Baby Boomers and Kayak Fishing – Part 1 E-mail
Written by Steve Osterhaus   
Saturday, 17 March 2012 05:57

Nice Red on the fly

Remember that first “ride” in a kayak – the feeling of tipping, lack of control, not sure if your feet would ever be on land again.  For many of us it is a distant memory as things quickly came together.  We are constantly reminded of the many challenges that fishing from a kayak poses, continually testing our physical abilities.  Yet, we all learned how to comfortably deal with them.  But, as we mature these challenges become more demanding, making one wonder “Is it worth it?”  Well, at 64 I say emphatically -- Yes! 

My venture into this sport began a number of years ago as a means to fly fish during the winter months on Tybee Island, GA.  Being fortunate to fish as much as I do, the kayak is a key part of fishing year round.  Hopefully, many years remain though staying healthy is key and a true gift.

The “baby boom” generation has for the most part enjoyed a fairly active lifestyle.  Now we desire, no, demand to continue that lifestyle into our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  But, in order to continue those activities, modifications will be required.  So, let’s look at how we can hang in there.

Flexibility – oh, the good old days.  We “older” kayak fishers just can’t move and turn like we once could.  My experience and observations of other paddler’s have identified three (3) aspects of kayaking that seem to pose the greatest challenges.

  1. Equipment and Rigging
  2. Loading, unloading and transporting your Yak
  3. Getting into and out of your Yak/Paddling

This article will address simplifying equipment & rigging, helping make our days on the water a bit easier and more enjoyable.  Two subsequent articles will cover the remaining challenges.

 

Equipment/Rigging

There are products out there that many of us already use, but if not, we need to reconsider. One can also expect many more in the future for us “baby boomers”.  Some of these products will be covered in the upcoming installments, but as I have written previously, make your Yak work for you by keeping things simple and think minimalist

First, have a comfortable seat that provides adequate cushioning as well as good back and lumbar support.  We spend many hours in the Yak and as we age having an aching back can make kayak fishing less than enjoyable.  It may not be the overstuffed recliner we ride at home, but don’t compromise on this.  

You don’t need every new gimmick, 6 tackle boxes or 6 rods. Your primary rod matched to the quarry pursued, placed in a rod holder is sufficient. My main rod holder is a Scotty up front – found it easier than always reaching back.  A back-up rod can be stored in a second holder or the hull.  Rod leashes are a good idea, though a bit cumbersome, especially for fly fishers.  However, reflexes and gripping are not necessarily what they used to be -- the proverbial “oops” can be costly.

The goal is to be organized, having everything within easy reach.  As a fly fisherman, I have to keep it simple.  Fly line management is a major nemesis and for those of us who use the long rod so well know, if there is something for our fly line to get tangled on it will 100% of the time.  Plus, too much gear with a lack of organization can be very dangerous proposition.

An anchor trolley is a given as it simplifies anchoring, front or back.  My small, 1½ lb. folding anchor is all I have on-board, has never failed me and stores compactly with its rode in a side recess pocket.  At times I will resort to a stake out pole but have not found it an absolutely necessary.  A small fly box or tackle box with “go to” lures/flies stores in the other side recess pocket and the center hatch holds remaining tackle items.

Seldom will you find a landing net on board my Yak – again equipment management.  Remember, we don’t twist or turn easily.  A lip gripper leashed to the Yak and stored behind the seat has served me well.  It is small, at hand, easy to use and works!  My modest size soft side cooler behind the seat has a mesh pocket to hold a pliers and tape measure, has a front storage pocket and versatile zippers – all accessible without having to turn into a contortionist.  With ice packs it can hold a couple of fish for dinner, along with my lunch and an extra water bottle.

Finally, a mount for my handheld GPS -- my sense of direction is questionable (just ask my wife).  In salt marsh maze’s one can get turned around quickly, especially in new areas or those you fish once every year or two.  These types of situations can be exhausting at best.  Plus, you can find your “honey” holes quickly.  A basic Garmin fish locator is also mounted on the center console primarily used in freshwater lakes, though at times in saltwater.  The unit easily snaps in and out, runs on a compact 8-AA battery pack.  The batteries are stored in the hull along with the thru hull transducer. 

These “electronic toys” sound like they violate the motto of minimalism, but in reality makes your time on the water more efficient and as the years add up one needs all the help they can get.  For me, those 8-10 hours trips are a thing of the past, so being as productive as possible over shorter time spans is important.

Rigged Fishing Kayak

 

Hopefully you see that as you age you can still retain the necessary tools and fishing equipment, without burdening your abilities and still effectively fish from your Yak.  Keep it simple and you will be able to enjoy kayak fishing for many, many years to come.

Tight Lines.

Steve Osterhaus lives in Door County, WI and Tybee Island, GA (Dec – Mar) spending 100 days a year on the water.  He is a FFF Certified Casting Instructor and member of the St. Croix Rods Pro Staff.  He paddles a fully rigged Hobie Quest and can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Website: www.peninsulafly.heliohost.org.

 

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