Paddle boards provide new opportunities for anglers

Fish, fowl and animals all react differently to the appearance of a person on a paddle board. This pink salmon wasn’t too concerned as the author passed by overhead. (Photo by Tom Pink)

Last year, I took an American Canoe Association certification course for stand-up paddle board (SUP), and one of the things the instructor told us was to stop looking down at our feet and our paddle blades and to keep our eyes up and focused on the point we’re trying to reach.

Baseball coaches will say the same thing – keep your eye on the ball – and dance instructors will tell you to look where you’re going instead of watching your feet.

The thing is, ever since I stood on a paddle board five or six  years ago, I haven’t been able to stop looking down. Standing on a board, with a higher vantage point, a paddler can see much more below the surface of the water than he can while in a canoe or kayak. I’ve seen things that I never saw before, from lost duck decoy weights and golf balls to sunken boats.

While observing wildlife from atop my board, I’ve noticed that everything reacts to my appearance a bit differently. Ducks, geese, bald eagles and other birds want nothing to do with an upright person approaching them on the water. They get spooked right away, while I’ve seen birds much less frightened by kayakers and canoeists, who are sitting.

But fish are another matter. Some of them, like carp, which are very wary anyway, are easily spooked if you’re not stealthy while paddling near them or over them. Others, such as smallmouth bass, are more curious than afraid, and they’ll follow behind me as if they’re thinking, “Hey, it’s only 11 feet long – I think I can take it!” I wouldn’t be surprised if one tried to take a bite out of my keel.

While paddling the other day, I got to thinking about spearing fish – one of my favorite activities – and whether an SUP would make a good platform for spearing. I think it could be a lot of fun, and before the water starts to cool off too much, I hope to be able to try it.

I’ve only tried fishing from the board once or twice, with no luck, but a buddy has caught bass, pike, walleye and even the occasional salmon from his board.

Stay tuned, and here’s hoping you’ll see a photo of a speared whitefish atop my board in the near future.

Categories: Blog Content, Michigan – Tom Pink

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