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Kayak fishing

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08/02/2007

By John Bauer

The trout shone in the evening light as it jumped to fight the hook, its body brilliant against the background of dense foliage on the shore, breaking the quiet of the remote location. The angler fought the fish to the side of the boat, his net handy as he leaned over to retrieve and release it.

This spot on the Waterbury Reservoir was once inaccessible without a cantankerous canoe, a cumbersome rowboat, or motorized craft with a wake and noisy motor disturbing the fishing grounds. Kayaks designed for fishing make almost any part of a lake, reservoir or pond accessible, with the angler only inches above the waterline. An increasing number of enthusiasts find that fishing from a kayak gives them an intimacy that cannot be duplicated by fishing from shore or from any other type of boat.

Kayak was originally the Inuit word for "hunter's boat." Natives in the Arctic regions made the first kayaks from driftwood and animal skins. They were long and narrow, suited for hunting seals and walruses in the frigid arctic waters. The designs of the boats were modified over time to adapt them to the area of the arctic where they were used. These early boats were lashed together with animal sinews and used seal bladders filled with air for buoyancy and were nearly unsinkable. Hunters would fill the boats with supplies for extended hunting trips.

Word of these "covered canoes" reached Europe around 1900. People in France and Germany began using kayaks to boat down rivers for sport. A German student borrowed an Inuit design to create a collapsible kayak in 1905. Hans Klepper bought the patent and began selling the folding boats, which are the ancestors of modern folding kayaks.

The innovations continued through the '20s and '30s as more enthusiasts discovered the advantages of a lightweight boat that was easily handled alone, difficult to sink and extremely maneuverable. The sport has exploded in the past 20 years with innovations in design and materials.

Kayaks are nimble on the water and easy to transport and maintain. Fishing kayaks are wider for greater stability, with a larger cockpit to keep equipment and tackle handy, a clip to hold the paddle when coaxing that trophy fish from the water, and rod holders for trolling while underway. They can be used by the whole family, just for kayaking, increasing their versatility.

It is important to have good paddling skills before heading out on the water in search of that trophy-sized trout. If you're new to kayaking, restrict your first few excursions to areas that are fairly shallow and accessible. Going out with a group of anglers may be the best way to get some experience and learn what it takes to kayak and fish at the same time.

The Waterbury Reservoir has been stocked with rainbow and brown trout and is one of the best natural fisheries for small mouth bass in Vermont. Two Stowe businesses have combined to offer a four-hour adventure featuring basic paddling instruction and an equipped fishing kayak from Umiak Outfitters, and spin or fly fishing equipment and instruction from an experienced Fly Rod Shop guide. The group of up to eight will follow a guide
to one of the many productive and relatively unknown areas on the reservoir.

Contact The Fly Rod Shop, www.flyrodshop.com, 802-253-7346, or Umiak Outfitters, www.umiak.com, 802-253-2317.
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