Like a weird uncle no one talks about, I wouldn’t admit that I have a glitter-boat-loving, bass-fishing friend. I know, how can we get along, right? Our moral compasses are polar opposites. I like the fluid feel of a paddle through the water while he likes the roar of a 250-horse fuel-injected monster. The horror.
Making the Jump from Bass Boat to Kayak
In an attempt to bridge the divide, I invited my buddy to a kayak fishing tournament for largemouth bass on Kentucky Lake. Looking out over the water and the kayaks lined up and waiting, he looked shaken. “Ready to fish in a kayak?” I asked him with a nudge. He barely moved his gaze away from the alien craft that had landed in front of him. After some patient (and then not so patient) urging, my buddy plopped down onto a kayak.
He started slowly at first, fishing only the nearby cove of the lake and barely venturing ten feet from shore. Soon, he grew braver and began to venture out into open water. Eventually, I stopped watching him and started fishing. When I looked back, he was on his way to the next point, appearing from a distance like a seasoned veteran.
Eventually, my buddy saw what I’d been talking about for years. How a kayak can do everything a glitter-boat can do, but quieter, with more stealth. How a plastic boat gets you closer to the fish, down to their level. I paddled over to the point he was fishing to witness the changed man up close.
Novice Kayaker Finds His Sea Legs
My buddy told me he was impressed with the stability of a fishing kayak. He was fishing up and down the lake, showing it off to the recreational boats passing by and even fishing standing up. He got a little full of himself. An older couple in a powerboat came puttering up to him and asked what kind of boat he was fishing in.
Fearing an identity crisis, he was quick to tell them, “Well…I normally fish in a bass boat, but this is a fishing kayak.” Intrigued, the couple asked him to continue. “These are actually pretty great, you can do anything you would in a bass boat, but you don’t need to pay for gas or have a big trailer. It’s even stable enough to stand and—” SPLASH!
He stood too quickly, lost his balance and toppled into the water. Soaking wet, he climbed back into his kayak and sped back to the launch. Sitting at a table with a towel around his shoulders and a scowl on his face, he waited for the rest of the anglers to come into the weigh-in station. Just when I thought he might have come over from the dark side, he was gone.
It’s tough to separate bass boat-lovers from their engines. | Feature illustration: Lorenzo Del Bianco