With the coming of Spring each year, kayak anglers need to prepare themselves for the upcoming open water season. The following is a preseason checklist of things to consider before you take your kayak out fishing this year:
Make sure that if your state requires your kayak to be registered that you get your paperwork in order before you go fishing. The Department of Natural Resources is a great place to check on registration as they will generally have prices and specifications for kayaks listed on their websites. The last thing you want to do is get all excited, start fishing offshore, and then get a ticket because your kayak was not registered when it was required.
Wear and Tear
First, do a visible check from the front tip to the back tip of your kayak top and bottom to see if there are any holes or cracks that need repair. Many fishing kayaks have scupper holes which allow for water to come in from the top and drain out the bottom. There is an expectation of waves, rain, or splashing water to get in these kayaks which is why they come fitted with scupper holes. However, if one end of the kayak seems to sit further down in the water after use or if you hear water within the kayak itself, you may have a hole beyond those which are designed to help you. For sit-in kayaks, lay down a series of beach towels on a dry, flat surface under the bottom of your kayak which spans from tip to tip of the vessel. Fill the kayak with 6-8” of water and leave on the beach towels overnight. Check for damp towels in the morning. If they are completely dry, then you likely have no holes or cracks that will sink you during your next trip. While it may seem counterintuitive to fill your kayak with water in your driveway or garage, it is far better to fill it with water in these spots than to be a quarter-mile away from the landing on a lake and fill your kayak with water there.
Take a Seat
One of the best ways to improve your efficiency with kayak fishing is to literally sit down in your kayak before you even load it up for your next trip. Sit in your seat, take note of the cushion, and adjust as necessary. Adjust any food pedals as well. Once again, it may look a little funny to your neighbors if you are sitting out in your kayak in your driveway and simulating the movements you plan to use later, but it will save you time from having to adjust it at the landing or on the water.
Wipe down your kayak at the beginning of a new season with a dish soap and water solution. The last thing you want to do is paddle into the wind and have some rancid fish slime smell blowing in your face. Avoid bleach as your disinfectant as it could cause eye or skin irritation while you are out paddling.
There is a number of safety flags and other safety equipment available to kayak anglers now, and they are especially important when you are fishing water with boat traffic. This consideration should be right up there with wearing a life vest or wearing a seatbelt in a car. If something were to happen on the water involving another craft, having a safetly flag on your kayak is also a great way to show authorities that you likely weren’t at fault.
This preseason checklist gives a few options that do not take a lot of time, effort, or money, but they can all potentially save you a lot of unnecessary headache in your upcoming kayak fishing season.