March 10, 2016
Beyond economics, exercise and access to shallow backwaters, a major impetus that launches many fishermen into kayak angling is desire to fish in solitude. It was certainly a factor when I took up paddling. Not only did I not want the fish to sense my presence—I also aspired to avoid detection by nearby boaters. Thus, my first few kayaks were earth-tone greens and beiges that blended into mangrove shorelines.
Those dull colors caught fish just fine, but boaters far too frequently roared down on me, their outboards, boat wakes and over-revved trolling motors blowing out my serenity and even worse, my fishing. Apparently since they didn't see me, they had no qualms about running up to what they perceived as an unoccupied shoreline. Of course, if they saw me catching fish, they graciously kept me company.
Inadvertently, I cut back on these intrusions. In an effort to provide more vibrant fishing pictures in Florida Sportsman, I purchased a pair of bright blue boats and later a blazing orange kayak that are easily seen from a distance.
By spotting me sooner, most—not all—of them no longer come close enough to see my bent rod or splashing fish, and continue merrily on their way in search of their own hot spots.
My radiant boats don't scare the fish— they seem entirely nonjudgmental about kayak color. I won't guarantee there's a correlation— maybe I've simply become a better fisherman (there was certainly room for improvement)—but my fishing log indicates my catch rate of big, wary seatrout has actually risen since I brightened up my kayak fleet.
Another obvious fringe benefit to paddling a kayak that stands out is enhanced safety. Boaters are much less likely to run over a bright yellow, red, orange or blue kayak. If there's an emergency situation that requires assistance, authorities can more easily locate a colorful craft. Unfortunately, all bets are off if you paddle into a herd of nervous manatees—they don't care what color your kayak is, either. If nothing else, you'll take prettier pictures of your fish.
More Than One Way to be Seen
Purchasing a bright-colored boat isn't the only way to improve visibility. Bright clothing or life jackets also enhance visibility—but not as much as the right paddle. Eyes are drawn to movement, and it's amazing how far away a paddle with white, neon yellow or fluorescent orange blades stands out when in motion.
Paddles are standard equipment with very few new kayaks, or are often substandard and eventually need to be upgraded for more efficient models. If you have to buy one, it may as well be pretty and make you safer.