By Chris Lutz
Just in the last week I’ve heard many reports of boaters, and kayak fishermen specifically, drowning. The common theme was that nearly 100% of those who had accidents or capsized were not wearing their PFD even if they had it in the boat. This is a concern this time of year especially as the waters are getting colder and cold water kills! It is dangerous even in shallow water or not too far from shore.
So, I thought, let’s not make this a safety issue. Safety is boring and many people don’t take it seriously until it’s too late. Let’s face it, if everyone was concerned about safety there would be no one driving cars without seat belts buckled or riding motorcycles without helmets. Safety issues just aren’t cool.
But, gear for our sport IS cool. So, let’s not make this a safety issue, let’s make it a gear issue. I believe this will get more to actually wear their PFD while kayak fishing or boating in general. Here’s how we make it a gear issue. When we are in a kayak, there isn’t a lot of room. We need to maximize it. One of the best ways to do that is to spend anywhere from about $75-120 and get yourself a paddling PFD with gear pockets. I personally use an Ascend, but there are a number of other brands out there you can try. Many guys who don’t wear them complain about them being uncomfortable. But that’s really no excuse. There are many made specifically for paddling and others made specifically for paddling AND fishing. They won’t dig in your neck or bunch up in your lower back in the seat. In fact, they should enhance your kayak fishing experience and efficiency.
Note the straps, storage pockets, clips, etc. on these models.
Some things I like to keep in my PFD are:
• Go-to lures
• Small spool of leader line
• Lure scents
• Worm glue
• Sunscreen/lip balm
• Marine radio
I would hate to have to turn around to my crate every time I wanted to use my clippers. Instead of storing them in the cockpit or crate somewhere, they are conveniently at the ready on my person by being stored in my PFD. Additionally, some models like the Stohlquist above, have the fold down front pockets which actually let you have a small work surface for gluing worms or tying leaders while you are on the water.
So let’s be safe, but let’s make it cool, too. Spend a few bucks and better manage your gear while keeping yourself safe at the same time. Get a high-backed kayak fishing PFD and stay safe!
Chris Lutz is the owner of http://lutzlures.com/, a kayak fishing lure and kayak fishing specific rod company. He has been kayak fishing for more than a decade. His primary home waters are the mid-Atlantic region in DC/MD/VA. He is a professional guide on the Potomac River and some surrounding reservoirs. Smallmouth bass are his favorite species to fish for. He’s committed to growing the awareness of the sport of kayak fishing and preserving our natural resources.