Outdoor Corner: 'Yakker'
Many moons ago, probably more than I’d like to remember, we traveled around the marshes in Venice in a pirogue. Now, we certainly weren’t the only ones doing that. It was a common practice for most duck hunters and is still done some that way today.
But I remember one day Goosie bought what I called a “motorized pirogue”. It was more like a kayak as it was wider than a pirogue and much more stable, if you know what I mean.
Most folks I know have had exciting moments operating those Cajun kayaks. It had a built-in troll motor, and man, could it cruise. You only carried a paddle for looks, mostly, and it never turned over, unlike a pirogue.
The craft could get places you only thought about in a boat. But alas, one day the troll motor gave up the ghost and we had to paddle. Then it got stolen and that was my last memory of that awesome duck hunting boat, and it was back to the pirogues.
From back in that time until today, boating has made a circle of sorts. Boats grew in size and shape, while the motors that propelled them grew in horsepower. As salt water fishing grew in popularity, the bay boat was introduced, and they grew as well.
For a myriad of reasons such as travel distance, fuel costs, access and other issues, smaller began to attract attention. One and two-man boats for bass fishing came to the market. They were very water-worthy, light to handle and could be launched nearly anywhere, especially off the side of the road.
Small watercraft runs the gamut now. Heck, you can even buy a boat that folds up and can almost be carried under your arms. Unfolded, the boat is sturdy enough to support a small outboard motor.
But the craze today is the kayak! They’ve always had a niche in personal watercraft, but it usually leaned to the extreme end. White-water kayaks have been popular for sport and racing for a long time and I’ve even seen them in Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska, a lot closer to a glacier than the big boat we were in.
A few years ago, fishing from a kayak made quite a splash, and the wave just gets bigger and bigger. The very adaptable water craft is very popular as they can be bought for under $300 to get an affordable start. If you like it, you an upgrade pretty easily and it’s still easy on the pocketbook.
I love to fish from the bank, out of the back of my truck. So it just sort of seemed natural for me to be attracted to fishing from a kayak. The wait was probably just a little longer that it needed to be, but I took the plunge and got me a 12’, Kajun Custom Kayak.
Fishing out of a small watercraft is a lot like bank fishing. They both certainly have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s easy to launch and finding a spot is pretty easy. An angler can get places not accessible from the bank or from a engine powered boat.
On the other side, you’re very limited on your travel distance. Wind certainly affects paddle craft if you’re going against the wind. You’re certainly at a disadvantage as far as speed is concerned. But it’s still a very proficient way to catch some fish and have some fun.
Deborah and I have three kayaks now that are used for pleasure and fishing. We’ve been to Grand Isle to catch some specks and redfish a time or two. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a “Cajun Sleigh Ride” in Caminada Pass as well. That’s being pulled around in your kayak by a bull red.
It happened during a trip promotion of Ride the Bull, which has become the largest kayak tournament in the world, having over 850 entrants in the last one put on. The anglers were given cut mullet for bait which is usually a good offering to catch one of the big boys.
I brought along a small rod and reel to catch a white trout to bait with a live bait. Not only was I successful in catching white trout but in hooking up with a 27-pound redfish that pulled me all around the bay. Hence the moniker, Cajun Sleigh Ride.
Our most memorable kayak adventure happened in Valdez, Alaska, with Anadyr Adventures. Our outing consisted of a 10-hour trip, kayaking among icebergs from Columbia glacier calving into Prince William Sound in a 16 ft ocean kayak.
Sounds a little adventurous for a couple of Cajuns; but what the heck. Our host for this venture was Anadyr Adventures, a well-known guiding group that specializes in “off the hook” excursions.
Our guide for the day was a person that made this trip very special. Janus Colbert was born in Morgan City (who woulda thought it!) right here is south Louisiana and attended kindergarten in Napoleonville before growing up in Michigan. He then relocated to the northwest in Washington state and like lots of folks; migrates to Alaska to guide in the summer.
One can find all sorts of kayaking clubs that fish for fun and big-time tournaments have made their way into the mix. Why not think about becoming a “yakker?” It’s affordable, relatively easy to do and lot’s of fun! So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe in the outdoors and may God truly bless you!