Springtime for some means new life: gardening, April showers, and birds chirping outside of their windows. For others, it means that it’s time to prepare for kayak season.
It’s time to get excited to get back out on the water again! Well, almost. There’s a lot to do before kayak season hits.
But where do you even begin to prepare for kayak season?
Prepare for Kayak Season: Take Inventory of Your Gear
The first thing on your list is taking inventory. Do you have everything you might need for the coming season? If you plan on fishing, do you have everything in place?
Try to keep all of your fishing and kayaking gear in one place, so you don’t forget anything. It happens more often than you might think!
Make sure everything is in working order, and replace gear as needed. Reliable gear is a kayaker’s best friend.
Gear for the year
Before you head out to do some shopping, it’s best to create a list, so you don’t get swept up in sales and end up with three new headlamps you don’t need.
If you plan on being out on the water for only a few hours at a time, your basic checklist is thankfully relatively short.
You’ll need a kayak. We hope this is obvious, but you should always make sure you have a kayak that is not damaged and will operate properly.
You should have one paddle per person, plus a spare.
A life jacket or other floatation device is also a must. Bring one per paddler.
If the weather is still on the colder side as you head out, we have to advise bringing along a spray skirt.
A bilge pump is also a must. There’s nothing worse than your kayak taking on water while you’re trying to fish and enjoy yourself out on the water.
You should have a dry bag for any personal items you may decide to bring with you. If you plan on being out on the water after dusk, bring a headlamp as well as extra batteries.
And finally, because safety always comes first, you should have a whistle to signal for help.
It pays to prepare for kayak season
If you plan on being out on the water overnight, there are a few more items you want to have with you. In addition to the basic items, you should consider packing the following.
- A paddle float
- A paddling knife
- Floating compass
- Maps and charts (in a waterproof case)
- A watch
- A large sponge
- Float bags
- Emergency flares
- Two-way radios
After you gather all the gear you might need, it’s time to assess its condition. It’s important to take your best gear!
Clean and Check Your Gear
Making sure your gear is clean and in good condition is important. Imagine being out on the water, and something breaks right under your hand, like your fishing rod, or even worse, your paddle.
Don’t be afraid to replace gear if you need to. Trust your gut. If you don’t think you can fully depend on your gear, don’t take it.
Clean off your rod and reel by removing any line from the guides, rinsing it thoroughly, and making sure there aren’t any built-up salt deposits.
It’s good practice to clean your rod after every outing, not just as you prepare for kayak season. There’s nothing worse than a rusty rod.
A closer look at your kayak
The most important bit of gear you have is your kayak. Make sure it’s in good condition with no visible damage.
Take a close look at your kayak. Are any parts worn down or showing signs of damage? Replace any worn down or broken parts, tighten any loose screws, and make sure there are no cracks.
If you have a new boat, adjust the hip pads to make sure they’re tight enough. It’s also important that your seat is in the right position too.
What shall we do with a broken bilge pump?
Make sure your bilge pump is in good condition and running properly before you get out on the water.
Turn on your pump and check to make sure water is flowing out of its discharge outlet.
Make sure you see the bilge pump actually moving water. Just because the motor is running doesn’t mean it’s in proper working order.
Be sure to check the discharge pipe or hose and make sure it’s free of splits and kinks. It’s also important to make sure all of its hoses and pipes aren’t crushed or crimped and are in good condition.
Preparing Your Kayak
It’s important that your kayak is spic and span when you take it to the water. But that’s not always the case when you pull it out of storage.
You might find that something was left broken from the previous season, or maybe it took damage while in storage.
Even if it seems fine at first glance, that doesn’t always mean you have the green light to get out on the water. Take a close look at all aspects of your kayak.
Remember that safety comes first.
Look over your kayak’s hull first, especially if it’s been in storage for a long time.
Long-term storage is the most common way the hull of a kayak can become damaged.
If your hull is depressed, the best way to fix it is with heat. Leave your kayak in the sun on a hot day to pop it back to the shape it’s supposed to be.
If your hull has a crack, or even worse, a puncture, then it is in no shape to go out on the water. It’s best to take your kayak to a professional to repair the damage.
If your kayak seems to be in good shape when you pull it out for the season, that’s great! The next thing to check up on is the rigging.
Inspecting the rigging
Another equally important part of kayak maintenance is making sure the bungees, hardware, and perimeter lines are in good shape and free of damage.
Bungees and lines can be degraded by UV radiation, and your kayak itself can take damage, too. Because of this, you might want to consider investing in UV-resistant rope.
Take the time to evaluate and repair any damage on pedals, pivot hardware, deployment lines, steel cables, and the rudder or skeg, if it has the latter.
You can also take this opportunity to replace old parts and other accessories. Out with the old and in with the new.
Speaking of UV radiation…
Since your kayak can be damaged by UV radiation, it’s important to take that into consideration before your kayak sees the sun again.
To protect your kayak, make sure it’s stored somewhere it will not get full sun. Store it upside down, up off the ground, with a cover draped over it.
Before you head out on the water, you know to put on sunscreen, right? Well, your kayak needs something similar. Use an aerospace protectant on your kayak to protect it from sun damage.
Refilling emergency gear
Your emergency kit that you keep onboard is a vital part of your kayak, and you should look at it every season.
Ensure you have everything you might need, and make sure your first-aid kit is fully stocked.
As for a repair kit, you should be sure to stock up on sealant, bungee cords, replacement rudder parts, repair tape (or duct tape), baling wire, and a multi-tool.
A quick test run
Before you head out on your first big adventure, you should test your gear out and make sure everything is in working order.
There’s a big difference between not seeing damage and seeing your gear at work.
Head out to a freshwater spot relatively close to your home and test out your kayak. If you have multiple you plan on using throughout the season, take the time to test them all.
Early-season trips are also great excuses to get out on the water a little early, and you can also perfect your packing list.
Testing your gear out will also tell you what needs to be upgraded.
Prepare for Kayak Season with Upgrades
While you prepare for kayak season, you should take a little bit of time to upgrade your vessel. If your kayak has built-in rod-holders, take the time to either upgrade them or treat yourself with new ones!
What were you missing or struggling with last year? Did you wish you had a fish finder with you? Maybe some plastic milk crates?
Take the time to stock up on a few different rods and maybe a new tackle box.
Be sure to bring along your fishing license, too.
Even though your fishing license isn’t an upgrade, it’s still an essential part of gear if you plan on fishing.
Raise the Roof (Rack)
This may not cross your mind when you get ready to prepare for kayak season, but it’s actually a key part of being ready.
You can’t kayak if you can’t get your boat to the water, which is why checking your roof rack and making sure it is in good condition is so important.
How to replace your roof rack
If you have to replace your roof rack, it’s best to get that done as soon as possible. There’s no sense in wasting time getting ready to get to the water only to find yourself unable to transport your kayak.
When you get a new roof rack, it should come with a set of instructions explaining how to safely attach it to your vehicle.
Always be sure to double-check your work, make sure your roof rack is secure, and will hold your kayak in place.
Even if you’ve had a roof rack for years, make sure it’s reliable before you leave for the water.
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Double-Check the Weather
Spring weather can change on a dime, especially out over the water.
It’s important to double-check the weather before you set off, so you’re not caught by surprise in rainy weather.
One tip we have for you is to dress for the water temperature instead of the air. If your kayak capsizes, you want to avoid hypothermia at all costs. Dress in quick-drying clothes.
Dress your best to prepare for kayak season
If the weather’s still nippy when kayak season arrives, you know that the waters will be far more bitter than the air around you. Dress accordingly to keep yourself safe from hypothermia.
Start with a dry suit or top for extremely cold water, or dress in a wetsuit or top for chilly waters.
If you decide against a wetsuit, you should wear long underwear and a wool cap. You should wear a wool cap anyway. It’s best to bundle up than be caught shivering on the water.
Check Your State’s Regulations
One important tip to keep in mind when you prepare for kayak season is to check your state’s fishing and kayaking regulations.
Be sure to check up with the proper authorities and offices to make sure you’re fishing and kayaking legally.
You can check your state’s fishing regulations at your local department of fish and wildlife and kayaking laws and regulations online. Be sure your information comes from a reliable source.
How Do You Prepare for Kayak Season?
Before spring hits, you know you have a lot to get in order, so you can back out onto the water safely.
It’s best to get all your upgrades and maintenance out of the way now so you can focus on having the time of your life when you get out on the water.
No matter where you take your kayak this season, we hope the waters are just right, the fish are biting, and you have a blast.
Do you have any tips or advice you’d like to share? What do you do to prepare for kayak season? Let us know in the comments down below. We love hearing from you!
Last update on 2022-07-03 at 12:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API