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A Story To Make Us Think: Kayak Fishing Safety

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Recently, I read a story on the forum at Needless to say, the story made me think and re-affirmed, in my mind, the importance of safety while kayak fishing. I decided I would like to share the story in the hopes that it may make others think as well. So, I contacted the person who wrote the post and received permission to publish it in this article. I do not wish to “arm-chair quarterback” the incident but of course there are many things that could have been done differently to eliminate this close call. I just hope the story will make us all re-consider our kayaking practices in regards to safety or at least give us a renewed conviction about its importance. Without further adieu…

“All I can say guys, is wear your life vest. I’ve been complacent. I bring it but I store it in the bow most of the time. Yesterday I had a unique set of circumstances that almost cost me my life. I fish the Mighty Mo up here in Montana. In most places I can stand up so I generally don't wear the vest. I snagged my anchor and couldn't release the anchor. I finally cut the trolley w/ my clippers (no knife) I paddled up stream and pulled as hard as I could. It released and continued on w/ my day. I would then tie the line to a RAM ball. This worked fine. I was a little off centered but it worked. Here's where things went wrong. Fast! I saw this ledge in a little quicker water. I figured there might be some smallies hanging below it. I set the anchor and did NOT feather it out like I usually do. The line came tight quicker than I expected and there was a sudden jerk! I think the anchor slid and then really grabbed. I'm not sure. It happened so fast. Anyway, over I go. Water's cold. 51 degrees. I said to myself don't panic. Just release the anchor. I pulled and pulled and it wouldn’t give. Ok don't panic. Just untie the anchor. The current was so hard that I couldn't get slack to untie it. I tried and tried. I couldn't do it. Now I'm starting to panic. I've been in the water 5-10 minutes or at least it felt like it. I'm getting cold. I'm on the wrong side of the kayak. My brain just said you have to get to shore. It's only 40 yds tops. I started swimming. By this time my boots have filled up. I can't kick. I'm just breast stroking it to shore. The current wasn't letting me get there though. My arms were giving out. I was in complete disbelief. As hard as I was trying I was making very little progress but I was making progress. At this point my mind is telling me that there is a very real possibility that I'm going to drown 20 yds from shore. I just told myself that I HAD to make it. Give it EVERYTHING you've got! I did and about a minute later I touched bottom and walked in. I've never been so scared in my life. Luckily a friend was pulling out from the ramp and noticed my empty kayak. He searched the shoreline with his binos and saw me waving. He launched his boat and got my kayak and me to safety. I changed into dry clothes and went home shook up but at least I went home. On the way home all I could think of was my family and how close I came to drowning. I also thought about the many things I could have done different. Fishing alone, didn't tell the wife where I was going, No life vest on, life vest wasn't at least handy, no knife, faulty anchor system, faulty anchor, no quick disconnect for the anchor line, my self-rescue step was attached to my other kayak etc.”
By Rob from Montana (aka. 1Simplemann)

When there is a tragedy in the kayak fishing community, it is felt by all. Thankfully, this did not end in this way and Rob is able to live to tell his story. I appreciate him taking the time and his willingness to share it with others. Hopefully we can all learn from his incident and/or at least it will re-affirm our conviction for kayak fishing safety so that this story or one similar does not become our own.

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Shane has been kayak fishing since 2009 and is passionate about it. Inshore saltwater kayak fishing is his addiction of choice, however, he enjoys the occasional offshore and freshwater trip as well. He mainly fishes the inshore lakes, bayous, and marshes of Southwest Louisiana but does venture into other territories. Shane is a member of the Hobie Fishing Team and holds Pro Staff positions with YakAngler, Lucid Fishing, and Ship To Shore Co. He was also the founding president of the Lake Charles Kayak Fishing Club. "My simple goal for this blog is to promote kayak fishing as it is something I love. I will post articles, reviews, videos, photos, and basically all things kayak fishing." ~Shane [Shane Coleman] (