Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stand Up for Yourself

I was listening to some tunes when Bob Marley began singing, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.” That’s when I knew it was time to stand up for myself.

And so I did…I stood up on that paddle board and it was right! It was so right that we bought a second so that my wife or any other fishing buddy could stand up beside me…or far enough away that my back cast wouldn’t catch their hat.

I had been looking at a hybrid paddle board/kayak for some time.  I wanted boat that didn’t require a motor, but was stable enough to stand and fly fish. I wanted something that would add miles to my exercise goal (I track hiking, biking and now paddling) and provide a great fishing platform.

After months of research I settled on not one but two SUPerFISHals made by Jackson Kayak.  They were reasonably priced, stable and had cool features for fisherman.  About the only knock is their weight, they are heavy compared to traditional SUPs but right in line with other fishing type SUPs.  They are even suitable for whitewater if you are crazy enough to do so.  I’m not.

My wife Julie and I have taken them out as many times as possible the last two months, knowing that soon the autumn air will chill the waters below our comfort level.  We’ve been to area lakes and to the coast twice. Our maiden coastal voyage was met with 16-18 knot winds and an incoming tide…tough conditions for stand up paddling or any paddling for that matter.

Our most recent trip to the coast, was about as perfect as can be.  It started out with a gig at the Swansboro Craft Beer and Food Festival.  I was there playing along with my buddy Will B and his coastal drummer Tony.  Not a bad way to make a few bucks while savoring local cuisine and sampling some dang nice brews.

The following day we joined friends Tim and Heidi as we ventured out of Hammocks Beach State Park.  The park has a great paddler’s launch and a couple of marked paddling trails. We had light winds, sunshine and an incoming tide.  Our only real challenge was the short paddle across the Intercoastal waterway…beyond that was miles of shallow water meandering through the spartina marsh.

As I paddled, I looked, and looked some more…hoping to see the tell tale signs of a redfish or better yet the actual tell tail of a tailing red.  There was a lot of bait…shrimp and finger mullet…everywhere.  If I was a redfish, this is surely where I would be.

Then I saw a swirl, and a “mud” and knew I had a fish in the area…he showed himself again as he chowed down another shrimp…I was in range, made one back cast and dropped the fly right in front of him. I don’t even think I stripped the fly once because before I knew it I was already into my backing. My wife and our friends saw the whole show…this fish was strong and proved it with several runs.  At one point I had to “excitedly” let my paddling companions know that they should “get the hell out of the way!”

Ironically, this fish brought me to my knees…without a net I had to get down close to the water to land this healthy 28-inch redfish.  Afterwards, I stood up and contently paddled back to the park.

Get up, stand up, SUPing is so right!

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