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How to Launch a Kayak in a Surf Zone

Watch this video to get some good tips on the technique necessary for launching your boat in the surf zone.


Although it's not for everyone, the more adventurous kayak anglers can launch their kayaks in the surf zone to access the prime fishing areas. In this video, we're gonna look at how to launch a kayak in the surf, although I would highly recommend you take a surf kayaking course before attempting to do this yourself.

First things first, wearing a life jacket is always important when you're on the water, but it's even more important when you head into rough conditions like a surf zone. It's also important that you're using the right kayak, which means using a sit-on-top fishing kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks are the best option for this surf because they have scupper holes and self-bell, which means they won't swap and fill with water like a sit-inside kayak will. Assuming you're wearing a life jacket and using a sit-on-top fishing kayak, the first thing you need to do is stow your gear inside the kayak before heading out. You have to assume that anything you leave out will get lost or get broken. Different sit-on-top kayaks have different levels of access inside. They also have varying capacity, so you might need to reduce the amount of tackle you would normally carry.

It's also a good idea to minimize the gear you bring to minimize the load you need to paddle out because the heavier a kayak is, the less responsive it will be. When it comes to launching, you'll want to choose a gradually sloping beach because it lets you walk your kayak into the water and the waves don't tend to dump as hard. Remember that waves come in sets. Take your time and let the bigger sets roll through before going for it. When that time comes, grab the bow of your kayak and pull it into the knee-deep water while keeping it pointed directly into the oncoming waves. When you see an opening, hop onto your kayak as soon as the wave passes, and start paddling out.

Keep your boat pointed directly into the oncoming waves. If a wave that's coming at you is breaking, keeping your boat pointed straight becomes that much more important. You also want to hit that breaking wave with a little extra speed, so take a couple of good hard strokes going into it and then plant a last stroke into the wave as it hits you. This last stroke will not only help pull you through the wave, but it will help keep you balanced.

Using the above technique and with some practice, you'll be able to paddle out through mild to moderate surf in your fishing kayak. But here are a few more tips to keep you safe in the surf zone. First off, it's never a good idea to paddle alone, especially in a surf zone. Secondly, if you're not on your kayak, it is important that you always keep yourself between the kayak and the incoming wave. If the kayak ends up between you and the wave, the wave can slam the kayak into you, and having a 70-pound kayak thrown into you by an ocean wave is no joke.

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