Kayaking and kayak fishing should be easy. Compared to launching and maintaining a boat, there are fewer moving parts. No trailer or 4x4 is necessary to enjoy some spontaneous kayak fishing. That said, over the years we have found a few things that not only make it more fun but easier and safer too.
Storage is an issue for most new kayak owners. We really hate to see kayaks stored for years in the sun and rain. We have three kayaks and store them in the garage. There are various systems on the market, but most are for single kayaks. We’ve tried various ways of storing them, including lying them flat on a piece of carpet on the garage floor. This flattened the bottom of the hull and affected tracking.
Then we went to wall straps, but had trouble lifting and strapping the kayaks to the wall. We considered standing them on end, but most garages are only 8 feet tall and our kayaks are over 12 feet long. Our final solution was to build a pair of racks 30 inches wide against one wall, plus a third wheeled rack on the floor underneath. Then all of the gear goes on top of each kayak.
Next, how do you get your kayak from the garage to the water? The roof rack is the most popular solution, but a heavy fishing kayak is more than most of us can comfortably lift over our heads. We need an answer that doesn’t require three months of weight training first.
There are expensive automatic lifters available, but we’re too cheap for that. A pickup truck works well if the tailgate is down and a red flag used. We have seen some kayaks fold in the middle when supported only by a tailgate edge. Not pretty. Of course, a trailer does just fine, but some launch areas don’t have space for parking a trailer.
The solution for us, with our little Subaru Forester, was to design a receiver hitch extension that supports the ends of our kayaks. This lets us stack two kayaks and all our gear inside without a trailer or a roof rack. When we are on the water, we detach the receiver extension and stow it safely inside. We rigged the extension with lights like a trailer to avoid the need for a red flag.
Not all launches are close to a parking area for your vehicle, so let a dolly do the work. Pulling a properly loaded dolly with a kayak and all the gear onboard is like walking a well-behaved dog. Loading gear on the kayak at knee level, while it rests on the dolly, is easy. The dolly can be carried along in a hatch or stowed back in the car.
A comfortable seat is a must. Kayak seats were designed to sit flat on the deck of sit-on kayaks where they get wet and stay wet all day. If you don’t have the newer lawn chair style seats, a plywood platform with pool noodle edge raises the seat a couple of inches and will keep you dry.
But the most important item to have on board is bug repellent. This stuff can make or break your day. Biting insects are most aggressive early morning and late afternoon when the fishing is best. Whether it be freshwater skeeters or saltwater no-see-ums, they can be overwhelming. Spray a little in the palm of your hand and apply where needed, but be sure to rinse your hands off or your paddles (and reel handles) will become very sticky.
Well, these are few thoughts we wanted to share with kayak anglers to help save them the years repeating the experimentation we have already done. We have many more ideas that have worked well for us, and we’ll share in the next column so stay tuned. Until then, get out there and enjoy a day of kayak fishing in Southwest Florida.
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of the waterproof “Angler’s Guide to Shore Fishing Southwest Florida” and “Angler’s Guide to Kayak Fishing Southwest Florida,” contribute these columns to promote the excellent fishing available in Southwest Florida. Their books are available at most tackle shops in the area, AnglerPocketGuides.com, or Amazon as a download or hard copy.