Overall, kayak fishing’s a pretty safe sport and usually the only thing you have to worry about is whether or not you’re going to catch fish. But experienced kayakers know that there are certain situations when if not careful, things can go south quickly. That’s a lesson learned recently by Waco kayak angler David Achterhof who was fishing a water release below Lake Whitney when he turtled his kayak in cold water. He sent me this email detailing the event and asked me to share it with our readers in the hopes they learn from David’s school of hard knocks.
As told by David Achterhof:
I told you we were going to fish the Brazos last week down around Waco. We changed our mind when a friend texted us a pic of a 9.15 LB Bass that was caught below Whitney Dam a week before. When we got to Whitney we saw that the dam was releasing water and the river was flowing pretty good. We decided to go look at the lake, but the lake was choppy and windy so back to below the dam we went.
We put in and set our anchors out to slow us down. Everything was going smoothly as I had positioned myself perpendicular to the bank and was fishing top water. It was still early in the morning and I thought I would give top water a try.
I was about 1000 yards downstream from the dam when all of the sudden my anchor snagged on something. My yak suddenly was partially submerged and I was jerked out. This had never happened to me as I have a sit-on-top ‘yak and had never been in this position, but I was caught off guard. The yak broke free for a second so I grabbed on to it and started to position it upright when it snagged again and at that time it was totally submerged. It was time to swim.
I had hunting boots on, a hunting coat and several layers of clothing. Being in good shape and a good swimmer, I made it to shore. My friend heard me yell and came over to where I was on the shore. I hopped on his yak and we made it across the river to someone’s private property. We then proceeded to walk back to the Army Corp of Engineers office near the dam. Once there, they treated me with hot coffee, a space heater, and some dry socks. A report was made and they said they would look out for my stuff.
My friend made it back to his truck and we went and picked up his kayak and headed home. Being totally spent and chilled to the bone I took a hot shower and a nap. Later my friend called me and said a friend of his had called to tell him the water had stopped flowing. My friend went back to Whitney and found my yak and about half my gear. All in all, I lost a $250 rod and reel, some lures, and my glasses, which I thought not too bad, all things considered.
Several lessons learned. I had tied my anchor off at the middle of my yak. Do not do that. Tie it off on either end so that it will not submerge and/or get an anchor caddy so that you can move the anchor with ease and if it gets hung you can disconnect or cut. Don’t drag your anchor with the tines fully spread, just drag it closed or better yet, use a chain.
Go with your first instincts. In our case, we initially thought the water was a little too fast to really do any good fishing, so we were not going to put in. We changed our minds. Next, always yak with a friend. I would have been in bad shape sitting it out in the cold waiting to be rescued. I had my wallet, a waterproof phone, and keys in a zipper pocket in my shirt, and they all survived.
Never take the water for granted. I thought that since I had been kayaking for more than two years without incident, nothing could happen. I was wrong.
Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish