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  • Flirting With Disaster By Raza Ahmad

    Flirting With Disaster By Raza Ahmad

    In 2006, my surf fishing season wasn’t so great. Apparently every time I found the fish, they were way out of casting distance. Fortunately for the kayakers, they had no problem reaching the fish, and were having the times their lives. I on the other hand, was contemplating how far I could wade out without filling up my waders, and still manage to fish. This happened for nearly the whole month of October- every trip. That was it, I was ready to buy a yak. I promptly went out and bought myself a Hobie Outback for the coming spring.

    It was mid-March when I decided it was time to “get my feet wet.” I tried to remember exactly how the guys at KFS tied my yak down to my car, WITHOUT screwing it up! Once the kayak was strapped down I checked about 30 more times to make sure it wasn’t going anywhere. This was it, my first time out on my kayak. My adrenaline was pumping and I wasn't even at the water yet. I finally got to my destination and started rigging up. Everything is all set, I hop in and I’m off. First thing that amazed me was the mirage drive, this thing really moves you! I headed over to some flats, and right off the bat I’m into fish. You couldn’t ask for a better experience. Granted I wasn’t catching trophy sized bass, but then again I really wasn’t targeting them.

    About 2 hours later the bite dies and I head over to the bridge. What led me to this decision was the simple progression of: bridge = structure = big fish. I headed over there, and by the time I got there the current had already picked up a bit. I couldn’t really get into position to cast where I wanted to, so I figured “Hey, I have an anchor, why not use it?”

    This is the part where you should really start reading if you were just skimming through the beginning. I had anchored up in 25 feet of water, with a very strong current. Everything seemed fine, when all the sudden my kayak starts going sideways. I didn’t really panic at first, I began to pedal towards the anchor and take up slack on the line. I figured I would just pedal up to the anchor, lift it, and move to another spot. So I gathered up all of the slack line, and felt a lot of tension on the line still. I gave it a few really good tugs and it wasn't budging. The last tug turned me sideways and the current caught me and started pushing me down current. The line came taught and I was right up against the bridge piling. I was literally stuck in that position. The front of my kayak was beating against piling, the anchor line was going over my paddle and now water was coming up over the kayak. This is when I start to get worried. I wasn’t quite worried about the water coming over and sinking the yak since I was in a sit on top, I was worried that enough water would come over and flip it.

    In the process of trying to make things right, I knocked one of my rods in the water. Great, if the day wasn’t going well enough before, now I had lost a two hundred and some odd dollar outfit. So I think to myself just get rid of the line. I went to untie the knot in the anchor line that I tied to my kayak but there was so much pressure on the line that the knot wasn’t budging. After trying for about 5-10 minutes to untangle the line, the voice of reason finally pops into my head, “CUT THE LINE!” I open up my life vest pocket and pull out my knife, when all the sudden a passing boats wake hits the yak. I was hanging on for dear life, and as you probably are figuring, I dropped the knife. “PLIERS!” They were the next item on my list of things to use to cut through the line. Well unfortunately they must have fallen into the water as well, so there goes another one hundred and some odd dollars to Davy Jones’ locker.

    Ok, so now I’m in trouble. I’m still getting smacked into the bridge, the current is really starting to move now, and the water is starting to come up over the kayak faster. I had to reposition myself to add more weight one side of the kayak so it wouldn’t tip over. I’m desperately searching for something that I could cut with. A BUCKTAIL! I grab the bucktail off of my rod and begin to pick at the line. After about 10 minutes of hanging on for dear life, and picking at the line when I had the chance, the line finally snaps. I break free and drift past the bridge, as I just sit there exhausted. I pedal back to shore and slowly pack me gear back into the car.
    There were some important things that I learned in this experience:

    1. A 30 dollar anchor/line is not worth it in any case where your life is at risk.
    2. Always carry at least 1 knife on you that is easily reachable. A floating knife is even better!
    3. If you are learning to kayak, don’t do it an area that’s not for beginners. A lot can go very wrong, very fast. Ask around on the KFA site, there’s a pretty good amount of experienced kayakers that can suggest a spot for beginners.
    4. Leashes are your friend. I wouldn’t have lost that rod if it was leashed down.
    5. Most importantly (in the situation I was in) NEVER, ever, ever use a knot to tie your anchor line to your kayak that can't be released quickly under pressure! Tie it to a clip and clip the anchor line to your kayak, or use a knot such as the highway mans hitch.
    6. It’s always good to go out with a partner in case things take a turn for the worse. Imagine if I had fell in, my partener could have been there to help me out.

    Before you head out next time, think to yourself, “Do I have everything I would need in case an emergency occurs?”

    ©Raza Ahmad and the Kayak Fishing Association of NY