our coffee and talking about what lures we’re using, what we caught last weekend, what’s the latest gear. Sometimes during the week, I go out in the morning to fish, come home, shower and am at my computer before everyone else is starting their day. I’ve had my workout, conversation, meditation, got a new idea for work and if I caught a fish, especially trout, I have dinner!

Fish8 5[1]
Img_3490 4
Fish8 5[1]
Img_3490 4