I've been kayaking sporadically since I earned my first beads for a wet exit at Kamp Kanakuk in 7th grade. But, in January, we snagged a good deal on a 2014 Wilderness Ride 135, and that's when things got serious.
|Me in my Ride 135|
Tony drove all the way to Lafayette, Louisiana to pick up my baby and to add a Tarpon 140 to our fleet. I don't call them our "babies" lightly. When you've got four yaks carefully stowed in your garage and two vehicles parked in the driveway exposed to the elements, it's a huge statement about your priorities. Judge us if you want.
|The new babies from Louisiana|
The amazing thing about kayaks is that they provide a sort of simplicity to the angling sport. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
1) Boats are freaking expensive!
The cost of maintaining a boat is out of the question for most people. I believe that we'd have to take out a second mortgage on the house to pay for said boat. We'd spend all of our extra cash paying for gas just to take the boat out. Then you've got to worry about insurance and maintenance on top of that. My dad (a boat owner) often reminds me that there are two most exciting days for a boat owner: the day you buy your boat and the day you get rid of it. At this point, we've had zero finance fees, zero fuel costs, and zero maintenance issues with any of our four yaks.
2) Kayaks are extremely portable.
Unlike boats, no special trailers are necessary when you are ready to drop everything and get out on the water. I've even witnessed my 100 lb. friend whip out her tandem yak and scoot it right on top of her Pontiac Grand Am, and strap it to her roof with ease. We were loaded up and on the water within minutes.
|Easily loaded and ready to go|
3) Yaks provide an added health benefit.
I can tell you from experience that with proper paddling techniques, you will get a full body workout from a day on the yak. It's not just an upper body thing. Your core is constantly working to keep you balanced and aiding in a stronger and more efficient paddle while your legs are helping to brace your position and boost your speed. I don't remember having a single sore muscle on the days I was out on the boat.
4) Yaks are Eco-friendly.
That's right. No environmentally-damaging emissions given off from these babies. No worries about fuel spills in our bays that will harm the aquatic life.
5) Yaks provide the ability to navigate areas that you can't get to by boat or foot.
Man, oh man- have we been able to creep into some confined spaces with these babies. I've seen some things in an up-close and personal way that I never would have been able to experience from a boat simply because boats are much bigger.
|Can your boat go here?|
|what about here?|
All that being said--- there are plenty of yak options that will enable you to bring out your inner-techie.
1) Maybe you don't want a full-body workout or have physical limitations.
Some people choose to get a yak with system that allows them to propel the craft by foot. Others even add-on a trolling motor.
In a world where we are always "plugged-in", it's quite a change to get out on a yak with no electronics. If that bothers you, most yaks are built with that in mind. You can easily have a fish finder installed or purchase mounting systems for your action camera and smart phone.
|Tony- battling a red fish and his go-pro|
3) Gear Storage
Holy options, Batman! I can't even begin to list the numerous choices you've got for storing your gear on a yak. Rod holders, and Black Paks , and Trax systems - Oh My! We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. I'll be the first to admit that juggling a paddle and a rod at the same time would even frustrate Ghandi.
After a day on the water, it's normal to get what I call "bleacher butt". This is a condition categorized by numbness and discomfort even in the most naturally padded hind-ends. This is one of the many reasons we are loyal to Wilderness Systems. They've got the best yak seats on the market. Most of their yaks come standard with a low riding seat that will easily slide forward or backward for proper positioning. You can adjust the straps for better back support which aides in the paddling process. Or--- you can upgrade to their high-seat if you want to get a better view for sight-casting. If that's not enough for you, their new ATAK yak has what I call the "Autobot" seat option. It's actually called the AirPro Max 3D seat. This bad boy can do everything. In true Transformer- fashion, this sucker can fold all the way down when not in use, it can slide forward or backward across the length of almost the entire deck, it can lift and lower, or it can be adjusted into a standing perch for sight-casting and bleacher-butt avoidance. (Yes, please!)
In the kayaking world, it's always an added safety benefit to have a yak that is bright in color, so you become more visible to boaters on the water. Although, many hunters opt for something more neutral in order to camouflage the yak from their prey. If you're looking for a good deal, you take whatever color you can get then pimp out the yak with colored Trax systems, bungee , or ConSeal Kits.
It all boils down to the person in the yak. While the simplicity of yak fishing is certainly alluring, there are many add-ons that offer convenience and ease. Gear does matter. I started fishing with a Shakespeare rod and reel combo and it sort-of got the job done. After I upgraded to a Hook Spit Hot Stix rod with an Okuma Trio spinning reel, I quickly realized that Shakespeare don't know shit about fishing. Yet--- Hamlet's centuries-old questioning still remains. To simplify or not to simplify?
That, my friends, is a balance you choose for yourself.