On the Water

Choosing A Kayak For Fishing

Kayak angling has been among the fastest growing recreational sports over the past decade. You hear a lot about the increasing (and to me, mystifying) popularity of stand-up paddle-boarding, but in reality kayaks designed for fishing have outsold SUPs 10-to-1 over the past 5 years. The reasons for the kayak angling trend are threefold: 1) The best fishing is found in places that cannot be easily accessed from shore; 2) Traditional fishing boats are expensive to own and maintain, and difficult to store, transport and launch; 3) Relatively inexpensive kayaks designed especially for angling are readily available in nearly every sporting goods store.

If you are thinking about taking the plunge into kayak angling, there are a few things you need to know and consider. The first and most critical decision you’ll need to make is sit-on-top (SOT) or sit-inside. SOTs are the more popular choice for fishing because they offer a lot of on-deck storage for ready access to equipment and allow the angler to move around a bit more and cast from a wider variety of positions. Many would contend that SOTs are more stable and more difficult to swamp or flip. On the other hand, sit-insides tend to be drier, and quite honestly I think “swampability” is hugely exaggerated. I have fished for years on large lakes and rivers from a sit-inside and have never had more than an inch or two of water in the cockpit from a rogue wave. Conversely, I’ve paddled SOTs and been soaking wet the whole time. To put it bluntly, if you paddle a SOT, you are going to be wet… very wet, so if you tend to fish in areas where the water is colder or if you simply don’t like being wet all the time, then the sit-inside is probably a better bet.  Continue reading

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Mystery Tackle Box… Mystery Solved!

The world I grew up in was different in many ways from the world today. In the 1970’s, there was no Internet or email. There were four — maybe five, if the weather was just right — channels on TV. The environmentalists hadn’t yet stumbled upon the concept of “global warming,” so the best they could do to scare folks into submission was a Native American crying about litter along the roadside and Woodsy Owl exclaiming, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute.”

My parents’ house was located in a relatively rural area, and there were some definite advantages to that; I spent a lot of my spare time walking in the woods and fields, and fishing along the rocky shores of the Sandusky Bay. But, there was often a real sense of isolation and, well… boredom, especially in the summer when the long, hot days seemed to drag on endlessly. So, it was with great anticipation that I convinced my Mother to let me join the Young Model Builders Club, as advertised in Boy’s Life Magazine. This would have been around 1974, when I was 12 years old.  The Young Model Builders Club was a mail-order affair in which you paid a flat monthly fee of $1.98 (yeah, seems ridiculously low to me, too, but that’s what the ad says) and received a plastic model kit in the mail each month.   Continue reading

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An Accidental Pirate Builds a Boat

Walking along the boardwalk, I happened upon a band of pirates led by none other than Captain Jack Sparrow. This was the second Jack Sparrow I’d seen in the past 20 minutes, but this one was a good bit more convincing than the first. He had the half-staggered walk down pat and greeted me with a spot-on, lilting, “Hello, Mate.” I was in the town of Beaufort (that’s Bo’ Fort) for a weekend class on wooden boat-building at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Coincidentally, it also happened to be the weekend of the Beaufort Pirate Invasion. I was completely unaware of this fact when I registered for the class and only figured it out when I started calling around to book a room and found the first four or five places I tried were full — some 30 days in advance.

Beaufort sits at the southern end of North Carolina’s Outer Banks near the deep-water port of Morehead City. Settled in the 1700’s, largely by New Englanders, the town has a distinctly northern coastal vibe similar to the small fishing villages I have visited in Maine and Massachusetts. Furthering this connection is the local whaling history. While not as productive or well-known as places like New Bedford or Nantucket, the Southern Outer Banks region was a modest contributor to the whaling industry of the 19th century, a legacy documented in great detail by a display at the wonderful North Carolina Maritime Museum on Front Street.  Continue reading

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