To trace the evolution of an angler, one would start with the land-based fisherman. Casting from a pier, bridge or sea wall is often the first step for many people.
But as the angler becomes more skilled, they want to be proactive and go where the fish are. This means fishing with a guide or on a party boat.
In what many would consider the final stage in the evolution of a fisherman, the angler buys a boat and becomes the master of his own fishing destiny. In some rare cases, the angler has an epiphany, abandons the combustion engine, picks up a paddle and hops aboard a plastic, sit-on-top sea kayak.
Twenty years ago, canoes outsold sea kayaks at a rate of 5-1, but today, those numbers are reversed. The kayak is a natural extension for the shallow-water angler. If you are wade fishing and come to a deep channel you have to stop. But in a kayak, you just paddle across and keep fishing.
Kayaks also allow anglers to venture into no-motor zones and shallow areas where motor boaters dare not go. Kayaks are also the quietest watercraft on earth. An angler can sneak to within a few yards of a school of fish and start casting. Try that in a flats boat with an electric trolling motor and you'll send the school running.
When you paddle a kayak, you're close to the water. Your profile is about one fourth of what it would be if you were standing on the deck of a flats boat. Keeping a low profile allows an angler to get much closer to the fish.
Kayaks are relatively easy to paddle and steer. If you want to reposition the boat for that perfect cast, a few flicks of the paddle will get you there. It is much easier than pulling an anchor and starting an engine. Kayaks are also light. The average plastic boat weighs between 50 and 80 pounds. The average person can put a kayak on the roof of a car without throwing out his back.
With a kayak, there's no more waiting in line at the boat ramp. Just pull your car alongside the road and slide your kayak into the water. Plastic kayaks can be stored on the decks of bigger boats as well, for forays into hard-to-reach areas such as Everglades National Park.
Plastic sea kayaks are virtually indestructible. Unlike a fiberglass hull, you don't have to worry about bumping against rocks or tree stumps. You can even drag one across an oyster bar and keep going.
Plastic kayaks require no maintenance. If you are really picky, you might rinse it off with fresh water after paddling. But that is about all it takes to keep one in shape. And when you compare the cost of a sea kayak and a flats boat, there is no comparison. Most kayaks cost less than $1,000, and kayaks hold their value. If you see a new model you like, trade in your old one. Most dealers sell used boats as well as new ones.
And if that isn’t enough to get you in a kayak, think about the exercise factor. If you want a good workout, you'll get it paddling a kayak.
Who said fishing was a lazy man's sport?