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I’m fond of saying you can’t beat Mother Nature or cheat Father Time. Kayaking in any form puts you eventually to the test. Wind, rain, heat, cold, current and more all are factors in padding in search of fish or fun. One look at whitewater activity gives you a view of visual adventure that comes with fast water, big falls and spilt second decisions. For the paddler seeking serene surroundings a daylight or dusk flat water scene comes to mind. For those wanting to fight fish it could well fall somewhere in between. Before you make out your Christmas list read on please.

Human nature can send you out ill prepared for what you might encounter. To combat the consequences you may want to do research or tap into the experience of seasoned kayakers for advice on preparation, essential equipment and what to expect when the unexpected is encountered. So often you hear when someone is looking for entry level equipment, “what does it cost?” Price matters but a major consideration is the ultimate goal. Start with where you intend to go, what do you intend to do? Safety is critical and often overlooked. From the perspective of an angler I tend to point people toward a Jackson Big Rig. Under the most adverse situations my money is on the Big Rig to get me there and back while providing a most efficient fishing platform. Safe, stable, roomy, still simple to paddle and fishing friendly in space and accessibility. Notice I started with safe. If not safe in launching, fishing and returning what else really matters? When challenged I generally respond with, “Would you put your child / grandchild in that kayak?” Human nature also being overloaded with rods, reels and tackle which or generally a lack of confidence, experience or a large bank account. If a little is good, a lot is better. Uh, no! In my own case, I must admit the unveiling of a new kayak to the Jackson Kayak fishing family makes want to add “just one more.”

Back to the nature side. Close to home fishing yields a few lessons, but traveling to new, bigger locations can provide a crash course. I traveled to Ontario Canada and guided wilderness canoe trips for over 25 summers. Nature in the wilderness can be not just scary but deadly. Consider high winds, deep, cold glacier lakes, unforgiving topography, bears, wolves and intense natural influences and you learn to adapt, survive and even thrive. Learn to work with what exists and you’ll be much more safe and successful. While most kayakers are “less than thrilled with the wind” it can be used to assist in positioning and in finding fish. The windblown bank generally holds fish. I’ve had some epic days fishing bluff banks for smallmouth bass when the wind was howling. The best bet is most likely a single hook lure, for me that is a spinnerbait or buzzbait under these conditions.

Check out the Strike King models In high winds I go to a bigger blade on both. Easier to lock onto a fish and unhook them quickly and safely for fish and fisherman. Torrential downpours affect the angler much more than his quarry. Heavy rains normally take away the topwater bite but again the spinner or crankbait works in the rain. Let’s face it the fish are always wet. In the cold, the strike zone of any species can shrink, bass generally (I avoid using the words always or never in communicating about fish) start eating baitfish and minnows. Minnow imitating “plugs” or soft plastics can both be deadly in cold front conditions. The muddy waters that accompany heavy rain can be a plus. It’s much easier to approach dirty water fish because they have limited vision in murky / muddy waters. I have migrated to having moving water or flat water tackle boxes, seasonal and species specific boxes also. Small Plano #3600’s are ideal and fist the fishing kayaks and the storage area provided. Human nature says carry a ton of tackle, I believe the best anglers learn how to use a half dozen deadly baits and rarely need more. The super stealthy paddle, mine is the Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon, positions you to make a house call on bass and other species. Upsize your baits, willowleaf spinnerbaits, and try jigs equipped with rattles. Lowlight conditions from dawn, dusk or cloudy days, appeal to the sight and sound sensory physical factors of the fish. Larger sizes, brighter colors and again baits that sound off with rattles, propellers or cupped faces can be high effective. As a time saver, easy to find, safe to use in bait changes I rely on my Line Cutterz rings, I have one staged on the casting bar and one on a lanyard for swift access. . Extreme heat slows down the activity of fish.

A diminished supply of oxygen that accompanies hot water (high eighties to mid-nineties) reduces the movement of the fish and jeopardizes the health of most fish and puts some like musky in peril of delayed mortality even with a quick return to the water. Heavy current positions everything from crappie to catfish close to cover and objects that break and redirect current. Most fish will stage downstream of any object that offers a current break. One caution, swift current accounts for many trapped and roll over kayakers. Caught in the fast water, the kayak is swept against overhanging trees or partially submerged trees, rock piles or midstream obstructions. Have all kayak accessories tethered or tied down. Dry boxes are handy for cell phones and keys, again secure and store. As it is with any equipment, if you buy cheap, you’ll probably buy twice.
Being physically prepared reduces the soreness that day or next. Upper body exercises including push-ups, arm curls and sit-ups for building your core are recommended. Being mentally prepared for what nature throws at you is equally vital. Nature or human nature, you can’t beat Mother Nature or cheat Father Time.