Where To Begin?Where To Begin? You finally decided that this is the year you start fishing from a kayak. Where do you begin? Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.
By Garett VanWie
You finally decided that this is the year you start fishing from a kayak. Where do you begin? Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.
Since most individuals reading this are already fishermen or fisherwomen, I will focus solely on the kayak and gear needed to make kayak fishing comfortable and successful.
When you decide to start kayaking you really need to do some research. Find out what your wants and needs are concerning your new boat and focus on meeting those. Many anglers are somehow connected to a certain kayak brand – either through some sort of pro staff position or by pure love of the brand. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM! They will lead you to a purchase that makes them happy and not you. Yes, some of the information they give you will be sound advice, but if you are talking to Brand X pro staff member, he or she will only discuss positive things about the brand being represented. Some may include negatives about competing brands. I have seen too many people fall for this trap, including myself. This is usually why the first kayak you buy is just temporary. After you paddle your first kayak for a season or two you will discover what you really want in your next purchase.
So how do you avoid buying a kayak not suited to your needs? By putting your butt in a boat and paddling it. Only purchase from retailers that will let you try a boat out for an extended period, not just a few minutes. If you are able to, bring some fishing gear and see how the boat fits your style. Paddle it, stand in it, get in and out of it. If it is warm summer day try tipping it over. These are all things you will be faced with while fishing, and you have to be comfortable doing each of these.
DO NOT GO CHEAP! This does not mean you have to spend an arm and a leg to get a good boat, but you will need to set aside a fair amount of money. A quality boat can be expensive, so if you are not financially able to afford a new high end boat, do not give up. Check with your local retailers about demo boats they have for sale, or keep your eyes open for a good deal on a used boat. To some people buying a kayak is addictive. They will purchase a new boat every year and let their old boat go for a steal. This is where you step in and take it off their hands. The only set back to this is you will have to have money set back and ready to go the moment you find a seller.
The next item to consider is the paddle. This is where most people screw up. They just spent $2,000 on a new boat. This is not the time to save money. You bought a nice, high end kayak, now you need a quality paddle to move it. As kayakers “We” are the motors for the boat, but the paddle is the transmission.
Expect to spend over $200 on a good high end paddle. NO THAT IS NOT EXPENSIVE. Replacing a broken $50 paddle ten times is expensive, and very frustrating.
Unfortunately used paddles are hard to come by. The reason is because a really good paddle will last you a long time as long as you do not abuse it.
The next, and most important, purchase is a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or otherwise known as a life jacket. The only rule I go by in regards to PFDs is comfort. An uncomfortable PFD will not be worn, and then just becomes useless. My PFD is comfortable and has several pockets for extra gear. It is bulky and hot however, but in the middle of August when its 110 degrees you are going to be hot regardless. Just wear it .
Most of my friends who kayak fish love to brag about how the fish gave them a “sleigh ride”, and that it was a monster. I am from Missouri, The Show Me State, I always tell them to “Prove it”. A good camera will not only be able to validate your story but can come in handy when the sun is setting on the lake and casting a beautiful hue of orange and red in the sky, or when momma deer brings her two fawns to the lake to drink.
A good measuring device is also a must have while kayak fishing. Since most kayak fishing tournaments are Catch Photo Release (CPR) events, a measuring device is required. I do not like pushing certain brands of products on people, but about the only measuring device that is accepted at most major kayak tournaments is the Hawg Trough. You might as well go ahead and purchase a Hawg Trough and start practicing taking pictures.
Kayak fishing tournaments are a great way to get involved in the sport. The people are usually very nice and share your passion of the outdoors. The tournaments will mostly be CPR tournaments where you take a photo of the fish on the measuring board and then there will be a length in at the end of the tournament. However some tournaments are being held where you have to use your phone to take the picture and then upload the picture while the tournament is in progress. I enjoy fishing both, but if you plan on using your phone to take the pictures do yourself a favor and buy a waterproof case. I have witnessed phones going for a swim before and it doesn’t end well for the phone. Buy a quality case and purchase insurance for the phone. It is worth it, TRUST ME.
You are now ready to get on the water. There are an almost endless number of items you can add to your kayak. You can customize it until you are happy with it, or until you trade it in on your next new boat. Happy fishing.
Garett VanWie is the president of the Kayak Bass Anglers of Central Arkansas, member of the Kayak Bass Anglers of East Arkansas Counsel, a Razoryak Tournament Trail Representative, and on the Goldens Baits Pro Staff.
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