In continuing with the theme of kayak fishing safety this month, we’ve decided to put forth some safety items that are increasingly important to have with you while out on a kayak fishing adventure. Obviously, these items will help ensure a safe trip out on the water, and our goal is to promote kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard safety. Safety is important in all facets of everything we do, whether on the water or off. Practicing safe paddlesports habits not only can protect an angler from a tough situation, but can also help ensure a safe return home. Here are our “5 Must-have Kayak Fishing Safety Items”:
1. PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
A PFD (Personal Floatation Device) is of the utmost importance when out on the water. There are many types of PFD’s (lifejackets) available to the paddlesports enthusiast, and it’s important to take the extra time to find a PFD that fits you comfortably. We highly recommend wearing your PFD at all times when on the water, and cost should never be a factor when choosing a PFD. I’m of the opinion that the PFD is the most important piece of equipment that an angler can have on his/her kayak or SUP, whether fishing or simply out for a recreational paddle. Wearing your PFD can be the difference between returning home safely or not returning home at all. This statement isn’t to alarm anyone, just reiterate the importance of wearing your PFD anytime you’re out on the water.
Choosing a PFD can be a daunting task due to the many makes, models, and brands available to the recreational paddler. We recommend spending the time to choose the PFD that’s the best fit for you. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to research the various websites, including the ACA (American Canoe Association) for a wealth of information regarding PFD’s, as well as finding certified instructors for help choosing a PFD. Local kayak dealers should also be available to help test and try out the variety of PFD’s available for men, women, and children. Whether a veteran kayak/SUP angler or a newcomer to the sport, many local pro staff members offer kayak fishing seminars, which provide valuable information to prepare you for your next kayak fishing adventure.
2. Communication Device
Having the ability to communicate while on the water is of great importance. Communication devices could simply be a handheld radio, or more simply, your cell phone. The ability to reach out to family and/or local law enforcement in case of an emergency situation is of the utmost importance. Hopefully many of us will never be faced with a situation such as this, but the old adage, “better safe that sorry” couldn’t fit any better. There are many different scenarios where an angler can get into serious trouble when out on the water, whether in freshwater, inshore, or offshore fishing. Weather can also pose potential hazards, and we all know how the weather can change at a moment’s notice. Communication devices protect kayak anglers with the ability to reach out to friends for assistance or potentially the US Coast Guard.
Many of us carry our cell phones on the water with us anyway, as we all feel it important to post pictures of our amazing catches immediately on social media. Unfortunately, cell phones have a serious allergy to the water. Luckily, many companies offer an array of products to protect the cell phone, from hard cases and soft cases, to now a LifeProof case. I highly recommend updating your contact list with your local wildlife agency and local law enforcement agency. These numbers are important to have in case an emergency arises while out on the water. I always have the contact number for the Florida Wildlife Commission saved on my phone just in case. Again, better safe than sorry is a strong motto to have.
3. First Aid Kit
The first aid kit speaks for itself, and speaks volumes I believe. And while we may all laugh at the notion, we’ve all been there before. It doesn’t matter if you’re fishing freshwater or saltwater, we’ve all been “stuck” by a fish at some point or another. On top of that, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had our battles with treble hooks, dock pilings, oyster beds, trees, etc. Having the ability to quickly bandage up a bleeding cut so we can get back to the fishing is really one of those top of the list priorities. There’s been more occasions than I care to remember where I’ve gotten a jighead or circle hook in my finger or hand from trying to release a fish, who’s more eager than you can imagine to get back into the water. Having the first aid kit allows my to quickly clean the wound, bandage it, and get back to the fishing with relative ease and quickness. A first aid kit is a simple buy, and can be found from such kayak retailers, such as ACK (Austin Canoe & Kayak), or from a CVS or Walgreens store fairly easily.4. Signaling Device
As kayakers, we’re already required to carry with us a whistle. Whistles are fairly inexpensive, and can be picked up at many retail stores for around $2-$3. Some PFD’s already come with a whistle, like the Dio F Spec & Helios from MTI Adventurewear. A whistle serves many purposes, most importantly, it allows the kayaker the ability to signal for help if downed, or acknowledge your presence to oncoming boaters. Another new product, which takes the signaling device to another level is the Aqua Blast, personal watercraft horn from Falcon Safety Products. This product is waterproof, floats, and easily attaches to most floatation devices. It’s a great tool to signal or warn others, and to call for help or aid or rescue. It also meets USCG recommendations for personal watercraft signaling devices. It’s extremely compact and will easily fit in any hatch, seat bag, or your milk crate and will provide that extra sense of feeling at ease in case something negative were to happen while out on the water. There’s absolutely nothing wrong for simply going the extra mile where safety is concerned.
Lights? Absolutely! Many of us simply love getting those late afternoon/evening or early morning kayak fishing trips going. There’s been many occasions when I’ve went out for a supposedly quick fishing trip in the evening, and have to head back in due to it getting dark. Of course, this always happens when I’m on an amazing redfish bite. If I’d had brought my kayak lights, or even a flashlight, then this dilemma could have been avoided on several fishing trips. Having light ensures that you’re visible on the water to other kayak anglers, and more importantly, oncoming boaters. Lights also help illuminate your area making rigging lures, releasing fish, etc. much more easier. There are several types of fishing lights available to kayak anglers, and many choose from the major 3 manufacturers: YakAttack, Yak Gear, and Scotty. YakAttack offers the VISICarbon Pro, Yak Gear has the Railblaza Visibility Package, and Scotty has the Sea Lights. Yak Gear also offers the LuminaLED Utility Light for added lighting in your kayak cockpit. If you wish to go the extra mile, then SuperNova Fishing Lights offers LED kayak lighting kits which can be attached to your kayak for some amazing visibility on the water. Not to mention, the kayak lighting kits from SuperNova are pretty amazing.
As you can already imagine, all of these items listed above are simply for our protection. Being safe on the water ensures we all make it home in one piece with enjoyable and memorable fishing trips, and allows the opportunity for many more in the future. It can’t be said enough, that safety is one of the most important requirements with kayak and SUP angling. No expense should be spared, and we should all ensure that each and every one of us are promoting safety and striving for everyone to return home from his/her next kayak fishing trip.