IFD: Now for the second installment from expert Irish kayak angler Graham Smith on his series about getting started in Kayaking.
Following on from how to make a start in kayak angling. Here’s some pointers to get you on the water safely and what you should have before heading out.
So you got your kayak: So you have gone out and bought a kayak, hopefully you have given it a paddle and are happy with your choice before handing over your cash. You should be on some sort of kayak angling forum by now and having a chat with the lads there and checking out is there many lads in your area. So hopefully you have gotten a lot of info and also info on your local area. If you are unlucky and you find out you are on your own you can still get the basics in.
Before heading out.
Before heading you should have these basic items of safety equipment. This list is the bare essentials.
1. Very importantly you need a dry suit,
Get one from ebay or a shop or off a forum but try and buy one as wet suits are not ideal. As dry suits are a real life saver.
Cost; second hand E100.00 up, New E300.00 up
2. A decent PFD [personal flotation device]
Self inflating ones are not ideal as they can hinder you getting back on your kayak if you end up in the water.
Cost; New E60.00 and up, try and buy new.
3. Magnetic compass NOT electronic,
As long as they are kept away from radio’s and steel they will be fine and rarely develop faults. You keep them away from metal and radio’s as the magnetic field from them interferes with the magnetic compass.
Cost; New E10.00 up
4. Now your into electrics,
As I am talking about essentials I’ll keep it short.
Vhf, water proof or in a water proof case,
Phone same as above,
Cost; New Vhf E130.00 up
5. Paddle leash and a sharp safety knife.
Cost for both; New E30.00 up
6. Last but not least a drogue or anchor.
You need at least one of these as if you get tired or hurt while afloat you can slow you drift and stay away from dangers while some one comes to your aid if needed.
Anchors are great but if you are new a float they are the trickiest part of kayak angling. So a drogue is excellent while you get use to anchoring.
Cost; Anchor and reel with anchor line about E60.00 but just the anchor and line about E20.00 you could make your own reel.
If you still have a few pound left.
Flares are an excellent item, but they are expensive and can be hard to keep in useable condition on a kayak. I double vacuum pack mine with some kitchen roll around them to keep them in top condition.
Hand held flares, about new E9.00 up depending what you want. A minimum of 7 of these is recommended.
Personal locator beacons. I do have one of these and I find it ideal for where I fish.
As the average hand held vhf only has a range of 5miles and less if close to cliff faces. The PLB works from the satellites and sends a signal trough the satellites when activated. So in my view if you only have the money for a vhf or PLB I’d get the PLB. This is my personal choice, check out your area and circumstances before you decide what you want.
Cost: Mine one was E220.00
These are an excellent item but only if you can us it. You can practice at home and have a good mess around with it until you know it inside out.
Cost: You can get a Garmin etrex from about E60.00 second hand. I have a garmin 60csx and cost about E120.00 second hand, a very nice unit.
After that it’s pure personal choice.
You have fish finders, tackle boxes and a multitude of cameras all have there place and enhance your time afloat but try hold back and get the essentials first.
These are essential, get use to watching them and compare them to what the weather is like in your area, as some forecasts are more accurate in certain areas.
I use xc weather and magic seaweed. I find xc weather not very accurate in the winter months but much better in the summer for some reason.
Magic seaweed is excellent for exposed coasts as they give a very good swell height forecast also.
Always, always, always check your fore cast before going out. Check the night before and the morning before you go out as they can change quickly. Also so never go out in a decent off shore breeze as it may strengthen and make it difficult to get back ashore.
You have your essentials.
You have what you need now and it’s time to wet the kayak.
Hopefully you have some company to do this the first few times out.
If you can get yourself down to a nice shallow beach preferably with an onshore breeze so if things go pear shaped your kayak will wash ashore.
these beaches are excellent for getting use to the stability of your kayak you can have a go at surfing in small waves and get use to hoping back backing on your kayak.
You do not need to be out of your depth at this point. Get use to your kayak and have a bit of fun at the same time.
I do this with my kids every year and just go for a play in the shallow surf and they just find it a bit of fun. But they are learning how to do a re-entry with out even knowing it. They are like penguins now on and off like a shot. Its great for snorkelling to.
When your feeling confident.
You have had a few plays in the surf now and your confident in your ability to stay up wright.
It’s time for your re-entry drill out of your depth.
Now don’t be heading out to sea or the middle of a bay or in strong tidal flow.
Find a spot that’s deep enough and close to shore [WITH IN FEW YARDS OF THE SHORE] with someone with you. Either in a kayak, boat or a friend on shore.
Instead of a long wind bit of waffle here’s a video of mine on how it’s done.
You don’t need to go in head first, just slip in over the side of the kayak and get use to doing it before you start diving in head first lol.
So when your in the water compose yourself, Don’t be getting over excited. Your floating your safe do it wright the first time not 3 or 4 frantic attempts that really tire you out.
You have your re-entry off to a tee.
You have your re-entry down to a fine art now and you can hop on and off at your ease.
Don’t venture to sea unless you can do it easily. As at sea or muddy lakes make it a lot hard with wind and chop adding to the difficulty.
Also you should practice a capsize drill, meaning flipping your kayak over and get use to flipping it back over again and getting back onto it.
To be honest give this a miss for a good while the darkness can be very disorientating and you need to be very confident to fish in the dark from your kayak. A night time re-entry can test the nerves of the best kayakers.
Well this is the best part after you got over the initial fear of falling in you should be having a good laugh with your kayak.
So just add water, get out to where you want to go, find the fish of a life time and be prepared to sell you beach gear lol.
The vast majority of people that try kayak angling truly love kayak angling. The freedom and ability to fish nearly anywhere at anytime is second to none.
You can fly fish, lure fish, bait fish what ever you like.
So try meet up with other kayakers and enjoy yourself and some day I hope to meet you on the water some where around Ireland.
Thanks for reading and until next time paddle safe.