Baby Boomers and Kayak Fishing - Part 3 E-mail
Written by Steve Osterhaus   
Saturday, 31 March 2012 09:10

Part III: Launching and Paddling your Yak

Smallmouth 17May08_22_inches_resize_cropThe shallow beach ripples with a light chop as you approach your kayak, making for a promising day on the water. But then it hits you, "I've got to get into the kayak without making a scene". And why, at such times, are there always a bevy of onlookers, minding their business yet quietly watching you attempt to launch. Yeah, we have all been there, but at that moment how we yearn for the good old days where our bodies could twist and turn without consequences. However, we have to face reality.

Getting into and out of our yaks and on the water challenges will wrap up this 3 part series. Rigging and transporting your Yak as we age were the topics "de jour" the past two months, and from the responses it appears these are a concern for many of you. But, as you saw, there are ways to keep kayak fishing a viable activity.

Additional Accessories

There are a couple more items that merit discussion. First and foremost is your PFD. Make sure yours' fits comfortably while paddling as well as casting. Consider including some emergency items like a whistle, mirror, small knife and some type of light. I also like to have a Zinger, with a nipper to trim line – saves on the teeth.

Give serious thought to carrying a spare paddle. Spend enough time on the water and you'll understand. I'll relate a personal experience from a couple years ago. Heading out with a buddy of mine to a great mudflat 3-4 miles away, we started our journey weaving through narrow cuts. We had timed the tides accordingly, or so we thought – bottom line, we ended up "high and dry" in the mud. The only option was to back out before the outgoing waters dissipated in the larger channels. So, taking my paddle and using it as a push stick, I began to make progress until the unthinkable "snap!" Fortunately, I was able to retrieve the blade. Seeing the water still dropping, I turned the paddle around and continued working back.

No worry, all was moving nicely until, you guessed it, another "snap!" This was not good, as I was now up the proverbial "creek without a paddle". I gathered in that blade and used the shaft to continue pushing backward wondering how I would return to the launch. Maybe my buddy (he was in his late 20's) could tow me. Unfortunately, he was stuck 30 yards up from me but with waders was able to trudge back, though not without total exhaustion.

The long and short of it we reached the main cut and were afloat. Now, paddling with a shaft doesn't work well and I really did not want to call the Coast Guard – wouldn't read well in the local papers. So, with a paddle blade in each hand, looking like those giant tortoises, worked the mile back to the launch. Exhausted does not begin to explain how my body felt. With maturity comes wisdom, or so they say. My wife's only comment, while shaking her head was, "here we go again". Obviously, there are other stories.

Anhapee Salmon_20_8Nov10_2_resize

Weather and Conditions

Being retired, everyday is a Saturday allowing me to choose my days on the water. There is no need to challenge Mother Nature. For those still working, consider using some of your vacation days to match favorable weather. A side benefit is you may have your favorite hole to yourself. Heavy water, wind and tidal currents can prove extremely taxing (not really fun), not to mention dangerous.

Getting into and out of your Yak

Staying in shape and shedding some pounds will be a major help in this effort. Younger paddlers simply straddle the Yak, sit down and they're off. For us "older" paddlers, it is not so simple and those extra pounds are more noticeable, especially in getting out.

Now that your yak is properly loaded secure your paddle and don your PFD. Push the kayak into the water and if possible parallel to shore; perpendicular to shore if water is less than 6" deep with a hard bottom works. With your back 45° or so to the seat, grab the gunwales slowly squatting and plopping (seems descriptive) your derriere into the seat. In shallow water, there is little risk of tipping but still sufficient to draft the Yak with you in it. Now swing your legs into the kayak, get your paddle and gently push yourself off, being careful not too put too much pressure on paddle. If you bottom out and cannot easily push off, you may have to try again in a little deeper water, but you will get the feel quickly.

Storm over_Sister_Bay_18Jun06_1 Exiting the kayak is probably a more pressing challenge, as your legs do the lifting. And, being taller (I'm 6'3" and 205#) makes it even a bit more cumbersome. Start by getting shallow -- hopefully you can even ground your kayak on shore to aid in the process. Secure your paddle and then swing your legs out and sort of roll your hips to the gunwale (it won't flip). You should be facing forward and a bit inward. Placing your hands on the gunwale and center console begin to push up, using your arms and shoulders to assist. Your may find it helpful to place a knee on the gunwale or even the ground. Now push yourself up.

It is not necessarily pretty but gets the job done. Sounds more difficult than it is and after a couple of tries it will become easier. Better yet, if someone is around or with you, have them give you a hand getting in and out. We (especially males) never like admitting we need assistance, but in this case leave your ego at home, get out and enjoy the water.

Remember, "anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first". Tight Lines and keep on kayak fishing.

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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