Ever since putting the flats boat on the market I’ve been trying to figure out how I was going to get back on the water without spending an absolute fortune. I’d sort of figured a canoe or kayak was going to be the solution but I was a little apprehensive about trying to rig one out the way I needed it.
Well, I finally added a kayak to the arsenal and just one trip on the water has proven once again that I tend to be a better fisherman when I can’t just pick up and move to another location at 40 MPH. Kayaks and canoes force me to be more patient and methodical about how I approach the flat. I caught and saw more fish (despite cloudy water conditions) than I have in the last couple years combined. Paddling right up to monster seatrout is possible even though they are some of the wariest fish on the flats. I realize they know I’m there and catching them is unlikely, but getting that close is a thrill none the less.
So what do you need to purchase in order to get on the water in a kayak? Well let’s look at a short list of things that might be nice to start with.
Kayak. Either a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak of sufficient length to fit yourself and equipment; designed for whatever type of activity you plan on undertaking. Sit-on-tops are the most common fishing types here in Florida because they are reasonably fast and stable, entry and exit is simple, and some actually allow standing in. Sit-in’s are a bit faster and they are probably better for long distance touring but for general purpose fishing, other styles get the nod on the flats.
Life Jacket. Be sure to get one that can be worn comfortably while seated in the kayak for long periods of time. Many special-purpose kayaking life vests have the floatation strategically located so as not to interfere with a high-backed seat.
Paddle. Obviously there are dozens of different types and lengths out there, but start with one that will be cost effective, reasonably lightweight, and the proper length for your height.
Anchor. At some point you are going to want to pull over and take a break, so be sure to pick up an anchor and rope sufficient for your needs. Grapnel anchors in the one to three pound range along with 25 feet of rope should suffice. A shallow-water anchor or “Stakeout Pole” is nice to have if you’re going to be spending most of your time in 2 feet or less. They allow you to stop your forward motion and hold position without having to drag out the main anchor.
Anchor Trolley. A nice accessory that allows you to anchor at either end of the craft. This will enable you to position the boat with either the bow or stern into the current.
Equipment Leashes. It would be a shame to lose your paddle and/or your fishing rods.
Dry Bags. Everything you own is going to get wet so place valuables in dry bags and store them inside the storage hatches which SHOULD BE reasonably waterproof.
Miscellaneous Safety Equipment. Check your state regulations to determine what is required such as whistles, lights, and flares. Sit-in kayakers should invest in a hand operated bilge pump since water will get into the boat because they aren’t inherently water tight like sit-on-tops.
Canoe/Kayak Cart. Unless you enjoy carrying unwieldy objects that can weigh upwards of 100 pounds, I would highly suggest picking one of these invaluable items up when you purchase your new watercraft. It will save you a hernia.
Roof Rack. Depending on what type of vehicle you drive, you’ll need some way of getting your boat from the garage to the water. There are quite a few types of racks from companies like Tule and Yakima, and it may take some searching to figure out which one will work best for you.
I’m sure there are quite a few other things some folks might classify as “must have” when hitting the water via kayak, but you have to start somewhere. Extra rod holders, paddle clips, bait wells (not sure what they are used for), special tackle boxes, etc, will likely be added to the equipment list over time but as in anything worthwhile, I believe it takes some time and experimentation to arrive at the perfect setup. Don’t just buy things because your buddy says you absolutely have to get one or your life just won’t be complete.
Brian "Beastman" Eastman
White River Fly Shop