Yak fishing for seniors

The following article of was published in the September issue of The Villager Newspaper.


Like most aging anglers I’ve encountered since relocating to central Florida’s booming retirement area, I fished my entire life from skiffs and larger boats propelled by fossil fuels.  Now in my 70’s and receiving a pension, I’ve transitioned to a small plastic vessel and paddle power to reach my target species, and have spent the last 14 years trying to perfect my latest addiction.  Lately, I’ve observed increasing numbers of seniors doing the same, apparently opting for something a bit more adventurous than scooting after those little white balls in their electric carts. 

My wife and I seem to have moved to the retirement capital of the world.  According to 55Places.com, 40 of the top rated 100 active adult communities in the country are located in Florida, including 26 in the central part of the state within an hour or two drive of the Nature Coast.  Paddling groups are sprouting up all over; I commonly run into folks from The Villages, Top of the World and other nearby retirement communities launching their kayaks in our scenic lakes, rivers and inshore area.  Rarely a week goes by when I don’t hear from some new retiree to our area who happened to stumble across my Nature Coast Kayak Fishers website (http://fishingkayaks.us) inquiring about taking up this sport.     

Lots of golden agers travel here to swim with manatees in the winter, participate in the Nature Coast’s underwater version of an Easter egg hunt for scallops in the summer, and book trips year around out of Crystal River and Homosassa targeting our renowned tarpon, shallow water grouper and other fisheries.  Many have begun transporting their yaks with them, and are extending their stays to explore our inshore area and rivers that haven’t been impacted by the red tide and guacamole-like summer slime events that have affected other parts of the state.  Most are recreational paddlers and eco-tourists looking for a nature oriented experience, but growing numbers are bringing fishing gear along.     

Florida Sport Fishing Magazine, the largest fishing magazine in the state, is publishing a series of my articles

focusing on senior citizens taking up the fast growing sport of kayak fishing in Citrus County. 

The first article, choosing a codger-friendly kayak, appears in the just released September / October issue.  Tips and techniques for fishing from plastic vessels will be included in subsequent issues.

Members of the flourishing geriatric set thinking about spending more of their senior moments on the water may want to check them out.

Gary Rankel