There is something deep in our angling soul that motivates us to try and reach water that we traditionally have not been able to reach. If we’re wearing waders we sometimes pull them up as high as they go and walk on tip-toes to get closer to where we believe the fish are holding. Some times we get wet, other times we stay dry, some of us do it once in a while, others of us do it all the time. Regardless, we have a natural curiosity of what’s on the other side.
Small crafts fill our need to get to places when we don’t want to risk filling up our waders. The shallow draft, wide beam jon boat is as steady as she goes. With her we can go reasonably far, propelled by a small horsepower outboard or with a pair of oars. On days when our backs feel strong we go farther than we go on days when our backs feel weak.
Kayaks, either sit-a-tops or hard-chine, open cockpit boats, whisk us away more quickly than a jon boat. We are able to carry some gear and skim the surface. A spin or two on a paddle propels us seemingly effortlessly towards a previously unreachable destination with phenomenal maneuverability.
Got balance? Try paddleboarding. Once you’ve got the hang of standing while paddling, add a fishing rod to the mix. And if you thought that spin fishing on a paddleboard was difficult, add a fly rod. It’s not for everyone, but a paddleboard does get anglers to places they normally can’t reach. Most of it is in water that is less than knee-deep water for tailing bonefish or reds.
Maybe someday we’ll figure out that the fish aren’t always just out of reach. Perhaps we’ll learn that many of them are, in fact, swimming around just near our feet. That’s a comforting feeling for sure. But then again, when we explore new places we oftentimes find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If not, we return taking more comfort in the places that we left behind.
Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com