The first thing I plan to to do when the weather gets nice and water warms up in our Southwest Michigan lakes is to capsize my fishing kayak.
I want to see if I can flip it back over and climb back in.
We kayak anglers really ought to all do this. Guys in fishing kayaks rig all sorts of depth finders, iPads, paddle holders, rod holders, net holders, Anchor Wizards and the like along their gunnels. It’s like we install our own fence to PREVENT us from climbing back in. By practicing, we realize how to deal with this fence. We might rig things differently to make it easier to get in. It’s not something to take for granted. I couldn’t get back in a couple years ago when I capsized at Kentucky Lake and was lucky a fellow kayaker saw me flip and towed me and my kayak to shore.
That’s the main safety item on the New Years resolutions list. Here are some more, both for safety and for more successful fishing.
• Remake a light post for fishing at night. A friend showed me how to make a super bright one out of translucent PEC tube about six feet long with a frosted plastic bottle for the top light orb. Christmas lights in the tube and bottle made this a veritable pillar of light—and it was really easy to make. Unfortunately, mine blew out of my kayak somewhere along I-94.
• Speaking of my light blowing out, another resolution is to pay more attention to transporting both my boat and my kayak. I need to repack bearings on all three of my trailers.
• Get a compact canned-air horn and keep it in my lifejacket. Pulling a canned-air horn out of a PFD vest pocket and squeezing to avert an accident is quicker and easier than blowing a whistle.
• Keep my phone on a tether whenever I’m on the water. When using the phone for catch-photo-release kayak tournaments, I have nearly dropped it in the drink several times. I just got a new phone tether from Rogue Fishing. For $14.99, it’s cheap insurance that you won’t lose your phone.
• Fish standing up more often from my kayak. Flipping jigs into heavy cover and working a surface lure are just two tactics that are easier to do effectively when standing up. It might mean taking a yoga class for better balance. And I probably should practice turning my kayak back right-side up before I stand and fish very much.
• Target species other than bass. We have tremendous opportunities for salmon, steelhead and flathead catfish — all of which would be tons of fun to catch from a kayak.
• Stop buying new stuff and organize the stuff that I have. I think many obsessed anglers can relate to that one.
• Finally, I need to do way more research on kayak tournament venues. I didn’t spend nearly enough time looking at charts and maps and talking to friends and fellow anglers familiar with new-to-me waters this past year. It’s a key component to success.
Outdoors columnist Dave Mull lives in Paw Paw. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.