Article and photos courtesy of Joey Rowe.
I went right before the rainy season in mid-September. I was surprised to find of the 14 people in my group there was only one man. All of the rest of us were single females! We were from all over the world, but we all spoke English so we could communicate. It was very safe and I only felt uncomfortable when I had an overnight layover by myself in Bogota, Columbia. I would recommend spending a little more on the airfare and try to get the most direct flights available. I thought I was saving a few hundred dollars by having the layovers, but I ended up spending more in hotel costs and wasn’t in country long enough to enjoy the culture.
I found that I did not care for the local food, so I was glad I had brought granola bars and purchased snickers bars and nuts right before heading out to the Inca Trail. I would recommend doing that anyway due to the fact that you are going to burn some serious calories on the rugged terrain. Buy the bottled water on the trail the first couple of days. The boiled water that is prepared for the hikers tasted terrible. Although it gets heavy, I recommend having a few extra bottles in your back pack. One thing that surprised me is I had to leave most of my personal belongings at the hotel. The porters will only carry a very small amount of items for you on the trail and the rest is up to you to tote. My back pack contained water, a water repellent jacket, ear plugs, snacks, advil, a hands-free headlamp, local currency, rain gear and an extra pair of socks. Place everything in zip lock bags and then put your zip lock bags in a zip lock bag!
The trail was much harder than I had anticipated. I had prepared for 8 months by boxing, running and doing stretching and weight exercises. It was still not enough training for this! If you are afraid of heights or dangerous drop offs, I do not recommend this trip at all. There are no “Americanized” parts to this experience at all- for example, there are no guardrails and no lighting.
While speaking fluent Spanish is not required, it was good to know a few words and phrases.
In my Intrepid Travel experience, I would definitely recommend taking a good pair of sturdy hiking boots and toilet paper. There are very primitive facilities on the trail and even at the hotels in Peru. They often not only do not provide a toilet, much less toilet paper. Also, since the only shower that was available was freezing cold, take some personal wipes and freshen up that way. Bring your antibacterial sanitizer and a good small bug spray. Everyone in my group did that and we were all glad.
My next recommendation is to rent two hiking poles once you get in country. Do not think you can do this trail without them. I thought I could get by using only one and ended up twisting my knee on day 2 and had to borrow a second pole just to be able to complete the hike. Several people who seemed to be in good condition turned back after Day 1 and stayed in a hotel. You can see Machu Picchu by taking the train and bus to the site, but even at the site there are vertical climbs so you aren’t going to be getting away with no climbing!
I thought there would be time for reflection on a very difficult year while I was hiking the trail for four days. There was not. I was too busy focusing on where my feet were so I wouldn’t fall to think about anything at all. There was much more down time before and after the hike than I anticipated. Another recommendation is to take the altitude sickness pills. At the top of Dead Woman’s Pass (almost 3 miles above sea level) you will definitely feel the altitude. There is no turning back after Day 1, so if you get sick, you have to tough it out for the following 3 days. You don’t want vertigo, diarrhea or a stomach issue when you are walking on a narrow path on the edge of a cliff.
No one is allowed on the trail without a guide. Most guides are through travel companies such as the one I used. I booked my trip through Intrepid Travel so a lot of the accommodations and travel were taken care of for me. The company had porters, guides, cooks, etc and they were all amazing. According to what I saw, Intrepid seemed to be very good to their staff. The scenery from the tent each evening is amazing. I was surprised how comfortable the small tent was with the mat and sleeping bag that was provided. The experience of being able to finish the trail was a big accomplishment. The people both on staff and in the travel group were fantastic.
The Sun Gate looking down on Machu Picchu the morning of Day 4 is overwhelming. GO! Enjoy it.
Note: After outfitting for Machu Pichu and the Inca Trail over a dozen times, no one has had the incredible pictures of Joey Rowe. It is my understanding, that usually one is in the clouds, or just under a low ceiling. The 'clear' days that Joey Rowe had were perhaps one of the best trips to Machu Pichu during the year. Allen Wyatt, Andy Thornal Company
All rights reserved on photography and text in this article.
By: Elizabeth Hart
Whether traveling the world or camping in the backyard, sun protection is very important. People would be surprised at the amount of Ultra Violet (UV) radiation that passes through regular clothing. Special brands are now testing their clothing in accordance with American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) standards for Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) – which includes testing for both UVA and UVB ray protection. Sun protection clothing comes in many names including UPF clothing or Sun Shield. The important factor in these garments is the way the fabric is woven: providing a shield from the UV rays while being lightweight and breathable.
SPF vs UPF – What is the difference?
Both UPF (UV Protection Factor) and SPF (Sun Protection Factor) are a measure of sun protection. However, SPF is the ‘Sun Protection Factor’ found in sunscreen lotion while UPF is the ‘Ultraviolet Protection Factor’ found in sun protection clothing. For clothing, dermatologists recommend a UPF of 30+, while for sunscreen…the highest available.
What do the numbers mean? SPF 30, UPF 50+?
The number represents the ratio of the amount of UV rays stopped before reaching your skin to the amount of UV rays that hit your skin. An SPF of 30 means that for ever 30 units of UV, 1 reaches the skin (A ratio of 30:1). Likewise, UPF 50 means that for every 50 units of UV rays, 1 reaches the skin (A ratio of 50:1). In other words, for every 1 unit of UV radiation that reaches the skin, 50 units are blocked.
Important sun protection garments to wear are (from head to toe):
For avid fishermen there are additional garments to protect you during a long day on the water! The SIMMS and Buff brands, for example, offer sun protection gloves, sleeves, and neck gaitors.
Of course, don’t forget the application of SPF 30+ at least every two hours AND immediately after getting out of the water (ocean, lake, pool or river)!!
Be sure to protect your delicate eyes with protective sunglasses - polarized lenses are the best. For optimal eye protection see Allen Wyatt’s article on Costa Del Mar’s 580 Polarized Lenses.
Note: This article is also found in our World Travel Blog
By Elizabeth Hart
For any outdoor enthusiast, insect repellent is on the BEL - Basic Equipment List. As technology advances, so does the means of repelling the obnoxious, and potentially hazardous, insects.
Importance of Bug Repellent
While buzzing insects are very annoying and distracting, there is a bigger threat: disease. Insect repellents are important for the prevention of diseases such as malaria, Lyme disease, dengue fever, bubonic plague, and West Nile fever that are spread by fleas, flies, and mosquitos, and the arachnid tick.
Natural vs Synthetic Bug Repellent
There are different levels of potency when it comes to bug repellents from mild natural solutions to strong synthetic chemicals, and it may be difficult to determine what you need for your application.
It has been found that insect repellents derived from natural essential oils, such as lemon eucalyptus oil, evaporate quickly. These will provide an hour or two of moderate protection, enough protection for a little afternoon play in the backyard. Synthetic repellents such as DEET evaporate more slowly, providing protection for a longer duration.
Homemade bug repellent solutions can be made from natural essential oils found in clove, geranium (geraniol), citronella, celery, lemon, lime, pennyroyal, soybean, thyme, Mexican tea (Chenopodium ambrosioides), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum). These substances are considered "low risk" pesticides and are not regulated by the EPA.
Lemon eucalyptus oil, however, is one of the only EPA regulated natural-based repellents and is sold under the name Citriodiol (no relation to citronella). Laboratory tests show Citridiol is an effective insect repellent for up to 6 hours.
Common commercial brands that contain citridiol are Repel, Cutter, and Coleman Botanicals (since 2011).
Perhaps the most well known synthetic bug repellent is DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), commonly used by hikers, backpackers, and serious outdoorsmen. While the health side-effects of DEET have been debated, it without a doubt provides supurb protection from insects. What else would you expect from a chemical developed by the US army?
A quick look at DEET:
100% provides up to 12 hours of protection;
20-30% provides 3-6 hours of protection;
10% to 30% has been found by The American Academy of Pediatrics to be safe to use on children. But NOT on infants.
May irritate sensitive skin, and definitely keep away from wounds. Also keep away from eyes - it will burn!
DEET is an effective solvent, and may dissolve some plastics, rayon, spandex, other synthetic fabrics, and painted or varnished surfaces, including nail polish.
Permethrin is another synthetic insect repellent and is widely used in treating clothing and camping gear. ExOfficio has a line of BugsAway clothing that is treated with permethrin that will repel insects for up to 70 washes. There are sprays available, like Ultrathon Insect Repellent for Clothing and Gear (pictured).
Widely used in agricultureal, industrial, and personal pest control, permethrin acts as a neurotoxin that will kill fleas and ticks on contact. If you have had a severe run in with head lice or scabies, you are most likely already familiar with permethrin, as it is a common over-the-counter treatment (1-5% concentration). While widely used as a pest control ointment for dogs, permethrin is highly toxic to cats!
-Synthetic Natural Repellents-
Let's learn from nature. I stated above that, generally, natural bug repellent solutions are mild and lose effectiveness within an hour or so. So, why not enhance the natural with the longer-lasting synthetic. Allethrin is a synthetic form of a natural neurotoxin found in the chrysanthemum flower.
ThermaCELL uses a patented technology to release allethrin repellent into the air from a portable heating appliance to create a 15 ft by 15 ft "Mosquito Free Zone." The convenient thing about Thermacell is that no application of smelly lotions or spray to the skin is required.
Thermacell insect repellent appliances will provide protection from 98% of mosquitos during any outdoor activity such as BBQs, patio parties, camping, hunting and sporting events.
Don't let mosquitos and other insects ruin your outdoor excursions. Know the facts and stay safe! Happy Camping!
Do you use a natural bug repellent that is just as effective as synthetics? Please share your thoughts!
By Elizabeth Hart
Not all binoculars are created equal. Different features are important for varying activities: traveling, hunting, birdwatching, etc. For instance, travel binoculars need to be light and compact and magnification needs to allow for handheld use without a stabilizer. For hunting and fishing a "bright" lens is needed - one with a large objective lens.
Porro Prism vs Roof Prism
One thing to consider when choosing a binocular is the design. There are two styles of binoculars: Porro prism and Roof prism. The large difference between these two is size and transmittancy. The roof binocular is more compact, with a classic "H" design while the porro prism is more bulky. While the porro prism binocular is generally less expensive, the roof prism design has become more popular due to the higher light tranmittancy.
Important binocular nomenclature:
Lens Coating - Air-to-glass prism surfaces often have an anti-reflection coating that assists the light transmission. Multiple layers of coating are approximately 1 magnitude more effective than a single layer.
Collimation - The optical and mechanical alignment of the binoculars. Note: Cheap binoculars are sometimes shipped from the manufacturer out of collimation. If a pair of binoculars is out of collimation, after prolonged use it may feel as though your eyes are being sucked out of their sockets. High end binoculars are usually collimated with laser instruments before leaving the manufacturer - increasing the retail price.
Magnification/Power - The power is how many times closer the object you are looking at will appear through the binoculars. Common magnifications are 6x, 7x, 8x, 9x, and 10x. The higher the magnification, the more steady you must hold the binoculars.
Objective Lens - The lens that allows light to enter the binocular.
Field of View (FOV) - As it sounds, FOV is the area seen through the binoculars and is measured in degrees or 'feet at 1,000 yards'. This number is important to look at when using to observe moving targets - whether animals in nature or at sporting events.
Binoculars are often decribed by a pair of numbers, such as 8 x 36. The first number is the magnification and the second number is the diameter (in millimeters) of the objective lens. In this example the power is 8x and the diameter of the objective lens is 36 mm.
The size of the objective lens is important because the larger the lens, the more light is allowed in. Therefore, in dim lighting a larger objective lens will work better. Also, the larger the objective lens, the longer the binocular tube has to be to allow the image to focus.
When looking to buy binoculars, you must balance the power with the size of the objective lens. As mentioned above, binoculars to be used for travel may not be the best to use for hunting.
A Quick Guide:
By Elizabeth Hart
The Great Smokey Mountains provide great hiking trails of all difficulties. A common attraction winding from Georgia to Maine is the Appalachian Trail (AT). For those not ready to attack the multi-day (more like multi-month!) AT, there are great trails that intersect or follow the AT briefly that make for great day hikes!
During my last trip to Otto, NC I got the itch to do a day hike, or two. After reviewing maps of hiking trails my buddy and I decided to venture out to Albert Mountain and Pickens Nose. These two trails were the perfect combination hike for a relaxed afternoon of hiking!
Be sure you have proper hiking clothing and equipment before setting off on an adventure like this!
Important Clothing Features:
Albert Mountain, NC
Easy Hiking, Beautiful View!
Albert Mountain, NC is a rewarding little hike in the Natahala National Forest, just west of Franklin, NC. The hike to the top is approximately 0.2 miles of the AT from the parking area, but the summit sits just about 5,000 ft. The winding drive up the mountain is breathtaking - because of both the beautiful mountain views and the narrow, gravel, one-lane forest service road. Park in the dirt parking lot and begin a short jaunt to the summit. Enjoy the breathtaking views, and for the daring, climb the secured firetower for an even more impressive view!
To increase the length and skill level of this trail, park further down the mountain where the road intersects the AT. Once you arrive at the fire tower you can either turn around or continue on the AT. According to my hiking buddy, from atop Albert Mountain, you can see three states!
From the Summit of Albert Mountain:
Pickens Nose, NC
Easy Hiking, Daring Rock Outcroppings!
Picken Nose, NC is a similar hike to the Albert Mountain. The roundtrip hike to the 5,000 ft summit and back to the trailhead is just over a mile (1.4 mi). This trail follows the mountain ridge, and side excusions to incredible rock outcroppings provide spectacular views! These rock outcroppings provide a perfect setting for an afternoon picnic!
I have a coffee addiction, and have no intention of changing my addiction. And I call my Jetboil stove a coffeemaker. And while the Jetboil has changed backpack cooking forever, my PCS (personal cook stove) is used for making coffee. On occasion, I will boil water for water for sustenance purposes, but most of the time, I use it to make coffee.
Browse Jetboil Coffeemaker
The Coffee Adapter Accessory. A couple of years ago, Jetboil came out with a compact French press adapter for any Jetboil stove. It unscrews and packs into the Jetboil pot with stove, fuel and stand packed inside.
Making the Coffee. Attach the mesh plunger to the standard lid. Pull it up. Boil water-about 3 minutes for the entire pot. It makes about 8 ‘cups.’ Turn the stove off and add coffee to the hot water. I use two scoops for a rich cup. Let the coffee steep in the hot water for about 4 minutes, then, push the plunger down slowly. You are ready to enjoy your coffee!
Tailgating and Picnics. Because the Jetboil is compact, it travels easily on any outing. It will pack into a picnic basket, and as you know, you can have coffee with your meal in about 7 minutes! It has saved the day a couple of times after a late evening, and an afternoon football game! -Great way to warm your spirits and your insides on a cold day.
Son-of-a Flats Fishing Coffeemaker. One of the first times I used my Jetboil coffeemaker was on my flats boat (yes, on my boat.) It was a bluebird cold January day on Mosquito Lagoon with a frigid breeze from the north. We put the Polar in the water at a dirt ramp-used by locals. There were two other trailers parked. I positioned the Polar on the north end of Tiger Shoals knowing that we would have a nice long drift downwind. The other two boats were already downwind from us. After about 10 minutes atop the poling platform, the chill in my spine inspired the first pot of Jetboil coffee. It was Incredible. Fresh brewed coffee on a flats boat in the middle of Mosquito Lagoon! And it was just what my insides needed. And while the fly fishing was unproductive, blind casting with a gold spoon produced a nice redfish after the second pot and the second drift. By noon, we were done for the day and went to the ramp. The two other boats were at the ramp. I asked “how was the fishing?” and they had done about the same-two in one boat, one in the other. The anglers looked frozen cold and one commented that he “could use a cup.” I had to show off the new Jetboil coffeemaker, and that is when the other angler said, “You are a Son-of-a!@#$% I have been smelling that coffee all morning across the flats! I thought I was going crazy…”
Never leave home without your Jetboil Coffeemaker!
One of the least talked about aspects of the kayak fishing revolution is transporting the boats. Every Truck, SUV, or car is capable of safely moving a couple of boats. There are a few tricks to the equipment, some pitfalls to avoid, and some common sense that comes with experience.
Types of Saddles for Roof Racks-flat carriers and J-style. And if you have a rack on your SUV, usually the saddles can be directly attached. There are exceptions so check the item for your vehicle before purchase. Yakima, Thule, and Malone make saddles that attach directly to the vehicle. Flat carriers hold the kayak in a natural, upright position. This works well with Sit-On-Top kayaks that are self bailing. A canoe, or cockpit style kayak can fill up with water in one of our weird rainstorm and potentially add tremendous water weight to you roof! Cockpit kayaks can be carried upside down if the weather is threatening, and canoes are usually and easily carried upside down. If you need to carry two (or more) kayaks, one boat (or more) will have to be carried on their side. Surprisingly, the largest SUVs are not wide enough to carry two boats flat! J-style saddles get their name from the basic shape. They carry the kayak on the side, and are surprisingly sturdy. In this way two or even three boats can be carried on a roof. The disadvantage is the racks stick up like weird antennas, when there is no boat loaded. And the car won’t fit in the garage! Newer J-style saddles fold flat to eliminate this problem. Rain water is rarely a problem when a kayak is on its side. Although, theft does not seem to be an issue on saddles, note that Yakima saddles have optional locks. Saddles usually come complete with tie down straps. More on tie downs to follow.
Vehicle Racks. If you have an SUV with crossbars, you are fairly well equipped already. Add saddle kits to your vehicle and you will be ready to roll. However, in an effort to raise the gas mileage of the vehicle (1 – 2 mpg,) Some car companies do not include crossbars as standard equipment. You can purchase from the car company, but consider the aftermarket crossbars. They are stronger, have a larger weight capacity, and can be any length! Popular companies are Thule and Yakima. If you drive a car with no racks, this is also easily accomplished. Rack manufactures will make adapters to fit almost any car. They are very sturdy, and some are aerodynamically styled. I recently installed a system on a Mini Cooper that was aerodynamic aluminum. It carried two 12ft. kayaks to the Keys in J-style saddles. The boats looked as big as the car, but the Mini handled great, and you would hardly know the kayaks were on the roof from the driver’s seat!
Trucks-If you are only going to carry one boat that is 12 feet long or less, just carry the kayak in the bed of the truck. Tool boxes dramatically shorten the available bed. Longer boats may need support out of the back of the bed. Bed extensions for carrying lumber are available and fairly inexpensive-they plug into a receiver hitch. Safety requires that the bow and stern be tied into the truck. Also, some type of red flag has to be attached to the end of the boat hanging into the road. A roll of red surveyor tape makes a lot of disposable flags! If you are carrying two or more kayaks on a regular basis, consider an overbed rack. Thule makes a great one. The bed is still free to carry stuff, and three kayaks can fit flat over the bed. New kayak trailers can carry up to eight kayaks and the Rack and Roll trailer even folds to store against the wall of you garage.
Straps are Critical-for safety’s sake, and for convenience. Bungee cords are an accident waiting to happen. They stretch and allow the kayak to move in all directions. Rope works well, 3/8 inch rope should be the smallest diameter used. Hardware store ratchet straps work OK, but are very cumbersome, and sometimes come with inferior webbing. The ratchet mechanism is heavy and can scratch the finish on your vehicle. Cam Buckle straps work the best. All kayak stores will offer a variation. They are easy to operate, and most are padded to protect the finish on the vehicle. Bow and Stern tie downs are necessary when taking kayaks at interstate speeds. They provide a secondary level of safety if something should break. Tie to the frame or bumper, but not to anything plastic. Some sedans have no place to tie under the front bumper. Here’s a tip- form a one foot loop of rope(square knot,) and close the hood through the center. This provides a loop hanging out the front-instant tie down! When strapping the boat to the vehicle. Always run both sides of the strap over the top of the boat. Double straps provides double friction against the kayak, and all of the pressure is pushing the boat against the saddles. Wrapping around the rack and kayak is a common mistake. Wiggle the boat to see if your straps loosen! Rain causes nylon straps and ropes to stretch, so check your load when driving in the rain.
Bargain option-Rope and pool noodles can successfully transport a kayak to the local lake, but interstate travel would be asking for trouble. Use the pool noodles to pad the roof of the car. Put them in a place where the roof is firm, because a kayak will flex the soft spots of the most expensive vehicles! These places are near the windshield and near the back window. Tie a loop to one end of your rope, pass it through the window, and over the boat. Use the loop to cinch down the boat tightly. Tie the boat with two ropes through the front windows and the back windows. Also tie the bow and stern to the front and rear of the car. Many canoes were hauled to the pond this way, but it will scratch the roof of the car, and keep your speed at 55mph or less.
Exotica-There are slide rail systems, and hydraulic lift systems that allow the smallest person to load kayaks on the largest SUV. These systems will do most of the loading for you. The Thule Hullavator system works extremely well. It’s sturdy design gives 42” of lift. Yakima and Thule make a system of sliding rails. The rails slid up the back of the vehicle, cutting the required lift to half. While very helpful, these systems are costly in comparison. However; they are worthwhile if loading the boat is the fuddle keeping someone off the water!
Common Sense-Tip One-My favorite is the rubber backed shower matt. Put it over the paint, rubber side down. It is easy to slide the boat across the roof to the appropriate saddles; friction free, and padding the roof paint. Tip Two, on a factory rack, attach saddles as close to the side rails as possible. The cross bars will not flex much and it’s easier to load the kayak! Do this with even when loading one boat-it’s easier, and the crossbars flex less! Tip Three-never shorten you tie downs, and buy 15 footers. While usually too long, 12 footers are too short too often! Tip Four, wrap your loose ends, and tie. The flapping straps and rope can whip the paint off a car much quicker that you think! Tip Five-if a strap is vibrating, take apart and put one or two twists in it. This will change the harmonics of the strap. Tip six-When strapping the kayak, make sure the buckle is on the high side so you can use your weight to tighten the strap. Works the same for rope, make sure the loop is on the high side, so you can use your weight to pull on the rope.
Safety is job one when carrying a kayak to water. A kayak flying at interstate speed can be a deadly missile! If you have any questions, contact your nearest kayak dealer, or email me at email@example.com
This artice was originally published in Coastal Angler Magazine -Lakeland Edition July-2009
When measuring the important qualities of a kayak, speed and stability rank at the top for the angler. The more stabile the kayak the slower the kayak paddles, unfortunately. The magic number is 28 inches in width. Most paddlers think a boat to feels stabile when it is 28” or wider. Conversely, most paddlers find boats 28” or less to feel fast.
(A more accurate description of kayak speed would be efficiency. The distance a kayak glides is the pertinent issue, granted some boats are actually faster. -But in paddle craft, the difference in 4.5 mph and 5.1 mph is negligible; however, if a boat glides 50 feet on a single stroke, and another glides 75 feet, this is very important.)
Wider boats have to plow and push more water. Many of the fishing kayaks are 30 inches wide. Primary stability refers to the stability of the boat sitting still. Equally important is secondary stability. Kayaks with high primary stability are typically straight sided, and usually flat on the bottom. They are 30” or more in width. The full width of the kayak is in the water at all times, creating more drag, but they also feel very stabile. This is typical of Ocean Kayak, Heritage, Emotion and Malibu. Boats with a “V” hull or a stepped shape (chines) will feel more stabile, when the kayak is leaned. This is because more of the width of the kayak is in the water for floatation. When they are level, the width of the kayak in the water is narrower, so there is less primary stability, and also less frontal drag. This type of hull is typical to the Wilderness Tarpon series. Many experienced paddlers will say that stability comes from your paddle, and that width is not important. However, newer kayakers would argue this point.
One of the “new” types of kayak fishing hulls is the pontoon hull. Power boaters call this a tunnel hull. Extra buoyancy is in exactly the right place that we need for stability, and the tunnel reduces the frontal friction. The tunnels lets through a large amount of water that would have to be “plowed” by a flat bottom boat. This makes what would be a slow hull more efficient and more stabile. This type of hull was made popular by Native Watercraft and has recently been copied by other manufactures.
Increasing length can increase the glide and efficiency of a kayak. In general, a 14 foot boat is going to glide better than the same kayak that is 12 feet long. It will track straighter too. But this assumes that the hulls are identical except for length, widths are the same, bow shape is the same, chines and pontoons in the same places. –But I’ve never seen this to be true. Kayak “Models” may come in several lengths, but they are usually different kayaks that are designed to do the same function. Cockpits are the same but under the water line they are different. So length comparisons are difficult, and in the case of the Heritage Redfish, and Ocean Kayak Predator, many anglers report the shorter boats having more speed. Go figure!
One trick to make your boat faster is to carry as little gear as possible. The heavier the kayak, the deeper it rides. This increases the amount of water to be plowed and pushed and creates drag. Minimize your gear, carry as little water as needed, and eliminate everything that is not a necessity. I use Gilligan theory-only prepare for a “Three Hour Tour” or maybe a six hour tour. And if you really want more speed, loose a few pounds off that waistline. Hey, kayak a little more and this will happen anyway!
There is a direct trade off between stability of a fishing kayak, and the efficiency of how the kayak paddles. Some of the innovative designs of the newer kayaks are giving a taste of better stability and “speed.”
This artice was originally published in Coastal Angler Magazine -Lakeland Edition Nov-2009
Several years ago, I was invited to go kayak fishing with a business associate. It was the first time on the water with him. He had relayed about grand fishing in a place that I’d never seen. -Night before the agreed trip, we were planning where we’d meet, etc. and he asked, “What Color is your Kayak?” I figured he would use that info as a reference when we were trying to meet in the Walmart parking lot at pre-dawn. But, he was worried about “those yellow kayaks that scare the fish.” Fortunately, my paddle craft color preference is khaki, so my boat was deemed acceptable. Since then, I have realized there are dramatically different ideas to kayak color, A couple of well known kayak guides share their thoughts on the color of Kayaks, Paddles, and Clothing/Life Jackets as it pertains to kayak fishing,
My personal thoughts are that the color of the boat doesn’t matter in shallow water. The visual angle of the kayak is very difficult for the fish to see. The profile in the water being only a few inches deep, and the quiet nature of the hull means that the fish are not looking for your boat. In deeper water, the fish will only see your shadow, and on a sunny day, your shadow may have a “color” but the overwhelming issue to the fish is the shadow, not the fact that it is colored!
Captain John Kumiski (www.spottedtail.com) guides kayak anglers in Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River. My first experience in kayak fishing was with Kumiski in the fabled No-Motor-Zone over a decade ago. We chased the famous monster Redfish and Black Drum. Late in the day while paddling to our put-in, I noticed a surface swirl every 6 feet. I approached the apparent manatee in my borrowed red sit-on-top kayak, paddling quietly. Closer inspection revealed a 48 inch Black Drum, -could have whacked it with the paddle. The cruising beast never noticed the bright red kayak following a few feet behind. And for several minutes, I was frustrated that my gear was stowed, with lures returned to the tackle box! Captain Kumiski replied to my questions about kayak color-“fish don’t care. I’ve hooked a fish with a leader in the tip of the rod (ie. 9ft away) in a yellow kayak. Kumiski recently wrote an article about “paddle flash.” On the water, a stranger cautioned him ”about getting too close;” the angler was complaining that Kumiski used brightly colored paddle blades and the color flash would scare the fish. Later, Kumiski would spray paint all of the blades flat black to eliminate paddle flash. Colored clothing or PFD doesn’t seem to matter, but Kumiski would like to wear something that could be seen by a boater. Kumiski also added that yellow and red kayaks take better photos.
Captain Steve Gibson (www.kayakfishingsarasota.com) is endorsed by Native kayaks and will frequently stand while fishing. This technique increases his ability to see fish at a distance, much like an angler in a skiff. When asked about kayak color he replied, “I don’t think color matters at all, but I don’t want a kayak that is invisible to boaters (power boats.)” When asked about paddles, Gibson uses paddle blades that are reflective silver to shine at the power boats for safety. “In very shallow situations, I usually use the push pole.” –and stows his shiny paddle. Gibson prefers clothing that isn’t “too loud,-subtle colors are best.” But, he still wants to wear something that is visible to boaters. Captain Steve Gibson guides in the Sarasota area on the salt water flats and also in the fresh water lakes of the area.
Kayak paddle color seems to be more important. Captain Phil Chapman is a Fly Tarpon Guide at Boca Grand during the summer. Daily, he makes a run in his skiff just before dawn when there is little light on the water. He relayed, “in Charlotte Harbor, kayaks essentially disappear in the chop, and are difficult to see.” But brightly colored paddle blades are visible at great distances on the horizon. So, they are good for visibility, but what do the fish think? My personal observation is fish spook quickly to a missed paddle stroke or clanking of the paddle on the boat, but I’ve never observed a reaction to a careful paddle stroke. Birds are a different matter. Bright paddles can spook a blue heron or brown pelican from a hundred yards! To the bird, we look like an attacking creature with a 230cm wingspan. –And fish are terrified of a large predator flying above them. My simple motto, “spook the birds, and you spook the fish.” Bright paddles greatly increase your visibility to both, power boaters and birds.
Armed with this info, I am glad that my lucky fishing shirt is khaki, and my lucky kayak paddle has black blades, and my lucky kayak is khaki……I’m ready to fish!
This artice was originally published in Coastal Angler Magazine -Lakeland Edition Sept-2009