Tag Archives: Safety

Skin Cancer and Kayak Fishing

Recently, my wife had been after me to visit a dermatologist and get checked out. “Make me an appointment,” I said. “And I’ll go.”  So, she did, and I went. I’m glad that I did – and thankful.

Anyone who fishes with me often knows I am fairly serious about wearing sun protection while on the water, so I didn’t expect to have any problems. Sometimes I get razzed by buddies about my pants or long sleeves and buff on a hot summer day, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized it is important to take more care of myself.

Wearing a buff, UV sun shirt and UV gloves is a common way to stay protected while fishing.
Wearing a buff, UV sun shirt and UV gloves is a common way to stay protected while fishing.

 

The dermatologist’s exam only took a few minutes and was a pretty simple exercise. It involved looking over my skin starting with the toes and up to my temples. After about 15 minutes, the doctor reported that I had two possible skin cancer growths and that they needed a biopsy. A few days later, I got the call – yes, I had two different types of skin  cancer…wow.

Luckily for me, neither one was the most dangerous type (Melanoma), but they still were cause for concern and needed removed immediately. The first was a fairly deep and well-developed Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) cancer on my right wrist, requiring a very deep surgical removal from the wrist and some major stitches. I will have to go back and maybe have another procedure on this wrist in a couple of months to ensure complete removal. This type of cancer rarely results in fatalities, but can cause health issues if not addressed

The second type of skin cancer I had was a Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) which can develop into a deadly form if not properly treated. More than 8,800 people die annually from this type of skin cancer. Incidents of this type have increased by 200 percent in the last decade. This one was on my leg and was shallow enough to be scraped and burned off, leaving what looks like a burn wound.

The aftermath of having a deep Basal Cell Carcinoma removed from my left wrist. Also knocked me out of fishing action for a while so it could heal.
The aftermath of having a deep Basal Cell Carcinoma removed from my left wrist. Also knocked me out of fishing action for a while so it could heal properly.
Skin Cancer Prevention While Fishing

First things first, go to a dermatologist, and go soon if you haven’t been in recent years for an exam. Get off to a good and healthy start! Even though I have recently been diagnosed and treated, I’ll need to go back yearly to ensure new malicious growths don’t appear.

Clothing – Wearing the right UV protective clothing can provide excellent protection from harmful rays. Consider long-sleeve UV performance shirt, a buff and gloves. Stormr makes a great line of UV Shield wear that I like to use. When covering up, remember that not all material will protect against UV rays.

Headwear – The dermatologist told me during my visit that many anglers come in to visit and need to get skin cancer removed from the temples, forehead, back of the neck and even the scalp. This skin is thinner and more likely to leaves scars after removal than other parts of the body. A cap used with a buff or a wide-brimmed hat are good options to protect this area. And don’t forget your sunglasses.

Sunscreen – It’s inevitable that an angler may not have the right UV clothing or chooses not to be covered up. In this case, always wear SPF 15 or greater sunscreen and re-apply every two hours. A lot of fishermen won’t use sunscreen for fear it will apply scent to line or lures which will prevent the bite. Because of this I prefer to use Sunsect SPF 15 which is non-greasy, non-scented and will dry cleanly after applying. I visited with an FLW Tour Pro who uses Sunsect brand sunscreen for this very reason. (plus it repels bugs and mosquitos!)

Know Your Enemy

Even though I’ve been fairly consistent in wearing sun protection since I began fishing about three years ago, I wasn’t as diligent when much younger and am paying for it today. This chart from University Health News shows what some of these look like. The scary thing to me is that the spots or areas I was concerned about were not cancer at all, and a couple of spots that I thought were NOTHING were the actual cancers. Go to a dermatologist who knows what to look for!

Know your enemy, this chart shows three types of skin cancer. Source: University Health News
Know your enemy, this chart shows three types of skin cancer. Source: University Health News

At the end of the day I was lucky and should be fine going forward. Not every angler who spends hours and hours on the water is so lucky. Don’t take the chance.  For you and your family’s sake – get checked, and protect yourself.

 

MTI Kayak Fishing PFDs Review

The most important item for a kayak angler other than the kayak itself is a quality PFD (Personal Flotation Device) which is there to protect you in the event of an accident on the water. When I first began kayak fishing, I bought a very cheap life vest from a big box store and almost immediately began not to where it while on the water…it was too bulky, too hot, and overall just didn’t fit well.

I quickly realized I needed a new vest and based on seeing some fellow kayak anglers here in Arkansas with MTI, I made the choice to purchase the MTI Solaris F-Spec. I’ve recently also been trying out MTI’s auto-inflate options, the Helios 2.0 and the Neptune. In this article I’ll do a brief review of each inflatable PFD, including strengths and weaknesses.

The Solaris F-Spec has been a great PFD for me over the last couple of years, taking me safely through a couple of hundred fishing

MTI Solaris F-Spec PFD is loaded with extra features.
MTI Solaris F-Spec PFD is loaded with extra features.

outings and in more than 40 tournament events. MTI makes PFDs specifically for paddlers, so it is has a really nice design to make it comfortable while in the yak. First of all, as a more traditional non-inflatable PFD, it isn’t bulky and has high back design, keeping it from getting in the way between you and the back of your kayak seat. It also has many handy features that really make it convenient to keep everything you need in reach on the water. There is a pin-on retractor holder, multiple lash points, D-ring attachments, zippered pockets on the chest and an innovative drop-down fishing bridge that is great to use as a mini platform while tying baits or for a quick storage of small items. When in this vest, I have my phone, survival knife, keys, whistle, line snips and other tackle stowed in the PFD – making it extremely versatile. It’s comfortable, can easily fit a larger angler and extremely durable.

Mine is still in great shape after many, many hours on the water. Overall, the Solaris F-Spec is lightweight at 1.7 lbs, is USGC III rated, and is worth every penny of the $89.95 price point. The only negative at all with this PFD is simply that although it breathes well for a foam PFD, it still covers your back shoulders and chest, which can be hot in an Arkansas summer.

Inflatable PFDs
The Helios 2.0 PFD from MTI is lightweight and extremely comfortable.
The Helios 2.0 PFD from MTI is lightweight and extremely comfortable.

I’ve recently been trying out a couple of MTI’s inflatable PFDs, the Helios 2.0 and the brand new Neptune. The obvious advantage of the inflatable PFD is that it covers much less of your torso and is cooler when the weather is hot. They also can provide a greater range of movement to the angler than some traditional PFDs. In using both versions, I don’t have a clear favorite between the two versions, and choosing which to wear really comes down to whether or not I wish to have auto-inflate or manual inflate on the given trip. Read more about auto-inflate vs manual inflate PFDs here.

Both the Helios 2.0 and Neptune use a quality Halkey Roberts inflator with a bayonet-style CO2 cylinder with a handy arming status indicator window and are USGC III rated. Both also have a very comfortable neoprene neck collar, easily adjustable harness straps and a zippered pocket with safety whistle included. They each are lightweight, with the Helios at 1.6 lbs and the Neptune coming in
at 2.1 lbs. So far, in my experience I have really been surprised h

MTI has a new PFD, Neptune on the market with an auto-inflate feature for added peace of mind.
MTI has a new PFD, Neptune on the market with an auto-inflate feature for added peace of mind.

ow much I enjoy these inflatable PFDs, they really are quite a bit more comfortable than a traditional vest. They also are very well constructed, although they are lightweight and flexible, you can tell how durable the materials and stitching are. The Neptune is a little longer than the Helios on the chest, which doesn’t bother me but could be an issue for a shorter angler. The only negative with these inflatables is that although comfort is at a maximum, there are very
limited storage options due to only one pocket, no D-rings or lash points. While giving both of inflatable PFDs an “A” overall, I probably will most commonly use the auto-inflate Neptune for maximum safety just in case something happens and I can’t pull the jerk cord on my own.

Although I haven’t tried them personally, the Calcutta and Fisher PFDs also look like solid options. In some conversations with them you can really tell they are passionate about safety, quality and the outdoors. Finally, a word about MTI (Marine Technologies International), they are a 25 year old company based in Massachusetts where paddlers make PFDs for paddlers and kayakers. The care they put into each vest really comes through in the products they make. If you are considering a new kayak fishing PFD, please take a moment to look at what I believe to be the best quality vests available.

Auto vs Manual Inflate PFD: Which is Best?

When it comes to kayaking, paddling or kayak fishing, safety on the water is a critical concern for all anglers and their families. The number one tool for on the water safety is a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device). When I first started kayak fishing I didn’t like wearing my PFD and sometimes would take it off while fishing. Over time I realized how dangerous this could be after hearing tragic stories about anglers who were not protected and seeing others dump in the water and need their PFD for assistance. I also realized that I wasn’t wearing my PFD because it was bulky, uncomfortable and was too hot to wear in the summer.

This is where making a change to an inflatable PFD solves many of those problems. As these continue to gain popularity in the kayak angling world, they eternal question (and argument in some cases) is whether to choose an automatic inflate model or a manual inflate. Both have real advantages and reasons for a kayak angler to choose one vs the other.

Automatic Inflatable PFD
Neptune automatic inflatable PFD from MTI
MTI’s Neptune Automatic Inflatable PFD will deploy when immersed in water for added peace of mind.

An automatic inflate PFD is designed to deploy when submerged in water, firing the CO2 cylinder and automatically inflating the air bladder. Simply getting wet from splash or rain will not trigger the C02 cylinder, immersion in the water is required for it to trigger inflation. This option is a better fit for paddling lakes or very slow moving water in a stable kayak where you have very little risk of entering the water or being hit with a big wave.

As a backup system, each inflatable PFD also comes with a manual pull cord which will trigger the CO2 cylinder to inflate. For a great automatic inflate option, check out the MTI Neptune Automatic Inflatable PFD, which weighs only 2.1 pounds and comes in high visibility orange or camo color schemes. Shane Oakes, an avid kayak angler and 2016 Angler of the Year for Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers has used an auto-inflate PFD for a few years. “I chose an inflatable PFD because of comfort, specifically less restricted in movement as well as not being as hot as a conventional life vest,” Shane explained. Why does he use an auto-inflate PFD? He has simple and straightforward reasoning. “I selected an auto-inflate in the event I was hurt in such a way that prevented me from manually activating it.”

Manual Inflatable PFD

A manual inflatable PFD has a straightforward design, you pull the manual cord and it triggers the CO2 cylinder and inflates the vest. This seems to be the most common version of inflatable PFDs used by kayak anglers because of the concern of flipping over and winding up in the water, accidentally triggering inflation. For manual inflatable PFD users, it is key for them to remember when going into the water to reach and pull the manual cord. This could be difficult to do depending on mobility, injury or if you are simply disoriented.  Other than this key difference in how it is deployed, there is little difference in manual vs automatic inflatable PFDs. The MTI Helios 2.0 manual inflatable PFD weighs only 1.6 lbs and provides flotation on demand with its

Helios inflatable PFD from MTI
The Helios 2.0 from MTI inflates with a pull on the “Jerk tag” so you have flexibility when to deploy.

easy access Jerk tag.

Wes Jones, a member of Natural State Kayak Anglers, has used a manual inflatable PFD for three years and chooses an inflatable for comfort. “As a bass fisherman, the majority of our fishing here in Arkansas is in warmer temperatures and an inflatable is so much cooler than a regular PFD,“ Wes explained. “They are also way less bulky and so much easier to move around in. I bought a regular PFD when I got my first yak, wore it one time and haven’t gone back to it since then.”  Wes chose manual because he feels like he is a very confident swimmer and has concerns about the PFD accidentally deploying when he doesn’t need it if he gets too wet.

Both manual and auto inflate versions will also have an oral air tube which allows the wearer to supply additional air to the bladder in the event it fails to fully inflate. This is a higher probability in extremely cold temperatures which may reduce the effectiveness of the initial CO2 inflation. It is important to remember that inflatable PFDs are not recommended for those who cannot swim and not for active watersports such as whitewater paddling, skiing, wakeboarding, or other uses where you may frequently take a spill into the water.

Be Prepared with C02 Backup

If you are using an inflatable PFD, it is a best practice to keep an extra CO2 tube handy just in case you have to re-arm the vest on the go. In a past Razoryak Tournament Trail event at Lake Fort Smith, Arkansas, an angler had a mishap right at take-off and his auto-inflate fired. This could cause a problem for a kayak tournament angler. All reputable kayak fishing tournaments require a functional PFD be worn by anglers at all times while fishing. Veteran tournament director Jeff Malott confirms that an inflatable PFD not properly armed with a working CO2 cylinder would be a problem. He recommends carrying a spare CO2 cylinder or a backup PFD in your kayak storage so you can stay in the game in case of a mishap.

I haven’t decided as of yet whether I’ll be using a manual or automatic inflatable version in tournaments, but I’m leaning toward the automatic for the additional peace of mind and safety. It is easy to rearm if deployed and I just cannot predict the situation when I will need it and know if I can successfully pull the jerk cord. Whether you choose an automatic inflatable PFD or a manual inflate PFD or a more traditional PFD, the important thing is to ensure you are protected on the water while kayak fishing. Always wear a personal flotation device equipped with a whistle when kayaking. If you currently aren’t wearing one because of comfort, take some time to look into an inflatable version from MTI or other manufacturers.

Spotlight: YUM Pulse, KBF National Championship, PFDs, RTT Recaps

This week read about a hot new swimbait, PFD selection, Razoryak Tournament Trail and KBF recaps:

PulseChristie
Christie’s spinnerbait setup with Pulse trailers.

Many Bassmaster Classic fans watched YUM sponsored angler Jason Christie take an early commanding lead on Grand Lake, only to lose out on the final day to a monster bag from Edwin Evers. For the first three days Christie was lighting it up, leading field with an ability to put fish in the boat. One of the secrets of the week was that Christie was using a brand-new prototype YUM Pulse swimbait as a trailer on his spinnerbaits. This new swimbait was a key in helping create the right disturbance in the murky water because of it’s ribbed design. Although Christie used it as a trailer, it is primarily designed for use rigged as a swimbait on a jig-head or hook. These swimbaits were not available prior to the Classic and are now hitting stores.

Chris Payne at Kayak Fishing Blog has a really good article about choosing a PFD (personal flotation device) for kayak fishing. He discusses the different types and uses and makes some recommendations. I use a MTI Solaris when fishing and like it because of the high placement of the padding on the back so it doesn’t interfere with my kayak seat. Wearing your PFD is very important and most tournament trails require it in the rules. Invest in a comfortable one, the better it feels, the more likely you are to keep it on!

The best Kayak Anglers in the country met at Kentucky Lake in March for the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship. I had qualified but had to miss the event and it sounds like I missed out on an awesome time. For those interested, here’s a recap of the winners. Congratulations to all who qualified and competed.

The Arkansas based Razoryak Tournament Trail continues for 2016 with more great events. Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their Beaver Lake Road Runner and had 70 kayak fishermen hit the water on a blustery day. Dwain Batey took first place with 82.5″ followed by Benny Williams and Craig Wood. My small limit placed me at 15 for the event. Read the tournament recap here.  Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their second event of the season at Charleston Lake and the cold really turned the fish off. Cody Skelton took the top spot with 53.5″ and big bass with 19″.  Visit the RTT Angler of the Year standings to keep up with the points race for 2016.

 

Spotlight – KBF Open Rules, Paddle Measuring, AKA on Angler Combat, Cold Water Safety Preparedness, Reel Giveaway

This week’s list of highlights include some recent news and a throwback to an older article with some of the best cold weather prep advice I’ve seen:

If you are considering competing in the 2016 KBF Open at Kentucky Lake in March, they’ve updated some of the rules. Read about the updates on the Kayak Fishing Blog.

Bending Branches recently posted an article about the significance of the measuring tape on their paddle handles. They list some good uses, although as they point out many tournament anglers use a hawg trough instead for measuring. One use they don’t mention that I rely on from time to time is using the tape measure for a reliable water clarity guide. Sometimes instead of just eyeballing water clarity when kayak fishing, i’ll use the paddle and tape measure to gauge depth visibility.

I recently wrote about Angler Combat, an online tournament for bank, kayak and boat fishermen. To read about some real-world feedback about what Angler Combat is like, check out what members of the Arkansas Kayak Anglers had to say.

Kayak Fishing Blog in my opinion produces more consistently good content than anyone on kayak bass fishing, and Chris Payne does the best work. Some other highlights from this week include a guide to CPR Camera Selection and a  Lew’s Reel Giveaway.

Finally, cold water safety when kayaking has been top of mind lately and I ran across this article from about a year ago from Looknfishy. This is a really good breakdown of not only what to have with you in case you get wet, but some other thoughts on what you’ll need if you are out alone, and truly are in a life threatening situation.

 

Spotlight – Drop Shot Tips, Dobyns Fury Series Rods, Cold Water Kayaking Dangers, Katrina’s Story

Here’s a roundup of some of the things that caught my eye this week that are worth a look from fellow kayak bass fishing anglers:

Tim Hotchkin is once again back with a solid video, this time he is breaking down his approach with drop shot fishing. He’s an excellent drop shot fisherman and I’ve learned a lot from him on the water about this topic. Golden’s Baits is featured – they make some great plastic bait options. Check out this video for some insider tips:

I’ve recently written a Dobyns Rods review here on this blog, but here is a more comprehensive breakdown on the Dobyns Fury Series by Justin Brouillard that identifies five of the best rod options in this new rod set. I’ve been using a 734C version and like it so much I am currently adding more to my arsenal. This article has been very helpful in reviewing options – hopefully it helps you as well. For value-minded kayak fishing shoppers, Dobyns Fury series is a quality option at a really nice price point.

Safety is always a paramount concern when kayaking, kayak fishing or just paddling. Increased danger emerges in winter when water temps start dropping and flipping your kayak can put you in a life-threatening situation. With the recent news of multiple fatal accidents, I’m hoping people will take extra caution when hitting the water. This article on Dangerous Cold Water Submersion by Chris Payne at Kayak Fishing Blog is a harrowing account of an experience he and his son had in a cold water situation. Additionally, this article and video from Paddling.net are good for anyone who kayaks in the winter to see. Be safe out there!

On a local note, this blog article on Yakfisharkansas.com is a touching story by Katrina DeGraff about why she joined the Arkansas Kayak Anglers and really illustrates the community aspect of kayak fishing. Katrina is a great person and I look forward to continue to get to know her and Luke better at future events.

Installing LED Lights On Your Kayak

Kayak LED Lights
Lights installed on a Native Propel and Hobie Pro Angler.

A good set of kayak LED lights can make all the difference when it comes to lighting up the night, safety and style. When fishing on lakes or rivers with unrestricted motor use it is very important to have high visibility to other boaters, particularly in foggy or rainy situations. In addition to higher visibility, adding kayak LED lights can help with orientation and navigation while night fishing by illuminating some of the bank structure, which is can be important when casting near cover in the dark.

Adding to lights to your kayak can seem daunting, but can be simple if you take your time and follow some key tips in this easy kayak DIY project:

  1. First, choose a good set of lights that are waterproof, durable and bright. My choice and recommendation is to use Vorocon LED Lights which are more affordable than some other high end brands but are very durable and easy to install.
  2. Secondly, spend a good amount of time thinking through where you want your lights on your yak and apply painter’s tape along this line to help you apply the lights evenly when the time comes. I would suggest applying them above the water line, but also in a place where they are not in your eye line while sitting in your kayak. (this will reduce visibility due to glare)
  3. Be sure to have your power source and wiringlightsbatteryboxsmall thought through before applying your lights. Your wires coming from the lights will need to be an appropriate length to reach the battery. I used a 9v battery box with a small switch so I could easily turn the lights on and off and stowed the box in a water tight storage space.
  4. When it is time to apply the light strips, drill the smallest hole possible to fit your wire at one end of the desired light strip position and feed in the wire.  Then slowly peel back the adhesive strips and apply an activator solution using a Q-tip along the desired light line. Press down the lights firmly as you move along, using the painter’s tape as a guide. Go slowly but make steady progress to ensure a straight line!
  5. Finally, after the LED strips are applied, pull off the tape and use silicone to fill in any gaps in the wire holes. Hook your wiring together with your battery of choice and you are done!