I’ve always been a huge proponent of getting kids outdoors. I didn’t grow up with smart phones, Playstaion’s, X-Box’s, or a ridiculous amount of television channels, but we were always outdoors playing or fishing. I think it’s important that our children use their imagination, and learn to love the outdoors. That being said, my family has always tried to spend quality time on the water.
I started my sons out at an early age by taking them out with me on the kayak for fishing trips. They started out as small, quick trips and we spent more time focusing on the animals and habitat that we’d come across. Egrets, Blue Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, and Manatees to name a few. I thought it important to plant the seed and let them see themselves how amazing it is on the water, and we gradually progressed to fishing. My oldest son went on his first kayak fishing trip the day of his 4th birthday, and my youngest got his first taste of the kayak life around the age of 3. It’s grown immensely since then, and I couldn’t be a more proud papa.
My oldest got his first kayak last year, but it wasn’t quite the right kayak for him. It was a Feelfree Move, and while the length was good, the sides were too high making it difficult to paddle. He has to adjust too much to compensate, and I always worried about him turtling the kayak. It was also too cumbersome and heavy for him. My oldest, Garrett, is quite independent and likes to show he can do things himself. The trademark wheel in the keel is cute, but with the weight of the kayak, it was simply too much for him to bear. We decided that we were in dire need of getting the correct kayak for Garrett. We did a ton of research, asked a ton of questions with our manufacturer contacts, and decided to try out the Sonic 80X from Pelican International. We couldn’t be happier with the choice that was made. The Pelican Sonic 80X is the perfect beginner kayak as it is easily maneuverable and very responsive. It is just under 8 feet long, and weighs a mere 32 pounds making it easily transported. Of course, the color is red, which Garrett absolutely loves. It’s 29 inches wide which offers the perfect amount of stability for your young paddler, and with a depth of 14 inches, doesn’t hinder your little kayaker from making easy paddle strokes.
Once we picked up the kayak, Garrett was ecstatic and was amped to get on the water right away even though it was already late evening. We convinced him to wait a few days, as we’d take a family trip together and go do some fishing. The day arrived, and our Lil’ Man was ready to hit the water. He quickly dressed into his board shorts and his Columbia Sportswear fishing shirt and hat, and grabbed his buff, letting everyone know that he was ready to go. We picked an easy launch point, one that would be an open and easy paddle, and without any boaters. We hit the launch and almost had the waterway clearly to ourselves. Garrett launched first with me quickly behind him, then mom with little brother. Garrett took to paddling the Pelican Sonic 80X like a fish to water. He’s only paddled a few time, so I fully expected to have to be right by his side assisting as much as he needed me to. To my surprise and utter joy, Garrett didn’t need any help at all. He took off, paddling like he’s been doing it for years and years. He was able to maneuver and turn the Sonic 80X with ease, and even let me know a few times that he didn’t need my help, that “I’ve got this Daddy”.
We’d initially only planned to be out on the water for maybe an hour tops, but Garrett was having so much fun that we actually spent the better part of about 4 hours on the water. He paddled all over the small cove testing the limits of the kayak, becoming more and more comfortable with each paddle stroke. He even had a bit of fun by daring everyone to a race of who could get to each area the fastest. As parents, we were very pleased with the stability and performance of the kayak, as well as how easy it was for our 6yr old Garrett to handle.
After Garrett “won” a few races, he was ready to get some slime on his kayak. We paddled over to a small area where I knew that the kids would be able to get a rod bend and catch some redfish. After getting set up, we got Garrett’s rod rigged up and baited with some fresh dead shrimp. The line wasn’t even in the water a few minutes, when it quickly doubled over in Garrett’s hands, and he was yelling, “Daddy, I’ve got a fish!”. It took a couple of minutes to land the fish, and she was a beauty. The redfish measured a solid 18.5 inches long, and had a very nice 11 spots on her sides, a great fish to have for a Spot Tournament. The most amazing fact for Garrett was how bronze the redfish looked, a beautiful redfish for his first on his new kayak. We ended the day with a few more smaller redfish, then headed in to call it a day. It was an amazing day on the water, spent together as a family with memories that will truly last a lifetime. We’re ready for some more family time on the water, and seeing our Lil Man Yakkin’.