Friday, January 19, 2018
Outdoors

Want to buy a kayak? Here are some tips

Maybe you've found yourself itching to commit to a kayak this summer. Florida's surrounding bodies of water are begging you to come feel the sun and spray of the ocean on your skin. • With a kayak of your own, you can load up and float out anytime, nearly anywhere you'd like. Ditch the hassle of renting, coordinating, always paying. • Don't know where to begin? • Start by answering a few questions.

Who and why?

Russell Farrow, owner of Sweetwater Kayaks in north St. Petersburg, said a person's physical size is most important to think of, followed by what you want to do with it.

There are single-seater kayaks for the lone paddler or double-seaters for those who want company in the boat (my dad always advised never to double up with someone you liked because by the end of the trip, you'd hate them) and double-seaters with a mini seat in between for a child.

Some kayaks have built-in storage for food, camping gear, coolers for fish, built-in seats for fishermen out for hours and others with strap-in seats.

How much are you willing to spend?

The most common kayaks are the "plastic" ones, made of polyethylene. They are rotomolded which means particles of the material are placed in a mold and spun at high heat to melt and coat the entire, one-piece mold, "like magic," Farrow said.

Another material is fiberglass, which is lighter than polyethylene and generally more expensive.

Kayaks can range from 6 feet to 19 feet long.

"Don't be afraid of longer kayaks," Scotty Siebel, an associate at Canoe Country, said.

The longer the kayak, the straighter you paddle through the water.

Another tip from Siebel: "Buy your second kayak first."

"People buy a $200-300 boat from a box store, a two-piece (not rotomolded) that gets ruined somehow and then come here and spend $1,000 on a proper boat, when they could have avoided those problems before."

Will you buy new or used?

Depending how you answered the previous question, you may need to consider your options.

Siebel advises if you're going to buy a used kayak from Craigslist or a third party, look for one of the rotomolded polyethylene kayaks because they will be less likely to be warped or weakened from the sun. Check carefully for cracks or gouges in the plastic before agreeing to purchase.

The second thing is to try out a kayak. Farrow recommends taking a course taught by a certified coach, offered by Sweetwater every Saturday at 10 a.m. at Weedon Island.

Any good coach will look at how you're paddling and know which kind of kayak fits your needs and be able to give you options, Farrow said.

In a class, kayakers will learn boat control, self-rescue, theory and risk assessment in addition to the correct form of paddling. Even if you think you're a skilled paddler, Farrow said it helps to take the course because you may learn all the different things you can do with a kayak.

"It opens a lot of different options," Farrow said of the courses. "Show up ready to get wet."

Third, do your research. There are tons of resources at your fingertips. Siebel says it's a good idea to go online and read reviews, see what people are saying about different brands and models.

"There are a lot of kayaks out there that do not represent the sport well," Siebel said.

The Tarpon 120 kayak is the most popular model sold at Canoe Country, Siebel said. It retails for $939 on Wilderness Systems' website.

Fourth, remember you have to get it home! That is to say, don't forget to buy all the necessary gear for your kayaking adventures. Paddles, life jackets, roof racks or trailers are all essential.

"A good paddle is more effective than a good boat," Farrow said.

But you can't get anything until you've settled on which boat.

Comments

Captainís Corner: What to expect from fish coming out of the cold spell

Extreme cold has brought backcountry water temperatures down. As in years past, extreme dips have shocked many fish, especially snook, which take the biggest hit and become extremely lethargic and often near death. Luckily the cold wonít be long, and...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Captainís Corner: Divers, anglers going after amberjack

Over the past two weeks divers and anglers have been in search of amberjack. The season opened Jan. 1 and ends Jan. 27. The short season for gulf amberjack has pushed many divers and anglers to venture offshore, even in questionable weather. Donít fo...
Published: 01/18/18

Captainís Corner: Cold weather brings different but effective fishing styles

This past week has seen a variety of different fishing styles prove effective. Fishing for trout in deeper depressions with live shrimp has provided steady action. Rig as follows: Use a ?-ounce jighead, grab a shrimp from the well and pinch the tail ...
Published: 01/17/18

Captainís Corner: Devise a strategy before heading out into the cold

The quality of fishing this month depends on how many cold fronts are in our future. When the water creeps down below 60 degrees, many fish will slow their metabolism in order to survive. They require less food than in the warmer months, making some ...
Published: 01/16/18

Captainís Corner: Make sure the fly gets in front of a hungry fish

Back-to-back winter cold fronts not only confuse inshore fish but the fly fishers who pursue them. The most perfectly tied fly is not effective unless it is in front of a fish that is anxious to eat it. The best daytime tides, very low early and inco...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/14/18

Captainís Corner: Cold, windy days just fine for trout fishing

Trout have been my most productive target during the start of this new year. Winter cold fronts and cold water are making conditions difficult to target snook and reds. Strong winds from passing fronts make it hard to work the shallow-water flats. Th...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18

Captainís Corner: Cold driving out kings, but there are alternatives

Mother Nature gives and she takes away. Nature gave us warm water and great king fishing until Dec. 31. She ushered in the new year with a severe cold front with high winds and rough seas that kept us in port every day. The cold air and overcast skie...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Captainís Corner: Techniques for catching (and cooking) tasty sheepshead

Cold water has fishing in sort of slow motion. Middle bay temperatures (Gandy area) are holding in the 54-56 degree range. During this time of year the stalking of large snook and redfish take a back seat to finesse fishing and trying to figure out w...
Published: 01/10/18
Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

With colder weather the first big change is what bait to use. Before the cold fronts in the first week we were using greenbacks and catching a bunch of snook. With the cold weather that has hit us we are now shifting gears and using shrimp and throwi...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18

Captainís Corner: Winter need not interrupt fishing

The inevitable effects of wintertime fishing have finally arrived, but there are plenty of opportunities for the determined angler. Trout, both silver and specs, are cold water tolerant and among the best bets inshore. Now too is when schools of shee...
Published: 01/07/18
Updated: 01/08/18