September 26, 2019

Even if you're an excellent swimmer and consider yourself the safest person in the world, the U.S. Coast Guard still requires kayakers to have a few items on board

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.

A Bright Light Pole (With A Flag)

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.

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Make sure your light is bright enough to catch the eye of tired power boaters returning home from long days on the water. YakAttack

A Loud Whistle

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.

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When you’re buying a survival whistle you want the loudest one for your money. This one is audible from a mile away. HEIMDALL

A Good Life Jacket

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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Life jackets designed for paddlers give you more freedom of motion around your arms and shoulders than those designed for boating or other water sports. Onyx

Written by Staff for Field & Stream and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.


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