Kayak Fishing in Safety

SWKA take pride in its safety policy within the club and we have many years experience between us all to be able to give this run down of this fasinating and extremely addictive sport, although extreme and can come across as dangerous its actualy safer than most sports as long as you have the right equipment, training and Paddle plan.

The sport itself is a very relaxing and rewarding sport, it gives us the edge of beach and boat anglers where we can have the stealth approach and also get to areas where the others can not get to resulting in a better catch rate but it does have some down sides, we can be restricted to size of tides in certain areas, wind, tide flows and also some of the fast flowing marks can be a bit tricky at times and should not be tried by the novice as a rescue would no doubt follow shortly after.

There are a lot of do's and dont's in this sport and a lot of guide lines, not all of them are for everyone but most are a general accross the board guide and if followed you should be safe in the sport, below we will go through all of these and also some kit and give the kit list taht needs to had for starting out and also the kit list that we have built up.

Anchor Setup

This method comes with an element of risk and should be done with caution. You’ve launched from the shore and paddled out to your desired location/mark, time to drop the anchor. Providing your anchor is set up correctly i.e.

Anchor > Chain > Anchor Warp > Divers Reel

You should lower the anchor to the seabed, quickly releasing anchor warp with the general rule of thumb of 3 times the depth, whilst doing this you should move your anchor trolley to the correct position at the rear of your kayak and then secure the reel within easy reach using a zig zag cleat.

It is always good practice to sit for a moment to ensure the anchor system has set correctly and to make sure you are not drifting. Do this process in reverse to retrieve the anchor. You can use a “quick release” method, it’s all down to personal preference.

 

Drogue

A Drogue will help you to control a drift very effectively. To set the drogue, simply attach the end of the drogue line to your anchor trolley by using a karabiner, position forward to speed up the drift, to the rear to slow down.

Personal Locator Beacon

Small enough to be carried in your pocket, some Personal Locator Beacon have internal 66 channel GPS for 100m accuracy & transmits on a pre-programmed frequency to quickly & accurately relay your position. They float if dropped overboard & some have an integrated LED strobe light to guide rescuers.

Flares

Inshore flare pack with 2 hand-held red flares and 2 hand-held orange smoke flares, supplied in water resistant plastic bottle. For use up to 3 miles from Shore. The other option is a LED Flare - An alternative to the traditional red pyrotechnic hand-held distress flare. It is similar in size to traditional flares, but instead of using dangerous explosives to burn, it uses battery powered LEDs. The multiple LEDs emit a safe red light, projected over the whole hemisphere, which is visible simultaneously from all directions. Will run continuously for 5 hours - flares only burn for 30 seconds, Totally safe - can be carried in baggage on flights, Waterproof & buoyant. Search & Rescue aircraft safe. These have a 14 years storage life.

Footwear

A must have… Good Footwear. These boots in particular have a tough sole, perfect for clambering over rock without loosing grip Perfect for protecting the sock of the Dry suit & knee high, protecting the lower leg. 5mm neoprene, durable & waterproof protection for your feet.

Handheld VHF

If not the first safety item to purchase, it’s the second. Vhf Radios can be purchased as a Base Station or a Hand held unit, the latter ideal for the kayak subsequently if you happen to fall in, the handheld would be positioned on your PFD for immediate use. You have also the option of a Vhf with DSC. DSC stands for Digital Selective Calling and is a means of calling other ship stations or shore stations like ports. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has published guidance on the many advantages of DSC.

Kayak Trolley

It is what it is… A Trolley This one has Sandtrax wheels which makes pulling a loaded kayak with ease over different terrain.

Personal Floatation Device

Not a lot can be said about this Item apart from down to individual Taste and to go for something that is at least 50nt and it fits correctly, My favourite is the Palm Kiakoura, in my opinion its one of the best fishing PFD's on the market, got plenty of pockets in all the right areas, a bit bulky but I know if I go in I've got a good PFD on that will hold me above the water.

Do not use life jackets or life vests, these are not the same and could prove hazardous if you need to do a self-rescue.

The Kayak

Now this is one of the most important bits of kit that we buy, they can start at just a few hundred pounds and go up to a couple of thousand pounds it's purely down to your budget but the most important thing is try it before you buy it as it could be a costly purchase if you don't really like that make or model you have chosen.

There is a big range of Fishing kayaks and the most popular to be found on the water is Ocean Kayak, Wilderness System, Perception, Kaskazi and Stealth, although there are loads more to mention I thought we would just keep to the most popular, Size is another contribution both the Kayak and the paddler, there is way too many boats being sold to the novice that really does not fit the needs for the paddler, eg  an 18 stone guy isnt going to be on a Tarpon 100 they would be more suited on a ride 135 or a big game ect.

The length of the kayak has also got a lot to do with the performance, the longer the kayak the quicker it will travel and also travel a little further afield and handle some snotty waters but its compromise over the shorter yaks is the stability, although very stable a shorter kayak will be more stable.

The Paddle

Now for the second most important purchase, People go out and spend hundreds of pounds on a yak but scrimps and saves on the paddle, we have all done it but it's wrong, think about it, the paddle is the engine if its heavy you tire very quickly so does if the blades are wrong for you style of paddling.

If you can spend a bit more you will see a massive difference if you bought at least a good entry level paddle, but to find out what paddle you will need not just the one you fancy you need to talk to people, have a chat with your local canoe/Kayak shop, they will define if you are a low-level paddler or maybe a mid or high-level paddler, will you be doing soft strokes or big powerful strokes, do you require carbon or a crank all this is needed if you want to get the best out of your paddling experience, if it's wrong you won't enjoy the sport to the fullest.

The Drysuit

These very important garments really do speak for themselves although we do not want to put people off with the rising costs of getting started by saying you need one as you can start the sport without one just use a wetsuit but you will be restricted to what months you will be able to paddle and fish, with a drysuit as long as you have the correct base layers you can fish all year round in comfort. Rule of the road. dress for the water temp not the air temp.

The last 3 items are well apart from the Drysuit which should be the next big purchase and are an absolute must to go afloat with and here are a few small items that don't need in-depth writing about that you should have afloat.

Line cutter/blunt tip knife this is to cut any line that you may get caught up in or the anchor trolley or line if you needed a quick escape, plenty of fluids as dehydration sets in quick, food as food is fuel, your body can't run on empty, take some cereal bars that contain chocolate and nuts, as when you are sitting around for long periods of time you get tired so the chocolate will give you an energy burst while the nuts will give a slow release energy to the body, a compass a hat and a first aid kit and also last but not least a paddle leash, this will keep the paddle tethered to the yak at all times.

The Radio

VHF Radio, this is another very important bit of kit that is over looked by the novice, there are many on the market and the most popular are Icom, Standard Horizons and the new Cobra units, if you spend around £100 on a unit you should have a fairly good radio to get you out of bother if needed and believe me it can happen and it will be your best friend if you ever find yourself in that position.

Don't forget you can obtain a free licence from Ofcom online but this only allows you to listen, for you to operate it you must have a short range vhf licence, to get this you will need to do a course with a training school, its a days course and costs approximately £100, This is something that SWKA have worked on for its members and brought the price to half for all paid up members.

Kit List

This list is what most of us Kayakers take to see or have in our possession.

  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • PFD
  • Drysuit / Wetsuit
  • Paddle leash
  • blunt tip Knife and or line cutters.
  • Suitable paddling footwear
  • Towline
  • Compass
  • VHF Radio
  • Flares
  • PLD, Personal location device
  • Paddling cag
  • GPS
  • Fishfinder
  • First aid kit
  • Suncream
  • Anchor trolly - we will cover this along with anchoring on another article.
  • Anchor and chain
  • Drouge
  • Dive reel with sufficient line on it
  • Kayak Trolly
  • Night light - law if you will be fishing at night.
  • Dry bags and dry pouches
  • Food and water while afloat.

That's quite a list but most of it can be bought a bit at a time that way you wont see the big set up costs involved.

Fishing Techniques

There are a couple of methods that we as Kayak fishermen like to use on of which is at anchor, this method has always got some element of risk and you should always have your wits about you when doing this, we use several methods to fish this way, scratching rigs running ledger rigs, Lure both surface mid water and bottom lures, float fishing, spinning and Fly fishing.

Another method is On the drift this can be done on its own or with a drouge deployed this helps slow the drift right down in certain conditions, especially useful with wind over tide., the same methods of fishing can be used for this and all can be very rewarding.

Do's & Dont's

For this final bit its all about common sense really and if you use the common sense you should stay safe on the water.

  • Do us a PFD at all times
  • Do Make a paddle plan
  • Do take some lessons if you are a complete novice, this will put you on the right road
  • Do inform people and the coastgaurd of launch time and return (part of paddle plan)
  • Do go out in company, there is always a higher risk when out o your own
  • Do Take plenty of fluids and food for your trip
  • Do practice your self rescues when ever possible
  • Don't Go out with out the relevent safety equipment no matter how far you are paddling.
  • Don't go in unfamilier waters with out doing your homework or have company from a local with you.
  • Dont do follish things when on the water, the sea or lake will not give chances.

Hope this helps out the beginners and keep your eye open for other articles to be put up in the comming weeks.

Stay safe on the water.

Ed Gibson aka Floydyboy

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