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As spring approaches and with it warmer forecasts for much of our country, kayak anglers nationwide are entertaining visions of large fish and sunny days on the water. We spend endless hours cleaning the dust off of our gear, studying lake maps and conversing with our friends about who will catch the bigger fish. If we’re lucky, or just plain stubborn, we’ll also be buying the latest and greatest lures, rods, reels or other truly unnecessary equipment that we have closets full of already and sneaking it all into the house without our spouses knowing about it. Ah yes, spring time is truly a good time to be a kayak angler.

While the joys of spring and the blessings of being a kayak angler are exciting, it is important that we don’t let our excitement and need to get on the water overwhelm our common sense. The best day on the water can be ruined in a matter of seconds and in the worst case, tragedy can strike faster than a barracuda eyeballing a wounded grouper. So it’s important that we do everything we possibly can to ensure our safe return home to our loved ones at the end of the day. One big step to making sure we have a safe day on the water is simply the fine art of being visible to motorized watercraft. In this article, I hope to give kayak anglers who are new to the sport a few tips on how they can ensure they’re doing all they can to be seen while on the water. Some of you veteran anglers might learn something new as well, so read on.


KAYAK COLOR…When purchasing a kayak, the color options nowadays are endless. There all kinds of bright colors, dark colors and combinations of every color under the sun. If you don’t have a use for a camouflage kayak, like us duck hunters, then consider a brighter colored kayak. Bright orange, yellow, lime green and other colors stick out like a cat in a dog show. Passing motor boats will see you a lot quicker than they will if you’re in a kayak that is the same color as the shoreline vegetation. Even color combinations that are a mix of dark and bright colors are better than all dark colors. One of my favorite color combinations was the custom Jackson MayFly I owned that was orange, black and slate gray. Even a little bit of orange made the kayak stick out when on the water.


CLOTHING…If I’m going to fish a bigger body of water where recreational boaters and motor boat anglers will be cruising at full throttle, I like to wear bright color shirts to add to my visibility. My favorite is a bright orange, long sleeve, moisture wicking shirt that not only provides visibility but also UV protection against the summer sun. Add in a white or other light colored hat and I just about glow in the dark. I wear a white shirt a lot as well. Solid white shows up nicely on the water and contrasts against the shoreline behind you. Your life vest…hopefully you wear yours any time you’re on the water…is worn over your shirt so it should be a bright color as well. My wife’s PFD is bright yellow and I can spot her from a long distance when we’re fishing opposite ends of a lake.


FLAGS…Another sure way to be seen while fishing high traffic bodies of water is by using a flag. There are lots of do it yourself videos online if you prefer to make your own flag and pole combo for your kayak, but my chosen option is the VISICarbon Pro by YakAttack. It not only includes a bright orange flag, but also an AA battery operated light on top of the pole, a 3 piece shock corded carbon pole for easy pack ability, reflective material at the top of the pole and it floats should you accidently drop it in the water. While I don’t use the VISICarbon Pro when floating my local rivers that have a lot of overhead obstacles (low bridges, tree limbs, etc), I won’t leave home without it if I’m fishing open water.

PADDLE…Your paddle is one of the most visible pieces of gear you can possibly own. Think about it. When you’re cutting across a big lake to fish your honey hole, what piece of gear is in constant motion? You’re paddle! If your paddle is bright colored, like my beloved Bending Branches Angler Pro, then it’s the next best thing to a flashing lighthouse beacon. You’ll be spotted a mile off, and therefore be safe, easily.

DECALS…Okay, this isn’t for everyone, but I’m a decal/sticker junkie. If you purchase a darker colored kayak, you can easily add some bright color to it with some bright colored decals. Not only does this add some visibility to your kayak, but it also personalizes your kayak and adds some character to your ride.

BE AWARE…Along with staying visible by using some of the tips above, be sure to stay aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for boaters that aren’t paying attention and may not see you in their path. Be ready to make a quick maneuver to get out of their way, start waving and yelling, or whatever else you can do to make them see you.

There ya go, a short article full of important information. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you are seen on the water. I’ve had my fair share of close calls with motor boaters over the years and it always leaves me shaken. By doing everything in my power to stay visible, I firmly believe I’ve avoided more close calls and increased the chances of my going home in one piece.
If you have any more ideas for staying visible while on the water, post them up in the comments below. Be safe and happy fishing!

AUTHOR’S NOTE…Big thanks to fellow Jackson Fishing Team member Chris Funk for supplying the photo of our teammate Drew Gregory in the Cuda 14. How many things can you find in the picture that helped Drew stay visible while chasing redfish that day?