Showing posts with label kayaks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kayaks. Show all posts

Boat Ramp Etiquette

Not all kayakers use boat ramps to launch but if you do there are unspoken rules you should know about. Unfortunately many who have never fished out of power boats may not have ever been introduced to boat ramp etiquette. Today, I’ll try to remedy that.

Public boat ramps can give you access where it is otherwise sparse. When this is the case, chances are you will eventually see other people. Help everyone avoid ramp rage and follow these simple rules.

Prepare Before You Back

Put as much of your gear in your kayak as possible before you get to the ramp. Lots of areas have staging zones well before the ramp. Even if they don’t, you can get ready in the back of the parking lot. Nobody likes waiting 15 minutes while you setup a flag, look for the whistle you need and worst of all tie all your lures on while on the ramp. Don’t do that! Most of us can’t do everything before the offload but the less time you take the better.

Don’t Be a Ramp Hog

Lots of ramps have two lanes or more. This isn’t parking at Home Depot. Do not straddle those lanes. Learn how to back by practicing in your driveway so you are ready to ace the back in when the time comes. Once you get down there, move quickly. This is not the time for a leisurely morning stroll. Showing that you’re making an effort to hurry makes a huge difference to those waiting.

Lights Off

When you do finish backing, turn your headlights off. If possible, do it on the way down. My general rule is if you are in reverse, kill the headlights.

Move to the Side

If you are flying solo and need to go park the truck, you need to find a good place to stash the kayak while doing so. Off to the side is good. Still on the ramp is not. Use an anchor, brush clip or rope to secure your kayak off the ramp and go park.

Quick Strap When You Load Up

Remember that staging area away from the ramp? It hasn’t moved. When you come in for the day, get your yak secured just enough to get you to the top of the hill and to the staging area. At that point you can batten down the hatches for the ride home. Don’t spend tons of time on the ramp securing Fort Knox.

Help a Brother Out

If you happen to be at the ramp at the same time as another kayaker, make sure and ask if they’d like help loading or unloading. It can speed things up for both of you in lots of cases. You’ll be a good ambassador for the sport and might make a new fishing buddy.

If You’re Going to Chat…

If you are a chatty Cathy at the boat ramp, at least chat while loading/unloading. If you stop to have a conversation on the ramp, someone else may have a conversation with you too and those convos are usually not pleasant. At least make progress while exercising that gift of gab.

I know these aren’t all the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) rules but these are definitely some you should know. Have additional suggestions? Let us know! 

Fishful Thinking

With the weather acting schizophrenically, I've used the cold days to do a lot of reorganizing, rigging and prep for the upcoming tournament season. I'll only fish a handful of events but I want to at least make it worth the time and effort. Trying to figure out, by reading maps, old notes and revisiting way points has me trying to "guess" where the fish will be.

It actually reminds me of a book I enjoy reading every couple of years, Think Like a Fish: The Lure and Lore of America's Legendary Bass Fisherman by Tom Mann and Tom Carter. In it Mann talks about war, sports and fishing. This is at least two of the three if not all three, symbolically of course.

“In war, men are taught to think like their enemy. In sport, contestants should think like their opponents. Fishing is the only sport where the opponent, or prey, is usually invisible. If you can't think like him, you won't outsmart him. If you catch him without thinking, you're not skilled, you're simply lucky. Luck isn't as much fun, or as fulfilling, as strategy-born thinking.”

I’ll have my work cut out for me but it is all a part of it. I am trying to think like a fish.

If conditions are X, where would I be, what would I be looking for? Am I lethargic or am I feeding up? Am I looking for a bed or am I just storing up after the winter?

The voices of fish that have no voice or inner thought are filling my dreams both day and night. It is setting up to be a maddening couple of weeks. I have reorganized my tackle twice, respooled all of my reels, selected the six rods I’ll take, the baits they will fling and even what accessories I’ll be taking along.

Tournament fishing to me is like a fine scotch. Taken in small doses it is able to be enjoyed and my presence to others is, I would like to think, equally enjoyable. Largely consumed, no one wants to be near me or my warped verbal ramblings.

I will do my best to remain refined over the season. If you see me talking to my self and flailing wildly in the air however, best to just leave me be. It’ll go away sometime.

My Thoughts:Trolling Motors in Kayak Tourneys

I posed the question last week, "Should trolling motors be allowed in kayak tourneys?".
It's time I weighed in.

Last week was fun. Watching the discussions take place, civility prevailing in most instances and people sharing their thoughts. That was the ultimate goal. Decisions were being made in future tournaments without a large group of people being talked to about it. That gave me pause and I wanted to know, not just have a gut feeling, what the majority would like to see in tournaments.

A few caveats before I weigh in. I am just one guy. This is just my opinion. If you keep reading and you get a little angry, please take a deep breath and realize the world keeps turning if we disagree. I don't run tournaments so you are in no danger of me fouling up what you are doing or may want to do in the future. I've thought a lot about this. I know there will always be outlying situations, exceptions made and that's good. We should never be too rigid so when circumstances out of the norm arise we can be inclusionary rather than exclusionary. This opinion is based on most of the people in most of the tournaments most of the time and my experiences over the last decade. Mine. Yours may have been different. Mine.

This issue has two pretty well defined lines that ultimately helped me make my decision (opinion). The first is kayak propulsion. The second is state regulations.

Kayak propulsion can be divided into two distinct categories: human propelled and not human propelled. Whether you move the kayak through the water with your arms or legs, the human body exerts energy to make the kayak move. Sometimes that uses pedals. Sometimes that uses a paddle. Either way, without an exertion from kinetic motion from a human body, the kayak doesn't go. Sails are a different discussion for a different day. The question is trolling motors.

A trolling motor on a kayak is not human propelled. Little to no exertion is needed to move from one place to another. To me, that is a defining line.

State regulations are another. Though some states differ, the prevailing law is that a water vessel with a motor, electric or gas, must be registered, classifying it as a motor powered vessel. That's a pretty big line. The state of Texas obviously feels there is a significant difference between a kayak and a kayak with a trolling motor. Different rules apply.

Many have cited, well what about a wounded veteran, who is an amputee and can't but wants to compete? These would be exceptions that would have to be granted by the tourney directors and written into the bi-laws. It should also state that in very specific language. That is part of the flexibility I talked about earlier. I do have one friend who has no legs and loves to fish. I visited with him about the question at hand. He stated it would become problematic if there were lots of wind because he would not be able to brace against anything going into the wind. It makes sense and was something I had not thought about. That would be an obvious exception that could be made.

Age has also been thrown around as a line but that supposed line is very blurry. I fish with several guys over 60 who can paddle circles around others. Should we assume that all people 60 and older are frail, can't keep up and should be coddled in their own division or allowed other means like a trolling motor? I know my friends would not and do not want to be treated differently. They also constantly put the whoop down on the younger guys.

So enough circling. Prepare the hate mail if you wish. Here is how I see it.

Trolling motors should not be allowed under normal circumstances in kayak tournaments. At that point, it's a boat tournament, not a kayak tournament. Should there be rare exceptions? Sure, as left up to the tournament directors discretion there should be. It should be rare though.

If you advertise yourself as a kayak tournament, no trolling motors. If you are a fishing tournament, have divisions or whatever you want. Be clear with what your goals are, what your participants can expect and do not hide it in the fine print. Be up front.

Review: Malone DownLoader Kayak Carrier

I recently purchased the DownLoader from Malone for my wife's minivan. We've been able to take our kayaks on the van a little over 1,000 miles and put them through the ringer. I'll give you the dish below but first a little from Malone:
The DownLoader™ is the keystone of our J-Style carrier line and features every possible option for low clearance requirements; ease of loading; boat protection and universal fit requirements.
A quick pull on the Release Pins allow the carriers to rotate up for transport or down for garage access. We added thick adjustable foam padding wrapped with tough nylon sleeves to protect the boat's finish. The built-in boarding ramps completely eliminate the need to lift the kayak up and into the carriers. Simply set the boat up against the ramps and slide it in!
The "no tools required" installation is one step with the Jawz universal adapter system that fits round, square or factory oval load bars. For extra thick bars, there are optional length bolts available in the BUY SPARE PARTS section of the website.
Furnished with all hardware, heavy duty load straps and bow & stern safety tie-downs for one kayak.
  • Fold-down design with release pin activation
  • Integrated kayak boarding ramps
  • Three layers of corrosion resistant coating
  • Oversize padding with nylon sleeves
  • Universal fit hardware for round, square and factory oval load bars
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Optional MPG351 Telos Kayak Loading Assist available
  • Capacity: For kayaks up to 36" wide and 75 LB
  • Dimensions: 17" (L) x 6" (W) x 19.5" (H) raised and 6" (H) lowered
  • Frame: Coated steel, Injection molded nylon
  • Weight: 16 LB (set of 2)

The Good

Installation was easy. Everything you need to do the install is right there in the box. I already had Malone crossbars so it wasn't a problem. The approximate install per set was less than five minutes. 

I love the ability to lay these hooks down and lock them when not in use. They are pretty low profile and allowed us to get into low clearance areas. 

The straps and rope that come with the kit were more than plenty to secure the kayaks. Driving through rain, wind gusts and fields of grasshoppers we still had no issues (other than a dirty car). 

The price is right too. At $159 per set, these beat out several other brands selling similar models with fewer features at larger prices. 

The Needs Improvement

On the back of the hook is a U that the strap runs through to keep it close to the hook. While strapping up, these came out a couple of times (loading by myself). I'd like to see the U enclosed to become an O so that once threaded, the strap will keep its place.

The locking mechanism is plastic and could be a little more sturdy. It's a push in pull out type secure button that needed a little coaxing the first time I used it. Eventually I was able to figure where to apply pressure to get it to lock. An aluminum interlock would be better here for longevity and more precise fitting. 

The padding is still good but seems a bit thin. I worry that in the Texas heat the adhesive might start to give way in the future. It hasn't yet and this is just speculation. Time will tell. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is a great product that performed well on the fly, is easily installed and removed, and helped us turn mom's minivan into a fun adventuring machine with kayaks. I'd definitely recommend purchasing these to friends and family. 

Wilderness System Thresher Thoughts (So Far)

photo via Chad Hoover
ICAST is proving to be a surprise factory as normal but one of the hot chatter items this year hasn't been much of a surprise at all. The Wilderness Systems Thresher (prototype) has had three videos released already showing off its ability to climb the surf and handle foamy chop. A few photos have surfaced as well.

5 Tips to Avoid Kayak Buyer's Remorse

Every day a few dozen kayaks get listed on Craigslist, fishing forums, and Buy/Sell/Trade lists. On these lists are people with buyer's remorse, listing these kayaks as "never seen the water" or "only used twice" or some other variant. If you follow these tips when you get ready to purchase, the chances of you having to flip that kayak to try to get your cash back will be lessened significantly.

A Real Drag


     In early 2004 my Dad heard from a friend of a friend about some public water that was full of bass and rarely fished. We called it Lake X.

     Hearing of such things was a lot more common in the 80s and even 90s but in this new millennium where land owners had purchased almost everything available to make it private, this small parcel of land with two lakes existed. Possibly.

     We planned a trip and found it to be everything promised. It was remote, full of bass yet hard to fish from the bank. I immediately started planning a return trip with my kayak.

     Two obstacles presented themselves that I needed to plan for. The first was very primitive access. No vehicles could get within a mile of the water. The road was blocked off. The only way in was on foot. How could I transport the kayak that far?

     The second obstacle was the distance. The drive was a little over two hours but it was remote and cell phones didn’t work out there. I needed another kayak buddy to be safe while out in this barren country just in case something happened. I only knew one other kayaker at this point in my life and he was up for the challenge.

A couple of hours before the drag
     In April of 2004 we set out for our little oasis in the scrub brush with hopes of catching every bass in the lake. I had rigged a golf club caddy as a cart to tote my kayak the mile down the road needed. Aaron stacked his kayak on a make shift cart as well and we headed off. 20 minutes later the water greeted us and huge smiles broke across our faces. A minute later we were racing across the water to different spots and after the first few casts we landed a pair of bass.

     This pattern repeated itself throughout the day and we lost count after 150 bass. This truly was an unknown, untapped resource willing to reward those determined enough to reach her banks.Sun kissed and weary, we decided to head back around six that evening. Darkness was only an hour away and the barren landscape would be full of wild hogs, snakes and bobcats sooner than later.We strapped in our kayaks and headed back down the path to our vehicles. Less than 50 yards from our departure spot disaster struck. The axle of my cart gave out and dropped my kayak and gear to the ground with a thud.

     A mile from safety we quickly became desperate. We tried to stack my kayak on top of Aaron’s to cart back but it quickly folded his cart. We were able to repair it and decided to scrap the piggy back idea. The only other option was to turn my anchor rope into a harness and drag the kayak back. Either that or leave it until we could return. I wasn’t prepared to give up my freedom or my investment so the harness was made. It quickly became apparent that the walk to the water slanted downhill which made this more of a gradual climb back to the vehicles.

     An hour after we started, darkness setting in and after being startled by a rattlesnake and a herd of wild hogs, we saw the last stretch of road. A welcome sight if ever I’ve seen one. The last of the expected guests scurried across the road and the deed was done. I said a quick goodbye and loaded my kayak, exhausted and weary.

     The long drive home blurred into highway stripes and headlights. I remember both exhilaration and exhaustion equally.

     It turned out the kayak was ok. Scarred but war proven we would make the trip just one more time.

Kayak Gear Guru

As Payne's Paddle Fish has developed over the last two years, a couple of different paths have emerged. I have realized that there are topics that are umbrella like and should be talked about time and again. Safety is one of those. Other topics like gear are sought after as well but because of the format of my blog and so many topics to cover, gear reviews and kayak reviews often get lost in the shuffle.

This was an opportunity. For the last 11 years I've been in the kayak fishing game and have seen the emergence of the community. The sharing of ideas, products and rigging have allowed our sport to grow. Unfortunately, our sport is at a deficit when it comes to straight talk about gear. Most of the reviews that are out there only speak highly of the products. This is where Kayak Gear Guru comes in.

Kayak Gear Guru is a website where products will be talked about just as I'd tell you about them around the campfire. If a manufacturer doesn't want constructive notes on how to improve, they should stay with their staffers to do the reviews. If a product is great, I'll call it that. If it's not great, I'll tell you why, give points for improvement and then make a recommendation that is better.

New reviews will come out each Monday. In May there will be videos that accompany each review so you can see it, read about it and feel like you've seen the product before you lay out your hard earned cash for it. When buying a kayak we say demo, demo, demo. Why should gear be any different? You should at least see some pictures and get an overview video. Right?

If there is a product you'd like to see covered, let me know and I'll see what we can do. Not all products will be able to be reviewed (I'm just one guy) but we will try to cover the array of gear you want to know about.

Please go by the Facebook page and give it a like and be sure to read some previous reviews already available on While you're there you can subscribe (also on the right) and get an email when a new review is posted (no spam, I promise!).

On the right hand side, there is a list of upcoming product reviews. Make sure to tell your friends. When the video channel is ready to go, you'll be the first to know.

Thanks so much for continuing to help Payne's Paddle Fish grow, for your support in these new projects and for telling everyone you know about how awesome kayak fishing is. ------Chris Payne

Now Available: A Frame Seat Kayak for Less Than $600

It finally happened. A frame seat standard with a kayak for $549.

Manufacturers of kayaks have been scrambling to add offerings of frame or lawn chair style seats the past few years. The growing market of 35-65 year olds wantss something for better back support and kayak makers want to oblige. The problem previously was the price point. For a lot of those entering the kayak market, the $500-$600 range seems to be the ceiling. You want to make sure you like it and not be too invested if you don't right? At least that's the thinking. If you can, please demo the kayak you're wanting to buy. Sometimes that is just not an option. When it's not, consumers compare options and make a decision based on that.

Bass Pro Shops introduced an all new version of the Ascend FS12T Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak. Complete with an adjustable frame seat, large center hatch, day hatch, paddle clips, and side rails for mounting accessories. At 31" wide, with six scuppers and flattened deck, the new FS12T should be an option for those looking to stand as well. It has a 350 pound weight capacity and weighs in at 77 pounds. 

So how does it compare with other entry level kayaks? Truth is I haven't paddled one yet. Demos should be available soon at select Bass Pro Shops and I hope to be able to get to try one out. Looking at the specs, it is heavier than the super popular Perception Pescador 12. At an equal price point, the 17 pound difference is about the only advantage for the Pescador versus the new Ascend. The Ascend is 3 inches wider, has access to under deck storage closer to the seat and has two above deck wells with bungees opposed to the one of the Pescador. It's hard to tell the speed difference without actually paddling them but that will be remedied soon. 

One of my kayaking friends, Josh, sent me a great idea to do a multi-kayak comparison of kayaks under $600. We are hoping to pull that off early in May and will be gathering feedback from shoppers looking to get their first kayak as well as experienced paddlers. 

I don't expect this will be the last entry level offering we see with a frame seat. It also points out that manufacturers are listening and watching. Will these new Ascend offerings replace kayaks like Jackson, Native, and Diablo? Doubtful. What it will do is give people another offering to choose from. Hopefully Hobie and Malibu will follow suit. How many Outbacks would Hobie sell if it had a seat similar to the PA at the same Outback price point? Answer: A LOT! How about a lock in frame seat in the Stealth or X-Factor for Malibu? Yep, they'd sell a ton too. The trick however will be finding a way to do it without inflating the price. 

The future is looking bright for kayak design. It's a great time to be in the sport!

Readers' Recommended Kayaks Under $600

After asking for input on recommended  kayaks under $600, the walls opened up and an outpouring of models came to the forefront. Three of these were heard time and time again so I wanted to present them to you as a follow up. You guys are full of great info and while I haven't paddled these kayaks listed below, they received overwhelming support yesterday and today. Please keep in mind weight capacities when looking at kayaks, especially those at lower prices. If the weight capacity is listed at 350 pounds, I wouldn't recommend it to someone over 200. With weight capacities, a good rule of thumb is to take off 25% of the listed value. If you and your gear are under that, you should be good. The closer you get to that number, the more water that will come in through the scuppers. You can add scupper plugs but that will keep water from draining out and can in some cases reduce stability.

1. BPS Ascend FS12T- $399 (Limited Time)

"The ultra-stable hull of the FS12T handles almost effortlessly, making it ideal for fishing. To make it perform even better on the water, we packed it full of comfort and performance features.  The FS12T starts with an advanced hull design that utilizes an extended keep with performance rocker and strakes to deliver the maneuverability, tracking, stability, and easy paddling fishermen want to get to their favorite spots quickly. A large open cockpit area includes the ergonomic Adjustable Cushioned Seating System for comfort, five-position foot rests, deep position cup holder, large catch-all tray big enough for a standard-sized tackle box, and other work areas. The FS12T's dual flush mount rod holders make transporting rod and reel combos easy, while the fully adjustable, light tackle rod tender holds your rod with 360ยบ of horizontal adjustment and vertical rod tip adjustment. The large 18'' x 10'' dry storage hatch in the bow provides storage for dry bags and other gear. Dual quick hold bungee paddlekeepers let you set your paddle down for a quick rest or a quick cast. Built-in multipurpose sternwell gives you a convenient storage space large enough for a five gallon bucket, dry bag, or other gear with a built-in bungee to secure your gear. There are multiple drain holes in the sternwell and footwell areas. At the end of the day, the threaded and sealed drain plug allows you to quickly drain excess water, while the four molded-over rubber grip handles make carrying the kayak easier. "- from Bass Pro

BPS is running a special for the next couple of days. Normally this kayak is $499.

2. Perception Scout 12- $479

"The Perception Sport Scout 12' Kayak features an open profile for easy entry and exiting with easy access to gear, and a CSS seating system that holds up to 350 lb. The sit-on-top kayak includes a flush-mount rod holder and a center hatch and tank well with a bungee cord for storage, which makes it great for solo fishing or hunting trips. The Keepers foot brace system allows stability, while the Kayak Karrier handles offer easy hauling in and out of the water."- from

The lack of under deck access worries me on this one but some people don't pack the kitchen sink like I do. If you pack light and don't need dry storage, this could be a good option.Though there are indentions, there are not scuppers in this kayaks. You will need to bail water. It's more of a hybrid kayak so please be aware. 

3. Ocean Kayak Scrambler- $549

"The Ocean Kayak ® Scrambler 11 ™ Kayak can handle it all. Whether you want to surf, fish or cruise around, this 1 person sit-on-top kayak is extremely versatile for all water activities. Molded-in seat and foot wells keep you comfortable and the oversized tank well will keep your valuables safe with the bungee straps."- from Ocean Kayak

The Scrambler comes in an Angler model which is more expensive and has added hatches and features. This is a very stable platform for getting out there. For a few bucks more, maybe look at the Angler but it will normally put you over the $600 price point. 

Several other kayaks were mentioned but they were not nearly as popular among comments as these three. Later today we will be talking about mid-range kayaks from $600-$1000. Be sure to check back!

Five Kayaks Everyone is Talking About

Most of the 2014 kayaks are starting to arrive in showrooms across the country, while a few are being shown as pictures only for now. Leaking photos, excitement about arrivals and new reviews are fueling the growing buzz for several kayaks. Energized by the Holiday Shopping Fever that is so rampant this time of year, kayaks, and these five especially, are being mentioned in almost every forum and Facebook group across the nation. Innovative designs are leading the excitement and for good reason. These are not listed in rank order. You'll have to decide for yourself which is tops on your list.

1. Native Slayer Propel

Since its first "accidental photo leak" earlier in the year, the Slayer Propel has been seen as a game changer by many. A narrower kayak than its brother the Mariner, the Slayer Propel offers the hull of the original Slayer (with some improvements) but the versatility and speed of the Mariner. Native still hasn't given the Slayer any real underdeck storage but I'm just one guy asking. The price: $2,399

2. Jackson Big Rig

At just over 13 feet long and 37 inches wide, the Big Rig from Jackson is exactly that. Designed for superior stand and fish capability, it should deliver. It's still listed as a prototype but is available for preorder now. The estimated weight capacity is between 550 and 600 pounds which should bode very well for larger paddlers who want to stand and fish. The price: $1499 w/o a rudder and $1699 with a rudder. 

3. Old Town Predator

In two models (13 and MX) the OT Predator has made a splash in the kayak market. Combining lots of sought after features, Old Town is causing people to look their way. A three position frame seat option, rod pod and six removable mounting plates bring comfort and customizability to a big water boat. The smaller MX removes the Rod Pod and is a slightly smaller boat for river running which makes a great fly casting option. The price: $1299 for the 13, $1199 for the MX.

4. Wilderness Systems Ride 115X

The 115X offers a new twist on a current favorite. The removable electronics bay in the front has been a huge hit with fishermen this year. Having a single box that all of your electronics fit on and in (for single transducer models) that are easily removed when needed has been a major draw. With an already proven stand and fish capability, this just adds another reason why people continue to buy Rides. The price: $1059. 

5. Feelfree Lure

The Lure has seemingly taken the lawn chair seating craze one step further. The leaked photos seem to have the Lure posed with a cushioned, lumbar cradling, four position seat that should rival any competitor on the market. Add in molded handles, tri-lock hatch and available rudder and Feelfree is swinging for the fences. Little in the way of thoughts and reviews are out yet on the Lure but it is burning up the internet with talk of what could be. The price: $1099 w/o the rudder, $1249 with the rudder.

Love the list? Hate the list? What should be on the list that's not? Let everyone know! 

Making Memories

Believe it or not, I don't get paid to fish, (inflection of sarcasm and a smirk).Very, very few fishermen do. I work in the medical field, on the bean counter side, for my daily paycheck. Doing what I do, I interview lots of folks for lots of different positions. I have a pretty standard set of questions that I have developed over the last decade or so and then I have my  favorite question. I ask each candidate, "What was your best day at work ever? Tell me about it." This questions tells you a lot about the person's passions, their focus and what makes them tick. I have heard some amazing stories asking this question, especially in the medical field. I have also heard some not so great answers.

Yesterday I asked the question a few times during interviews and was told an amazing story by one of the candidates. I still can't get that story out of my head. It really showed the passion this candidate has for their job and those they serve. Today, I find myself asking a similar question.

If I asked my kids what their favorite day ever was, what would it be? 

My kids are almost 9 and 5. I know they are impressionable and prone to like new shiny things. But what is my time with them meaning to them? Do our fishing trips  even rank in the top 10 for them? How well do I know what is painting beautiful pictures in my kids' minds? 

A favorite memory is not just a picture or a smile. When you think back on it, even though time has passed, it evokes an emotional response. You might tear up a bit, you might laugh, you might just get all warm and fuzzy. Any way you slice it though, that memory is buried deep. It lives with you, with its own heartbeat, waiting to be called to the forefront so it can give you a big hug again. 

That's what I want to create. As parents, we need to strive to give our children as many beautiful paintings as we can. Planning those special outings, teaching about nature, fishing, ecosystems and the balance of life are duties we should proudly carry out, especially if we want our children to pass along our passion to their kids. 

When they someday leave the nest, I hope in a moment of sadness, they can recall one of the great memories they shared with me and feel that warm fuzzy hug, looking at a beautiful picture we made together. And then I hope they call me so I can reassure them everything is going to be ok. 

The Perfect Kayak Does Not Exist

I'm sorry to be the one to say it. Well... not really.

For you new guys, the lurkers and quizzers, the ones wanting to get into kayak fishing or just kayaking in general, the perfect kayak does not exist.

For you kayak fishing vets, not all of you but some of you, stop telling them Kayak XR34 is the best in the world and you have to have one or you'll be sorry!

I get it. You love your kayak. You think it's the best. And here's the thing: For you it might be!

But let it be said once and for all, there is no perfect kayak for all people in all situations.

People with a bad back will need a lighter kayak or a trailer. People with only $400 to spend can't afford the Hobie Pro Angler 14 so stop suggesting it.

People who want a river boat may not want the Native Mariner. Especially in low water conditions.

I get it. You are loyal to your favorite brand. That's good. Please understand however, not all kayaks fit all people and situations the way it might fit you.

To grow the sport the most important thing we can do is encourage people to demo as many boats as possible. Sure, you might encourage a certain brand. I think we all do but please, whenever possible, don't encourage someone to buy a kayak "dry". If a person has never been in a kayak and you are encouraging them to buy the XR34, you are rushing. Asking lifestyle questions will lead you to only a handful of kayaks to choose from.

Hey, new guy! Does it seem overwhelming picking your first kayak? I've been there. I bought the only one I could afford. It got me on the water and that was good but it could be very frustrating and I almost died once because of a bad choice of a kayak. Please new guy, be patient. We understand you are super excited to try this cool sport out. We love it too but we have all made different mistakes. I made a really bad one that almost pushed me out of kayak fishing all together.

I purchased a kayak, sight unseen, dry with no demo about five years ago. It was such a good deal I couldn't believe it. So I bought it. Later that week I took it for its maiden voyage and almost turtled a dozen times. I hated that kayak. I felt like I was fighting it the whole time. It was awful and I sold it a month later and lost money. Since then I have purchased several kayaks for different purposes. I have a small water/buddy kayak, a big water kayak, and a family kayak (tandem). All three are different brands. I like them all and they have different purposes. For anyone to tell me that I could get all of my wants in one kayak would seem a fairy tale and frankly, unrealistic. I fish a wide variety of situations. Most people do.

If you only fish one set of ponds or one stretch of river, you might could find one kayak that works well and it could be perfect for you. That doesn't make it perfect for your buddy or that new guy on the forum.

Lots of places around the country have kayak dealers who specialize in kayaks, not just a bait store or grocery store that sells them. Ask them for a demo. Mariner Sails in Dallas has people on staff who specialize in kayak fishing and who have paddled all the different brands they carry. They aren't the only shop either. Take a look around and see what you can find. If you still don't see a dealer in site, ask on the local fishing forum. Lots of people would be happy to let you try their kayak. I take new people out all the time just to share the kayaking experience with them.

So new guys, demo, demo, demo. Only you can choose for you.

Kayak addicts, encourage them to demo. Don't just be a boat pusher.

So where do you start narrowing it down? Check out this form:

When In Doubt, Stretch It Out

Guest Blogging with us today is Alan Sladek. Alan is a Hobie Fishing Team member, TFO Rods Pro Staffer, supporter of Heroes on the Water, works with Elite Sports Training and of course, is the owner of the multimedia kayak fishing site Kayak Bass Adventures. Alan is a good friend, great fisherman and has a burning desire to keep us healthy on and off the water.

by Alan Sladek

Three years ago I was 5’9” and weighed 208. I decided to do something about it because it was affecting multiple parts of my life: Family and Fishing. I am passionate about fitness and flexibility and what that does for you in everyday life. I appreciate Payne’s Paddle Fish for allowing me to be a guest and share some things, that when done regularly will enhance your on the water adventures. For me being out of shape and inflexible was unacceptable. I hope you can gain a few tips and put them into practice.

Many of us travel great distances to fish and we are so excited to arrive that we often time don’t think to stretch out or warm the muscles up. I know stretching is the last thing on our minds when we arrive at the water, but taking four minutes to warm up your muscles and to stretch out will pay major dividends over the course of a long day chasing the dream. These series of stretches are simple, but effective.

Pass Thru Stretch: Take your paddle and form a wide grip and begin passing the paddle over your head from front to back. Each time you pass thru you should slide your hands closer together. This will open up the shoulder and begin to warm up the muscle along with loosening up the rotator area.

Flagpole Stretch: Take a stakeout pole or a five foot piece of PVC pipe and hold it straight out in front of you. Take your right hand and place it on top and bend your head down toward your chest. This will again open your shoulders and loosen up your lateral muscles. Once you have completed with the right hand switch to the left hand.

Sampson Stretch: This is a great stretch not only for the shoulders but also opens up the hip flexor. Take the Paddle or PVC over head and go into a deep lounge. You will need to flex your butt in order to feel the stretch in your hip flexor. It is also important to try to pull the bar apart, while overhead. This will open your shoulders and get them ready for your paddle.  This is my go to stretch and I perform it at the beginning, middle and end of the day. I feel that hip flexors and shoulders are the most important part of kayaking.

Air Squat: This exercise is great to loosen up your quads and get the blood pumping in your legs. To perform the exercise place your feet shoulder width apart and descend until you achieve a parallel position. Keep your weight in the heals.  Perform 10 air squats and on the tenth one stay down and move side to side in the squat to loosen up the ankle. Note: If you have balance issues use the side of your trailer or the bumper of your vehicle to steady yourself while in the squat.

These stretches and pre-paddle warm ups will help you with paddle efficiency and stamina. The more you stretch the better you will feel when you come off the water. There are many great reasons to stay flexible. You will reduce the chances of straining a muscle or disc that routinely happen when turning over in bed; shoulder injuries that may be caused from lifting or reaching; lower back aches that you get from bending over or walking up or down stairs. Lastly, the ability to sit in different positions and place your body in confined spaces for long periods of time and be comfortable, Kayak’s Anyone?

Epic Adventure Turns To Near Death Encounters

by Robert Field

The day before Independence Day I set out for a four day kayak fishing excursion to the Texas coast. I would end up pushing my limits to the max, having a brush with death, and catching some amazing fish in the process. This was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Here is my story…

I loaded up the kayak and all of my fishing and camping gear and began the long journey from Dallas to Corpus Christi, TX. I arrived after dark and drove along the beach to my campsite. Straight off shore on the horizon I could see the blinking lights of my destination: the Mayan Princess oil rigs. I set up camp near the water and climbed into my tent, thinking of nothing but the adventure that lied ahead.

Day 1

When I awoke the conditions were ideal: the surf was flat, the wind was calm, and the water looked like glass beyond the breakers. I was amazed at the beauty of this place; it was not at all what I think of when I hear “Texas coast”. The sand was white, the water green and clear, and hardly any seaweed in sight. At around 7:00 AM the guys I was meeting began to arrive so we loaded up our kayaks and set off into the surf.

Man O War

The three mile journey to the oil rigs could only be described as pleasant and serene. I saw a piece of trash floating in the water so I pedaled over to grab it and throw it in my kayak. My hand stopped inches above the bag when I realized it was not a bag but a huge Man o’ War. I looked up and realized they were everywhere. Needless to say, I elected not to go for a swim that day.

I was trolling on the journey out, and as I approached the first rig, BOOM one of my reels starts screaming as the line peels off the reel. I grabbed the rod, tightened the drag, and held on for the ride. The water clarity this far out was simply incredible. A half hour into the fight, I looked down and could see a beautiful shade of yellow and gray over 20 feet below me.

Jack Underwater

I had hooked into a gorgeous Jack Crevalle. This thing put up an incredible fight. I pulled it up into the boat and was grinning from ear to ear. I had landed my first deep sea fish from the kayak, and it felt amazing.

Jack Crevalle

When I arrived at the first oil rig, I was blown away by how massive it was. It is daunting looking up at such a gigantic structure while sitting a couple inches off the water. I tied off to the oil rig and dropped down some bait. Over the next hour I ended up landing several red snapper.

Red Snapper

As the sun beat down, fatigue began to set in, so I headed back to shore. I hung out on the beach for the rest of the night with my mind going a hundred miles an hour. Our target the next day was the formidable King Mackerel, or Kingfish.  I dozed off under the starry sky and dreamt of the day ahead.

Day 2

As the sun rose, I once again loaded up the kayak and headed out into the surf. This time, I made the paddle alone. I had grown confident in the open water and all anxiety had disappeared. I made it out to the oil rigs, but instead of tying off, I trolled around the rigs, weaving in between the massive structures. Not twenty minutes later, my rod bends over and the reel screams. Half an hour later, I had my first King in the boat. These things are massive, powerful, and have a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. What a rush!

First King

I would end up landing seven of these huge beasts. At one point, I had a fish on one rod and as I was reeling in the other to keep them from tangling, that reel started peeling line and I realized I had a double! I tried my best to juggle both rods, but would end up having one of them spit the hook. I did land the first one after an epic battle over 40 minutes, and it was a monster.

Massive King

A pod of porpoises was hanging out with us all day long. Some of the guys said they’ll take the fish right out of your hands on the side of the boat if you’re not careful. It was really cool getting to hang out with these extremely intelligent animals all day.


More Dolphins

The bite slowed down so I decided to head in a little after lunch. I had a long drive ahead of me to my next destination. Before I left Dallas, I had asked everyone I know where I could go to have the best chance of catching a big shark from the kayak, and everyone had the same answer: Galveston, TX.

Day 3

Where everything went absolutely perfect in Corpus Christi, everything began to go downhill as soon as I arrived in Galveston. I pulled onto the beach and before I made it ten feet my Jeep got stuck. An hour later I finally freed it and pulled up onto the firmer sand near the water. By now it was late, so I set up camp and fell asleep immediately. In the morning, I would be hunting sharks.

I awoke suddenly at about 3:30 AM to what I thought was somebody kicking my tent. I jumped out quickly, ready to defend myself, and landed in shin-deep water. The tide had come in further than I expected and my tent was sitting in a foot of water! I threw it in my Jeep, jumped in, and decided to just go sleep in my car in front of the bait shop until they opened.

I woke up, bought bait, and headed back to the beach. Unlike my trip to Corpus, I had nobody to meet up with on this trip. As I looked out at the ocean, I thought “We are NOT in Corpus anymore.” The water was chocolate brown, the beach was dirty, and there was a wall of seaweed three feet high all along the water’s edge. Well, this is where the sharks were, and I wasn’t there to sight-see, so I loaded up the kayak and headed out into the murky water alone. I paddled almost a mile out, dropped my anchor, rigged up my bait, and set my lines out.

Before long, one of my floats disappears and as I look over at my reel, sure enough it goes off.This is it!” I thought. I tightened down the drag in an effort to stop the fish, but it was not slowing down. This thing was FAST. I realized that I was running out of line on my reel, and if I got to the spool it was all over. I made the executive decision to release from my anchor and go along for the ride. This would end up being a grave mistake.

The fish took off straight in the one direction I did not want to go. About a quarter mile downwind from where I was anchored was Rollover Pass. This is an area with extreme currents, and if I were to get sucked into it I would almost certainly be killed. I tried with all my might to turn the fish around but it would not. Finally he decided he wanted to head off shore, and I felt an overwhelming sense of relief as he pulled me out to sea.

Half an hour later, I got a glimpse of my first shark from the kayak. It was a beautiful 5-foot Blacktip shark. It was not the monster I was after, but this was a moment I had dreamt of since the day I bought my first kayak and I cannot begin to express the feeling that overcame me. I admired him for a bit, got him on video, and released him to fight another day.

First Shark from the Kayak

My What Lovely Teeth You Have!

I suddenly realized I was almost a mile from where I left my anchor. It had a small orange float at the end of the rope, but the conditions had suddenly gotten worse as I was fighting the shark, and the swells were now over my head. Finding this thing was going to be a challenge. I spent the next two hours pedaling into the wind and against the current, searching a vast ocean for a tiny orange float. I could not continue fishing without an anchor; the current and wind were too strong. Exhausted, defeated, and overwhelmingly disappointed, I decided to call it a day. As I turned to head in, sure enough, there it is! I was overcome with excitement as I pedaled over to it. I learned the hard way on this day, if you stop paying attention for one second, your whole world can get turned upside down. Literally.

Man Overboard

A HUGE wave crashed into the side of my boat as I was looking the other way at the anchor float. This was my first time ever flipping the kayak in deep water. I am now swimming in arguably the most shark infested waters in Texas, a mile out to sea, with nobody around to hear me scream. I cannot tell you what that feels like; it was a feeling unlike any I’ve ever felt before. I looked up and realized my kayak was floating away from me in a hurry. I swam for my life and managed to catch it. I swam around to the front of it and tried to flip it over. Not even close. I swam around to the back and again attempted to right my boat. It wouldn’t even budge. This is when the panic really began to set in. I tried my best to keep my composure and think logically. Then it hit me. I swam around to the side of the kayak and climbed up onto the bottom of it. I grabbed the opposite side, and threw my whole body backwards with every ounce of force I could muster. Sure enough, the boat flipped over. “Thank God,” I thought. I tried to pull myself up into it, but as I did the boat began to flip back over. I let go. I looked up and realized I was drifting straight for Rollover Pass. I was now less than 300 yards from where it started. It was time to make a decision. Either abandon the kayak and swim for shore, or stick with it and risk getting sucked into the pass. I decided I was not letting my new boat go, so I gave it one more shot. I threw my body across the boat and clambered in. I quickly turned and headed away from the pass. I had made it.

OJT Deep Water Re-entry

At this point, I decided I should probably call it a day. I rode the waves all the way onto the beach. Some people came over and asked me how I did, and as I began to tell them my story, three men ran up to the beach screaming “Whose kayak is this?!” I walked over and told them it was mine, and they all let out a sigh of relief. They told me a helicopter was en route, an ambulance was pulling up, and they were launching a boat as we speak. It turns out that a lady who owned a small shop that sells seashell necklaces had watched me flip through a pair of binoculars and had called the coast guard. She potentially could have saved my life that day. I got a chance to thank her later that day.


A family that watched the whole event unfold was kind enough to offer to let me spend the night in their RV as they were heading back home that night. I must have said no a hundred times, but they insisted. These people didn’t know me from Adam yet after a few hours of hanging out they trusted me to stay in their home away from home. I cannot say enough about the Meyers, and if any of you are reading this, know that I will never forget you and the kindness you showed me. For the first time in four days I got to shower and hang out in some A/C. It was an amazing end to an epic day. I reflected on the day’s events as I dozed off to sleep.

You know that voice that tells you when to just let it go? Apparently mine is taking the summer off, because I fell asleep with plans to head out first thing in the morning to give it one more shot. Once again, my judgment and decision making would cost me…

Day 4

I awoke the next morning before sunrise and walked outside towards the beach. I was immediately blasted by a very strong south wind. It was dark, but I could still clearly make out the huge breakers crashing into the beach. The conditions were significantly worse than the day before. “Well, I’ve come this far, I’m not going to give up now,” I foolishly thought to myself. I loaded up, dragged the kayak onto the beach, and set out into the surf. The waves I encountered were unlike anything I have ever experienced. A few times I vaulted over four-foot waves so hard that my kayak slammed down onto the water behind them.

Once I made it past the breakers, it was not much better. I decided to stick closer to shore this time, and dropped my backup anchor about 400 yards off the beach. I began to get an eerie feeling as I realized that not a single person was on the beach. If something went wrong this time, nobody would be watching with binoculars. I looked to my right and noticed a huge storm system off in the distance. I did not know it at the time, but a small tropical storm was due to land in Galveston around lunchtime. What I also did not realize was that I had unscrewed the drain plug in my kayak the night before to get some of the water out of it from when I capsized, and had forgotten to screw it back in before I headed out. I was out in the roughest seas I’ve ever been in, alone, and was taking on a lot of water without the slightest clue that it was happening. Well, somebody must have been watching over me. Within five minutes of dropping my bait in the water, an enormous wave crashed down right on top of me and broke my anchor rig. I watched the float slide off the rope, and the anchor rope slipped into the murky water. It was over. I could not fish in these conditions without an anchor. I was disappointed, but I would later find out this was a blessing in disguise. I reeled in my rod, secured my gear, and headed in as I watched the mountainous waves crash between me and the beach. I managed to successfully surf the first three or four waves that picked me up from behind, but then suddenly I heard a crash and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew it was bad. I turned around and two waves were crashing into me from two different angles. SWOOSH.

Cross Checked On The Way In
More Swimming
The View From Below

As my head broke the surface and I gasped for air, another huge wave crashed into my kayak and slammed it into my forehead. Dazed, I somehow managed to hang on to the boat. I was now getting pounded by waves while hanging onto my kayak for dear life. I was still about 100 yards from shore and could not touch the bottom. Somehow I managed to flip the kayak over with the method I had learned the day before, and stayed in it long enough to make it to the beach. As soon as I stepped foot on the sand, I fell to my knees and collapsed. My head was pounding and I felt extremely dizzy. I laid down in the sand as half of my gear washed up onto the beach. As I laid there, six words escaped my mouth: “You win this time, Mother Nature.” When I eventually opened up my hatch to look inside my kayak, about four gallons of water was sloshing around inside. That was after being out there for 10 minutes. I would have sunk in less than an hour had I stayed. My anchor breaking off was the luckiest thing that happened to me all weekend.

This trip was one of the most incredible journeys of my life. There were great moments, terrifying moments, amazing accomplishments, and many lessons learned. My only hope is that at least one kayaker reads this and learns from a few of my mistakes. I should never have gone beyond the breakers alone in those conditions. I learned that no matter what situation you find yourself in, you have to always keep a level head and think things through before you act. The ocean is a powerful force and your situation can turn on you in a split second. I realized that I need to give somebody a float plan before I head out, so that if something happens to me there is somebody who knows where I am heading and when I should be back. I learned that despite how badly you want to do something, sometimes you have to call it off and wait for a better day. No fish is worth dying for.

As you can see, I had my video cameras rolling the entire time. I will be producing an epic three-part film series from my trip. Trust me, you DO NOT want to miss it. Subscribe to my YouTube channel at so you can catch the action when it airs.

In the meantime, I’ll be gearing up for the next adventure…

We will be launching our new website, This will be a site dedicated to kayak fishing films, but will also have sections for blog posts, product reviews, a photo gallery, and much more. We will be recruiting 4-5 kayak anglers with a knack for videography to join the YakFish TV team so that we can consistently produce quality kayak fishing adventures for you to enjoy. If you would like to apply to become part of the YakFish TV team, send a sample video to [email protected].


Thanks to Robert for sharing his story of triumph and trials. He knows there is a lot to be learned here and I plan on revisiting it later in the week. If you haven't subscribed to his YouTube channel, you should do that. Look for YakFishTV very soon and if you fancy yourself as a filmmaker, think about applying to the team. 

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