Don't go on the water without the proper safety gear.
Having the necessary safety gear is essential when kayak fishing. Investing a few dollars on a few pieces of gear could be the difference between surviving to tell the harrowing story or becoming a sad statistic. Kayak anglers often think about PFD's, which are of paramount importance. But there are other essential pieces of gear that can help save your life or the life of another angler.
1. Quality PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
Choosing the right PFD is one of the most important decisions you'll make. As mentioned in another post, when I bought my kayak I was told not to spend a lot of money on a PFD. Afterall I was told, a cheap PFD serves the same purpose as an expensive PFD. In theory that is true. But who wants to cheap out on a key piece of gear meant to save your life? Secondly, there are so many good options that are high quality PFDs specifically designed for kayak anglers. The Stearns Comfort Series of fishing life vests are high quality, purpose built life vests that won't break the bank. The US Coast Guard approved life vest is designed to help cool you on a hot day and keep your tackle and other gear close at hand.
2. Safety Whistle
A safety whistle, like this SeaSense Flat Safety Whistle, is an inexpensive piece of gear that can help rescuers find you faster. If you ever find yourself in the open water and not able to re-enter your kayak you're going to want to be found quickly. In most places a whistle or some other noise making device that can be heard a half mile away are required by law. It is best to conduct your own research for the areas you'll be kayaking in.
3. Rescue Throw Bag & Rope
Rescue throw bags are one of those pieces of gear that are easy to overlook because many folks have never needed one. Whether you're fishing quiet lakes & streams, slow rivers or in the ocean this is an essential piece of safety gear. In a heartbeat someone can fall in the water. There are countless reasons to get that person out of the water quickly. Keep this piece of gear at arms reach. This just might be the key piece of equipment that saves a life on your next trip. If you haven't bought one already, the Scotty 793 Rescue Throw Bag & Rope is a great option.
4. Air Horn
It's a great day to be on the water. The heavy traffic on the water confirms it. You've got your safety visibility flag flying high on your kayak. You've done everything you can to be safe on the water. You're loving this day. All of a sudden you look up and see a boat bearing down on you, they obviously don't see you. You could yell but they aren't going to hear you over the roar of their engines. You can't paddle away fast enough. You grab the can and blast the horn just in time to get their attention. Disaster averted. The SeaSense Air Horn is excellent choice to keep on a kayak. They are compact in size and they are designed with removable tops that feature an easy "push button" for quick sounding, strong diaphragm that produces the proper sound every time, and a trumpet body that is impact resistant, weather resistant and designed specifically to amplify the safety signal.
5. Hand Held Bilge Pump
Some things are inevitable if you're a kayak angler. One day we are all going to end up flipped into the water, we are all probably going to lose something in the water and we are all going to end up in rough water or some other situation where our kayak is taking on water. This is why a hand held bilge pump is a necessary piece of safety gear for all kayaks. The SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump is a self-priming hand pump which was designed for large scale water removal. SeaSense scaled down the design for evacuating water from small boats, canoes & kayaks. Never launch without a bilge pump aboard.
6. Small Knife
A small knife attached to a PFD is an invaluable and often overlooked piece of safety gear for the kayak angler. Falling out of the kayak is always a concern and many of us practice open water self rescue. What happens if you get tangled in fishing line, anchor lines or seaweed? Are you getting pulled underwater by these things? How will you get free? This is where the small knife comes into the picture. The Cold Steel Super Edge Knife is a rugged little workhorse can cut through tough materials that would make a bigger knife choke! It's diminutive size and light Secure-Ex sheath make it a natural for attachment to a key ring, zipper pull, “D” ring or a belt loop. Always be prepared, it could save your life.
There are few things more enjoyable than a day of kayak fishing. It allows us to get closer to nature, fish in places we can't get on foot or with boats and, it can be very satisfying. It can also be dangerous, especially if we aren't properly prepared. Having the right safety gear can ensure that you don't become another sad statistic. It can ensure that you'll be enjoying all that kayak fishing has to offer for years to come. Here's to many safe & successful trips on your kayak.