By Steven E Stillwell
Several years ago, I decided to take up kayaking for the sole purpose of fishing, and I’ve never regretted this decision. Hopefully, after reading my article, you’ll recognize some of the advantages that I’m going to share. I have a two-man, fiberglass boat that’s commercially designated as the BASS-HUNTER, but now that I’m getting older, it’s a lot harder to lift, and load this bulky vessel into my truck-bed by myself. Some of my fishing trips are solo adventures, so size, weight and maneuverability are certainly factors. The only way I could overcome this obstacle was to downsize and purchase a Kayak.
If you’ve ever shopped at the Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s, Wal-Mart, or Atwood’s, there are several makes and models to choose from, and the prices range from a couple of hundred dollars, to approximately $1,500 for deluxe models with special features. I decided to purchase an entry level craft, because I’d never used one before, and didn’t really know what to expect.
My maiden voyage was on the Ouachita River, and needless to say, I caught a whole stringer of fish my first time out. I was genuinely impressed; not with myself, but with this sleek vessel’s ability to be stealthy, and to get me in the middle of some angling action. I fished with lures, spinners, and various crank-baits that morning, and even hooked a stout gar that pulled my Kayak around until turning loose. Trust me; it was a fun and exciting ride that I’ll never forget.
I learned quickly that negotiating swift currents and rapids is a one way trip in the direction that the water is flowing, so you’ll need to be careful if you plan on returning to your launching point. Fortunately, the place where I started was pretty calm, so I made it back with no trouble. If you go beyond the point of no return, I’d advise planning a float-trip, because you certain don’t want to drag your boat up the river bank, or through the woods to get back.
To date, I’ve fished several lakes including Hinkle, Iron Fork, Greeson, and North Fork with my Kayak, and I’ve always managed to catch some decent fish. If you’re going to spend time on the water, have some respect for your environment, and exercise all of the safety precautions. You can purchase a quality floatation device or a life vest for a nominal fee, and I recommend doing this. The one I bought has several little pockets in the front for extra fishing gear, and it’s not cumbersome to wear. Swimming skills are important, so I’d advise brushing up on them before embarking on a river, or Lake Journey. A Kayak is a small vessel, so visibility is an important factor, especially when larger boats are trolling, or speeding around on the waterways. Keep in mind, if they don’t see you, a collision could be fatal. The best advice I can offer is this; don’t get caught after dark in the middle of a big lake, because this is dangerous. It’s wise to keep a flashlight on-board in a sealed, watertight container, commonly referred to as a dry-box, just in case! In an emergency, or if someone’s approaching too fast, you can signal them.
Are you interested in survival, and other outdoor topics? I invite you to join our Facebook page, Ouachita Bushcraft and Survival. We also have a podcast program titled, The Ouachita Bushcraft and Survival Show, so please listen. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.