By Nolan Farr, Contributing Writer
If you were to watch a boat launching point on a nice Saturday afternoon I think you may be surprised by how many kayaks you see go in and out. In the past few years kayaking, in particular, has been rated as one of the fastest growing recreational hobbies.
Kayaking is definitely showing up in our area. Countless paddling opportunities abound in the neighboring region and the fact that they don’t use up money and gas makes them highly appealing. There are many nearby stores that sell and rent boats and the owners and workers are experts on the subject. What makes kayaking so popular is the wide range of possibilities for use.
First, kayaks can simply be used to paddle on flat water…just for fun. Whether it is on the lake or one of the slower rivers in the area this is a great way to learn to kayak and to go with other people. Great flat-water spots around here include the lake when it’s calm, the outlet, Cassadaga Creek, Conewango Creek, the Allegheny River, and any other small pond or one of the smaller lakes in the area.
Second, kayaks can be used for faster flowing rivers, like whitewater. Around Chautauqua County areas like this are hard to come by; however, some of the shallower trout streams could offer more challenging characteristics, especially after a rain.
Third, kayaks can be used in other outdoor hobbies like hunting, fishing, and trapping. My kayak has helped me become successful while hunting geese in particular. When it comes to fishing, as I mentioned in last month’s article, kayaking can help you reach areas where access from land is unavailable. Being in a kayak also allows you to fish deeper out from shore than you would be able to reach by casting from the bank. In addition, there is no need to worry about back casting into trees when you are out on the water.
These advantages are possible with an everyday rowboat or motorboat. The advantage kayaks offer, however, is that they easily float ride over weeds, lily pads, and other vegetation and can easily function in very shallow water. There is no need to worry about bottoming out or getting the prop tangled up in the weeds, allowing you to fish those areas. For those who trap, kayaks can also allow sets to be made in water that may be too deep for chest waders. In all these situations it is very easy to carry gear.
Kayaks are also specialized for specific uses. Flat-water kayaks are great for tracking and moving through the water easily. They usually have nice seats and lots of storage for longer trips. Fast water kayaks are much shorter, made for easier turning. They are made of harder material in case they hit against rocks when paddling. The rider is secured well to prevent tipping out. Fishing kayaks, and those used for hunting, normally have lots of storage and helpful features like fishing rod holders. Some kayaks have foot pedals to propel the boat instead of a paddle; your hands are free for other uses. Some kayaks are called “sit on top,” in which you do not have any of the kayak over your legs, offering more work room.
In kayaks you can have the best of the best, or something that is not quite as nice, but still offer some great boating. Some kayaks are longer, lighter, more durable, better tracking, or have other features that may raise their cost. I do not believe a new kayaker needs anything special to get started. In fact starting with something simple would be fine; you can get used to it and you don’t have to worry about ruining a brand new, high priced kayak while you learn. People planning to buy one have plenty of options at all different price ranges to look at. Kayaks for a day trip are also very affordable.
The great part about kayaking is that everyone can find interest in one aspect or another, whether it is just an afternoon paddle or weeklong trips down the river. They are very easy to transport to and from a launching site and can be lifted by two people, sometimes by one. Just remember to wear your lifejacket and stay in range of your paddling skill on any water. It seems like everyone is starting to kayak, so maybe its time you try it out and enjoy our areas great waterways.