The following article was published in the November issue of the Villager Newspaper.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE Gary Rankel, The PackerYaker As a boy, my father often told me to KISS (Keep it Simple Son), occasionally substituting the last word in the phrase with “Stupid”. Mom, after venturing into my bedroom, often remarked: A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place. When it comes to fishing from plastic vessels, both hold true. All I need to load onto my kayak before launching besides a paddle and three rigged and ready outfits are a fish grips to hold hooked fish, a needle nose pliers to remove the imbedded hooks, a scissors to cut line, a small plastic box holding a few spare lures, a first aide kit, bottled water, bug and sun protection sprays and a small vhf radio. That’s it.
Dressing for success on the water necessitates wearing a wide brim hat to protect my eyes from the sun, and polarized sunglasses underneath the brim to facilitate spotting fish in the shallows. My fishing license and a few bills fit in a waterproof baggie inside my moisture wicking, bug repelling shirt pocket. A headlamp comes in handy when launching in the dark,. My life vest and whistle (the only items legally required to be on board), rod holders, a compass and an anchor are permanently mounted and secured on board, so I never need to worry about loading and unloading them.
Catch – release fishing works for me, but if you’re part of the catch, cook and consume crowd, you’ll want a net to improve the odds of getting fish on board, a measuring device and a cooler to store them. Anglers using live bait will need appropriate containers for keeping them fresh and frisky. I have no need for the other accessories that many anglers take with them including those fancy electronic gadgets and gizmos. My fish finders are located on either side of my nose. My depth finder: it’s called a paddle Having loaded items in their designated containers and placed them inside my yak the night before, I’m able to lift it onto my pickup and take off a few minutes after getting out of bed while still stumbling around half asleep, knowing that everything I’ll need will be with me when I arrive at the launch site. If you have a more traditional sit-on-top kayak that can’t conveniently accommodate your items during transport, just place them inside your vehicle or next to your kayak the evening before to facilitate loading. Secure on or in your yak all items that can stay on board permanently.
Develop a routine for storing, loading and transporting all gear and accessories the same way each time, so knowing the whereabouts of each item becomes second nature. Keep your fish grips and pliers within easy reach; you don’t want to be searching for them while a trophy redfish or snook is thrashing around alongside.
BTW, if you haven’t heard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has proposed regulation changes for spotted seatrout in our area reducing the daily limit from five to four, and the slot size range from 15–20 to 15–19 inches, while allowing one fish over 19 inches to be taken. While not privy to the data that went into the FWC proposal, I had hoped for a more resource friendly recommendation. As in the case of scallops locally, red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific salmon in the Northwest and other fisheries, the long term interests of resources are too often given short shrift in favor of more user friendly regulations that are less disruptive to local economies over the short term. There is as much edible meat on two 18 – 19 inch trout as on four 15 inchers, so I’d like to see a daily catch limit of two ranging in size from perhaps 17 – 20 inches. Such a regulation would allow for many more trout to mature and spawn, thereby expediting the restoration of the stock to maximum sustainable harvest levels. Public comments on this rulemaking can be provided at https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/rulemaking/saltwater-public-comments/.
Peaceful Paddles, Tight Lines and Happy Landings
Nature Coast Kayak Fishers (http://fishingkayaks.us)