1. Could you give us a little history behind your organization?
Our group, Hmong Kayak Fishing Club, started with four friends (Rocky Ly, KB Xiong, Tony Yang and Will Yang) who found the sport of kayak fishing to be most fun and rewarding. We banded together to form our Facebook-operated club in hopes to make aware the sport of kayak fishing to our Hmong community.
2. What sparked your interest in kayak fishing?
Much of my personal interest in kayak fishing started from watching online videos of Drew Gregory, creator of the online community RiverBassin.com and designer of the Jackson Kayak Coosa. His online videos of river expeditions influenced me to get into a kayak fishing and explore accessible waters by way of small watercraft. Since that time, fishing out of a kayak has been most rewarding and we hope to make every effort to introduce this fun sport to others.
3. How do you get started? What equipment do you recommend to beginners?
Most people are apprehensive when it comes to kayak fishing. Perhaps it's the stigma that the word "kayak" brings to the mind -- that is, raging white waters, extreme sport conditions, tipsy watercraft, etc. While these situations exist, you can kayak and fish ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers and you are not limited to the most extreme conditions. Also, sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, for the most part, provide stability and have self-bailing scupper holes to prevent swamping.
My personal recommendation for those interested in kayak fishing is to research kayak fishing, watercraft regulations, safety precautions and best practices. There are magazine articles, online forums and boards, and videos that are great resources to prepare yourself. The online forums and boards provide a great community of like-minded folks who enjoy helping those who are just starting out…so don't be afraid to register and ask questions. Also, it is worth your time to visit a local outfitter to discuss first-steps.
One kayak is better than no kayak, but I hope the prospective buyer will take into consideration at least these three items prior to purchase:
Weight capacity -- Each kayak has a maximum weight capacity suited for best performance. It indicates much weight a kayak can hold before it becomes too tipsy or un-floatable. When making your purchase, you will have to take into consideration your weight and the weight of your gear.
Type of water -- Identify what type of water you plan to or mainly fish: salt, lakes, small ponds, rivers, etc. There's no perfect boat for all types of water, but you can find a happy medium. For example, kayaks ranging from 10ft-12ft kayak are a good length for rivers and small lakes, but you might find yourself having to work a bit more on big lakes and open salt water. Kayaks ranging from 13ft-16ft are a good length for big lakes and salt water, but may not be the most ideal watercraft for smaller rivers and creeks. If you want an all-round kayak, 11ft-13ft will get you in the river and on the big lake just fine.
Price -- In most cases, the low to mid-price range kayaks provide you an open deck, decent storage, manageable seating, rod holders, etc. As you move up in price, in most cases you are paying for a proven hull design, durability, tracking/maneuverability, adjustable foot pegs, more comfortable seating, etc. Ultimately, you will spend what is most convenient for your budget, but as they say: you get what you pay for.
4. What are some kayak fishing destinations you would recommend?
One of the great joys of kayak fishing is that there is available to you the big waters: salt, lakes, reservoirs; and you also have available to you the small waters: ponds, streams, creeks, rivers. I have come to enjoy small water fishing, particularly river fishing. I would not hesitate to recommend exploring the beauty of the rivers and creeks that are local to you.
5. What are some safety issues that kayak anglers should consider before a trip?
It's always important to approach every sport safety-first. It is only to your benefit and the benefit of your sportsmen that you make yourself aware and adhere closely to the rules and regulations indicated by your state.
My personal recommendation and practice for kayak fishing is to always wear a personal floatation device (PFD). No one can predict what will happen when you are on the water -- there may or will be situations that are outside of your control. The few seconds it takes to put on a PFD could be the few seconds needed to save your life.
Likewise, it is also important to make someone (spouse, relative or friend) aware of your time on the water. An estimated time of put-in and take-out are important followed by a call prior-to and after the float trip. In the unforeseen event that something should go awry, your plans should be to have your contact person call DNR or 911 immediately.
6. What advice could you give people who are just starting in the kayak fishing sport?
My advice would be, join in on the fun! Hopefully you will find it worth your time to be out on the water enjoying nature and catching fish -- stay safe!