Having a great time on the river paddling some beautiful stretch or river or catching a fish of a lifetime is on everyone’s mind when in route to the launch. But there is one more thing that comes first and should always be considered when planning an outing; water safety. As we start to move into spring, it is very important that we remind everyone the the risks of being on the water and more importantly to be familiar with best practices and gear to mitigate those risks and ensure a safe, fun time on your kayak.

Brandon Mayes, a member of the ACK Syndicate is an experienced paddler & angler. Nonetheless he recently had a scary scenario and she shares with us his experience and biggest lessons. As we say in the world,” it’s not matter of if you will end up in the water, it when…” Be prepared.

Brandon recently had a drop into the drink when another paddler lost their balance, reached out and grabbed his kayak. No matter how experienced you are, things can go south quick and most often than not in the most unexpected ways. Here is his story.

—  I have been Fishing from a kayak for a little under 2 years now. I grew up fishing from the bank mostly and a boat occasionally. I recently experienced my first kayak rollover ironically the day after I wrote this blog. Let me tell you, 39 degree water will change your life.

Kayak fishing can be one of the best experiences of your life or it can be a complete nightmare. Being unprepared can cause things to go south very quickly so I’m here to give you some tips that you can use when rigging and prepping for a successful season on the water. I will outline the must haves and some optional equipment that can make life a little easier in the event of an emergency.

Man fishing from kayak

Being safe on the water and ensuring you have the proper safety equipment on your boat can mean the difference between life and death. There have been an increasingly high amount of kayak related deaths across the country and the number one cause of those deaths was found that most of the boaters were not wearing a PFD or a properly fitting PFD. A PFD is the most important piece of equipment on your boat. It should be worn at all times and you should ensure yours is coast guard approved and that it’s rated for your correct body weight. Other important safety equipment you should have are:

  • A whistle – used as an audible signal for help in the event you are out of visible view of help
  • A waterproof flashlight – used as a visual signal. This is most crucial for low light and night fishing situations
  • A knife – to cut lines or anything else in an emergency
  • Personal identification – for obvious reasons 
  • A cellphone or handheld marine VHF radio – this is probably the second most important piece of safety equipment you should have with you
  • (Optional but recommended) a change of clothes in a dry bag.

In the event you roll your kayak remember to stay calm. Depending on water temperature panicking can cause you to fatigue thus severely lowering your chances of successfully recovering and re entering your kayak. Extremely cold water can shock your body & make your muscles contract. This will force all the air out of your lungs, making it nearly impossible to float without a PFD.

There are a lot of scenarios that can lead to being in the water with a need for a PFD. Here are some of those situations you might not expect, but could be fatal without the proper safety gear:

  • Stroke or Heat Stroke
  • Line Break with large fish on
  • Anaphylactic shock from allergy; i.e. bee sting
  • Another paddler knocks you in
  • Hitting your head on a tree limb or bridge
  • Undercurrent or Rip Tides

Have a plan! A good rule to follow is always use the buddy system and never kayak alone. If you must go out alone be sure to tell your significant other or a friend where you plan to be. Pre-set Check in times and make contact often through voice calls or text to give updates to your location. This way if you are not heard from after X amount of time your emergency contact has a general idea of where you last were. Being prepared and following the steps above will ensure your time on the water is enjoyable. Remember your life is at stake so play it safe!

Want to learn more about my PFD? Click here to check out the NRS CHINOOK Fishing PFD

Brandon Mayes

ACK Syndicate

YT: ThatBassFishingDude

IG: @_thatbassfishingdude_


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