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Kayak Fishing, a New and Exciting Way to Enjoy Angling

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The last decade has seen a dramatic growth in fishing from a kayak. While fishing in general has been stable or even shown some decline, kayak fishing is showing double digit growth in much of the United States and around the world. The kayak has long been a way of transportation and gaining access to out of the way fishing locations, it now has gained popularity by those who want some exercise while enjoying the “up-closeness” of fishing at the water’s level and being so close to the fish.

As I said, kayak fishing has been around for years, but it was concentrated in states that border oceans like Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and California. Worldwide, the sport has also seen steady growth in countries like Australia and South Africa. But in recent years, kayak fishing has boomed most anywhere that there is water and people, who like to fish, explore aquatic areas, enjoy solicitude, and get some needed exercise. Now, I see people kayaking regularly kayaking for recreation and fishing while also getting a “little” workout at the same time! I see anglers kayak fishing in anything holds water in my home state of Wisconsin and even in small farm ponds scattered across the entire Midwest. You name a body of water and someone is now fishing there from a kayak!

There is historical evidence that kayaks are at least 4000 years old and were originally developed by indigenous people living in the Artic regions. They used the boats mainly for hunting in the Artic regions like the Artic Ocean, Bering Sea, and North Atlantic. The first kayaks were made from stitched animal skins, like the seal, and stretched over a frame of driftwood. The Inuit’s would use the kayaks for seal hunting with harpoons in their inland lakes, rivers, and coastal waters.

Today, the most popular fishing kayaks are monohulled and rotationally molded from materials like polyethylene which give durability at a reasonable    cost. What you are looking for in a fishing kayak is a stable and comfortable design which gives the angler the ability to fish without worrying about tipping over. There are twin hull or catamaran kayaks which give the angler enough stability to let them paddle and fish from a standing position. This relatively new development solves some of the problems that come with sitting for hours in a kayak without being able to change positions and it also allows the fisherman from the need to sacrifice speed for stability, which can be a problem with a menthol kayaks.

There are other designs in kayaks (like the Hobie MirageDrive) that are propelled by pedals, propellers, or flippers and a foot mechanism. The added bonus of these kayaks is that they allow you to keep your hands on your rod and reel instead of on a paddle.

The kayaks basic design has remained unchanged for centuries until the Hobie Company in Oceanside, California replaced the stroke of paddling a kayak with the step. The Hobie Company was founded by the legendary Hobie Alter, who pioneered the development of surfboards and sailing catamarans on the West Coast. But, Alter didn’t stop with thinking of new developments for those who enjoy being on the water and pioneered the kayak and eventually the fishing kayak.

Here is how the revolutionary Hobie MirageDrive kayaks work; alternating pedal steps drive two underwater fins (like a penguin’s flippers) propelling the kayak through the water with speed and ease, coming to a plane quickly, and reaching maximum speed with a minimum amount of effort.

The key is in the drive pattern that with each step allows the “flippers” to flex and take the shape of a propeller blade, then reverse its shape on the next alternating step. Unlike the complete revolution of a normal propeller, the sweeping action allows the Mirage Drive to use the large and powerful blades in a shallower configuration. By using very short steps with the blades perpendicular to the hull, you can easily propel the boat through the shallowest water. For landings, the blades can be “tucked’ up and under the kayak.

Steering is simple and ends the use of a paddle with a steering system positioned at arms length allowing instant control of a kick-up rudder. Another benefit is that you’ll be using the large muscles of the legs and hips that can generate much more power than one’s arms and back. These new-age kayaks are quiet, dry (no dripping paddles), and leaves your arms free for fishing or even photography.

Many of the newer kayak makers, like Hobie or Pelican, offer special features for the angler like; special enclosed hatches for storage, built-in rod holders, padded seats, electronic equipment mounts, bimini tops, anchors, catch bags, wider beams that increase stability, and outriggers for even more stability in rough water. There are also kayaks with designs that are similar to the recreational sit-in (SIK) and sit-on-top kayaks (SOT) with a wider beam (up to 36 inches) for increased lateral stability. One can see that stability is the key to fishing from a kayak and the more stable you are the more waters you can fish under less than ideal conditions.

The fishing kayak allows access to areas where a canoe or boat can’t go like small ponds, rocky shallow water locations, narrow river channels, waters that don’t allow canoes or power outboards, backwaters, and even thru dense vegetation and low hanging brush. The stealth approach that you can make in a kayak won’t scare the fish in even the shallowest water.

Any fishing technique that you can do in a “normal” fishing boat can be done from a kayak. Kayak fishing is a rapidly growing sport with many companies now catering to this group of new-age anglers and their motor less water crafts. Now, with the huge expensive in gasoline for most fishing boats, kayaks are adding “green” to fishing.

A kayak angler can fly fish, cast, jig, and even troll with the added foot pedals for most fresh and salt water fish species. Some fishermen even take their kayaks aboard their larger fishing boats and launch them offshore so that they can get the rush and excitement of fighting a fish as it pulls them through the water.

Other added benefits include the ease of launching a kayak, a relatively low cost, little if any maintenance and the storage room needed is minimal.

I suggest that you do some research before going out and buying a fishing kayak. There are many variables that come into play when choosing a kayak. Some of these variables include; your height and weight, what kind of vehicle you’re going to use to transport your kayak, where you plan on using the craft, what fishing techniques do you plan to use, what type of angler are you, a catch and release angler or one who wants to keep their catch, what is better for fishing a sit inside or sit on top kayak, stability, speed, maneuverability, accessory friendly, storage room, and fishing logistics or what types of waters do you plan to fish are things that you should consider before buying a fishing kayak.

Fishing kayaks come in sizes from a little over 9 feet to over 16 feet with weights from 50 pounds to 70 pounds. As I just mentioned, where you plan on fishing and the kind of fishing you do help determine the size and kind of kayak that is best for you and your angling needs. Prices range from a few hundred  to a few thousand dollars depending on the size of the kayak and what accessories you choose.

Kayak fishing is also being used by groups like Heroes on the Water who use kayak fishing for all branches of the military to “unwind” using the therapeutic qualities of fishing for veterans. Great group!

Good places for information include; www.paddling.net, kayakfishingstuff.com, hobiefishing.com, and pelicansport.com. Don’s Marine in Lodi, Wisconsin (608)-592-4705) is a Hobie dealer who’s been in business for over 80 years. It may be what you need to back into those secret locations!

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