Tides   

Paddleboards

Standing or Sitting While Casting.

I thought I had seen it all. I guess to some extent anybody that has survived long enough to think they had seen everything they could possibly see were as wrong as me. As I passed midlife, I became painfully aware that I hadn’t seen anything. Take the internet. I remember when it was so new that email was all it offered and we were spending $2,200 a month to rent what was called a T1 line. It was much faster–like ten times faster–than the telephone lines and well worth the money to one of the first web development firms in the state. Those were the days. This is an article about one of those things I never thought I would see–a surfboard so far up on Tampa Bay the only wave you’ll ever see is created by hand. But there it was. Two people standing on what looked like long surfboards and paddling them with long versions of a kayak paddle; one of which worked if you were standing up.

Paddleboard

How Far is Too Far

When we saw those first paddle boards, the first thing I thought–and said to the people on the 21 foot flats boat I was running that day–was, “Where the hell they going with those things?” The nearest ramp I could think of for dropping a kayak wasn’t all that far away; maybe three miles. But three miles standing up with a long stick with wings was different–or so I thought at the time–than sitting in a comfortable kayak seat built specifically to keep oversized angling butts warm and cozy. I thought about my legs, which are not in great shape anymore, and I thought about shoulders, leverage, and a host of other things that made the paddling craft somewhat impractical.

“Where the hell is their sunscreen and icy adult beverages?” I asked. No coolers? Forget the GPS on my own boat. I don’t really need a GPS on the boat (although capable of running offshore I usually fish real boats when I pass the Skyway), but when I wanted to burn the money for no good reason at least I had a place to leave the ashes in the form of electronics that supposedly helped me catch fish.

But these people were just pushing themselves along as they slid quietly on the very tippy top of the water column. I don’t miss issues relative to water column, clarity, and other non-computerized data streams that actually do help me catch more fish. This thing was weird and did not have any fishing rods (or sunscreen) on it, but it sure did sit high in the water. I remember thinking to myself, if I tied a cooler to it, could I use this Robalo as a mother ship and slip into some very skinny water with that thing?

If I Can Get There I Can Fish There

That was three years ago. It didn’t come as a surprise when I first saw someone (two someones actually) fishing from them with Yeti coolers tied to their rather lengthy paddleboards. On the bow was a well strapped-down tackle bag. A connector held a real-world push pole, and the woman in the pair was fighting–and successfully releasing–a Redfish. These things were rigged to play. The cooler had a seat connected to it, so the anglers were able to sit or stand and had major room to move. I was justifiably impressed. You would be too.

Buying a Paddleboard

If you read this story and go out and spend somewhere between $700 and $2,000 (!) rigging a paddleboard without trying one, you’re crazy. We will also not assume responsibility for you doing stupid stuff with a fishing rod in your hands or the bed of your manly or womanly fishing truck. Try it. But dollar for dollar and pound for pound, for accessibility and launch ability, an increasing number of people are fishing these flat stand/sit boards.

Bote paddleboard

The boards range from about 10 feet to 14 feet and weigh quite a bit. The smaller ones can be around 250 pounds and the bigger ones more than 500 rigged to fish. They are different than a kayak but are clearly going after the same clientele. You cannot stand easily in a kayak, although a lot of people do, and you can add outriggers of sorts to dramatically stabilize their ability to tip. You can sure fall off of a standing paddle board; hell, I can fall off of a pair of skis while standing in a class (I have), but they seem much more stable than a kayak.

Two things to consider are comfort and visibility. If you are sitting low and tight to the water in a kayak, you’re not very noticeable. You don’t cast shadows. Not so on a paddle board. You can cast a shadow that reaches to the Tower of London from a standing position, but sitting in a low chair on top of a low cooler and standing only when you are aware of where your shadow is going to fall can take care of that. And you can stretch your legs.

Rent one and try it. You can rent them all over the place. Bring a cooler, a tackle bag, only one or maybe two rods (and Velcro to keep them connected to something, if only your belt), and of course, adult drinks if only caffeinated.



The Online Fisherman

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