Fishing Kayaks
Steven Crooks, Owner, WaterDog Outfitters

Early Beginnings

Having a passion for the outdoors was always part of my genetics. To say it was bred into me would be an understatement. My father, and father's father were both passionate outdoorsmen. Being taught early on how to canoe, camp and fish, I've grown up with nature running through my very soul. I still remember being roughly 6 years old, watching my father catch salmon on the Ocqueoc river in northeastern Michigan. Their massive surges as the drag screamed for mercy on the Zebco 303. Then, from river to table, the salmon patties my grandmother would serve as we all partook in the feast.

As I got older and the pressures of everyday adulting stacked up, I continually asked myself what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being a desk jockey working the typical 8-6 behind the computer screen, I felt an overwhelming urge that I was meant for something else. I put out a few feelers and started the process to start something new.

Up and Running

Renting a small retail space inside what was then known as the Moxie Marine facility, in 2013 I started a rental business called White Lake Excursions. We rented kayaks, bikes and paddle boards. Within that very season, the requests mounted as customers continually asked if we were selling those very items. Transitioning from a rental establishment to a retail store, in 2015 we changed our name to WaterDog Outfitters (WaterDog, a nickname my grandmother used to give me as she found it impossible to pull me out of the river). Quickly becoming White Lakes premier paddle sports shops, we also decided to assist the two-wheeled customer base that toured the Hart/Montague trail and hired a bike mechanic and added bike sales and service.

2018 became the year WaterDog Outfitters found the Michigan Kayak Trail, a premium kayak bass fishing league that sported some of the state's best bass fishermen and women. We sponsored our first kayak fishing event and my passion for kayaking and fishing were reunited!! In 2019 I fished the entire MKT series, qualified for the state event, won Rookie of the Year and qualified for the Kayak Bass Fishing Nationals in 2020.

WaterDog Outfitters
WaterDog Outfitters

WaterDog Today

Alongside the growth of my recreational passions, the product lines at WaterDog have also grown in that short time. Offering a huge assortment of recreational and fishing kayaks, WaterDog Outfitters has quickly become West Michigan's premier kayak fishing destination. With almost a dozen different kayak manufacturers from Old Town to Pelican, we can outfit you in perfect fishing or recreational vessel. As always "Try It Before You Buy It". WE INSIST!  We also have an extensive offering of kayak accessories to completely rig your fishing vessel or recreational watercraft. An amazing bike and bike accessory line including Magnum E-bike!! We also carry camping gear, disc golf items and accessories, Reef sandals, Kavu bags, Hydroflask, Natural Life, Grand Trunk and many many more. We also carry an extensive apparel line with many WaterDog branded items including hoodies, UV sun shirts, sweatpants and more.

So, in short, to say that owning my very own outdoor business is a natural fit would be somewhat of an understatement. It has been in my blood my entire life and makes each and every day such a wonderful day to go to work as my passions have melded together to form the ultimate outdoor store. So, if you're ever in the White Lake area in West Michigan, swing on in and say hello. I'd love to meet you.