By Josh Rouse
Only inches above the water, a brilliant yellow kayak glides effortlessly across a blue-hued, reflective surface. No noise is made other than the droplets of water falling from the oar as it emerges from the lake.
Suddenly, a pair of blue herons takes flight, gliding gently beside the vessel and its occupant, their wingtips gently kissing the ripples in the water. One of the giant birds snatches an unfortunate fish from the murky depths below with its long, narrow bill, and the birds begin to squawk voraciously as they bicker, midflight, over the tasty morsel.
Just another close call with nature for a trio of avid kayakers fishing on a cool, late-August evening in Shawnee County.
“That’s the main thing,” Topeka angler Scott Stormann said. “Some people get really into it and get really aggressive when fishing. Kayak fishing is a lot more relaxing and a lot smoother. It gets you closer to wildlife — you don’t have any motors going and you can drift right up to deer, heron, any kind of wildlife in Kansas.”
Stormann, who was fishing with fellow kayakers John Abbott and David Moon at Shawnee State Lake, about 8 miles northwest of Topeka, soon got a laugh as the herons came back and dive-bombed his companions, coming within feet of them.
“That’s what we’re here for,” he yelled at the others. “To get close to nature.”
Aside from being less expensive than a bass boat, kayaks and other paddled boats have a bevy of benefits for anglers and recreational boaters.
For one, kayakers don’t have to purchase boat tags or pay property taxes on their vessels the way motorboat owners do. This allows kayakers to reach the same areas as other boaters at a fraction of the cost — an important quality for a frugal angler looking to cover more water than a bank angler.
“I like to just drift along the bank and toss them into the weeds or under a tree,” said Moon, who uses topwater lures and jigs to coax bass out of their favorite hiding spots along the shore.
Abbott likes kayak fishing because it allows him to reach areas that often are inaccessible by foot, such as small creeks or submerged brush piles.
“With bank fishing, you are restricted with the area you can fish, where you’re more free in the kayak,” Abbott said. “I can go wherever I want with more access than on land.”
Abbott also noted the health benefits of using kayaks or canoes over a motorized watercraft. According to the American Council on Exercise, a 175-pound person would burn 397 calories after an hour of kayaking — the same as playing an hour of softball — with heavier people burning even more calories per hour.
“If someone did it enough, I could see a possibility to lose weight,” he said. “And it’s a good workout for the arms.”
Read the complete story at CJOnline.com.