Posts Tagged With: kayak

An Inshore Review of an Offshore Kayak: The Viking Profish Reload

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As far as offshore kayaks go, there’s no denying that Viking Kayaks are one of the more popular brands on the market. Here in Texas, you’ll find plenty of anglers in one around the rigs on the southern end of the state. Whether they’re trolling for kingfish, sightcasting to cobia, or jigging for red snapper, Viking Kayaks excel in the offshore environment.  While they were designed with the offshore angler in mind, these kayaks have some great features that make them an inshore fisherman’s dream. If you’re looking for a kayak with great speed, good stability, and lots of versatility, the Viking Profish Reload is worth checking out.

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At 14′ 9″, the Reload finds the middle ground between the popular 14 and 16 foot kayaks. The extra bit of length gives the tracking and speed a nice boost, while still maintaining the ability to navigate small marsh ponds and narrow channels that require you to make sharp turns in tight areas.  As far as width goes, the Reload comes in at a slender 29.5″ wide, with a surprising amount of stability without sacrifcing any speed.  At 68 lbs., it’s one of the lightest kayaks you’ll find in the 14 to 16 foot range. The dimensions and hull design of the Reload combine to produce a kayak with the perfect balance between speed, stability, and maneuverability.

So what makes this kayak a great choice for inshore anglers? For starters, speed and the ability to cover long distances with less effort.  When fishing from a kayak, you’ll want to avoid spending a lot of time and energy while paddling to the area you plan to fish. 28-redWhether you’re making a short trip or plan on covering ten plus miles, you don’t want to waste a lot of time and energy paddling when you could be fishing. With a half a dozen paddle strokes, you can easily reach and maintain top speed with minimal effort. Not only will you reach your destination faster, you’ll feel less fatigued once you actually arrive.

Two important things offshore anglers benefit from include the ability to punch through rough surf and good stability while fighting big fish. While inshore anglers don’t have to worry about big waves or landing too many fish over 10 lbs., they can still take advantage of these features that are built into the Reload. When faced with high winds and rough water, the Reload handles them like a champ. The bow is slightly raised due to the fact that the seat sits more towards the back of the kayak. This slight elevation in the bow gives you an edge over most other kayaks when it comes to paddling through choppy water on windy days.

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While standing is not something I do very often, I do like having the option in certain situations. The stability of the Reload gives most anglers with decent balance the ability to stand and fish. I can personally stand up, pole around the marsh, and sight cast to redfish without any fear of tipping over. While I may not do so every trip, there are certain days when it comes in handy.

As far as deck space goes, there are two types of anglers. Some want a clean, wide-open deck, while others like having the option to store tackle and gear in an easy to reach location. screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-10-51-37-amIf you enjoy an open deck, the kid pod insert is perfect for you. It has a small, circular storage hatch that sits flush with the deck, allowing you to store a few items while still keeping a clean and open deck.

If you like storing all your gear where you have easy access to it, the tackle pod is the insert you’ll want. The Tackle Pod has the ability to house your fish finder, battery, transducer, and plenty of tackle/gear, all in one removable bin that sits between your legs. It only takes a few seconds to insert the entire unit into the kayak. Simply toss it in your vehicle and throw it in the kayak once you’ve unloaded it.   When you return to the launch after a long day of fishing, remove the pod and toss it in your vehicle before loading up your kayak. Doing so will reduce the weight of your kayak by 5-10 pounds as you load  it back up. The great thing about these two decks is that they are interchangeable. You can switch them out, based on your preference for that day on the water.

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Other features worth noting include the front rod stagers, the seating area, and the front flush mounted rod holders.

The Reload has four rod stagers at the bow of the kayak to help keep your rods tip from sliding off the side of the kayak. I personally like to keep a rod in my lap at all times for those unexpected times when shallow redfish show themselves at the last minute. The ability to drop my paddle, grab my rod, and make a quick cast has helped produced more redfish than I can remember over the years.

As far as the seating area goes, it was designed so that you sit low in the kayak, which helps to improve your overall stability. While sitting in the kayak, you’ll immediately notice that your thighs are slightly elevated. By raising your thighs a few inches, you automatically enhance your overall comfort by taking some of the pressure off of your lower back. This is great for those long days on the water to help offset any discomfort that you normally experience.

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The front flush mount rod holders that were originally installed for trolling baits are a great place to put your rod after you’ve landed a fish. This keeps your rod out of the way while you work on unhooking your catch.

As far as kayaks go, this is definitely a paddlers boat. You can cover long distances while maintaining great speed with minimal effort. Whether you’re punching through rough surf to head offshore or stalking skinny water reds on the inshore flats, the Profish Reload excels in both environements.

For more information, visit the Viking Kayaks website at http://www.vikingkayaksusa.com

 

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Werner’s New Redfish HD Graphic Paddle

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If you’ve ever visited my blog, one thing that’s obvious is my obsession with redfish.  They are hands down my favorite fish to target whether I’m fishing for fun or competing in a tournament.  With that in mind, I’m really excited about the new Redfish HD graphic paddle from Werner Paddles. Keep an eye out for it at your local retail store beginning September 1st in both the Shuna (high angle) and Camano (low angle).

Redfish Paddle

Not only does this new graphic look great, the paddle is constructed with materials that will provide you with the perfect balance between quality, durability, and affordability.  The combination of fiberglass blades and a carbon blend shaft has the Shuna weighing in at 27.75 oz, while the Camano comes in at a mere 27.5 oz.  Not only does this paddle allow you to paddle further with less fatigue, it will last several years, even for the angler that is rough on his gear.  On top of that, Werner Paddles are handmade right here in the USA, with an attention to detail that is unmatched.  For more information, check out both the Shuna and Camano in all the available designs at http://www.wernerpaddles.com

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Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series #3 2015

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

I’ve often heard other tournament anglers say, “If you don’t have your fish by noon, odds are you’re probably not going to get them”. Although I would never give up while fishing a tournament, I have to admit that little saying had crossed my mind a couple times the other day during the Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series.

This was the third event of the season, and for the first time this year, I felt pretty good about my odds of doing well. The wind wasn’t bad, we had sunny skies, and I had been on some solid redfish over the last few weeks. Shallow patches of shell and soft mud bottoms had produced a good amount of redfish during the beginning of August, so I decided to stick with what had been working. The majority of my fish had come from a popping cork with gulp, with the rest coming off of a soft plastic that I would use to sight cast singles or pitch into a school.

Plan A was to locate the schools that had been roaming the area in recent weeks, but they were nowhere in sight. After spending a good hour trying to locate the school, I decided to head for shallower water with plenty of shell. I made a long drift across one of the larger lakes, staying within 30 yards of the shoreline, and on the edge of the large shell patches. I sight casted one small redfish along the shoreline before deciding to try the opposite side of the lake, which happened to be the wind protected shoreline.

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

As I approached the protected shoreline, I immediately noticed a few mud boils pop up, which was a good sign. I fan casted the area for a few minutes and hooked up with what felt like a solid fish. Five seconds into its first run, it spit the hook, leaving me with a sick feeling in my stomach. I decided to stay on the move, trying to spot more fish to cast at, but didn’t have any luck. I didn’t have much time left to fish, so I decided to work a small channel as a last ditch effort. I had one lower slot red on the stringer after seven hours of hard fishing, so the odds that I would pick up my second fish were looking pretty slim.

The channel only produced a few rat reds so I decided to fish my way back to the truck. I had only made it about 20 yards across the main lake when I spotted a group of birds hovering a few feet above the water about a half mile away. I knew these birds were on a school of fish, and that this was the best chance I’d have at picking up a much needed second fish. I caught up with the school after a five minute paddle and with one cast, I went from 41st to 9th place, thanks to the 26 1/4″ red that pounced on my soft plastic. The fish weighed in at 8.09 lbs. and ended up being the heaviest fish of the whole tournament. My two fish had a combined weight of 11.70 lbs. and helped me bring home a small amount of cash and a few prizes.

The fishing wasn’t hot and heavy on this day like it had been during my previous trips, but that’s how fishing goes. Still, I had a great time and enjoyed visiting with friends at the weighin. We have one event remaining this year in October and I’m looking forward to it.

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

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A New Baby and a Trip to the Marsh in the Jackson Kraken

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Since time to fish has been hard to come by, I’ve been trying to work on a few new things for the blog, but recently got a little sidetracked before finishing any of them up. My wife and I have been preparing for our second little girl to make an appearance on May 13th, but apparently she had plans of her own. We woke up around 5 am on April 30th and made a mad dash to the hospital to find out that she would have to be delivered that day. Four hours later she made an appearance (5 weeks early since her original due date was June 4th) and has been in the NICU for the past 10 days. Everything is fine with her; she just has to improve on her eating before they will release her to come home. We are very excited about the newest (and last edition) to our family, Samantha Rae Mills. Between her and my other daughter, a Jackson Big Tuna or maybe a couple of Cruise 10s might be in my future.

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A few weekends ago, Jackson Kayak teammate Michael Harris and I decided to try our luck at one of my favorite marshy areas. We had a small window of opportunity with an outgoing tide that would bottom out around 9 am which gave us about three hours of ideal sight casting conditions before the water would start pushing back in.  I picked up Aaron Ferguson’s Jackson Kraken for this trip to see how this offshore kayak would handle the skinny water and deep mud of the marsh.

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We launched before first light and made the short paddle to the area we planned to fish. We were floating through 6-8 inches of water, looking for signs of redfish when we came across a small flat with submerged grass. The area was about the size of a football field with plenty of active bait hiding among the vegetation. Large patches of underwater vegetation are great places for small shrimp and baitfish to seek refuge from predators, and the redfish knew that, and didn’t mind rooting around for them. I started off throwing a black and orange She Pup to avoid getting caught in the grass before spotting a group of a dozen tails about 30 yards away. I called Michael over and told him to put his fly rod to work.

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Once Michael arrived, I backed away and watched, as he calmly approached the school, taking his time before making a cast. The first cast fell a few feet short, but the next one was right on the money. A fish bolted from the school, his line went tight, and the 9-foot buggy whip bent over. After a solid 10-minute fight, the mid slot red gave in and the first fish of the day hit the deck of Michael’s Cuda 14. After a few quick photos, the red was released, and our search for the next fish continued.

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Micahel Harris on the fly

It didn’t take long before I spotted another (or the same) school of tails not far from the location of the first and made my way towards them. Michael had already landed him a fish, so now it was my turn. Throughout the month of April, I have gone with a Curl Tail Bugg on 90% of my trips with good results, and I wasn’t about to change things up. All the bait I’ve been seeing is still relatively tiny, so it only makes sense to continue matching the hatch.

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I fired my little Bugg out in front of the tails, let it sink for a few seconds, and gave it one little twitch. I felt that familiar thump, followed by a good amount of drag peeling, and set the hook. The school scattered and a few minutes later my fish hit the net. I figured I could hang around the grass and wait for the fish to regroup, but I really wanted to push back further in hopes of locating a few crawlers.

I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of convincing a redfish in really shallow water to eat. By shallow, I mean the ability to see their head, back, and tail as they crawl through 3-4 inches of water. Most people think this should be an easy task, when in reality; it can be the most difficult bite to obtain. Fish this shallow are on full alert and very spooky since they are completely exposed. To make a long story short, I spotted a dozen crawlers, got within casting distance of about 3, and only caught one, once again, on my Hot Pink Curl Tail Bugg.

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I look forward to the next 6 months of fishing. The marsh will remain full of reds, and they’ll be hitting everything from a topwater to a soft plastic. I’ll stick with my little Bugg for the rest of this month; however, a MirrOlure She Dog will be close by for that topwater itch I need to scratch.

I did receive a few nice packages in the mail from Jackson Kayak last week.  The first was my new 2015 Cuda 14 which I plan to do a full post about showing all of the improvements Jackson has made compared to my first Cuda, along with everything I love about this kayak.

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The other package was a new team shirt and hat that will be nice to wear during tournaments, demo days, and fishing shows.

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10 Tips to Defeat the Wind While Kayak Fishing

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As kayak anglers, if we only fished on days when the wind laid low, odds are the majority of us would never get on the water. Like it or not, windy days are a part of kayak fishing that you’re going to have to deal with on occasion. While the wind can be a pain to deal with, it’s not always a reason to cancel your trip. Fishing on a windy day is not only possible, but can be very productive with proper planning and the right equipment. A combination of the tips and advice listed below can help you turn a canceled trip into a successful and enjoyable day on the water.

Warning: As always, precaution should be taken when dealing with dangerous situations such as kayaking during a period of extremely high winds. Know your abilities as a paddler, always wear your lifejacket, and if in doubt, cancel your trip. When I use the term “high winds” in this article I am referring to winds in the 15-25 mph range.

DSC_0131 copy_800x532The Power of a Good Paddle

Having proper equipment is one of the best ways to make things easier for yourself while kayaking. As wind speed increases, so will the amount of paddle strokes you take throughout the day.  With an increase in the amount of strokes you take, you can expect fatigue to set in more quickly, especially if you’re using a heavy paddle (greater than 30 oz.). You’ll be amazed at just how much a full carbon or carbon blend paddle will help to prolong fatigue, regardless of how high or low winds are. I am currently paddling with the 250 cm Werner Cyprus: Hooked that weighs in at 23.25 oz. making fatigue during 20+mph winds the least of my worries. Before the Cyprus, I paddled with the 250 cm Werner Shuna: Hooked (27.75 oz.) which was also a great paddle. Having a paddle constructed from lightweight, high quality materials can make a huge difference on a windy day when the amount of strokes you take will greatly increase.

Feathering Your Paddle

Feathering the blades of your paddle is a great way to reduce the resistance caused by wind. Feathering is the action of rotating the blades on your paddle so that they sit at opposite angles of one another. This allows one end of your paddle to slice through the wind at an angle while the other is in the water propelling you forward. This helps to reduce resistance caused by the wind during each paddle stroke you take. While feathered, you are required to rotate the shaft of the paddle in your hand so that the blades enter the water at the right angle during each stroke. Most people find paddling with feathered blades awkward at first so it’s a good idea to practice on a calm day ahead of time. Once proper technique has been developed, paddling on windy days can become easier than you think.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When paddling straight into a strong headwind, many kayakers will make the mistake of throwing their head down and giving it all they’ve got in an attempt to defeat the wind. The problem with this method is that most anglers will tire out before reaching their intended destination. It’s sort of like sprinting and jogging. If you have a short distance to travel, then sprinting will get the job done. However, if your destination is a long ways off then you’ll need to maintain a slower, steady pace that is similar to jogging. Paddling is really no different since a constant but comfortable pace will allow you to paddle for a longer period of time while a more strenuous pace will get you there faster but cause you to fatigue more quickly. The bottom line is that on windy days you should expect to paddle for a longer period of time and cover less water than you normally would. With this in mind, slow and steady is your best choice.

IMG_4513Leave the Stringer Behind

If you plan on keeping fish during a trip when the winds are going to be high, a fish bag on your kayak is the best way to go. Dragging several fish behind your kayak on a stringer creates extra drag that can make a tough day of paddling even more difficult. By placing a fish bag in your rear tank well, you can place your fish on ice as soon as they are caught and eliminate the drag that would be created if you were towing a stringer.

Drift Sock

The last piece of equipment that can really come in handy on windy days is a drift sock. During high winds, the speed of your kayak is difficult to control while making long drifts across an open bay or lake. The wind causes you to drift at a faster pace than you would like, which makes it very difficult to cover an area thoroughly. It also makes properly working your lure a bit of a challenge since you will be constantly moving about twice the speed you normally would. Deploying a drift sock is a great way to slow down and really cover an area the correct way.

Launch Here, Exit There

Launching from one location and exiting at another is a great way to make sure you spend more time fishing and less time paddling. For this to work, you’ll need to fish with a friend and drive separate vehicles. You load both kayaks and gear into one vehicle and leave the empty one behind at the area you plan to exit. You then head back to your launch, unload your kayaks and gear, and start your drift by allowing the wind to blow you towards your exit. Using this tactic allows you to cover several miles of water, fish during the majority of the trip, and keeps you from having to paddle back into wind. The key is choosing your launch and exit according to the direction the wind is blowing. By doing so, the wind will actually help to reduce the amount of paddling required during your trip.

Hugging Wind Protected Shorelines

One way to avoid the wind while moving from spot to spot is to stay as close as you can to a wind protected shoreline. By staying within a few feet of these shorelines you can minimize the effect crosswinds will have against you and your kayak. The water near these areas will be slightly shielded from the wind for about five feet off the shoreline line allowing you to paddle through a somewhat protected area. For example, if the wind was blowing out of the north, you would want to stay as near the north shoreline as possible. With this in mind, wind direction can play a huge role in the location I choose to launch from and the areas I choose to fish on windy days.

DSC_0075 copy_800x532Get Out and Wade

Most kayakers seem split when it comes to fishing from their kayak or getting out and wading. Some will argue that one of the main reasons they bought a kayak was to get away from wading while others will swear that wading will put more fish on the stringer. As far as this goes, I say to each their own, however, on windy days I like to use my kayak to reach a location and then get out and wade. Making several casts and working a lure properly is much easier while standing on solid ground when compared to sitting in your kayak while it gets blown across the water at a high rate of speed. It also allows you to properly cover an area since wading forces you to slow down and make several casts before moving on.

Wind Driven Current

One of the major benefits of fishing on a windy day is the constant tidal movement that can be created by the wind. Small pinches and channels created by islands or other forms of land make great places for fish to feed as the wind funnels the water and bait through these areas. The key is finding a channel or pinch that runs parallel to the direction the wind is blowing. Other great areas to focus on would be points, small coves, and large patches of shallow shell where fish can sit out of the current while waiting for bait to be blown by. All of these areas make great ambush points for reds, trout, and flounder on windy days.

DSC_0017 copy_800x532High to Low

A lot of the newer model kayaks that have come out recently give you the option to place your seat in a high or low position. The Jackson Cuda 14 I paddle gives me this option and 95% of the time I sit in the high position. It makes standing easier, gives me a higher view point, and is overall a more comfortable position in my opinion. The downside is that while elevated, your body catches more wind which can slow you down due to the extra drag that is created. Windy days are when I move my seat into the low position in order to reduce the amount of resistance my body creates. While it may not seem like much, it can make a noticeable difference while paddling.

Next time the wind looks like it will be more than you care to deal with, remember these tips and use it to your advantage. Some of my best days on the water have occurred during windy days when I had considered staying home. The thing about fishing is you never know if the fish are biting until you get on the water and see for yourself.

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3 Reds in 10 Minutes Video

I salvaged enough footage from this past weekends trip to put together a short video.  My camera was aiming a little higher than I had thought but some of the video turned out alright.

 

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Five Tips For Every Kayak Angler

My latest article was released yesterday in the June issue of The Fisherman’s Journal. You can visit their site to see it along with other articles or read it below.

 

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Over the past couple years I’ve discovered a few tricks while fishing the bays and marshes here along the upper Texas coast. Of the following, none will magically fill your stringer with a limit of fish. They may however help to save a little money, allow for fewer headaches, and achieve a better understanding of the waters you fish over time. The following are five tips that I feel are worth considering during your next fishing trip.

 

1. Old Soft Plastics

If you’re anything like me, you keep about one hundred bags of soft plastics somewhere around your house. softplasticsI can’t even begin to explain why I’ve purchased so many over the years, other than the fact that soft plastics on sale for a dollar are hard to pass up.  Between shrimp, paddle tails, straight tails, and curl tails in brands, sizes, and colors that I doubt I’ll ever use. I probably have more than I could use in a lifetime. Instead of getting rid of them, I like to keep a pack of my least favorite color/style in my soft plastic binder to use while fishing under the birds. This is a great time to throw on soft plastics you’d like to get rid of because fish working the birds will hit just about anything put in their path. By doing so, you can save your favorite colors and styles for days when they’re actually needed.

 

2. Launch Here, Exit There

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Taking out the kayak on really windy days can sometimes be a hassle. If you plan to cover several miles during a trip while the wind is blowing above 20 mph, you are going to have a tough time paddling into it at some point during the day. When these types of conditions occur I have found the best way to beat the wind is to use it to your advantage by launching from one spot and exiting at another. For this to work, you’ll need to fish with a friend and drive separate vehicles. You load both kayaks and gear into one vehicle and leave the empty one behind at the area where you plan to exit. You then drive back to your launch, unload, and start your drift, allowing the wind to blow you towards your exit. In this situation a drift sock is important because it will help slow your kayak which lets you really fish an area thoroughly; otherwise you end up drifting faster than you’d like. By using this tactic, you can cover several miles of water, fish the whole trip, and not have to paddle back into the wind. The key here is to choose your launch and exit according to wind direction. Of course, wind forecasts are not always correct so be prepared for anything.

 

3. Low Tide Exploration

Exploring a marsh during low tides is a great way to really learn the layout and bottom structure of an area you enjoy fishing. When tides run lower than normal, Low-High Tidethey will sometimes reveal various channels, guts, and structure that are often hidden from sight. This is a great time to explore different areas that could produce for you in the future when the water returns to normal.  One thing I like to make note of are the deeper channels that lead back into the marsh. These areas will still hold water during a really low tide and serve as a sort of highway that fish use to move in and out of an area throughout the year. Identifying the location of hidden shell is also beneficial. Shell that is exposed during a really low tide can be hidden by more than a foot of water during a normal tide. These areas serve as a great place to target redfish on a higher tide since baitfish like to stay near it for protection. The better you know an area you are fishing, the more success you are likely to have.

 

4. See With Your Feet

While shallow areas will reveal a lot during a low tide, deeper areas will not give up as much information. Even on a low tide, you’ll more than likely never get to see much of what lies below the surface. In this case, the best thing you can do to really get a good feel for an area is to get out and wade. By doing so you’ll discover things you never would while sitting in your kayak. For instance, is the bottom sand, mud, scattered shell, grass, or a mixture of some sort? You’ll also better understand the depth you’re fishing by comparing it to your own height. While moving around, you’ll find small guts, patches of shell, and other changes in depth/structure where trout and reds wait to ambush their prey. Another advantage is that you are able to cover an area more thoroughly since you won’t be moving as quickly. Wading also gives you the ability to move through the water with more stealth, which lessens the odds that you’ll spook fish.

 

5. Clean Your Vehicle

One of the great things about owning a kayak is the ability to launch from just about anywhere. The downside is that some of these areas are in the middle of nowhere which makes your vehicle an easy target for thieves. Up to this point I have not had a break in and consider myself somewhat lucky. However, I do not believe luck has everything to do with it. One thing I’ll do when launching from areas where few people are around is make sure my truck is completely cleaned out the night before a trip. When I arrive at the launch and my kayak and gear have been unloaded, I will open every storage compartments in my truck (which are empty) before locking my doors. This includes the glove box, center console, sunglasses storage, and any other area that a thief believes something of value could be hidden. If I happen to have a few things that I did not take out, I will hide them under one of my seats before leaving. By doing so, you might make someone think twice before taking a chance to enter your vehicle for what appears to be nothing.

Hopefully you are able to benefit from the above mentioned tips in some way or another. Always enjoy each trip and keep an open mind while on the water. You never know when you’ll learn something new that could pay off for you in the future.

 

See this article and more at The Fisherman’s Journal by clicking the link below.

TFJ

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