Thursday, April 16, 2015

Checklist for the Kayak Angler

The fishing season has offically begun in New Brunswick, at least according to the calendar.   Mother Nature still has her own schedule and as of today it isn't safe to put a kayak in the water in our area.    I suspect that come next weekend however we should be good to go - providing your willing to navigate around the odd ice pan!

In preperation for getting out and going to kayak fishing, I've put together a little list of items that I always carry with me on the kayak.   Ok, the list isn't actually that little, but most of these things are small!   I'm sure for other anglers there are items I've either left off or forgotten about, if so, let me know!

Rods - When fishing multiple species, you may need seperate rods for the different fish.  Even when fishing for a single species, I like to bring at least 2 rods with me as you never know when accidents may happen as nearly happened here:

Tackle / Bait - This should be relatively simple if your are fishing for a single species.   If you head out looking to catch multiple types of fish however, the possible choices of tackle can add up pretty quickly!    Take time to organize what you need into a plano box that is close at hand and what you may need into another that still within reach.

Clippers - One of the most heavily used tools by anglers, nail clippers are instrumental everytime you have to tie a leader.   Best to have a pair attached to your PFD for easy access!

Pliers - In the case your hook is caught deep inside a fish, or perhaps stubbornly stuck into your jacket (it happens!), a small pair of needle nose pliers can save a lot of aggrivation!

Knife - An absolute necessity, you should never go kayak fishing without a safety knife within easy reach.    I have one attached to my PFD which I can access and use 1 handed, a pocketknife in my PDF pocket, and a sometimes a third attached to the kayak itself.

Net / Fish Grips - In times when you are pursuing a fish where you need to use a net (like pickerel) then bring one.  If you are fishing for something like sturgeon, don't bother with the net, it will only get in the way.... unless you hook into a striper, in which case you may need a net, or a pair of fish grips!    Fish Grips are a better alternative to a net for stripers, at least according to some!   I'm personally on the fence about which is better but both work great!

Bump Board - Only necessary in cases where you want to measure your fish.   In most cases an expandable 36" board is sufficient, light and easy to pack.   When I do go for the big ones, I bring my HandleBarz Muskie Board which is big and cumbersome, but does float and accurately measures fish up to a whopping 60 inches!

Notice the pliers, knife, camera mount, and even a magnetic bowl for holding hooks are all neatly laid out without being in the way!   The Scotty Bait Board is a great piece of equipment for organizing gear like this!

Scale - Again only necessary if you think you may want to weigh a fish

Camera/GoPro - Obviously only a requirement if you want to capture the memories with pictures or video.   At the very least you should have a camera in your phone to capture pictures of any surprise catch you may make.

Pee Bucket - Don't laugh!   In the sit on top kayaks, it's pretty easy to lean back, position the bucket, and relieve yourself without having to haul up anchor and paddle to shore.   Be sure to give it a good rinse after, and never use it for drinking water!  

Paddle Leash - Leashes can be dangerous as they could cause you to get tangled up in the case your kayak tips, so use your own discretion here.   Personally I use a paddle leash, except this one time on Otnabog where I didn't bring it.  After releasing a good sized pickerel I realized the paddle was floating 15 feet away, while I was in the middle of the pond.    Fortunately, the bump board did the trick and in no time I was able to retreive my paddle and continue on.

Anchor - If you want to fish on a river, or even on a windy day, the anchor will save you all sorts of frustrations.   I recommend using an anchor trolley system so that you can have it attached either at the front or the rear of the kayak.   I'll do a blog post on the anchor trolley sometime in the near future.

Whistle - Keep one in your PFD at all times!

Beacon Light - It can be surprising how quickly things turn dark when the fish are biting.  Always have a light/beacon on hand!    Glow sticks are a great thing to have tucked away in your emergency supplies, just in case!

Headlight - Again, if fishing after dark or failing to come back before the night falls, a headlight will be a huge help, especially when unloading on shore.

Phone - This should be obvious!

Batteries - Spares for your phone, camera and lights!

Food & Water - You don't want to go hungry on the water!

And finally a list of things I tuck away in the bowels of my kayak in case I ever need them.  Most I keep collected together in a dry bag:  Rope, First Aid Kit, Spare Clothes, Toilet Paper, Water, Sunscreen, Bugspray

OK , so this seems like a long list and I'm probably forgetting some things.    It really isn't that bad though.   Several of the items can be mounted onto your kayak within easy reach using rod holders and similar accessories.     Other items would be stored in the pockets of your PFD, while many others can be neatly packed within easy reach in a milk crate or ideally a YakAttack BlackPac.  

Once you organize things effectively, your kayak will not only be fully loaded with equipment to deal with virtually any situation, but also remain clear and uncluttered, making for a very relaxing and peaceful fishing experience!

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