SK Team Paddler Update Joe Crespi
SAFETY FIRST: FLORIDA KAYAK FISHING
Living near the ocean has its perks. We have countless opportunities to make the most of Florida kayaking, from Jacksonville tours to serious surfing, but paddle junkies and landlubbers alike can agree on one thing: the seafood is pretty awesome.
The fish tastes even better when you’ve caught it yourself, and a day spent kayaking can be just as enjoyable as the edible rewards that follow. Still, kayak fishing is a different animal—you’ll need to be prepared to handle its unique challenges before you set out.
The following tips can help you make the most of any kayak fishing trip, but if you want to learn the ropes from a true master angler, don’t forget that First Coast Outfitters offers chartered kayak fishing trips with Walter Gomes!
FISHING WITH A SAFETY NET
As with all Florida kayaking excursions, a kayak fishing trip will require certain gear and precautions. You should always be aware of the unique laws of the area you’re fishing in, as well as the conditions that await you.
- A sit-on-top kayak tends to be best for fishing—you can even find sit-on-top kayaks designed especially for fishing to help you make the most of your angling trips.
- A PFD (lifejacket) is essential in keeping you safe and legal. Even if the law doesn’t require you to wear it at all times, doing so will give you less to worry about.
- A whistle or other signaling device is required by law in many areas and can find you help quickly if needed.
- A fishing license can be purchased online from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Be sure you know the regulations as well.
- A hand-pump can be a big help in getting water out if you don’t paddle a sit-on-top and happen to capsize
- A first aid kit is fairly self-explanatory.
- Bug spray, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat are always good choices when kayaking in Florida.
- Bring a friend. Having a buddy along is great for the company and the added safety. You can keep an eye on each other and lend a hand if you have a problem far from shore.
- Know your skills. The surf zone can be an excellent place to catch fish, but you should know how to launch and land in surf before making the attempt. Also remember the importance of self-rescue maneuvers—in a sit-on-top, the most basic form is the BBF: first pull the kayak under you and get stable on your Belly, then stabilize yourself with your Butt and finally your Feet.
- Skip the booze. Hydration and good nutrition are important on the water, and alcohol offers neither. While the idea of a cold brew on your fishing trip may be tantalizing, it’s important to remember that any kind of kayaking is a physical activity and as such rarely mixes well with inebriation. Wait until you get home to pop open a cold one.