Kayak Fishing Safety
There is no amount of information that you can acquire that will prepare you for any and all possibilities when fishing from a kayak. Always be careful and always let someone know where you are heading if you plan on fishing alone. This article is a guideline to kayak safety, but it is not indented to be the authority on kayak fishing safety.
Weather: You should always check the weather first before going fishing from a kayak. Frontal conditions as well as summer thunderstorms are probably the most common, and violent, causes for storm activity.
Wind: Along with wind comes rough water, this can mean the potential for overturning. Kayaks are able to take quite a bit of rough water, but the key is not to allow any waves to catch you from the broadside. If this happens, it can turn you over. Keep the bow of the kayak directed at an angle to the waves and always wear a life jacket and a whistle. Never panic! It is safer to stay with your kayak, even if you can’t reboard it, rather than to swim away and get caught in a current.
Avoid large expanses of deep open water when the weather has any chance of getting ugly or the weather report doesn’t look to be in your favor.
Lightning: The sooner you get out the water when lightning is on the way, the better. As soon as you see the storm coming and hear a faint vibrating or buzzing sound from your rod you should get off the water immediately. This is usually a warning that lightning might strike at any time due to the ions in the air that are highly charged. Lower your rods from their upright position to avoid them acting as a lightning rod and once on the shore you should stay low and remember, it is safer to get into your car than to stay on solid ground.
Fog: When caught in fog, it is easy to get lost as you can’t see where you are going, and there is always a possibility that you might get struck by a larger boat that doesn’t see you. When you notice fog coming in you should be aware of the presence of larger boats, and rather get to shore as quickly as possible. Stay as close to the shoreline as you can to prevent disorientation. Always carry a compass or GPS with you to make sure you know how to get back to shore.
Extreme cold or rain: Hypothermia is a very big threat any time you are on the water as the water doesn’t need to be freezing; it simply needs to be colder than your body temp for a long period to have an affect on your body. When you find yourself wet in windy conditions, your body temp will surely drop and you will find yourself in danger. Dress appropriately and plan ahead for in case you find yourself getting soaked.
Being on the water the whole time does and will result in you getting wet and as such you will need some reliable and warm Waterproof Clothing.
Extreme heat: In warm weather you are most likely to suffer exhaustion or heat stroke. If this does happen, you will need to cool down fast. Always have plenty of clean drinking water with you and make sure you take care not to get sunburn. Use a good sunscreen with a high SPF rating or even wear SPF rated clothing, sunglasses, a hat and never be tempted to wear your bathing suit.
Hooks, fins and teeth: Due to a kayak’s low profile you’re closer to the water, and your prey, than on any other watercraft. You should thus always be careful when fishing as some fish, in the attempt to defend themselves, can launch back at you with their sharp teeth or jump up into the air to try and get rid of the barbed trebled hooks. Restrict the use of treble hooks and use caution when handling a fighting fish.
Scary critters: Apart from the fish that might put up a good fight you will also stand the chance of encountering some other threats.
Crocodiles won’t really be any threat during the day, but they do become a threat at night. Sharks are more a threat in your mind than in reality, unless you happen to hook one and reel it into your kayak. Be careful not to leave any blood trails in the water as these will definitely attract sharks. If you do happen to catch a fish and a shark decides to relieve you of this catch then just leave the fish and let the shark have his meal. Better the fish than you and just stay very calm and quiet until the shark has finished eating and swims away.
Though this doesn’t happen often, you should still be careful of snakes dropping into your boat when you pass low hanging branches. Firstly, try not to panic, and secondly, get the snake out as quickly as possible without capsizing. When you come across a snake swimming in the water, you should paddle away from it in reverse as quickly as you can, and always assume it will defend its territory.
Another threat and probably the most dangerous one you can face is a hippo. If you do come across hippos paddle away as fast as you can while still remaining calm. Never try to cross a hippo or come between him and where he is planning on going. Hippos will attack and they are more than capable of biting not only your kayak but even you in half if they are provoked. Where hippos are involved avoidance is the best choice. Also try and find out from locals if they know of any hippos that do live in the area so that you know beforehand that there might be hippos instead of accidentally running into one.
Powerboats: Always try and avoid boating channels or high traffic areas. Consider a bright coloured kayak if this is where you want to go fishing to heighten your chances of being noticed. Display a bright flag above your kayak when you are fishing and paddling in rolling waves where you will be intermittently hidden. Also always make sure to carry a bright light when you go kayaking at night so that passing boats can clearly see where you are.
Safety equipment: PFD (Personal Flotation Device) with a whistle attached to it, a safety belt, fresh drinking water, a first aid kit, sun block, a visibility flag for higher wave conditions and a paddle leash. If you plan on going on longer trips you will also need to take flares or a flare gun, a compass or GPS, a radio, anchor and a flashlight. If you have a waterproof cell phone that will also be a good idea to take with.
Now that you have the Safety side covered you should read Fighting Fish from a Fishing Kayak or the article How to Handle Fish while Kayak Fishing. If you are after some more tips and advice first then read this article called Kayak Fishing Tips.
For a list of items you should definitely have in your first aid kit you should go and have a look at this great article.
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