For the avid fisherman it can feel like a dream being out on the ocean casting your line and catching some fish, is it important to know just what you are getting into. Kayaking in the ocean is far more demanding and challenging on its own so it is crucial you do your research and prepare if you want to fish as well. With the waves, distance from shore and wildlife, if you aren’t properly prepared you can end up very quickly getting in over your head and getting into a lot of trouble.
To keep yourself safe and enjoy your fishing excursion you need to consider the following.
Freshwater VS Saltwater:
When you are kayaking in saltwater you will cover a much greater distance than freshwater because of the huge amount of space saltwater bodies occupy compared to the freshwater lakes, rivers or ponds. The saltwater also presents different obstacles such as water strength, wildlife, and exposure to elements.
· Weather: The weather can be the biggest obstacle when out in the ocean and it is always important to consider what you may be up against and why it is dangerous.
– Wind: The wind can become very strong while you are on the ocean and it can create strong waves and make it difficult to steer and balance your boat.
– Fog: Fog can not only impair your vision, but make you quickly lose your way. When floating in the ocean you can quickly get turned around and forget which way the shore is. The denser the fog, the harder it is to keep track of which way you are going and you can end up spending a long time out on the ocean exposed to the elements.
– Rain: While a light sprinkle will not harm you, heavy rain can both impair your vision and lower your body temperature. When it gets cold it can increase your chances of getting sick or even get hypothermia.
– Lightning: You should never been on the water in a thunderstorm. This is because on the open ocean you become an easy target for lightning and you greatly increase your chances of being struck.
Remember that it is not just you out there and it is important to respect nature and know how to handle the animals you may encounter.
– Sharks: Saltwater means sharks and it is important to be prepared when you head out on the ocean. Sharks will bump and even try to bite your boat to see if it is food, but if you stay calm and have equipment strong enough to handle this, you will be fine. You should always keep your body in the boat and not in the water.
– Stingrays: Stingrays are incredibly common in bodies of saltwater and become even more common in the summer months. While they may not look like much, a stingray’s tail should be avoided at all costs. They can cause bad infections and even kill you so you need to not only avoid touching them in the water, but know how to handle them if you accidentally reel one in. Having a hook or stick available to help you get them free without touching them is always a good idea.
– Snakes: While you may not think snakes will be in the ocean, they can pretty much go everywhere they please. Knowing the types of snakes in your area and understanding that they will be more aggressive and territorial in the spring and early summer during breeding season will help you stay safe and avoid and unnecessary confrontations with them.
· Other Dangers:
– Waves: It is almost impossible to kayak on the ocean and not have waves. While some may be smaller and more manageable, you can easily get in over your head and end up capsizing when the waves hit. Anything over three feet can become dangerous and you should always try to fish on days when the waves are calmer.
– Current: A strong current can be difficult to steer through and can easily push you off course and get you lost. Even the best and strongest kayaker can quickly become exhausted and struggle to combat the current. If you find it difficult you need to turn back to shore rather than try to paddle through it and end up stuck.
– Other Ships: You need to be aware of anyone else on the water and consider the size of their boat and the speed they are traveling. You don’t want to end up hitting another boat or have to deal with the resulting waves from the other boat’s movements. When you are on the ocean you should always make sure you are clearly visible to other boats and make sure they are as aware of you as you are of them.
Obviously in is important to get the right kayak that fits your needs and can handle the journey, but you need to think about everything you bring and consider why you need them.
It is not as simple as just buying the first fishing kayak you see. It is important to consider what features you need to have when fishing and if the kayak will allow you to use all those features and work smoothly and efficiently with you out on the ocean. Think about storage, equipment and how well you can get in and out of it. This includes deciding between an easy access sit on top kayak and a more secure but more difficult to get in and out of kayak like the sit in, cockpit model.
Because of the long trek through the water and the strong currents and waves the ocean throws at you, you need to have a paddle that is up to the task and is capable of handling whatever the ocean throws at you. It is important to practice with a paddle and get used to the grip and weight before heading out on the ocean. You don’t need to get the most expensive paddle, but you need to make sure the quality is sufficient and you pay attention to the paddle so at the first sign of wear or warping you can replace it and prevent issues out on the water. If you don’t think the paddle is worth the money it is important to consider how you move in the water and how you would get back to shore without a functioning paddle.
You need to remember that once you stop paddling you are at the mercy of the waves. To prevent you from drifting around while you are fishing you will need to deploy an anchor. Otherwise you can end up floating miles without even noticing depending on how long you are out there and in the open ocean, you can quickly get lost. You should look into anchors that will work easily for what you need and plan ahead so the anchor will not exceed your kayak’s weight capacity.
· Sun Protection:
You will spend hours out in the middle of the ocean without any cover or shade so it is crucial to have proper protection against the sun. You can end up increasing your chances of sun burn, sun stroke, and skin cancer. So you need to be prepared and always use sunscreen. You should also bring a tube with you so you can reapply as needed. Your clothing should also be able to provide protection against the sun.
· Bug Spray:
This can be a commonly overlooked item that can make or break a good fishing trip. Bugs are not only a nuisance, but can make you itchy, uncomfortable and sick if you don’t plan ahead and protect yourself while on the water.
· Food and Water:
Hours in the sun and the energy required to kayak into the water requires you to refuel and stay hydrated. You obviously need to bring enough water to keep you hydrated, but you should also bring something with electrolytes and something to eat to give you enough energy to paddle back.
· Weather Protection:
You should always be prepared for changes in weather, even when it is supposed to be clear skies. Mother nature loves to mix it up and throw us curveballs so making sure you have the necessary protection is key to staying safe and enjoying your fishing trip. This means bringing extra layers, preferably water proof clothing, and bringing a drybag with a change of clothes for when you are done.
· Safety Gear:
No matter what you plan to do on the water, once you are out there you need to be prepared for the worst case scenario. This includes always having:
– PFD: This can be the difference between life and death when you are in the middle of the ocean. A personal floatation device or lifejacket (there is a difference between the two) is required for any kayaking trip and it is important to find one that will work for fishing. This means you should avoid inflatables and anything that can be rendered useless with a puncture.
– Radio: Cell phones are great on land, but there can be an issue with reception in the ocean. To make sure you can contact someone if an emergency arises it is important to utilize a communication option that will not only work, but be consistent. The best option is typically a radio and you can ask your local shop or look online for the best option for you.
– Signals: This can include whistles, flairs or anything else to help you get the attention of others during an emergency. No matter what you choose it must me loud enough or bright enough to signal people on shore and let them know you need help.
– Paddle Leash: It is crucial to keep your paddle secure so you can negotiate the waters and make your way back to land safely. If you end up capsizing or just drop it by mistake it can end with you losing the paddle and stranding yourself. A leash will keep your paddle secured to the boat and eliminates the risk of ending up without it.
– Tow Line: To make sure you can get back into your boat safely if you fall out a tow line is a great thing to have when floating in the ocean. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and can be just an ordinary rope as long as it is in good condition and is secured properly.
– Cutting Tool: When out in nature it is always smart to have a knife or some type of cutting tool just in case. It is always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
– First Aid Kit: From minor scrapes to open gashes, it is important to be prepared and have the necessary items to treat, or at the very least stability the wound until you can get back to shore.
· A Plan:
You should never head out on the ocean without an established plan. This means planning your trip out ahead of time, checking the weather, get your gear ready and don’t forget to let someone know exactly when and where you are going. Last minute, spur of the moment trips may seem fun, but not properly planning can mean forgetting important things and possibly getting injured.
· Fishing Gear:
You obviously can’t go fishing without the fishing gear but you should make sure you not only have the items for fishing, but items to accommodate fishing in a kayak in the ocean.
– Fish Grip:
– A Net
– Line Cutter
Kayaking in the open ocean can be an amazing experience, but you should never go out unprepared. Always be vigilant of the weather and news reports that may give you crucial information about the area you will be fishing in. When in doubt, there is no harm in postponing your trip for a day or even a month if it means you can stay safe and life to enjoy the wonders of kayak fishing on the ocean another day.