Showing posts with label about. Show all posts
Showing posts with label about. Show all posts

Video: How PPF Started and Where It's Going


Why Do I Blog?

At this weekend's Get Together of kayak anglers and hopefuls at Lake Grapevine I visited with lots of people about kayaking, kayak fishing and this blog. I heard lots of good things, some points for improvement and one other question that came out time and time again.

"Is your website your job?" or sometimes "Do you make money doing this?"

When I gave the answer, the followup question was usually, "Really? Why?"

It became apparent that while many of you know me through the blog, you didn't know the background of how it came to be and why I do it. I've done a poor job of communicating that and the answers are very important to the success of PPF.

For those who are curious, keep reading. For those who aren't, I'll be back with some regularly scheduled content at the end of the week.

The Beginning

I finished my grad degree in August of 2012 and had been on a blistering pace of writing to finish quickly. My wife was also in school and we had two kids under the age of 8. I needed to be done with school therefore, I finished as quickly as they would allow (16 months). What I discovered during that year was my love of writing. I didn't ever think of myself as a writer but my course loads demanded thousands of words a week. When August came and my classes were done, I missed the writing. I missed being able to convey information through my keyboard, I missed the sound of the letters being clicked out on the plastic keys and I missed the connection of brain to computer screen. I decided I would start a blog.

Blogs are great outlets for writers and desiring nothing but an outlet I started a free blog on Blogger. I wouldn't be out anything but time and I could do it late at night when the kids and wife were tucked away in Sleepy Town.  My first post just said a little bit about how I got into kayak fishing and I wanted to pass it along to my kids.  I love kayak fishing and this blog would allow me to be passionate about a subject and write as much as I wanted.

As the blog started to form I found myself doing reviews, talking safety and trying to tell people in the sport and interested in the sport about the mistakes I had made along the way. I tried to give good information and unbiased information. The blog readership was starting to grow and my kayak fishing had become a new focus in my life. I didn't know the direction I wanted to take the blog, my kayak fishing and whether I should join a manufacturer team if one offered or what. So much to think about for a hobby and a late night electronic legal pad.

So what do you do when you don't know? You call someone who does. The biggest name in the sport I could think of was Chad Hoover. Many of you know Chad through kayakbassfishing.com , HOOK1 or through one of his media outlets like his fishing shows on WFN and NBC Sports. Chad and I had visited through Facebook a few times but I needed to have some real guidance. I messaged him and he said "Call Me."

That conversation helped me to see what he and many others felt the real value of my site was to the kayak fishing community. Having a non-biased voice that can say what I want, respectfully of course, and be honest about equipment, gear and boats was something that didn't exist in many forms. To pay the bills, people need sponsors, endorsements etc. Being as this was not my job, I just needed a few partners to help me get going.It wasn't money I was in need of (since it's a hobby), but access to product.

I visited at length with other folks familiar with the kayak fishing scene in Texas (where I am at). Guys like Rob Milam, Alan Sladek and several others encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and helped me get in front of the people I needed to talk to. I continued to weigh options, talk with Chad and formulated a game plan. The thing that kept me going was something he said in the wee hours one morning.

He said, "Be patient. Know exactly what you want and pursue it. Don't settle."

That still rings in my ears. I was looking for a partnership that so many had told me was just not a deal that existed. I needed access to kayaks for long periods of time to do reviews. I needed access to gear to do reviews. I'm not wealthy. I have debts that could make you shiver. I needed help if the blog was going to succeed. I couldn't pay for any of it.

I'll spare the details, as this is getting long and robust, but I pursued the partner I wanted, turned down other offers that didn't meet up with my needs and began working with Mariner-Sails of Dallas. Aris agreed to let me pursue my dream. He knew what my goals were and allowed me to "do my thing". I am beyond glad to work with his team. Mike and Aris and the gang at Mariner have helped me achieve things I never thought possible and access to other companies and gear I couldn't have done without their help.

At this point, the snarky people in the room make lots of assumptions so let me answer a few questions for you.

Am I paid by Mariner? No.

Do I get kick backs or commission from Mariner for recommending them? No. I get to demo their boats but that doesn't pay the bills. I still work my 8-5 for that.

Do I get to keep the boats I demo? No. I just gave them back the Outback and took home a Slayer. I keep each kayak for 6-10 weeks to get ample time in to give valuable feedback on the boats.After that, they go back, rigging and all.

Do I ever say anything negative about the products I review? Yes. I try to always give points for improvement. (How many of you guys have heard me complain about the handle position on the back of the Hobie Outback or the toe box in the Astral Brewer?)

To be clear, I have never cashed a check written out to me for this blog or anything associated with it.

So why do I do it?

I love this sport. Kayak fishing is a beautiful symphony of man and nature that no other experience I have had can match. The community of kayakers is an amazing fellowship of brothers and sisters in water that will help each other at the first opportunity. Do we have our knuckleheads? Sure. Every group does. They're few and far between with us though.  My hope is that people looking into kayak fishing will come to my site to get information before they purchase. I hope they will make purchases that they still love after three months of on the water time. I hope vets in the sport can pick up some info here and there about new products or kayaks. I hope that my safety posts will some day save a life. I hope that every person who comes to my blog knows why I do this and can tell how much I love kayak fishing.

It's a lot of work to design, write, update, review, shoot pictures, video, interview, travel to and from events all out of love for the sport but I would do it all again with no regrets if you hit the reset button. I'll wake up tomorrow and think about kayak fishing. I'll try to think of new ways to share the passion we all share with those that don't know and I'll go to sleep late late at night knowing if one person learned about kayaks and safety today it was a growth in the sport.

Will I always do this? I don't know. Things change. New opportunities arise. But I will always be an ambassador for the sport of kayak fishing, no matter that hat I wear or the kayak I paddle.

If you have any thoughts for improvement, have ideas for gear or kayak reviews or other comments feel free to leave them here or even better yet, click on one of the sharing icons below and let me know that way. Please tell your friends!




My Goals for 2013. What are Yours?

Welcome to 2013! The Mayans were wrong. We're all still here and we need to keep moving forward. The last four months of Payne's Paddle Fish has been a great one and I sincerely thank those who have visited and keep visiting the site. I couldn't have predicted what has become this truly great experience. I have met so many bloggers, fishermen, kayakers, interested onlookers and outdoors types since August and look forward to meeting, fishing and paddling with many more of you in 2013.

I have, for as long as I can remember, been against making a resolution on New Years. When I think about what I would resolve to do, it's often things I don't want to do in the first place and it becomes counter productive. They are great for most people, just not me.

Instead of resolutions, I like to set goals. I try not to make them too lofty but also not too easy. For 2013 I have several. A list of goals helps me forecast the year, see progress when it is made and refocus energies when necessary. If you don't yet do this, I encourage you to pick one or two things you really want to work on this next year and write them down. Even better yet, make them public. When others know what you are working on, they will often provide encouragement, ask about progress and keep that fire stoked to push through the slow times.

Without further ado, my goals for 2013.

1. Sponsored Fishing Partnerships-

As of today, I don't really have any fishing sponsors. I work with a couple of really great vendors and do some gear reviews etc but the long and short is, I pay for almost all of my stuff. Reels, rods, boats, paddles, pfd, fishfinders and other gear comes out of my pocket. I feel I have a lot to offer as an ambassador to the sport of kayak fishing. I have a platform that is both informative and has a worldwide reach to those into kayak fishing and just curious onlookers with many questions. I would love to be able to travel to trade shows and talk to more people about kayaks, rigging, finding the right kayak for each individual person, fishing in both fresh and saltwater, gear, gadgets and more. I'd like to be able to pair with a company that feels the same way I do about the sport, wants to grow the sport as much as I do and in the end, I can refer people to this company and know they will be taken care of individually and not just put in a boat. Ideally the company would be able to furnish a kayak or two for me to demo with people and then refer them for purchases. I know these opportunities are few and far between but you dream big to achieve big.

2. 300% Growth in Monthly Visits-

The site is still in a growth pattern but has averaged a few thousand visits per month. I'd like to grow that number to 100,000 visits for 2013. It's an aggressive number but I think that as our sport grows more and more people are searching for content, instruction, humor, recommendations and answers. I hope that I can be one of those places that are sought out. I also hope that visitors will visit the sites that I read. Alan, Pat, Bert and others do a great job of providing fresh new content. You can see their newest posts linked on the right column of any page.

3. Participate at Three Trade/Boat/Tackle Shows-

Helping others understand the intricacies of kayak fishing is important. Finding the right boat fit, rigging and gearing up are all important aspects of kayak fishing that are done too hastily and too cheaply at times. Being a 10 year alum of the School of Hard Knocks with a major in Kayak Fishing has taught me many things (and cost me lots of money). If I can save just one person the headaches and money pit that I endured, it would be worth the trip. This is a venue (or 3) that would allow the largest reach for a live audience.

4. Instructional Videos-

I will produce 12 instructional videos over the 2013 calendar year on different kayak fishing topics. Some people just don't like to read column after column on X or Y. They want a 5 minute video showing them what they need to know so they can go on about their business. I want to reach that market in 2013 and give those folks what they are looking for.

5. My First E-Book-

I have been working on and plan to release a kayak fishing book in the late spring. It will be an E-book so I can offer it for free. It will have some stories, some instruction, some insight and really highlight the fun and adventure kayak fishing can bring to anyone's life. It's not so much about a budget as it will give options regardless of available cash flow. I hope everyone enjoys this book and it becomes a resource for teaching others why we love this sport so much.

6. Tournament Fishing-

I plan to fish 8 tournaments this year. I won't be able to start fishing them until March so it will mean some cross trail fishing but that's okay. In fact, it will allow me to meet more people who share the passion. This year won't be about placing as much as fishing and networking. I look to fish in the NTKBF, NTKT, PKAA, KATS and KBF events this year. The NTKT will be a primary focus for me.


Maybe these goals seem out there to some or too easy to others, but the important thing is, they are out there now. If we cross paths on the water or at a trade show, ask me about them. I hope to meet even more of you on the water this next year. If you would like to partner with me on any of these goals please send me an email : paynefish@gmail.com.  Have a great 2013!!!

I Got A Kayak For Christmas. Now What?



Every year it happens. For the last decade that I have been around kayak fishing, Christmas brings a great new flood of people to the sport I love. Thousands of new anglers, looking for a way to get on the water or maybe a different way to get on the water, ask for and receive a kayak for Christmas.

Often times these gifted kayaks are not the $2,000 super decked out angler editions. They are sit-in or sit-on kayaks purchased at major chain stores. You know what? And hear me say this: THAT IS JUST FINE!

You don't need to have a BMW 7 Series car to drive on the highway and you don't need the Hobie Pro Angler 14 to get on the water. Would it be nice? Dang skippy. Is it necessary? Not even close.

I fished my first six, almost seven years out of a $200 sit in kayak from Academy Sports and Outdoors. And it was great. I fished differently then than I do now but every kayak owner fishes a little differently and some of that comes from the type of kayak they fish from. The important things to remember are safety, time on the water and customization to fit your needs.

These throngs of people often find their way to kayak forums and ask the same questions. That is when they get a good taste of what our sport is about. Sharing. More specifically, sharing information.

The questions typically revolve around accessories, where to try, and what is all this I hear about tipping over?

Today, I want to give you some of what I have learned both from the school of hard knocks and by others in the sport who have mentored me.

So I got a new kayak:

What accessories do I need? 
MTI Dio F-Spec


PFD (Life Jacket)- Most people go straight for the paddle. The only reason I recommend a PFD first is safety. If you blow all of your money on a fancy paddle and end up paddling in an $8 PFD that fits like an albatross, you won't be paddling for long. Choose a good PFD and always wear it. Check out the NRS, MTI and Stohlquist PFDs. I also recommend a knife and a whistle to attach to the PFD so you can call for help or cut your way out of a tangle or hung anchor. If you are going to paddle at night, get a 360 degree light. The YakAttack Visicarbon Pro with Flag is a popular choice amongst kayakers everywhere.The PFD and whistle are legal requirements in Texas. The light is also if you are out at night.

Paddle- This is your motor. Use this paddle guide and find the right one for you. If you only have two upgrade things you can buy, they need to be a good PFD  and a paddle. That seems like a no-brainer but lots of people skimp on the first and sell their kayak shortly after from non-use.

Park-N-Pole in a Trolley
Anchor Trolley- It seems strange to buy this before an anchor but believe me when I say you will be much happier if you do. An anchor trolley allows you to use a drift sock, stake out stick and anchor while positioning yourself to take advantage of the wind, not be a victim of it. This also will allow for a quick release if you get into trouble. This is the one I use. Inexpensive and easy to install.

Anchor- This is the most widely underpurchased item under $50. Anchors exist in all shapes and sizes. The most popular one is the collapsible anchor. If you are going to be in water eight feet deep or less, I suggest a YakAttack Park-N_Pole. It can double as a push pole, GoPro camera pole and many other things. Very versatile and it floats. It comes in three different lengths to fit exactly what your needs are.

Anchor Rope (and accessories)- Most anchors don't come with rope. If you are going to be fishing in any current or wind at all most people will recommend 2X the length of rope for the depth you are fishing. So if your fish are in 20 feet of water, you need at least 40 feet of rope. If you are fishing on the coast it is recommended 3X the depth. I like 3/16" rope but choose what you like. Just don't buy 1/16" rope and expect to raise a big anchor easily. While you are there in the rope section, pick up a carabiner and rope float to attach to these as well.

Rod Holders- These come in different varieties. You can get flush mount, rocket launchers, trolling rod holders for baitcasters and spinning, rail mount, and the list goes on and on. Look at some rigging pictures, sit in your boat, see where you can reach and then go buy one.

YakAttack BlackPak
Milk Crate- You can buy one or ask a retail grocer for one. Either way, you can strap this down to the back of most kayaks and hold tons of tackle and gear. You can also add some PVC to be additional rod holders. Cheapest investment you'll love forever. Eventually you may want to upgrade to a YakAttack BlackPak. This is the king of all packs to haul gear and hold rods.

Everything Else-These things will get you going pretty well. After you have the above mentioned items, you should look at, in no particular order: a fish finder, stabilizers (depending on the kayak), drift sock, stake out stick, VHF handheld radio, scupper plugs (for sit on tops), waders, paddle gloves, really the list goes on and on.


Your fishing adventure is just that. Add things as you can and see what others are doing. Go to get togethers. Visit kayak shops like HOOK1 if you are in Tennessee or Mariner-Sails if you are in Texas. Talk to guys who have years or even decades on the water. Talk to the new guys. See what's new, what's a need, what's a want and go for it. And if you buy something that doesn't work out, there is always the buy-sell-trade forums. Most of all, have fun and catch some fish!




I Bought a Fishing Kayak. Now What?

It's a great feeling to pull the trigger on a new fishing kayak (or any kayak for that matter). Especially that first one. Your very first kayak is special. It's almost like when my oldest child was born. There was a ton of anticipation, excitement and several months leading up to it. When it finally arrived I was so excited but at the same time scared. Now what? Hopefully you bought it at a place like Austin Canoe and Kayak, Colorado Kayak Supply or other reputable dealer and they can help with this next part. If you didn't buy your kayak from a dealer, didn't have someone to guide you through and are spinning from all the options, keep reading.

As with kids, the kayak makes you start to think of "What else do I need?" Maybe your budget is tight and you can't get everything all at once. That is most of us. Don't be embarrassed. Very few of us have everything we need as soon as we get home. I've been through this process several times and it is different with every one but what I would like to offer is a shopping list. Start at the top and work your way down. Some people may have differing opinions and that's great. What I am hoping to do is take some of the guess work out of gearing up and save you the headaches I have gone through. This list is specific for kayak fishermen so after the second item the list would vary for other sports.

Start Here:


Stohlquist PFD
PFD (Life Jacket)- Most people go straight for the paddle. The only reason I recommend a PFD first is safety. If you blow all of your money on a fancy paddle and end up paddling in an $8 PFD that fits like an albatross, you won't be paddling for long. Choose a good PFD and always wear it. Check out the Astral Buoyancy and Stohlquist PFDs. Want to learn more about PFDs? Click Here. I also recommend a knife and a whistle to attach to the PFD so you can call for help or cut your way out of a tangle or hung anchor. If you are going to paddle at night, get a 360 degree light.

Paddle- This is your motor. Use this paddle guide and find the right one for you. If you only have two things you can buy, they need to be a good PFD and a paddle. That seems like a no-brainer but lots of people skimp on the first and sell their kayak shortly after from non-use.

Anchor Trolley- It seems strange to buy this before an anchor but believe me when I say you will be much happier if you do. An anchor trolley allows you to use a drift sock, stake out stick and anchor while positioning yourself to take advantage of the wind, not be a victim of it. This also will allow for a quick release if you get into trouble. This is the one I use. Inexpensive and easy to install.

Bruce-Style Claw Anchor
Anchor- This is the most widely mispurchased item under $50. Anchors exist in all shapes and sizes. The most popular one is the collapsible anchor. This is also the most frequent one laying at the bottom of a rock pile or root group in 20 feet of water. Use a bruce-style claw anchor and use the zip tie method of connection to get your anchor back from the murky depths. Here is a link from TexasKayakFisherman.com that shows the proper way to rig this up.

Anchor Rope (and accessories)- Most anchors don't come with rope. If you are going to be fishing in any current or wind at all most people will recommend 2X the length of rope for the depth you are fishing. So if your fish are in 20 feet of water, you need at least 40 feet of rope. If you are fishing on the coast it is recommended 3X the depth. I like 3/16" rope but choose what you like. Just don't buy 1/16" rope and expect to raise a big anchor easily. While you are there in the rope section, pick up a carabiner and rope float to attach to these as well.

Rod Holders- These come in different varieties. You can get flush mount, rocket launchers, trolling rod holders for baitcasters and spinning, rail mount, and the list goes on and on. Look at some rigging pictures, sit in your boat, see where you can reach and then go buy one.

Milk Crate- You can buy one or ask a retail grocer for one. Either way, you can strap this down to the back of most kayaks and hold tons of tackle and gear. You can also add some PVC to be additional rod holders. Cheapest investment you'll love forever.

Everything Else-These things will get you going pretty well. After you have the above mentioned items, you should look at, in no particular order: a fish finder, stabilizers (depending on the kayak), drift sock, stake out stick, VHF handheld radio, scupper plugs (for sit on tops), waders, paddle gloves, really the list goes on and on. Most of all, have fun and catch some fish!


Safety for Kids on the Water

It's too easy to make a mistake.
Type II Child PFD

You're loading up the truck with a kayak or two and that little voice rings through the garage, "Daddy, can I go?" You may have planned on her asking but did you really plan on her going?
According to the CDC, 350 children die every year in boating related drownings.

How do you prevent that?
Planning properly.

It's human nature to think that would never happen to you. You can protect them. You will hold them on your lap. The water's not that deep. I'm a great swimmer.

I've heard them all. The plain and simple fact is no one plans on disaster happening to them. With a little planning, a little awareness and some ground rules, most of those 350 would be at home with their parents instead of living only through the emotional scars their parents now bare.

I know it feels like I am preaching, and maybe I am, but this is IMPORTANT.

Here are the steps I have taken and believe you should too to ensure safety for every child that gets on one of my kayaks. This may not be the end all be all list but you need to have some list of rules and know it by heart. And then, once you have the rules, don't make exceptions. Again, these are my rules, not State Law except where noted.

Any child in a kayak must have a proper life jacket on and secured properly.
Texas law states "Children under 13 years of age in or on vessels under 26 feet must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while underway."
Get a life jacket that is weight rated for the child and fits properly. A Type II is better than a Type III because it will, under most circumstances, float the child face up. PFD Types Click Here

Children under 12 cannot ride alone in a kayak
It seems archaic and overprotective to some but, using a boat that can flip on top of you, weighs more than you do and is not an easy re-entry if you fall out are recipes for danger. 

All paddlers must go through an orientation with the boat. 
It only takes a few minutes but it is important to know safety on the kayak, regardless of age, but children especially need to know what to do.

Open water re-entry experiences are a must. 
The first time I took my seven year old out with me I explained what we were going to do. I said we would jump off the kayak into the water. I instructed him to stay where he was. I reminded him the life jacket will float him and I would come to him once I re-entered the kayak. I was probably over explaining things but he understood. We jumped off and he did great. He watched to make sure he didn't get run over by the kayak. When it got too near him he pushed himself away while I got back on. I scooped him up and he did great! He didn't panic. I had explained everything. Paddling back to the shore I purposefully dug in and flipped the boat without telling him. I watched him calm himself down quickly and take in the surroundings. He assessed the situation. He showed me he was ok and waited for me to get back on the kayak and scoop him up. Another success. You have to do this with your kids. You have to learn how to coach them when on the water. This is how people survive bad situations. Preparation. 
The water is warm now. Do this now. Don't wait until winter. Don't wait until the water is cold. 


This all takes some time and preparation but if it saves just one life next year that is one more child who gets to become an adult. One more set of parents who aren't grieving over a simple mistake. Take the time to be ready for when that little girl or boy asks to do what you are doing. When they ask to go kayak with you, have a life jacket, have a plan and have a blast making memories that will last forever. 


The Excursion to Galveston Island - A Preview

In Central Texas we have the best of both worlds. We are close to great freshwater fisheries and great coastal fishing. Four hours in a car can get me to Lake Fork or Port A. Depending on my excitement, sometimes less. My next trip will be the fourth trip of its kind that I have taken with a group of men that share my passion for saltwater fishing. I refer to us as the hardcore fishermen of our circle but in essence, it is more like "Salt Core". The trip to Galveston has become an annual affair and is one we have been dreaming of for several months now. 

This will be the first time we have gone that we will have kayaks for everyone and we plan on doing some teaching, fishing and getting in lots of paddle time. We started with some freshwater time yesterday getting everything lined out, getting everyone oriented to what's going on and making final preparations for Wednesday's departure. 

When we get together, fishing becomes the focus. Among the six of us we have close to 200 years of fishing experience. Fishing is our pressure valve. We use the time to re-attune with our natural instincts. Reading the weather, the wind, the fish, the tides adds something back to your soul that corporate jobs, grinding 40-60 hours a week, and a work focused culture seems to slowly siphon away.  Cell phones become GPS navigators and tide predictors. Computers are rarely, if ever used, except to report the days catch and log what's going on for future trips. 

I'll be writing some while I am there. I may or may not post until I get back but will be gathering information, testing gear, logging conditions and the like. The Astral Brewers will get their toughest workout to date and I have an Okuma reel I want to report on. Also tumbling through my brain are ideas on: kids safety on the water, a "Get These First" accessory guide to kayak fishing and some new  rigging guides for outfitting that new kayak. 

Stay tuned for more late this week and maybe a few pictures along the way. 

Turtle Now to Save Your Life

The idea of falling out of a kayak is the exact reason why people either:
#1 Don't/Won't buy a kayak
#2 Buy a particularly wide kayak

This is nothing new. People don't buy any floating vessel only to end up bobbing beside it shortly after launch but maybe they should try it.

Later this week we will talk about PFD (life jacket) selection and that will play a role here but for now I want to talk about the first thing you should do on your first trip out with a new to you kayak.

Turtle! Jump out! Flip the thing and get wet! Don't just do it because it's 129 degrees right now (though that helps). Every kayak paddler should know how to get back IN/ON the kayak. When you Paddle/Fish like I do, it becomes even more important. Let me tell you my first experience with turtling and why it's so important you practice re-entry.

I have been paddling and fishing since 2003. In that time I have owned multiple kayaks of the sit in and sit on variety. During that time I had never fallen out/off my yak. After reading several stories of drownings, near drownings and bad events due to turtling during all times of the year, I decided for me and my family, we needed to practice. We practice all types of drills at work and that is to be prepared for the worst. The same can be transferred to the water. Practice so when the time comes, you don't panic and end up, well....dead.

In late spring I purchased two new sit on top Cobras, a single seat Navigator and a Tandem. These are the only boats in our fleet now and get a lot of usage. The first time out I told my wife and kids we had to know how to get back on. I told them I would go first so they could see how to do it and then they would try. I walked the kayak out to waist deep water with my PFD on and jumped on to the Cobra. No problems. This was more of a test for me before I went out to where I couldn't touch. It gave me some confidence and I paddled out to 10 feet of water. I counted to three and rolled off the side. Oh, crap! Something was wrapped around my leg. As I tugged on it panic started to creep in. Breathing was becoming more labored and I needed to let the PFD do its work. I relaxed and floated upright. I could feel the cable or cord growing tighter as the kayak drifted further away. Of course! The paddle leash. I grabbed the leash further up toward the connection to the yak and pulled hard. The boat floated toward me and gave me some slack around my leg. I loosened its grip from my leg and let go. I was free! So was the Cobra though and I had to swim for it. I kicked and thrashed my way along side and latched on. I rested for a minute, exhausted, and planned my attack. I would try to propel myself out of the water and grab the opposite side of the boat (perpendicularly), then hoist myself onto it and voila. What I didn't calculate was how tired I was and how heavy I was. I managed to get out of the water enough to grab the other side but promptly pulled it over on my head. This is not good. I pushed the boat off of me and righted it. Attempt two I didn't even grab the other side. People on the shore, including my family, are starting to wonder about this display I was putting on. I held on to the kayak for another five minutes and then gave it everything I had and finally, I got on top! I was out of breath, panting and glad to be aboard. And let's be clear, I'm no couch potato. I can still paddle 10 miles a day and at 6'2" am still under 200 lbs. Worn out. That stupid paddle leash got me.

Over the next few days I kept replaying that scenario in my mind, thankful I had done it. I had been arrogant about not turtling. I figured it would never happen to me. That all went away that afternoon. I was humbled by a paddle leash. Thank God that the water was warm and I had my PFD on. If it had been on one of my January outings when the water registers somewhere between 38 and 40 degrees, even with my PFD I could have died. The chill of water that cold takes your breath. You hyperventilate and usually end up gulping in water. You can drown while you are floating. If that doesn't get you the hypothermia will. The only way to survive the water in the winter is to get out of it as soon as possible.

You need to know how to get back in your kayak whether it's warm or cold. Things can go wrong. People die. If all you had to know to survive was how to get back in, wouldn't you do it? That is why I implore you to turtle now! Learn while it's warm. Wear a PFD. Turtle. Reboard. Practice.

If you want to try turtling before you buy a kayak you should test one out at a Kayak Demo Day like the one Austin Canoe and Kayak is having September 15th and 22nd. Just don't forget to wear a PFD.


For a video check out the link below. This isn't mine but is very helpful.Credit to Ken Whiting of Kayak Fishing Tales.






Items You Need. No, Really, It's the Law

In the state of Texas, you don't have to register your kayak in most cases. If it has a motor, trolling or otherwise yes, but in most cases no. Here is how it reads:


The following vessels when on Texas public water are required to have current registration, including when docked, moored, or stored.

  • All motorized boats, regardless of length;
  • All sailboats 14 feet in length or longer or any sailboat with an auxiliary engine(s); and
  • USCG Documented vessels (New — see section below).
  • Exempted vessels — Non-motorized canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, or rubber rafts (regardless of length) when paddled, poled, or oared and sailboats under 14 feet in length when windblown. Adding an outboard or trolling motor to one of these types requires titling and registration.
  • An exempt boat may have previously been titled as a motorboat. You can check whether a title has been issued for free – Query Ownership
That is great news! Slow down there buddy. Just because you don't have to register your boat (as long as you meet the above criteria) doesn't mean you can stroll down to Austin Canoe and Kayak and pick a boat and a paddle and be on the Colorado River before sunset. There are some other things to look at within the laws. 

Just to get on the water you need to read this:

All vessels, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one Type I, II, III or V wearable PFD for each person on board. A Type V PFD is acceptable only if used in accordance with the specific instructions on the label of the device.

Need some help picking one out? Click here or here. And if you want a direct link to a recommended manufacturer? You should check out Astral Buoyancy. PFDs are what they do. American designed products for the roughest waters in the world. If you need to float, you need an Astral. 

If you are going to paddle at night:

Remember that you must carry one bright white light that can be exhibited in time to prevent a collision. It is recommended that you carry a lantern, flashlight, or other attached white light that will be visible from 360 degrees. Regulations state that canoes, kayaks, and all other manually driven vessels shall exhibit sidelights and a sternlight, and shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern, or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.


Need some help? For the absolute best you need to look at the YakAttack Light. You can find it here with a Ram Mount. It also has a hi-vis flag so people will see you during the day as well. 


A general warning to have your safety items:

Operating Vessels without Required Equipment is Prohibited - No person may operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel that is not provided with the required safety equipment. An operator may not permit a person under the age of 13 to be on board the vessel while the vessel is underway if the person is not wearing a USCG approved wearable PFD. Marine enforcement officers regularly perform vessel safety checks to ensure the safety of boat owners and passengers.

One more thing you will need by law:

Any vessel less than 12 meters in length (39.4 ft.) is required to carry a whistle or horn, or some other means to make an efficient sound to signal intentions and position in periods of reduced visibility.


As you are thinking about total purchase price, a weekend trip down the Guad or just a play day at the lake, make sure you have a PFD (life jacket),  whistle, and if paddling at night, a 360 light. 

Stay safe, not only will it save you money but it might save your life!










Safety Whistle
Astral Buoyancy PFD the Willis
YakAttack Light

Chris Payne's Paddle/Fish


I've been fishing over 30 years and the majority of my time on the water has been spent in Texas with the occasional trips out of state. In 2003 I bought my first kayak and a new era in my fishing life was born. I learned the ropes quickly about gear, paddling, fishing, packing, safety and got a degree from the school of hard knocks with a major in kayak fishing. I learned a lot of ways to not do something.

I love kayak fishing. That's the bottom line.

As of today, I work with only a few companies. When I  endorse a product  or business it is one I use daily. I can't support or be supported by something I don't believe in. I want to save people the trial and error expense that I have already paid. I will do some product reviews, give thoughts on certain innovations and even share a few fishing secrets along the way. Thanks for reading and I hope you like the website enough to share it with your friends!


Chris Payne