Just bought your first fishing kayak? Welcome to a great sport! Catch fish, get exercise, spend more time outside. Just make sure you’re safe on the water. Here are three things you need to buy before you head out on your first trip. All are required by the U.S. Coast Guard; you will get a ticket if they stop you and you don’t have them on your kayak.
If you’re fishing in water that gets heavy boat traffic it’s a good idea to make yourself as visible as possible. A brightly colored flag will help catch the attention of any other boaters out there during the daytime. If you plan to fish at all at night (when lots of fish bite best!) make sure your flag comes topped with a 360-degree light. Coast Guard regulations state you must have one capable of signalling for help if you are in distress.
Coast Guard regulations state that “All vessels are required to carry an efficient sound-producing device, such as a whistle or horn that is audible for at least one-half mile.” Your loudest option is to carry a portable air horn, but these can expire or get corroded, so you have to make sure they’re maintained and replaced each season. A cheaper and more reliable option is a classic survival whistle, which you can attach to your lifejacket for easy access and works regardless of how often you dunk it in the water.
The most obvious piece of safety equipment for kayak anglers is a properly-sized life jacket. There are many models designed specifically for anglers. Low-profile inflatable life jackets give you lots of freedom of movement, but they need to be maintained and are not as reliable as simpler foam models.
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