Loon lake Smallmouth Bass

Introducing the FishGator Freshwater Kayak Fishing Social Network

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In the cold winter of 2008-2009, Paul and I decided we needed to create a group for local kayak anglers.  The idea was to plan float trips, share stories and tips, and make a few new friends.

10 months later, we have 42 members.  I’ve managed to meet quite a few of them, and we had a handful of successful group outings this spring and summer.  To take it to the next level, we decided it was necessary to go beyond simple email campaigns to let folks know what was going on.  So, our freshwater kayak fishing social network was born this past week.

While designed to support the Western New York Kayak Fishing Association, all kayak fisher persons are encouraged to join.  We can easily (and for free) set up a forum for any group of paddlers.

Our network supports:

Loon lake Smallmouth Bass

Loon Lake Smallmouth Bass

  • Private Groups
  • Forums
  • Event planning, registration, and RSVPs
  • Photo uploads
  • Video uploads
  • Blogging

So for the WNYKFA, it’s a simple platform to plan trips either officially or unofficially, and to get to know each other a little better.

For kayak fishermen around the country, it’s an opportunity to share, learn and discuss, as well as potentially get your own groups going.

The first year of the WNYKFA has been fun, rewarding, and more hard work than I anticipated.  We believe that our new website will make the 2010 season even more enjoyable.

So join today!  We’d love to have you aboard.

The Calendar is a Lie

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You might think by this photo, taken this morning, and that by looking at the calendar (it should say December now if you’re keeping up), that kayak fishing season is over in Rochester.

Au contraire, my friends. The pike and trout are still hitting regularly, and there’s still NOTHING but open water.

Let’s hit the beach!

Kayak Fishing For Trout and Salmon on Lake Ontario

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It’s the time of year I’ve been waiting for. Football season is upon us, there’s a distinct sharp chill in the evening air, and the trout and salmon of the Great Lakes are preparing to make their runs. My kayak and I are ready. We wait for the perfect wind, and perfect skies. And we wait for the sleigh ride.

Taking a 12′ kayak out into the Great Lakes might seem crazy to some anglers, but I can attest to the fact that my Liquid Logic Manta Ray is up to the test (now made by Native Watercraft). I’ve bested 2 foot swells with little or no difficulty, and I can paddle into headwinds with relative ease if need be. So with winds around 5 mph, preferably from the South for where we fish on Lake Ontario, I feel as safe a mile out as I do when I’m in a small farm pond.

You’ll want a GPS with you, either a handheld or mounted as part of a fish finder. Just in case you lose sight of the shore. Or better yet, if you’ve already marked your hot spots in it. Or even better yet, if your BUDDY that’s with you has marked his. :)

As for buddies, I always recommend kayaking with a friend. If there’s a considerable amount of wind, it’s easy to lose track of things if you’re alone. If you are out with 2 or 3 kayakers, you have a better chance of making sound decisions as a group. And someone can always have an eye on that all important North sky… the sky that tends to trun black every now and again, and then sneak up on you.

Trout and Salmon Tactics from a Kayak on Lake Ontario

I plan on fleshing this idea out this season, as it will be my first full Fall of targeting steelhead, salmon, and browns on the open water of Lake Ontario from my kayak. When I read up on some fishing reports the first weekend of September, fish were being taken in 100 feet of water, usually about 60 to 80 feet down.

That’s a tough spot to get to for the novice kayaker. You’re going to be over a mile out, and that might be unsettling to some.

Kayak and Trout Fishing Lake Ontario From a Kayak

So my plan is to wait til they are false running, and get to them closer to shore. We should be getting close.

Tactics are going to be jigging egg sacs, and some artificials towards the bottom, or fly casting to cruising fish in the really shallow water. I’ll get into more specifics as I find out what works in the coming weeks.

Suffice to say I am excited. Catching a 40 pound king salmon from a kayak less than 45 minutes from my house is an event that can’t happen too many places on this great planet of ours. Here’s hoping that Lake Ontario and its tributaries are good to you all this year. And if you see us out in our kayaks, give a wave. And tell us where they are, ok?

Fishing among friends on Hemlock Lake.

A Milestone for the WNY Kayak Fishing Association

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2 really… First off, we had our largest event so far at Hemlock Lake this weekend, with a total of 9 boats in the water. A special thanks to everyone who came. The fishing was a little off that day, and the cotton wood was jamming everyones guides and reels pretty frequently.

But, we had a lot of fun, a few laughs, and a few bass here and there. And we were kayaking, which is always a plus.

Secondly, I’m happy to announce that our “membership” has grown to 25. It’s a sport on the grow, and I’m hoping we will be excellent stewards while we are together, and while we’re alone.

Big thanks, all. Looking forward to seeing you on the water!

And, be sure to sign up for the mailing list. It’s free, it’s fun, and you don’t even need to own a kayak! Click here!

Fishing among friends on Hemlock Lake.

Fishing among friends on Hemlock Lake.

Kayak Fishing Rights on Posted Waterways

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Last summer, I had posted an article about fishing posted property from a kayak… Moreover, what you could and couldn’t do based on current interpretations of New York State law. (Your state may vary, so be sure to look into it.)

As it happens, it looks like the DEC website is still referencing the 1997 State ruling on the matter.

Q. May a person travel in a boat or canoe on a waterway which is posted?

A. Yes, but travel may not include fishing. A person in a vessel has a right of passage on a navigable waterway, even if the bed of the waterway is privately-owned and is posted. A waterway is navigable if it is capable, in its natural state and ordinary volume of water, of transporting, in a condition fit for market, of floating logs or manufactured or agricultural goods to market. A navigable waterway need not be navigable in both directions, nor need it be navigable 12 months of the year. Furthermore, a waterway’s navigability is not destroyed by rapids or other temporary obstacles so long as the rest of the waterway is otherwise navigable. Where such obstacles exist, the right to public navigation authorizes a boater to get out of the vessel and walk alongside the boat to get around such obstacles, or to portage around such obstacles, even over private property above the mean high water mark, so long as the portage is by the most direct and least intrusive safe route possible. The right to navigation does not otherwise authorize the public to go on private land above the mean high water mark, even for access to or egress from a navigable waterway. A 1997 ruling of the New York State Court of Appeals indicates that the public right to navigation does not include the right to walk on the bed of a waterway to fish, or to anchor for the purpose of fishing where the bed of the waterway is privately-owned; or to fish while navigating through privately-owned waters.

So, as a refresher as you head out in your yak this summer:

1.) You MAY pass through property that is posted, if it has been deemed a navigable waterway*.
2.) You MAY fish the unposted side of a creek or river.
3.) You MAY exit your kayak and portage through posted property on a navigable waterway*.

However, you CAN’T fish in waters that are properly posted on both sides of the stream.

Bear in mind, some properties on many lakes that we fish are posted. I’ve yet to determine how exactly we are supposed to respect postings on lake front property. As in, how far out does the posting extend, etc. If anyone has info on that, please share below.

*NYS Definition of Navigable Waterway (per this Protect the Adirondacks brochure)

In order to be
navigable-in-fact, a waterway must provide practical utility
to the public as a means for transportation and travel.
However, over the years, court decisions have further detailed
and described aspects of the right. Thus, the courts have
recognized recently that utility for log drives has become
a largely anachronistic form of commercial use test for
determining whether a waterway is navigable-in-fact,
whereas recreational use has become an important
contemporary factor in the determination.Water-based
tourism in small boats, kayaks and canoes is a major
commercial activity now and a major contributor to the
State and local economies of New York State.

That excellent brochure also outlines in Point 15:

Is fishing allowed on waterways that are
navigable-in-fact, and if so, under what
conditions?

The Court of Appeals has held that, although the public right
of navigation is protected by law, private owners of stream
banks and beds may have “exclusive” fishing rights in nontidal,
navigable-in-fact waterways.Although the answer to
this question may depend to some extent upon the specific
language of the landowner’s deed and the specific facts of
the situation, it appears that as a general rule fishing is not
included within the public right of navigation and, therefore,
fishing without the permission of the landowner is not
allowed on navigable waterways that cross private property.
Where the riparian land is publicly owned, fishing is allowed,
of course.

So again, this post is intended as a reminder of good conduct while kayak fishing, so you can make intelligent decisions about how to approach certain streams and rivers for the purpose of kayak fishing. I hope also that it fosters some debate, as the brochure’s comment about ” specific language of the landowner’s deed and the specific facts of the situation” tends to put some gray area in the fishing on private lands debate.

What do YOU think?