By Neil Taylor
Capmel.com and owner of Strikethreekayakfishing.com
Those plastic boats people used to make fun of are not what you may be thinking of when you hear the word K A Y A K. Why? What was once considered a poor man’s way of getting unneeded exercise is now an accepted segment of the fishing community. People hear the word kayak and an image comes to mind. Enclosed, wobbly and uncomfortable that mental image of the “kayak” is simply not the reality any longer. In most contemporary kayaks, but in particular in the fishing kayaks the boats are designed for stability and comfort.
Why would you possibly like the kayak over other boating options? The reasons are numerous. While it is not for everyone, the option is much different than it was ten years ago. To me, it comes down to these items: Independence, success and comfort. Being in your own kayak is liberating. It is better than having to look over your shoulder all day long. The kayak is the very best way to get close to fish that have no idea that you are there. A fishing kayak is 1000% more comfortable now than a decade ago.
For the past eight or nine years, the most rapidly growing segment of the fishing industry is in the “paddle” realm, with kayaks as the vessel of choice for the anglers all over the country. The casual observer has noticed these watercraft passing them on the streets, strapped down to the roof of vehicles much more often than in the past. Why the surge and growth in interest in kayak fishing? One is base economics. Kayaks are the no-maintenance, low-cost option for fishing fresh or inshore waters. Once you have your kayak there is no other costs with the boat, just what you spend in fishing gear. In a kayak you can access shallow waters that other boats can’t.
A majority of the kayak action inshore: There are options for “offshore” fishing kayaks as well. It is a one-time investment in the kayak, a craft with long lasting durability “and more.” If you decide to get out of kayak fishing or change to another boat, resale value of these boats is decent. They scratch but they do not wear out. You can usually retrieve 60% of your investment if you sell your fishing kayak.
Aside from the economics the next question is: Is this for me? The “and more” has everything to do with kayak manufacturers efforts to build kayaks that have added stability and noteworthy comfort. The “tippy” kayaks are an item of the past. “I’ll fall out”, is an issue from the past (See Myths About Kayaks, http://www.capmel.com/myths-about-fishing-kayaks/ ). The wide beam and overall design minimizes the chances of flipping over and keeps you (and your gear) out of the water. The rest of the layout of all the boats offered by the major manufacturers, geared toward fishing.
The comfort factor is another aspect built into today’s fishing kayak. Sitting in a kayak now versus a decade ago translates to “unlikely” for an appointment with your physical therapist. Take the Native watercraft line of boats: The first class seat in the Ultimate was matched by no one else in the industry for a few years. The other companies had to adjust and make better seats. Ideal seat-back height and ergonomic support throughout means that the seat itself is perfect for everyone, even those with “back problems”. The rest of the layout: Open, not enclosed and plenty of “shift around” room for comfort during periods of extensive “in boat” time.
There are distinct advantages for using kayaks: Access to shallow waters unreachable by a power boat, the “low profile” in approaching fish and the “stealth factor.” There is no quieter way to approach skittish gamefish than the fishing kayak. Kayak anglers get much closer to the fish without spooking them because their craft quietly glides into range and is just above water level.
Only “user error” would alert the fish to the presence of the stealthy angler. I call it “unnecessary noise.” If you do it right, no fish you are approaching has any idea that you are even there. Take a look around: The kayak anglers are connecting with incredible fish because of this obvious advantage.
You are so low to the water, you will not be seen by the fish. The kayak, so quiet in the water, you have the very best way to approach fish than any other possible option.
The Convenience Factor
There is zero setup time. You get your boat on the ground, you put you gear in it. You are on your way. Breakdown is similar: There is no maintenance needed at the end of a trip.
Launch locations are abundant for kayakers at a time when boat ramps and other access points for conventional boats are disappearing. Public locations with access to the water is a usable launch point. Included in the convenience factor, “setup and breakdown time”. Kayak anglers are noted for fishing more often than other fishermen. One can get out for a short period of time, and doesn’t have the extensive maintenance work on their kayaks before or after the outing, than the other boat users.
A properly equipped kayak has the anchor trolley system, a paddle clip or leash, rod holders, a life vest and a whistle. The trolley is important for positioning the boat by having the anchor coming off various angles of the kayak. The paddle clip or leash allows you to stow the paddle during “fishing time” and prevents the loss of that vital piece of equipment. Separation from your paddle, probably one of the only real predicaments you can get yourself in. While in the kayak the odds of losing your paddle are pretty low. Anytime you are exiting the kayak SECURE YOUR PADDLE. The vest and whistle are required safety equipment for the kayak.
Multiple rod holders utilizing an “organizer” crate allows for a selection of fishing rods equipped with lures for different situations, eliminating wasted time changing lures. The crate can contain all the extras that could possibly be needed during the duration of a fishing trip. An ideal organizer, this too leads to more time fishing and all the tools-of-the-trade needed for safety and success. The crate is the way to make setup and breakdown easy and fast.
If you’re thinking about a kayak for fishing, give it a try. With everything I use for kayak fishing charters, it’s for a specific reason. Decide for yourself and look at the options but Native Watercraft provides the best of everything I need for my business and for my personal use.
Making the decision, getting into the sport. The most important factors:
Can I store it?
Can I carry it myself?
Can I transport it easily?
The #1 reason I have used the Native Ultimate the past nine years, it is easy to lift. A redesign making the boat almost 20 pounds heavier was a huge disappointment. New influence has that company making the original boat again. Whatever you get, think about it before you buy. You want to be able to handle the boat on and off the water. People who have a pickup truck or trailer have wide open options. People with other vehicles it becomes more of a decision. There are great roof racks and load assisters available.
Using a kayak to enjoy the water and to pursue fish is one of the most pleasant ways to spend your time. People are a little timid when they start to think about it. That anxiety can be relieved in a number of ways.
Hire a guide- Get a comprehensive course in paddling, rigging, casting, using lures effectively and the small things you wouldn’t think of on your own. One such example is tips on fighting a fish from a seated position. Many do-it-yourself folks end up spending more money on servicing their rods and reels than they would have spent learning the right way from day 1. Another example are the tips you get on “approaching” the fish and the “setup” for fishing an area. Eleven years of teaching people these skills: I have made the transition simple for thousands of people.
You should never be in a predicament if you make good decisions. Prerequisites, life vest, signal (whistle, mirror, flashlight, horn) are required items. Attach a whistle to your vest and you are legal for Florida waters for daytime trips when you throw that vest on your boat. Nighttime signaling devices, any kind of a flashlight and/or headlamp. Other items that are good to have “in the crate”, First Aid (Neosporin, bandages, peroxide, an Epipen),
Weather: Enlist a “weather watcher” and have a “plan” on where you will go if you get cut off from your launch location by an approaching storm. Most phone now have weather aps that can allow you to watch the weather on your own. For every location you go, you should have your Safe Spots predetermined. If a storm pops up on you, it is much better to sit it out in a safe location than to try to race a storm through open waters.
Kayak fishing is here to stay. New people getting into it every day, it is easy on the environment, easy on you and definitely the most efficient way I have ever found to quietly get very close to the fish you want to catch.
Neil Taylor charters kayak fishing trips (www.strikethreekayakfishing.com) and can be reached at (727) 692-6345 or firstname.lastname@example.org