Gliding across calm waters in silence gave me the opportunity to smell, touch, and feel the pleasures of nature in its most intimate form. The air was clean and pure, the water cool and alive to the touch with the sights and sounds of nature in its most natural form both stunning and breathtaking.
One of my few experiences in this life where absolute freedom was enjoyed was when quietly gliding over calm waters in a kayak. The peace and tranquility enjoyed from those trips completely enveloped me with a true sense of happiness. However, my first encounter with a kayak bordered more on horrific rather than terrific!
I was 15, adventuress and daring back then when a friend lent me his kayak for a duck hunting trip on a river. The craft was similar to those Alaskan natives used hunting seals and narwhales with. Jumping into its manhole, then snapping down the protective cover I shoved off with my shotgun secured to paddle out onto a semi-frozen river.
Learning the kayak shuffle soon had me gliding among the ice flows, sculling around bergs of ice in search of waterfowl. Paddling around one berg into a pothole surprised a flock of ducks, the startled ducks exploded off the water. Firing my 12 gauge in hopes of gathering one for supper caused an unforgettable reaction. Not being real knowledgeable with the kayak my next experience was rather cold and wet. The kayak had completely rolled from the reflex blast of the shotgun, spinning me through the water column like a washing machine on spin cycle. Luckily I had my shotgun tied to the craft and after the initial shock wore off I retrieved the weapon and slowly oared my wet and freezing self back to shore.
It would be many years before having another encounter with a kayak. But this time the modern day craft would re-warm my blood from my first experience and rekindle the spark of adventure of my fifteenth year. The kayak was reborn from those of yore, modernized and specialized to the unique crafts used for todays adventurous sportsmen.
After having invasive surgery my search for something to help rebuild the weakened muscles of my damaged body was settled. after rediscovering the kayak. But instead of being the bulky, heavy, and unstable craft from my first kayak encounter, these new vessels were sleek, light, and well designed to keep its operator upright.
Being an avid angler I chose one rigged for sport fishermen. The craft was open and comfortable with plenty of storage for everything an avid angler could need or want for their fishing experiences in both fresh or saltwater.
Compared to the old style craft these new kayaks are a pleasure to operate and easy to maneuver around and over obstacles such as creek branches, boulders, and the clutter of my freshwater haunts. Even my saltwater adventures were smoothly triumphed by the agility and tuff-ness of these new kayaks.
Of course weather plays an important part in your kayak adventures and only the most extreme kayakers should venture out under extreme weather conditions, but during normal weather patterns they are easy and very safe. My recommendation for new kayakers would be to weather your craft in the safety of familiar waters you are used to.
Another way to speed up your kayak savvy would be to join kayak clubs, for which there are numerous listings on Google. In this way you would learn from the experts and induce in you the proper and most safe ways to operate the kayak.
And by convincing your spouse, girl friend, or fishing buddy to kayak with you would greatly add a safety factor in your kayaking trips. I've seen many kayakers enjoying outings with their better halfs, in fact Ive witnessed entire familys enjoying kayaking together in both freshwater or saltwater settings. And as long as common sense becomes the managing factor of your kayak adventures there shouldn't be any problems to jeopardize those experiences.
Cruising the back water sloughs of Livingston, Rayburn, or Toledo, going where no other boat could sneak into, I found the fishing to be exceptional especially during the bass spawn where sight fishing the beds was at a premium. Even fishing the grass beds, brush piles or sand pockets for bluegill, crappie or bass was easier due to the stealth quality that kayaks are famous for.
These same stealth qualities helped to enhance my saltwater experiences while quietly slipping through the skinny waters of the marsh flats looking for tailing redfish or gator-trout, which would normally be spooked by less stealthy craft. Even the surf anglers are using these improved kayaks for venturing out into the Gulf to fish for Bull Redfish or Shark.
Kayaks can now be fully rigged with all the latest tech gear you'll need for fishing, including depth sounders, electric troll-motors, GPS units, and battery operated nightlights. Kayak groups even have fishing tournaments and races and family events for all to enjoy.
Even though my kayak choice was for a tandem sport-fishing rig with peddles and rudder for hands free movement through the water, I rarely used the peddles choosing to paddle instead. I found the exercise and natural movement of the kayak through the water to be thoroughly enjoyable providing a peaceful and relaxing experience.
Once, while wade-fishing the Gulf for specks I watched as an entire family of four kayaked their way past me through the breaking surf and down the beachfront until they merged into the horizon.
NOW, this is exactly why those who select the path less traveled are choosing the Kayak, to become a part of that horizon they all seem to be chasing.