Copano Bay Kayaking – Fishing Trip

On weekends, David usually sleeps in.  That’s fair.  I sleep later than he does every other day of the week.  I try not to make noise that would wake him.  But, when I took the dogs out to the back yard, the perfect weather screamed “Kayaking!”.  Suddenly, I was in a hurry.  Three hours of this perfect day had already passed.  We threw snacks and fishing poles in the back of the car and we were on the way, to where we had not decided.

After some discussion we decided to try Copano Bay.  We put in at the Bayside public boat ramp.   We paddled under the bridge and found a place where trout seemed to be feeding.  We anchored about 50 feet off the beach and settled in to fish.

There wasn’t much fish action for a while and we were impatient.  We paddled further away from the bridge and found the right spot.  Every time I cast I got hits, but no solid bites.  It seemed perhaps I had too large a hook for the fish that were biting.  Good.  I deliberately use large hooks and big bait so I don’t have to mess with fish I don’t plan to keep.  Unfortunately, this time it seemed there were no fish big enough.

Just when I was thinking of changing bait, the tip of the pole took a nose dive. I set the line and slowly moved the fish closer to the boat.  Just as it was close enough to see what it might be, it spit the hook.   I really wanted that 22 inch red drum.  That seems to be my fishing life.  The one that got away.  That fish is there in Copano Bay, and I’ll be going back after it.  Soon.  Real soon.

Sandy — A Lesson in Preparedness

Hurricane Sandy, being the most recent natural disaster, serves well as an example of “what to do” and “what not to do” to be prepared for emergency situations.   As discussed in the article “Living or Prepping”, people choose to be prepared for one thing or another, or not all all.  While the citizens of New York and the surrounding affected area are said to be a well prepared people, the fact remains that people were not as prepared as you would think.

For instance, in NYC, living spaces are smaller than most people have in the rest of the country.  Smaller spaces equals less space to store supplies.  People did not have an adequate supply of cash on hand because they didn’t think about the possibility of not being able to access it during a power outage, or because they are poor and don’t have extra dollars.  In terms of evacuation, the concept was not even considered by most people because of lack of transportation and financial resources.  Instead, the people stayed in their homes and tried to stay out of Sandy’s way.

How prepared can a person be if they do not drive and do not have adequate stores of supplies?  How prepared is a person who does not have the ability to purchase what they need during such an event?  We could take this one step further.  In times gone by, stores had a “back room” where additional inventory items were kept and placed on shelves as the supply was sold.  Now, in an effort to reduce overhead and inventory, most stores practice “just in time” marketing.  Stores keep a three day supply of items on the shelves at any given time.  Because of this practice, people preparing at the last minute will find the shelves bare.

Being prepared means planning.  It means setting aside a certain amount of your budget to prepare for unplanned events.  It isn’t difficult, and it doesn’t need to change your lifestyle.  It can be as simple as buying two or three extra cans or boxes of food each week at the grocery and putting them under the bed.  Preparing to have cash on hand can be as easy as putting coins in a jar every day when you get ready for bed.  These actions are painless when you do them and add up significantly over time.  Using this method, there should be very few people excused from preparing for the worst.

Living or Prepping?

Everywhere you look there are people using all forms of media to tell us how to manage our finances so that in the end we have some magic number of dollars in some investment fund set away for our retirement.  This is just another form of preparedness that has earned the respect of society.  The disaster they prepare for?  Old age.  Yep.  Those years when you are promised to either live out happy last days or need vast dollar amounts for the diseases of old age.  Either way, we are encouraged from the beginning to plan and prepare for the latter years of our lives.

Now, with modern communications and a glut of programming opportunities, we are bombarded with encouragement to be prepared for just about any calamity that might afflict our country.  Even the government has a web site dedicated to being prepared for what might happen.  Doomsday preppers spend the better part of their lives, and the lives of their children, preparing for the event of their choice.  Like a religion, they encourage others to join them.

How  is  preparing for old age different from doomsday preparedness?  It’s only different because of what resource is being stockpiled and where it is being stored.  Doomsday preppers shun the banking system because, in their world view, money will be useless.  Old age preppers, if you will, put their extra resources in banks.  Doomsday preppers plan to utilize their resources for their own use and for barter.   Old age preppers will use their resources for the same thing.  The unsettling thing about both groups is that many of them are living for the future and forfeit life now.

The unsaid premise is for which event should a person prepare?  For the average income households, by preparing for disaster there may not be enough resources to prepare for old age.  The converse is true as well.  Clearly, to prepare for both would be extremely difficult for most households and absolutely impossible for many people.  This forces families to make stressful decisions based on available information and their opinion of what is most likely to happen.

Really?  Is that how people should live?  Constantly worrying about “what if”? We say emphatically, “No!”.  People should adopt a lifestyle which allows for them to be reasonably prepared for an unexpected emergency.   There will be more on reasonable preparedness in another post, but for now, consider how you live and if your lifestyle will allow you to continue your life as uninterrupted as possible in a disastrous situation.

Kayaking in South Texas

One of the favorite activities in South Texas is kayaking, or yaking as we say.  On any given “nice” day you will see yaks on the shallow waters.  As water temperature cools, fewer people spend time on the water.  This year, on the first of November, it is warmer than usual with temperatures in the 80’s.  Weather just right for a weekend of yaking before colder days are here.

Some things you need to know to make water sports in South Texas most enjoyable:

  1. At this latitude, you always need sunscreen.  Remember the sun reflects off the water to burn your face under your wide brimmed hat.  Many here wear cloth face sun shields.
  2. Nourish yourself.  It’s not fun to have to come in from kayaking because you get hungry and thirsty.  Plan how long you are going to be out and bring food, water and snacks appropriate to that amount of time.
  3. Plan to get wet.  In warm weather, getting wet is not a problem.  On cold days, being wet is miserable.  Rain gear properly chosen to keep water out makes the difference between miserable and happy.
  4. Bring a first aid kit for each kayak.  Stuff happens.  You can get a great little first aid kit in a water tight container for about $8.00.  In one trip I some how managed to gather a collection of three bleeding wounds.  The kit came in very handy.
  5. Check the Coast Guard list of required equipment for the watercraft you are using.  Much of this equipment will fit in your tackle box.
  6. Bring a couple of gallons of tap water for washing your hands and rinsing your feet once back at shore, to avoid getting sand in your food or car.
  7. Safety first.  When crossing the a channel, be aware of your surroundings.  Since kayaks are not powered, they are more difficult to maneuver.  If there is heavy traffic, you will be dealing with wakes from speeding boats as well as waves from wind and the current.
  8. Plan to take longer getting back than you did going out.  How much longer will be determined by your skill, physical health, and endurance.  If the wind or weather changes, so will your return time.

If you are considering new kayaks, the articles “Choosing the Right Yak” and “Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 Solo Angler Kayak Review” detail our experiences and our final choice.


Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 Solo Angler Kayak Review

After months of research and trying yaks at various locations, we chose the Native Watercraft for several reasons, not the least of which was comfort.  We used the criteria listed in “Choosing the Right Yak”.

We chose the Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 Solo Angler.  From this picture of it, you can certainly see that it isn’t a regular kayak.  In fact, it is a hybrid between a canoe and a kayak.  It has an open body, tunnel hull, and deep V bow and stern.  These features gives it plenty of accessible storage, stability and makes it easy to paddle.

Consider the storage of regular kayaks.  These consist of a well with  elastic straps to hold items in and the hollow of the kayak with a plastic lid.  Neither storage holds very much and probably it isn’t a good idea to put much weight in either of these storage devices.  Beyond that, the storage is hard to access and most often you have to get out of the kayak to remove the lid.  The Ultimate 14.5 design is such that you can store anything you want where ever you like.  Not only that, you can easily access it while in your seat.  If you are concerned about getting your items wet, optional  skirts take care of that.

One thing the regular kayaks we had in common was the feeling of instability. It wasn’t always safe to stand up in them.  There were two brands I refused to test when I saw other people getting in them.  It was all they could do to stay upright.  The Ultimate 14.5 is rated for class two rivers.  This rating has been proven to me more than once when I was crossing the channel with wind, waves and wakes.   It was also comforting to know that even if it gets swamped it will still remain at the surface.

The Ultimate 14.5 was easy to paddle five months after having shoulder surgery.  This was not “just” shoulder surgery.  This was grinding off bones, cutting and sewing of muscles, popping out the joint and reattaching tendons with screws.  I was shocked.  The Ultimate 14.5 was easier to paddle than other lighter kayaks.  Granted, the length of the 14.5 is better for speed than yaks like the Tarpon 12.  The ease of paddling the Ultimate was significantly better than the Tarpon, much more than one would have imagined.  I was able to paddle the Ultimate for many hours more than the others.  I was comfortable the whole time on the water.

The Ultimate has one unique feature that other yaks don’t measure up.  The adjustable removable seat.  This chair is so comfortable you can sit in it hour after hour without feeling the need to rest your butt.  Jackson makes a similar seat, but it isn’t as adjustable and versatile as the Native Watercraft seat.  I like the fact that I can take the seat out of the yak when we are ready to make camp and have a comfortable chair to sit on while fishing off the river bank or beach.  Being able to remain in the yak for long periods of time was one of the top selling features for me.  When you are doing some serious fishing, there isn’t much worse than having to stop fishing because your back or butt hurts from sitting on the hard plastic.