My resolution: Enjoy every minute on the water
It’s January, The holiday season is behind us and if you’re anything like me, there’s an extra 10 pounds that magically appeared between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I won’t get all wrapped up in New Year’s resolutions of diet, exercise, improving job skills, or improving relationships. This is all about one resolution; enjoy every minute you spend on the water. It just so happens that a few of those others may find a place within my primary resolution.
Enjoying time on the water seems like a pretty simple task, doesn’t it? After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Here’s my recipe to make every trip enjoyable; regardless of what happens or how many fish you catch.
Plan ahead I know, I know, stuff happens and the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go awry. I also know that failing to plan is the same thing as planning to fail. Planning ahead forces you to think about where, when, how, and for what you will fish. Instead of saying “I’m going fishing tomorrow”, a planned trip statement would be “I’m going to hit the Upper Wando tomorrow morning at dawn for some low tide, top water, redfish action.” There is a distinct difference between those two statements; especially for a kayak fisherman. The second statement guides you easily into the next step.
Pack ahead Since the example is for the early morning top water bite, packing becomes much easier.
You don’t need to carry the tackle bag with every soft plastic known to man. You don’t need the cast net, minnow trap, bait bucket, or extra circle hooks. Lightening the load makes loading, unloading, and paddling easier. Planning for a specific type of fishing provides focus and forces you to work your plan; both of these make my day more enjoyable. Last but not least is that packing ahead let’s you get a good night’s sleep because all you need to do in the morning is jump in the car and go.
Set a schedule and try your best to stick to it. There is a certain amount of frustration that my wife gets when I bug out before the crack of dawn and she has no idea when I’ll be home. The planned fishing trip is pretty specific: Early morning top water bite. Sure, I may get lucky and the top water bite will continue until 10 or 11, but we both know I won’t be out walking the dog with a Spook Jr. at 2 in the afternoon. My fishing trip just got MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE with frustration and anxiety crossed off the list.
File a float plan with someone who will call for rescue if you don’t come home or at least check in on time. IT IS NOT a big deal to create a float plan; after all, you already made a fishing plan. Just tell someone where you are going and when you will be home. My float plans are a little more detailed. I have multiple boats, paddles, and PFDs, so I write a short note on a dry erase board to my wife. It goes something like this:
- I’m fishing the incoming with Carter
- We’re putting in at Copahee and paddling out to the ICW
- I’ll be off the water by 5pm
- I’m taking the Camo Tarpon and wearing my Blue/Black Harmony pfd
- Luv U – T
This simple note only takes a few seconds to write and can save your life if things go horribly wrong. It gives her all the details and if I don’t call, she will call me, then Carter, then the authorities if neither of us answers.
Paddle more than you normally would.
Okay, this is a throwback to the diet and exercise part, but there is a fishing specific reason. Kayak fishing is one of my great passions and pleasures. One of the things I truly enjoy is exploring new waters and you can’t do that if you only put in a Paradise Landing and never go past the sailboat. Part of planning ahead is planning around tidal flow, so use it to your advantage and extend your fishing range.
Worry less about how many fish you bring to hand.
Let’s be honest, chances are pretty high that if you’re reading this article and fishing from a kayak, you are not a subsistence fisherman. You’re kayak fishing for fun, so leave the worries over fish count to the guys running all over creation in their stinkpots. Spend your time soaking up the joy of fishing at your own pace and take the time to smell the pluff mud.
Take more pictures because they last longer than memories.
Fish with people that you enjoy spending time with every chance you get.
Wow, there’s another of the resolutions that slipped in to the main resolution. Think about it though, wouldn’t you prefer sharing someone’s company to fishing alone? With that said, don’t feel that you always have to fish with other people; there is great joy in purposeful solitude.
Turn off your cell phone and leave it in the dry bag until it’s time to call home at the end of the trip. ‘Nuff said.
See you on the water!
About the author: Tommy Samuels is the owner / operator of Kayak Fish SC, a kayak fishing guide service located in Charleston, SC. You can email Tommy at [email protected]