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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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September 01, 2012

KEEN ON KAYAKS

by Bob Banfelder

Along our waterways, folks are fast realizing that kayaking is a smart way to go. These marvelous crafts are great for touring, exercise, exploring, picnicking and, of course, fishing. Try kayaking from a stable fishing platform and you'll definitely be hooked. Donna (my significant fishing pal of forty years) and I have fished in power vessels big and small: party boats, charters and privately owned mid-sized machines. All served their intended purpose well and accorded us great times. However, a yak will allow you to navigate some very skinny waters. With our Ocean Prowler Big Game Angler fishing kayak, which measures 12 feet 9 inches in length, Donna is the sole, interim captain of her craft, plying the waters of the Peconic River and its bays for blues, bass, porgies, blowfish, blackfish and an occasional weakfish. This summer season has been surprisingly great for weaks.

Sharing a single person sit-on-top (SOT) yak, we vie for time and tide. For sheer fun, one of us will be seen on the water at least once a week with fly rod in hand: a Sage 9-weight and a Pflueger reel—loaded with Teeny TS-300 Series 6.5 ips, 24-foot sinking section/58-foot floating section—perfect for working the shorelines of our area. Donna will cast a fly and catch countless fish from our fishing yak. On rather windy days, she'll resort to a light spinning outfit, tossing out poppers and tins into tomorrow. More than occasionally, she'll hook up with a monster blue or bass, excitedly commenting, "Isn't retirement great?" to which I'll respond, "Gee, I don't know, dear. I was busy in the office writing another story about you."



Donna and I very much enjoy kayak fishing. Why? The simple fact is that we tend to use a smaller craft more often than a larger vessel. Too, fighting a leviathan on their level, that is, eye-to-eye, is sheer excitement. If you wish to get into skinny waters with the stablest of platforms, put your canoe up for sale and purchase a yak. Try before you buy is sound advice. Firstly, know where you are generally going to use your yak. Next, investigate sit-on-top models versus sit-inside types, along with the proper clothing you'll need.

For skinny-water angling, nothing beats a kayak. This is not to say that the craft can't handle our bigger bays or even the ocean. I've reported on folks such as Dave Lamoure who hooked, fought and landed a 157-pound bluefin tuna from his 12-foot recreational Heritage FeatherLight kayak off of Provincetown, Rhode Island. That's certainly kayak fishing in the extreme and is mentioned here simply to show the capability of these plastic platforms. For the purpose of this blog, we'll confine ourselves to inshore waters, angling for those fish mentioned earlier, utilizing medium to medium-heavy fly, spin and bait casting outfits. We will leave extreme pelagic fishing from a plastic shell for Dave and others like him.

Selecting the proper platform can prove to be a daunting task simply because there are a plethora of manufacturers and models of kayaks on the market today from which to choose. Fortunately, we can narrow the playing field by focusing in on the single activity that concerns us here; that is, of course, fishing. Many of us who read Nor'east Saltwater are ‘fishing fools.' We don't need to be fishing foolishly. Therefore, choosing the appropriate platform from the get-go is of paramount importance. By selecting a kayak built and set up specifically for the angler, we have just ruled out the explorer class, the tandem touring type, and the wild whitewater adventure craft. How so? The reasons are that the explorer class calls for a longer, narrower vessel to propel one along greater distances. The tandem touring type is designed for two people to get in each other's way when fishing. Lastly, the considerably shorter whitewater craft is configured so as to embrace turn-on-a-dime maneuverability for psyched-up folks who live to ply swift currents and shoot rapids.

Let's now home in on the breed of yak that lends itself to the art of angling—be it spin, bait, or fly-fishing—while at the same time exploring the area of safety. It's important to note that there are basically two types of kayaks: Sit-Ins and Sit-On-Tops.

SIT-INS


Ostensibly, a sit-inside kayak is certainly going to keep you drier than a sit-on-top type. But as safety is predominant, which is the ‘safer' vessel between the two? If you are kayaking in an area with heavy boat traffic, I can almost assure you that some captain, either careless or inconsiderate, is going to leave you in his or her wake—a situation that may or may not result in your taking on water or, worse yet, swamping and capsizing you. The cockpit is going to fill, and unless you know a few safety procedures such as the Eskimo roll or paddle float rescue, you could find yourself in dire straits.

SIT-ONS


Common sense tells you that your season is going to be somewhat limited if you select a sit-on-top kayak, merely because you are going to get somewhat wet. You may not want to be braving the elements at the end of November through the middle of March, although you certainly could with the right outfit—namely, a wet suit or dry suit. As the sit-on-top kayak is self-bailing, the craft is positively the safer of the two vessels, for it is a relatively simple procedure to climb back aboard if you are capsized. Not so with a sit-in type.

Generally speaking, keep in mind that a kayak's length determines its speed, width determines its stability, and that weight, of course, determines its manageability. As an example, a sit-on-top Angler model Ocean Kayak Prowler 15-foot 4.5-inch long, 28.5-inch wide, 56-pound shell will be propelled from point A to point B quicker than our Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, measuring in at 12 feet 9 inches long, 34 inches wide, and a whopping 69 pounds. That is a 13-pound difference. That's considerable. But I knew where I was going to use the craft predominately if not exclusively; that is, on the Peconic River as well its bays close to home. Weight, therefore, was not such an important consideration. With a 5.5 inch wider width than the narrower model, it is a stable fishing platform. Considering all the kayaks I researched and sea trialed, few came up to my expectations. Of all the kayaks I could speak or write about at length, several kept resurfacing. In addition to the Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, two other manufacturers of serious angling platforms to consider are Wilderness System's Tarpon and Malibu Kayak's X-Factor.

Lastly, select a kayak (preferably a sit-on type) from a reputable manufacturer whose selection features or offers optional equipment and accoutrements set up with the angler in mind: flush-mounted rod holders astern; additional fully adjustable-lockable-removable rod holder brackets set forward; a comfortable seat and backrest; ample storage space; an anchor trolley system; rudder system; and a combination unit GPS/Fishfinder. Why all this paraphernalia and consideration? The answer is because we ideally want the ultimate fishing platform.

A more detailed examination of selecting, accessorizing and maintaining your kayak for angling, inclusive of rudder system, GPS/Fishfinder, apparel, et cetera, can be found in past articles that I have written for Nor'east Saltwater: August 6, 2008, Volume 19, Number 18, "Selecting and Outfitting your Kayak." Also, September, 2007 Nor'east's Club article posted online, "Kudos for Kayaks: Seeking the Best of Both Worlds."

Enough yakking. Get out there and prowl around for that trophy; you'll have a distinct advantage in that a kayak is stealth personified.

**********




This early morning, September 1st, with a full moon hanging in a western sky, Donna and I caught dozens of snappers and several fair-sized cocktail blues. We kept one blue for dinner and returned the rest to Flanders Bay—an hour before low tide. Our North Fork Bays are presently loaded with approximately four-inch bunker as pictured above.


Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Editor in Chief, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com



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