We all make New Year's resolutions, most of which are barely a memory by Valentine's Day. But in order to get more out of my kayak fishing trips this year I'm going to change a few things. If we're out in our boat, chances are we're not at work, so let's get the most mileage out of our time on the water.
Every year, I "attempt" to base New Year's resolutions around 3 things. MIND (learn something new, regardless of how trivial it may be), BODY (either do something to make my health better, or stop doing something that makes my health worse), and SOUL (do something fun, something that will create a good memory to recall during the year). I also have a few personal things I'd like to accomplish. I'll share a few of my resolutions for this year, and challenge you to fold some of them in to yours.
- Learn some new areas. My good news - I'm lucky enough to live very close to a very productive salt water area. My bad news - that area was devastated by "red tide" this summer, which has killed almost all of the baitfish and sport fish in the area. It's bad, and likely won't recover this year. So, whether I like it or not, I have to go to new areas that are more likely to be productive. I should have been doing this anyway. This year, I will do my research and sample some new fishing spots.
- Learn more about target species. The best gear in the world won't help you if you use it at times when the fish aren't hungry or use it in an area where the fish aren't present. This year, I will study up on all aspects of redfish and snook, learn their habits and haunts.
- Learn more about what target fish eat (bait). Fish don't get to be big and strong as a result of eating artificial lures. They get that way from eating what we call bait. And if I throw an artificial shrimp at a time when pinfish are the target species main diet, it will be about as appetizing as a pile of bricks placed in the middle of a salad bar. Learning more about life cycles and habits of bait, combined with learning more about my target species, should enable me to connect with more fish.
- Self rescue. We all can get in our boat close to shore or from a dock, with no gear loaded. But we rarely practice self rescue when we're in deep water, kayak loaded down with gear and rods sticking up everywhere, along with some waves to contend with. This year, I will practice this, not just for my peace of mind, but for the peace of mind of those who care about me.
- Paddling technique. Like most, I'm a fisherman that kayaks. I can tie some really scary knots and I watch a couple of hour's worth of fishing shows each week. I spend much more time on the "fishing" side of the paddle-fishing equation. To get from point A to point B we must paddle, and it only makes sense to be better at that aspect of the game. This year, I will take a class that will improve my paddling technique.
- Lose weight / build strength and stamina. Yeah, yeah, we always say something about losing weight each year. But losing weight and building some strength can only help my paddling as well as my fishing. I'm not setting down any hard numbers, but I know I should shed a few pounds, eat a little better, and get some regular exercise.
- Casting practice. How many times have you had a perfect opportunity present itself and botch the cast? This week I drifted up on a huge sea trout catching some sun in a sandy pothole. The perfect cast would have most likely ended up with a series of pictures on my camera. However, the end result of a bad cast was a poof of sand, and a new subject to write about. No athlete has ever improved their game while they are IN the game. Perfection comes from practice (you are what you repeatedly do). This year, I will spend some time fine tuning my casting abilities.
- Work at work - fish when I fish. This means that during the week I'll take care of all my business, so that when I get a chance to hit the water I won't have any other things on my mind. This not only frees me up to concentrate on fishing, but also allows me to focus on relaxing and charging my batteries for the upcoming week.
- Paddle longer distances without fishing. Say it, yes you can. I may even entertain the idea of paddling without having a rod on board. I've heard people do that.
- Catch a Tarpon from a kayak. I'm not talking about a 200 pound monster, I'm talking about a little guy. I'll settle for a 90 pounder, no need to be greedy.
- Fish with live bait from a kayak. It's not as convenient as using lures, but in some instances I think it can be more productive. It's simply another good club to have in the bag.
- Fish in some fresh water. Living 200 yards from the beach will definitely make you more likely to fish salt water. But here in Florida there are a lot of great fresh water places to fish. This year, I want to add a big largemouth bass to my picture collection, and for that, I'll need to seek out some fresh water.
- Write more meaningful articles. This year, we covered a lot of basic things about fishing from a kayak. And, hopefully some of you that are new to the sport will seek out those early articles. As I was searching for new things to write about I came across yet another meaningful quote by Thoreau. He states, "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." So this year, I'll write more about my fishing experiences, what worked, and what didn't. I may not always give up the "where", but I'll gladly share the "how" and "why". Hey, I'm a fisherman too.
OK, let's get out there and make some memories !
See you out on the water ...