If you are looking to get into kayak fishing then doing your research is just as important as safety. Finding the right kayak for you is also important; it took me four kayaks to find the right one which is now a Scupper Pro. It is very light very strong easy to paddle, lots of space for my gear and lots of legroom and can hold my weight very easily.
To find the right kayak it would be a wise decision to visit a few websites and visit some kayak shops who will advise you, and can show you around the kayaks they have on sale. It is a good idea to sit on a few and find out the the maximum weight on them. Don’t forget to add your weight to the kits weight and see if they are still good enough to hold you with ease. You don’t want it sitting in the water so low that water is coming in and flooding you. Most of what you need to know is in the minds of the experienced kayak fisherman. Many are on Facebook groups and forums on the internet. Most are more than happy to provide you with advice on kit and equipment and what kayak they think will suite you best, and also on safety issues and safety kit. So please bear in mind research is very important for your safety and enjoyment in the sport we do.
You may think that I’ve talked about safety a little too much but the sea is a wild place to be unless you treat it with respect and leave when you think it’s going to get a little rough, or have the discipline to just pack up and go if the weather is already not too good or looking like it’s going to get bad; as eager as you to hit the water just please be sensible.
Getting interested and starting kayak fishing is not a hard thing to do it’s just that safety is the most important thing. I can’t stress enough about the safety aspect of the sport, don’t get me wrong it’s an excellent and enjoyable sport but if you get it wrong there can be consequences out there on the big wide sea. As most already know the sea is very unpredictable and can change in seconds and sometimes with no notice at all as I have experienced once before. Fortunately the outcome was good and I wished I had been able to get it on record. Once that wind picks up it can get very strong and can sometimes be impossible to paddle back in as you’ll be getting pushed back out. This is something you should have at the back of your mind. What is my plan if I can’t back to where I launched from, is there a safe haven? It might be uncomfortable and inconvenient to return to a different location, but it could save your life.
The majority of people have the same kit and by that I don’t mean exactly the same but the basic set up and rigging to go fishing such as radio, PFD (Personal flotation device), dry suit etc. etc. the kit I use I am going to explain.
The first bit of kit I use is the big obvious one which is the kayak itself but when you buy a kayak from the shop it doesn’t come with any mods it just a simple plastic shell sometimes you don’t even get a paddle with it, just the kayak on its own so you have to add your own stuff too it which is not much. Most enthusiastic kayak anglers like to add an anchor trolley and a fish finder. The anchor trolley is a piece of rope or strong string in which you can move the anchor point to either the rear or the front. If you just have the anchor line in the middle next to where you sit you may get pulled off, or capsized.
A fish finder is an excellent bit of kit, it’s my favourite as you can see the ground below you and see if there’s signs of life down there but, I never use it to find fish I use it to find the best ground where the fish hold up, such as rocky ground where cod love to go. It is a good idea to invest a bit of extra money in a decent fish finder. You can buy a cheap one but they never seem as accurate or detailed, and often are not that waterproof.
The next bit of kit is the radio, which I would say is the most important. Make sure it is fully charged and the battery connector ports are cleaned of salt water. It is a good idea to wipe on a bit of WD40 after every use, don’t spray it on as it can damage the radio. You do need a licence to use these it’s only a day course and is usually around £80 to do, it’s not hard it just shows you how to actually use one and to be safe on the water. You can chat to other fisherman in the area on one channel and on another channel you can talk to the coastguard in case it’s necessary. The range on these VHF (very high frequency) radios is pretty good, but can be affected by many factors including weather, wave heights and cliffs. The main factor is it needs to be waterproof and reliable, so if needs be it can get you out of a bad situation.
The next piece of useful kit is the dry suit. A dry suit will keep you sort of warm and keep some body heat in but will defiantly keep you dry as bone this is in defiantly in the top 5 most important pieces of kit unless you’re in the Maldives, but we can all keep dreaming. In the north sea where I fish the water temperature can still be 2-3 degrees when the air is 30 degrees you can suffer if you don’t have a dry suit gives. It also gives you a longer time to get back on to the kayak if you get tipped or you just fall off In the surf like me, and lose a nice 6lb cod sad times.
Probably the most important piece of safety kit is the PFD. There are many different kinds of PFD’s, which will keep you afloat, but they are not all designed to keep your face out of the water should you become unconscious. We will look at PFD’s in a lot more detail in the future. They can only do so much to keep you afloat if the sea is ok you’ll float as I do jump in sometimes to cool off when the air is very hot and yes it feels great when your boiling away but yeah back to subject knowing how to swim will also help I wouldn’t advise anyone to go into the water if they can’t swim. And yes definatly in the top 5.
Next month I will explain on more of the kit side of things as yeas there is a lot of kit to go with kayak fishing.
There are a lot of courses you can do on how to learn to paddle properly and how to self-recue and control the kayak. If you haven’t already learnt to do so the best option is to get a friend who is kind enough to take you out on the water with your kayak and teach you how to do these techniques and more. If you don’t really have a budget you can easily look on the website and find these courses or you can go on Facebook and there will be a lot of groups who own their own business and do this thing for a living. So yeah it’s well worth a go.
Practise is not a necessity but it helps a lot I think that landing the kayak in high surf is very important because if you fall off you may lose kit if you haven’t leashed it, but let’s be honest you would rather stay on the kayak than off it into the water picking up your gear as I learnt when I first started by losing a £350 Abu reel. Coming in backwards is good because the waves don’t tent to make you surf and tip you off because all you have to do is lean forward and paddle into it. Also I was more upset at losing a 6 pounder than my reel sad very sad. I usually practise on the river tees I practise when the water is high to simulate rough sea and I practise on calm water just as an added extra as every little helps also if you are not fishing you can use a helmet if you wish and have an empty kayak and go kayak surfing in high surf which is fun. Please wear a helmet as I’ve nearly been knocked out in the water before and I had a sore head because you usually fall off in front of the kayak and the kayak sweeps past you.
Now that you’ve done everything you need to do to get yourself started you can now hit the water unless you have experience I would not advise to go out there alone, as if your with someone they can teach you a lot whilst you out there fishing. I learnt from my two friends who showed me how to anchor, fish with shads, paddle and self-rescue and all these things have come into play in my time kayaking. Please remember respect the sea and don’t go out if it’s dangerous. In this article I have explained the kayaking side of things next time I’ll move onto the fishing side of things so good luck learn a lot, live a lot enjoy until next time dudes.