I remember the first kayak I ever saw, and it was on a black and white television set, the kind with tubes and required a minute or more to warm up. There was a man sitting in a long, sleek boat that wrapped around his torso, on top of a rock cliff overlooking a deep pool. This was a peculiar situation. Why would he sit in a boat on land? With a whisk of his two-bladed paddle, he pushed off, plummeted a dozen or so feet, crashed through the water’s surface and disappeared. The boat surfaced, bottom up, and I thought for sure the man was dead. In an instant there was a great commotion, water churned everywhere, and suddenly he was upright and vertical, paddling down the river. I was awestruck.
Many years have passed since I watched that show, and I still have never paddled a boat as sleek as his. I do paddle a lot, but I favor a more generic boat. My hard-chined, open cockpit kayak more closely resembles a floating bathtub than a hydrodynamic, long-distance paddling machine. I need no special skills to maneuver it. I use no Eskimo rolls, no acrobatic insertions into the water, and no technical gear. I simply drag it down the sand to the water’s edge, toss my gear inside, and go. If my kayak gets swamped, so be it. I just swim away, no harm, no foul, and just a little wet for the wear. And on a hot day, not much feels better than a good dunking, except for maybe an ice cream.
Kayaks are light weight, easy to transport, and easy to paddle, a perfect vessel for getting a shorebound angler into the honey holes. They’re virtually maintenance free, and can fit on top any truck or car. Lots of shops are selling off their demo/rental models this time of year, so they’re affordable as well.
Some of the newer models are as equipped for fishing as a small bass boat, which is great for the avid angler. Some paddle, and some, like the Hobie Kayak fishing boats, have an innovative peddle/paddle system that enables anglers to use their feet for propulsion. That means that their hands are free for casting….and catching.
If you’re frustrated by being shorebound and want a way to reach those deeper honey holes, check out a kayak. Soon, you could be like me and just climb in and go fishing.