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Joe Boula: Slayin’ New Jersey

Joe Boula (@bassin_nj on Instagram) has pretty much lived his whole life in New Jersey.

“Technically, I was born out of state,” he says. “But I don’t know anything but New Jersey.”

From his hometown of Edison, Joe runs the New Jersey Trail for Slay Nation Tournament Fishing, a tournament dedicated to people who fish from small, non-motorized vessels, like canoes, kayaks, and jon boats. Slay Nation will be hosting its first full year of tournaments in 2019, and Joe is excited to be a part of it — especially since he’s just rediscovered the joys of fishing, himself.

“I used to fish as a kid a lot,” Joe says. “When I was thirteen, I got hit by a car and ended up sitting around in a cast for three months, playing video games. And I didn’t really get back into fishing.”

But it’s never too late to rekindle a passion.

“I had been talking about getting back into it for years,” he says. “And then my father sent me a picture of me when I was like ten. I was at a car show, and I wasn’t paying attention, I just kind of walked in front of a guy taking pictures for the local newspaper — up in Massachusetts somewhere — and he took a picture of me fishing in front of a car. And they put it in the paper.”

Seeing that picture was the motivation that adult Joe needed.

“When my dad sent me that picture, I was like ‘I’m doing it — I’m going to buy a fishing pole,'” he says. “I’d been talking about it for years, putting it off, putting it off, forgetting about it. Then spring came around, I was like, ‘I still haven’t done anything.'”

Finally, Joe pulled the trigger.

“I picked it up again just this past October,” he says. “Right before the winter hit.”

Initially, he was just doing it for the fun and nostalgia. But an off-handed joke turned it into a challenge.

“I said to my son and wife, ‘Wouldn’t it be real cool if I could get paid to fish and just quit work?’ And my son laughed at me,” Joe says. “I asked him, ‘What’s so funny?’ and he said, ‘You can’t do that!'”

Joe rose to the challenge.

“I said, ‘Watch this!’” he says. “I got serious. I started a dedicated fishing page and started trying to get some sponsors. But then the guys from Slay Nation approached me and asked if I wanted to run the tournament in New Jersey. And I said, ‘Yeah, sure, why not?’”

He’s already got it planned for the year.

“We’ve got six or seven events total planned,” Joe says. “April may be a little tough, but that lake specifically should be good for the first event.”

A busy realtor, Joe manages to balance time between his work, fishing and his family.

“My son is interested in fishing, now, but I’m not sure if he’ll do tournaments with me,” he says.

As for what it feels like to be fishing again?

“It’s just like riding a bike, you know?” Joe says.

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