The Slayer 12 is one of the hottest fishing kayaks out on the market. It provides great stability (so much that you can stand with ease), ample gear storage, and superb paddling performance. If you get the chance, head on over to our website and give this awesome package a look.
Back in January, I wrote a short article ranting about partaking in new adventure this year. Shame on me, two full months later and I had yet to do any of it, that is until just recently. I agreed to join a friend of mine on a 36 mile kayak camping trip on a stretch of the Texas Colorado River a few weeks ago that neither one of us had ever paddled. With unseasonably warm temperatures here and a busy new year both at work and home I figured why not?
While we were paddling a new stretch, I am no stranger to kayak camping. I’ve got a great gear setup that I have compiled over the years utilizing a Wilderness Syetems Commander 140. Everything I need is already set to go in a group of pre-defined dry bags and boxes. Problem was my current gear setup is meant for a one night trip so off I was to ACK.com to select some gear for “product testing” (a fine perk we enjoy as employees of ACK).
Staying Off the Grid (Sort of)
We were planning to paddle 36 miles over the course of 3 days, this meant I needed to figure out a way to keep my phone charged in case of an emergency or to…ya know, post on our Facebook page. One of our buyer’s recommended the Goal Zero Nomad 7. It’s a small portable solar charger combined with a speaker system that connects right into my iPhone. I was impressed! It not only charged my phone in about an hour but the speakers weren’t all that bad either. The biggest challenge was remembering to set it up prior to launching every morning. It’s not waterproof nor is my iPhone so I was worried about having keep it dry while paddling. I was not impressed with how the different pieces stored. It would be great if they made it so that it was an all-in-one package that could be separated if needed because right now I have a solar panel and a speaker system that, while they work together, don’t store well together. It’s pretty much two separate products that connect via a wire. Would be nice if the speaker system could double up as device that holds your solar panels in place. Nevertheless, this product proved valuable and the music was a perk at the campsite!
Keeping Warm and Protecting My Face and Hands
While warm during the day, we woke up to a frozen tundra…well not really but it was a bit too cold for these Texas boys. I knew my hands and face would be the most vulnerable to not only the cold, but dry winds and bright sunny days.
I have some wimpy hands (yeah I admit it) so I wanted to keep them warm but more importantly wanted to avoid dealing with blisters on a 36-mile trip. I picked up a pair of Stohlquist Contact Fingerless Gloves. To sum it up, warm enough, dry quickly when wet, love the fingerless features (see picture) but most of all the contact between my hands and paddle felt great.
With dry sunny days and cold mornings in the forecast, I knew I would appreciate the use of a Buff Multifunctional Headwear. And, by using a Buff, I avoided chapped lips, wind and sun burned skin and at the same time was able to keep my ears warm during our early morning paddles when temperatures were in the mid-30s. I also used it to keep my neck and face warm while sleeping — truly multifunctional. Yeah, I may have looked a little odd but was well worth it when reaping its benefits.
Protecting My Life-Line
Another new item I took with me was the Aquapac Mini Whanganui Electronics Case 108. Designed for any device that’s about the size of an iPhone it was the perfect solution for keeping my phone safe and accessible. I submerged it a few times to test it’s reliability and sure enough, it was as dry as can be. We sell a variety of cases for iPhones but was interested in something that would still allow me the ability to use it without having to open it. The clear back of the case allows for this and was surprisingly responsive. My only gripe about this product is that trying to get the phone out of the case was difficult because the phone sticks to the clear plastic.
A Trip Worth Taking
So enough of the product reviews, you are probably wondering what the reference to “pigs” in the title is all about. Here in Texas we are no stranger to wild pigs. They are typically wary of humans and are long gone before you even see them, that is unless you are dumb enough to set up your camp write smack in the middle of their trail.
We woke up to what sounded like no less than 10 pigs racing through our campsite, literally inches from our tent. So close, I could hear every breath, snort and step. My only thought was that at one point or another, a giant mama pig protecting her young or foraging for food was going to come crashing into one of our tents. I held my breathe for what felt like forever and just like that, they were gone. Needless to say, I slept with one ear open the rest of the night.
Reality is, this trip could not have gone any better. We ran into some low water issues, in fact the water never got much deeper than 3 feet in most areas. Otherwise, mild daytime temperatures, accessible islands to camp on, useful gear, amazing food, good conversation and the awesome sights and sounds of the Colorado River made for one of the best river camping trips I have ever taken.
Interested in kayak camping? Check out this diagram I put together several months ago highlighting recommended gear and suggestions on how to pack it.
Chris Payne recently posted this article on his blog and we thought it was too good not to share! In it, he outlines the products (in order of necessity) you need to start outfitting your kayak for fishing with tips for fitting and choosing certain products as well as techniques for installing some.
It’s a great feeling to pull the trigger on a new fishing kayak (or any kayak for that matter). Especially that first one. Your very first kayak is special. It’s almost like when my oldest child was born. There was a ton of anticipation, excitement and several months leading up to it. When it finally arrived I was so excited but at the same time scared. Now what? Hopefully you bought it at a place like Austin Canoe and Kayak or other reputable dealer and they can help with this next part. If you didn’t buy your kayak from a dealer, didn’t have someone to guide you through and are spinning from all the options, keep reading.
As with kids, the kayak makes you start to think of “What else do I need?” Maybe your budget is tight and you can’t get everything all at once. That is most of us. Don’t be embarrassed. Very few of us have everything we need as soon as we get home. I’ve been through this process several times and it is different with every one but what I would like to offer is a shopping list. Start at the top and work your way down. Some people may have differing opinions and that’s great. What I am hoping to do is take some of the guess work out of gearing up and save you the headaches I have gone through. This list is specific for kayak fishermen so after the second item the list would vary for other sports.
PFD (Life Jacket)- Most people go straight for the paddle. The only reason I recommend a PFD first is safety. If you blow all of your money on a fancy paddle and end up paddling in an $8 PFD that fits like an albatross, you won’t be paddling for long. Choose a good PFD and always wear it. Check out the Astral Buoyancy and Stohlquist PFDs. Want to learn more about PFDs? Click Here. I also recommend a knife and a whistle to attach to the PFD so you can call for help or cut your way out of a tangle or hung anchor. If you are going to paddle at night, get a 360 degree light.
Paddle- This is your motor. Use this paddle guide and find the right one for you. If you only have two things you can buy, they need to be a good PFD and a paddle. That seems like a no-brainer but lots of people skimp on the first and sell their kayak shortly after from non-use.
Anchor Trolley- It seems strange to buy this before an anchor but believe me when I say you will be much happier if you do. An anchor trolley allows you to use a drift sock, stake out stick and anchor while positioning yourself to take advantage of the wind, not be a victim of it. This also will allow for a quick release if you get into trouble. This is the one I use. Inexpensive and easy to install.
Anchor- This is the most widely mispurchased item under $50. Anchors exist in all shapes and sizes. The most popular one is the collapsible anchor. This is also the most frequent one laying at the bottom of a rock pile or root group in 20 feet of water. Use a bruce-style claw anchor and use the zip tie method of connection to get your anchor back from the murky depths. Here is a link from TexasKayakFisherman.com that shows the proper way to rig this up.
Anchor Rope (and accessories)- Most anchors don’t come with rope. If you are going to be fishing in any current or wind at all most people will recommend 2X the length of rope for the depth you are fishing. So if your fish are in 20 feet of water, you need at least 40 feet of rope. If you are fishing on the coast it is recommended 3X the depth. I like 3/16″ rope but choose what you like. Just don’t buy 1/16″ rope and expect to raise a big anchor easily. While you are there in the rope section, pick up a carabiner and rope float to attach to these as well.
Rod Holders- These come in different varieties. You can get flush mount, rocket launchers, trolling rod holders for baitcasters and spinning, rail mount, and the list goes on and on. Look at some rigging pictures, sit in your boat, see where you can reach and then go buy one.
Milk Crate- You can buy one or ask a retail grocer for one. Either way, you can strap this down to the back of most kayaks and hold tons of tackle and gear. You can also add some PVC to be additional rod holders. Cheapest investment you’ll love forever.
Everything Else-These things will get you going pretty well. After you have the above mentioned items, you should look at, in no particular order: a fish finder, stabilizers (depending on the kayak), drift sock, stake out stick, VHF handheld radio, scupper plugs (for sit on tops), waders, paddle gloves, really the list goes on and on. Most of all, have fun and catch some fish!
Chris Payne is an avid kayak fisherman from Temple, TX. Paddling since 2003, he is spreading his adventures, foibles and knowledge to those who have a couple of minutes to read a post or two. Chris loves to talk kayaking with anyone who wants to share stories, learn more about kayak fishing or just chew the fat. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently had an opportunity to take a quick trip to Matagorda Bay here in Texas with my co-worker Jerron for some coastal winter kayak fishing. The game plan was to target trout in the morning and hope for the sun to lure some redfish into the flats for some easy catching. However, the weather didn’t quite cooperate the way we had hoped. While the forecast called for 10-15 mph winds out of the southwest with mostly sunny skies, the weather quickly turned on us. Shortly after getting on the water the winds shifted from the North and quickly approached the 20-25 mph range.
Paddling in winds over 20 mph may not necessarily be ideal paddling conditions in an open bay but with some practice in paddling technique, understanding how to use the weather to your advantage, and the right equipment it can certainly be achieved. If you’re like me, when you have a busy schedule, you take the opportunity to go fishing when you can regardless of the weather conditions.
The first and most important thing is to know what to expect in terms of the weather. As you can see, we were caught off guard, and could have easily avoided this scenario if we knew when this front was going to hit.
Next, know and respect your physical limitations. One-way to avoid getting tired too quickly is to use the weather to your advantage. For instance, if your launch point is facing north and the wind is coming from the same direction, head out directly against it. Once you’ve reached your destination, you can simply drift to where you started by letting the wind take you back to the launch point. Besides, you typically have more energy when you get started.
Of course the winds can shift on you without warning, and when they do, you can always rely on your gear to help you get through it. One thing I recommend for any kayak angler is to get a rudder. It will enable you to compensate for “weathercocking”, which is what happens when a side wind pushes the stern of your kayak causing your boat to always turn into the wind. It stabilizes the stern of the boat allowing you to maintain your normal paddling cadence for maximum efficiency. Without a rudder, you will constantly have to perform corrective paddle strokes in order to track straight. This will cause you to tire out more quickly and lose efficiency in your forward momentum.
Then there is always paddling technique. Stat by “feathering” your paddle. It does take a little time to get used to but once you get comfortable, it can make a huge difference. Your paddle blades act as small sails when the wind grabs them, so by feathering them you are setting them at an angle and your paddle blades can now essentially “slice” through the wind as opposed to hitting it face on.
We’ve recently talked about cold weather paddling apparel but I can’t stress how much of a difference a simple pair of gloves can make. I recently purchased the Stohlquist Fingerless Gloves. I highly recommend these because they help keep protect your hands from the elements, including the sun, as well as reduce the friction on your hands when paddling. Of course, as a kayak angler, the half finger design is imperative when fishing.
These are just a few tips to help make your kayak fishing trips a little easier on those windy days. If you ever have any questions or just want to come into the shop and talk kayak fishing come by our Houston location and we will be more than happy to share all our kayaking and fishing knowledge. And as always, we want to know more about our customers. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with us? Leave us a comment below.
Okay, maybe not over but I amongst many other Texas football fans, are probably starting to loose some interest in football this season. My faith in both the Cowboys and even the Texans is starting to dwindle. With two recent wins, there seems to be a small sense of hope for the Cowboys but my mind is already off the couch and in the water which brings me to this — think of it an as an opportunity for some Sunday winter paddling!
With temperatures staying relatively mild for most of the southern half of the state, it’s not that difficult to plan an outdoor paddling adventure. However, when preparing for paddling even in the mildest of winters, your focus needs to be on layers for both comfort and safety. For many parts of Texas, daytime highs can easily reach into the upper 70s and in some areas farther south, the low 80s but those temperatures can fluctuate dramatically within a few hours. Daytime highs in the upper 70s can easily turn to low 50s just after sunset. Ever heard the saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait…”? Well, there is a reason for that. Texas is known for sudden weather changes so it is always important to be prepared.
Start with a base layer using the Hydrosilk Long Sleeve Shirt, partnered with the Endurance Pants and Jacket along with a pair of high-top paddling boots like the Cross-4 Wetshoes. I also recommend you take along dry bag with you because chances are you may have to shed some of those layers depending on what time of the day you are paddling and you’ll want a dry place to store them in case it cools off again.
For those of you that are not blessed the mild “winters” we experience along the gulf coast of Texas you may need to add a few items. A Farmer John wetsuit between your base layer and splash jacket will do the trick. Consider the Stohlquist Splash Down Jacket with a built in hood as a substitute for the Endurance Jacket. I would also suggest the Stohlquist Mooners II Dry Pants as an upgrade to the Endurance Pants. The Mooners have latex rubber ankles cuff covers, which well help keep you dry. Top it all off with NRS HydroSkin Wetsocks and a pair of Rogue Gloves with neoprene cuffs to help keep both your hands and feet warm. Visit our apparel section to view our complete line of dry and splash wear, regardless of your destination, you’ll be sure to find something that meets your needs.
So if you are done with football or just need to get out of the house over the holidays, outfitting yourself with proper apparel will provide a more comfortable and safe adventure this winter.