Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kayak Fishing for Catfish

Grave Creek in Mcintosh County Oklahoma Loads of local folks are gathering up at the usual spots on the Deep Fork River. This time of year, when the Deep Fork River rises it brings white catfish in addition to water. These white catfish are said to merely be blue cats that have altered pigment due to the stained water. My Dad claims they are tastier than other catfish and I am inclined to believe him. He has hung a tooth on many a catfish.

Dianne has been catching them off limb lines from her Old Town Vapor Kayak (Pics on Flickr). The Deep Fork River makes a good fishing line spot for us because it is close to home. Limb lines are a great way to catch catfish, but you have to 'run' them every four hours or so to harvest fish and or re-bait your lines. Our new Kayak Fishing page has all of the details to get your started limb lining for catfish in your kayak.

Watch your fingers during this type of fishing, Dianne caught a rather large Gar today. Gar have teeth like a dog and are much more risky to handle than catfish. Most folks use a thick leather glove to protect their hands from gar teeth. Dianne also uses a lip grip gaf to help keep her prey under control while kayak fishing.

I had a three-day weekend scheduled and the weather forecast suggested I spend every day of it indoors. I am glad I ignored the weatherman. I went mushroom hunting in several spots and paddled both Grave Creek and Deep Fork. Spring is usually short in Oklahoma, don't let it go to waste!

It is kayak buying season. Bass Pro Shops has Old Town Rush kayaks for $299 each and that is a pretty sweet deal. OKC Kayaks is churning out the new kayakers with their social paddles, swamp paddling trips and blemished kayak bargains. Even my buddy Yakker got himself a new fourteen foot sit-inside kayak. I prefer ten foot kayaks for my sunset chasing, but Dianne is finding her twelve foot Vapor to be an excellent platform for fishing. Get yourself a kayak and hit the water!

The Illinois River in Tahlequah, OK has been flowing at a consistently excellent level for weeks. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy some kayaking in Tahlequah, Broken Bow or the waters of Arkansas and Missouri.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Keep Your Kayaking Economical


Paddle Season 2010 Begins
Originally uploaded by FreeWine

As a purely recreational kayaker that rarely travels more than an hour or two away from home, kayaking should be a very inexpensive sport for me. Surprisingly enough, my passion for this fantastic sport has driven me to spend a small fortune on my paddling. There is no end to how much money you can spend on paddling...and it is worth every dime! Here are some help you keep your kayaking affordable.

Discover what aspect of paddling truly drives your passion.

Although I did some canoeing as a child, when I tried it again decades later I instantly fell in love with paddling. My wife and I made a short day trip down the Illinois River in a rented canoe one early summer day and I suddenly felt like I knew how I wanted to spend my weekends for the rest of my life. After renting canoes on only two rivers, Dianne and I realized that neither of us cared for sitting in the front of the canoe. We both wanted to drive. Kayaks proved to be the ticket for putting us both in the driver's seat of a much quicker craft.

With many rivers now under our belts, Dianne and I have learned that there are countless things to enjoy about float trips. We love seeing the lush scenery and wildlife, getting outdoors and seeing our neighborhood waterways from a different perspective. I am endlessly amused with the anticipation of wondering what lies around the next bend in the river.

Kayak photography has also become something of an obsession for me and Dianne spends more and more time kayak fishing every year. The fairly easy whitewater rapids on the Mulberry River and the Mt. Fork River offer a thrilling change of pace that is down right addictive. Even the simple workout that comes from paddling across the lake chasing a good sunset is reason enough for me to own a kayak. Decide what kind of paddling excites you most and it will help guide your purchasing choices.


Choose the Right Canoe or Kayak

So far, I have purchased three plastic kayaks, one plastic canoe and one cheap inflatable kayak. Every boat I buy teaches me something different about paddling and about myself. The Wal-Mart inflatable kayak (I forget the brand) cost less than $100. It taught me how important it is for me to have a boat that is quickly ready to get on the water. An inflatable kayak takes two viagra and twenty minutes of sweet-talking to get ready. It did not fit the busy schedule my day job forces me into and it tracked very poorly. We paddled it once or twice and then banished it to the nether reaches of our garage as future yard-sale fodder.

When the plastic Bayou canoe arrived, I was surprised to learn that it weighed in at a far-from-lean 70+ lbs... unloaded! At around $700, it is one of our most costly boats, but it rarely sees water. Canoes make great cargo vehicles on the river, but they can be overkill if all you want to do is enjoy a few hours exploring the local reservoir.

Choose Between SINK or SOT Kayaks

All three of our plastic kayaks are Sit-Inside-Kayaks (SINK's). We rented a few Sit-On-Top Kayaks (SOT's) and found that the most affordable SOT kayaks keep you sitting in a small pool of water much of the time. Although they are unsinkable, it is just as easy to fall off a SOT as it is take-on-water in a SINK. Since we like to paddle a bit during the winter and in waters that are less-than-pristine, a Sit-Inside Kayak is the only way to go for our floating adventures. You can check out the wide range of kayaks available and do some price checking here: Kayaks for Sale.

Boat Length Impacts Speed

When the first plastic kayak we ever purchased started to get a bit leaky, Dianne decided that she wanted to try out a longer boat. In the recreational kayaking world, fourteen feet long is HUGE and most Rec Kayaks come in at around ten feet long. Like most longer kayaks, Dianne's Old Town Vapor Sit-Inside Kayak promised more weight capacity, faster speed and better performance in wavy conditions. Adding length at the waterline, almost always has those impacts on performance and the 12' Vapor is no different. What they don't tell you in the ads is that longer kayaks are more difficult to load and carry off the water and slower to turn when on the water.

The slow turning is an issue for me. I enjoy throwing the kayaks in the back of the pickup and heading for the put-in fast and Idon't want to ask anyone for help. Either Dianne or I can get Dianne's twelve foot long Vapor in and out of the back of the truck, but it is more difficult and it would not work at all with a longer kayak. You can also count on paying around a hundred dollars per extra foot of kayak length above 10 feet long. On the Sea, bigger boats payoff more, but I often paddle creeks where I can reach out and touch both river banks!


Hauling Kayaks & Canoes

A longer, faster kayak is also bound to weigh you down more, especially when strapping to the roof racks on a car or SUV. Most folks who paddle longer kayaks tend to roof rack them. Folks that are new to the practice are often surprised to learn that their roof racks require some additional investment in bracing and tie-downs that can end up costing as much or more than an entire boat trailer! You can't have much fun with your kayak, if you can't get it to the water. Make sure you have a boat transportation plan before choosing your kayak. For most folks the choices are: roof rack, pickup truck bed, toy hauler RV or boat trailer.

Secure Your Kayaks

Believe it or not I spent of a lot of time worried about my kayak getting stolen. Even when we were sharing a single $400 plastic boat, I wondered how those big bass boat owners slept at night. To my knowledge, no person ever tried to swipe any of our kayaks. However, a bit of change and a cheap padlock improved my ability to sleep at night (cable locks work good, too). After paddling waters all over the Ozarks, I can tell you that most people we pass tell us that we are 'working too hard'. I don't think our cheap plastic boats are hugely at risk!

A much bigger security issue is how you secure your gear on the river. Dry bag your gear and tie it to the boat. You can even find small dry bags and pelican boxes for your cell phone & GPS. Keep your wallet bagged or leave it at home. No glass containers on the river.


Plan your Accommodations Carefully

Riverside cabins offer the nicest way to enjoy a few days of paddling, if you have the loot. Tent camping can be a lot of fun too, but if sleeping on rocks turns your gal off the desire to hit the river...you failed. Motels offer a cheap alternative to get lodging that is closer to the water than home and they are much cheaper than river cabins.

If you have old bones like ours, you might prefer the comfort of Trailer Camping aka 'Tramping'. We bought a toyhauler RV to help me and Dianne get a good night's sleep and still get on the water, while the light was good. It wasn't long after that until we were shopping for a river lot to keep the toyhauler parked on.

As I said, there is no end to how much money you can spend on paddling. Just make sure the spending doesn't start to interfere with your time on the river!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring 2010 Grave Creek Kayaking

Hello Springtime!
A warm Spring day like today deserves a good paddling, so I woke up early and visted a new section of an old favorite flatwater paddling spot in McIntosh County. Grave Creek is a small feeder creek that eventually ends at Lake Eufaula. The creek is narrow, curvy and usually pretty shallow. The deepest section of Grave Creek offers a boat ramp right off Highway 266 a mile or so above the lake. The boat ramp is popular with fishermen and can be pretty crowded these days. This morning, I used a more primitive access to the creek North of the boat ramp off Highway 266.

It was very secluded. I saw many creatures but no people. Clearly, I wasn't the first one there because there was litter and even some old chopped up vehicle in the creek. With another six inches of water it would be much better kayaking. Still, it was peaceful and lovely and the weather was great. You can paddle on both sides of the road, if you can find the old dirt road outside of Hitchita, OK that crosses Grave Creek. Heck, I even paddled through a steel pipe to enjoy the short drop off the other side! The best way to find this creek access, is actually to take Cedar Road, right off of Highway 52 between Morris, Oklahoma and the junction of Highway 266. Follow Cedar East a couple miles until the pavement ends and then a bit farther up the dirt road until it crosses Grave Creek at a crude concrete and steel pipe bridge.

It became quite windy later in the day, so I am glad I got out early in the morning. However, this part of the creek offers high banks that shelter you from the wind better than most Oklahoma kayaking spots I know. More pictures on our Grave Creek page at OklahomaRoadTrips.com.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Time for Spring Kayaking Trips

Perfect paddling weather is currently forecast for Oklahoma this weekend! The Spring rains have many local waterways up and running but few, if any, are flooded. Since my buddy Yakker has just purchased a new 14 foot sit inside fishing kayak from Wilderness Systems, I know he will be wanting to get out on the water. You should, too! The redbuds are in full bloom and the dogwood trees won't be far behind.

The area's most scenic rivers for paddling are at great water flow levels this week. It looks like good paddling conditions on: the Buffalo River, The Illinois River, The Ouachita, the Mt. Fork River, the Caddo River, the Kings River and on Big Piney Creek. Plus whitewater kayaking favorites like: the Glover River, the Cossatot, the Poteau River, the Saline and the Mulberry River are all running at fun levels for playboat adventure.

Sunday, I am hoping to make another trip to Grave Creek. I went hunting for morel mushrooms this week with my dad and on the way home he showed me another spot to access Grave Creek that is upwards of the Boat ramp most folks use to access Lake Eufaula via Grave Creek. I'm hoping to plot out a good one way kayaking trip on Grave Creek, so i can invite the Oklahoma Flatwater Paddlers down this way for a group paddling trip.

BTW, if you decide to hit Grave Creek at the boat ramp this weekend, expect a crowd. The crappie are running, so many fishermen are launching there and driving down to the confluence with the lake. It looks like they are really catching them, too!

In other local Oklahoma paddling news, OKC paddlers have an excellent chance to have some fun in the OKC area and do somehing noble for their community at the same time.

The Fifth Annual Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge & Lake Overholser Cleanup will be held in northwest Oklahoma City on Saturday, April 24, 2010. The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the pavillion near the Lake Overholser Dam tennis courts to check in and get trash bags. (near NW 39th and Council—visit the http://www.okckayak.com for launch map links, Google Earth maps and detailed directions).

Please RSVP no later than April 20 by calling Rodney Boegel 405.802.3678 for more information and to reserve your free kayak, lifejacket, and paddle... generously provided by OKC Kayak. OKC Kayak will even give you a mini safety & how-to briefing prior to putting you in a boat. Tell them Kayak Oklahoma sent you!

Spring is one of the best seasons to enjoy nature while taking a float trip on an Oklahoma river, so don't misss out! See you on the water!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Season of Change and Renewal

Spring has sprung and the temps are warm. In addition to the weather and the scenery changing, the Kayak Oklahoma Blog is changing too. The Blogger-required migration from the old blog address of http://www.oklahomaroadtrips.com/paddle.htm to the new URL of http://kayak.oklahomaroadtrips.com/ did not go completely without hickups...however it seems to be working now. Please let me know if you have any problems with the webpage or news feed after you have updated your own bookmarks and subscriptions.

Recent rains have many Oklahoma area rivers running and great levels for canoe and kayak trips. As of today, you can find great water levels on the following area rivers: the Illinois River, the Caddo River, the Upper Mt. Fork River, the Lower Mt. Fork River, and the Glover River in Oklahoma, plus the Upper Buffalo River, the Kings River and the White River in Arkansas. Check the main OklahomaRoadTrips.com site for details on these rivers.

To paraphrase the folks at Blogger.com - embrace the changing season for you surely cannot stop it from occuring!

Got a comment on the recent changes, hit the new site and leave us a comment. We may not have to sunset this blog after all!

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