Feelfree Kayaking Wildlife Through The Lens: May 2023

For this next issue, I decided to capture my top 10 wildlife photos for the month of May. I shoot thousands of photos throughout the month which can be viewed through my wildlife site at https://changlorwildlife.smugmug.com/. These 10, however, were memorable due to its surprising encounter!

All these photos were shot from my kayak: Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2; a workhorse of a kayak that combines speed, stability, and tracking.

Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2

Common Carp

I had an unfortunate – but spectacular – encounter with hundreds of spawning common carps. From the moment I launched my kayak to the moment I returned to shore, the carps were surfacing the refuge nonstop, which made for great photo op to showcase their size and fearlessness. There were moments while spawning the carps would smack the side of my kayak, rocking me; they are tough!


While paddling along the marsh, I came face to face with a young raccoon foraging the grassy shoreline. Although the encounter was short, the curious woodland critter didn’t shy away from seeing who was on the other side of the grass. I don’t know if it was my camouflage attire or Moken, but the raccoon took a few seconds to register what I was.

Bald Eagle

A mature bald eagle and her young nest. I frequently visit this county park over the past three years since moving to my new home. This is the first year I’ve seen this nest. Both eagles were continually adding wooded materials onto their nests in preparation for the incubation of their eggs.

Turkey Vulture

Imagine floating down the river and passing by a group of turkey vultures perched along the shoreline and nearby trees. That’s what happened while I took this shot and continued my float. They were sheltering from the high winds this day. Although they spotted me, all I had were motionless glares; spooky, but surprising!

Eastern Kingbird

The return of the kingbird also brought back with him a hungry appetite for emerging flies along the river. I had a memorable time photographing kingbirds flying from branch to branch eating flies along the riverbank. As I continue to see them more frequent going into the summer, I’m reminded of how aggressive they actually are with their appetite and intolerance for birds of prey. I have seen kingbirds chase away eagles within their nesting ground.

Yellow Warbler

The warblers have also returned with a hungry appetite. The flies are abundant giving these birds and all birds great opportunity to feed in preparation for nesting season. Their vibrant plumage makes them easy to catch, but not the easiest to photograph as they dart back and forth seeking flies.

Painted Turtle

The ease in getting into tight waterways is an absolute advantage of owning a kayak. This photo was made possible due to just that, captured in a windless bay surrounded by the songs of warblers and orioles.


One of the most memorable encounter I’ve had on any of my kayaking trip was this moment. What I thought was a squirrel turned out to be a groundhog scurrying the woody shoreline. It spotted me while hiding behind a tree in the most cliché-spying way. 30 seconds later, the groundhog scattered off into a giant log, presumably its den.

Common Snapping Turtle

A yearling basking in the sun after months of hibernating. I floated motionlessly, allowing the wind to track me towards the turtle that produced this image. Amazing that these guys can live up to 40 years!

Forster’s Tern

I encountered a flock of about a dozen terns hunting – or fishing – for baitfish throughout the marsh. Their tolerance to people allowed for close capturing of these majestic birds. I learned they are endangered in Wisconsin due to loss of habitat from deforestation and flooding, but making a recovery due to the efforts of artificial nesting grounds for them.

Thank you for viewing and reading this series! If you are interested in viewing my entire wildlife gallery and/or ordering my work, please visit https://changlorwildlife.smugmug.com/. Thank you!

FeelFree Kayaking Wildlife Through the Lens: April 2023

Saturday, 4/15 – The first official weekend where our surrounding lakes are ice-free! Wisconsin saw record-high temps the past few days, which really helped to melt any remaining ice on the water. I satisfactorily put on my drysuit, loaded my Feelfree Moken 12.5″ and headed out to a local lake to do some wildlife watching. This is my favorite time of the year: migratory waterfowls returning, courting, and bringing new life into the world. I was also excited to just be back on the water enjoying a good paddle while observing the environment. Spring has not sprung here in Wisconsin yet, but I am optimistic that April showers will bring May flowers and with it, new life.

The six outings I was able to do for the month of April were dreary conditions with low light and snow flurries and/or light rain (or both…). Thankfully, I had weatherproof camera gear to allow me to continue shooting and take on the opportunity of shooting in “creative” lighting environment.

The Feelfree Moken 12.5 remained as reliable as ever while paddling and photographing wildlife. The combination of stability and tracking allowed for simple maneuvering through the marsh.

Please enjoy the following wildlife highlights of my trip this month, through the lens! To view full gallery, visit https://changlorwildlife.smugmug.com. All photos were taken from the Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2!

Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2

↓ Bald Eagle Nestoration ↓

↓ Red-winged Blackbird ↓

↓ Tree Swallow ↓

↓ Belted Kingfisher ↓

↓ Eared Grebe ↓

↓ Ducks In Flight ↓

↓ Yellow-rumped Warbler ↓

↓ Great Egret ↓

↓ American White Pelican ↓

↓ Soft-shell Turtle ↓

↓ Muskrat ↓

↓ Sandhill Crane ↓

↓ Green Heron ↓

↓ Great Blue Heron ↓

And when the wildlife viewing is slow, fish on!

Thanks for reading and viewing!

Through the Lens: Multi-Day Excursion on the Chippewa Flowage and More!

Table of Content


“Traveling; it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

Ibn Battuta

Although my traveling is miniscule compared to Ibn Battuta, an Afro-Eurasia explorer, There is a story – whether short or long – to share and reminisce about. This is true with a recent trip I was on in northern Wisconsin and western Wisconsin. In this article, I share my 14-day trip with you that I did in late August 2022; a trip to remember, and a trip that makes me want more of this type of naturistic journey.

I prepare for this 14-day trip with my teardrop camper, kayak, photography equipment, fishing gear, and snacks. From previous experience, I attempted to keep this trip simple, only bringing things I need with the limited storage available in my truck and camper. And so I begin this trip, starting at Flambeau River State park, making my way towards the Chippewa Flowage, then ending the trip along the Mississippi River Pool 6.

To sum up my daily routine all 14 days:

  • 6:00AM: Wake Up
  • 6:30AM: Head towards water
  • 7:00AM: Launch
  • 5:00PM: Return
  • 6:00PM: Dinner
  • 9:00PM: Sleep

I spent roughly ten hours on my kayak each day. I would find time throughout the trip to stand up, stretch, walk around if I find an accessible bank, and snack. Kayaking ergonomically is a thing!

Below is a quick recap of Day 1 through Day 14, along with some visuals!

Day 1-2: Flambeau River State Park

Prior to hitting the Chippewa flowage, I spent a few days at Flambeau River State Park. My brother, Xang, and I had a river float planned on the Flambeau River, The first and second day were spent exploring the surrounding lakes. It was a typical day, catching bluegills, shad, and prey fish in clear water. A highlight of these two days was experiencing four smallmouth bass feeding right below my kayak. Their feeding aggression was especially noticeable as they came after the bluegills I was catching nearby. I have never experienced this behavior in person, which just made the trip even more intriguing. On our way back to camp, I also caught at the corner of my eye what I believe to be the biggest elk I have ever seen in person, thighs as high as my truck windshield. Or I may have been tired; nonetheless, a great start to the trip!

Day 3: Flambeau River

Xang and I voyaged the Flambeau River, one of the more calming float I’ve been on. The fishing was plentiful with smallmouth bass scattered throughout the river. I disappointingly missed two attempts at landing two muskies after they went after the smallmouth bass I was reeling in with an ultra light rod. That river is home to some aggressive muskies! After eight hours of floating, Xang and I were not even halfway done with the float. We did have to paddle some distance without fishing to land before sunset, which we succeeded in doing. A highlight from this trip was experiencing a lone black bear cross the river right in front of us. I was fortunate to capture some distant shots of it; truly spectacular!

Day 4-11: Chippewa Flowage

I came to the Chippewa Flowage understanding that this area is 20+ sq. miles of terrain. Overwhelming, yes, but also great opportunities to explore both fishery and wildlife. The fishing was wonderful, catching walleyes, bass, pikes, panfish, perch, and many other prey and predatory fish. Without a fish finder, I used my experience to identify probable fishing spots that I knew could hold fish. I did regretfully lose a muskie I hooked into on a 1/32 oz. jig head; after two jaw-dropping jumps, it bit off my line and swam off. Regardless, very cool to see. In addition, the wildlife was just divine, including the scenic nature/landscape.

Day 12-14: Mississippi River, Pool 6

I arrive at my final destination site exhausted physically, but not mentally. There is still vast and great opportunities for fishing and wildlife photography. I visited a national park and wildlife refuge the last three days, in which I had a blast of a time fishing, and the greatest opportunity to view and experience hundreds of migratory birds gathering before their migration. I left the trip satisfied, fulfilled, and wanting more.

Wildlife Photography Moments

Wildlife, in any capacity, is spontaneous. You never know what will appear in your peripheral and how long it’ll be there for. I’ve dedicated more of my time this year to wildlife photography during my kayaking trips, and I am glad I did. It has made me more self aware of my surrounding, and allows me to study the behavior and yearly cycle of many wildlife. Not only that, but the educational desire to want to learn more about what I photograph; it’s a continuous cycle of self-satisfaction, education, and relaxation. Below are a few photographic highlights of my trip. Please enjoy them!


A doe and a fawn white-tail deer hydrating themselves before heading back into the woods.I spotted these two treading along the river’s bank. They eventually spotted me as I floated passed them and slowly made their way into the woods.

Sipping #2

A separate pair of a doe and fawn white-tail deer hydrating themselves before heading back into the woods. As the wind was pushing me towards shore, I spotted these two coming out of the woods taking quick sips of water before continuing their walk.

Somewhere Only We Know

A lone black bear crossing the river. A pleasant surprise while floating down the Flambeau River. About 200 yards away, a black bear emerged from one side of the river and made its way across; at first trotting, then running, then swimming across. My first river float encounter with a black bear, and a calming experience. This photo reminds me of the song, Somewhere Only We Know, covered by Lily Allen, originally sung by Keane. This song could be the theme song to this entire trip.


A great blue heron, seconds after gulping a perch it caught. From my kayak, I watched as this heron patiently and effortlessly snatched a perch from the shallow and swallowed it whole.


A perched bald eagle on a warm, summer morning. From 300 yards away, I noticed the whiteness of an eagle’s head from the shoreline. As I got closer, I was presented with a bald eagle calmly perched against the sunrise.


Two mallards feeding. Right at sunrise shortly after launching my kayak from the ramp, two mallards emerged from the shoreline feeding. Unthreatened by me, they continued their feeding as I photographed their beautify.

Basking in the Sun

A river otter relaxing as the sun rises. Along a river, a family of otters were loudly playing by the shoreline. One kept guard, allowing me to paddle on the opposite shoreline of them..


A common loon showing off its catch before swallowing it whole. I observed diving activities by this loon in the middle of a lake. It would peer its head down, then up, then down, eventually diving for its target. A wondrous feeding behavior to witness.


A sandpiper rummaging the sandy boat launch for insects. As I arrive at the boat launch, I was greeted by a sandpiper walking across the sandy shoreline, pecking at the sand.

Coming in Hot!

A beaver swimming with no attention to me. As I quietly paddled upstream back to the launch, a beaver was quietly paddling downstream towards me. We met eye to eye about 25 yards away, and it rerouted its swimming pathway.

Rest Stop

Two sandhill cranes sheltering from the 15+ mph wind before eventually continuing on their flight. The high winds pushed me towards the shoreline at the same time two sandhill cranes were coming in for landing. They landed about 50 yards from me and hid from the wind.

Crappie Meal

A gull snatching a crappie along the shallow pads. While sitting in my kayak observing the gulls feeding activity, one flew right in front of me, snatching a crappie before taking off. I sat myself in front of a shallow opening surrounded by lily pads. And one by one, the gulls expertly grabbed fishes one by one.

Crappie Meal #2

A gull snatching a crappie along the shallow pads. While sitting in my kayak observing the gulls feeding activity, one flew right in front of me, snatching a crappie before taking off. I sat myself in front of a shallow opening surrounded by lily pads. And one by one, the gulls expertly grabbed fishes one by one.


American white pelicans and cormorants gathering before migrating. I was truly blessed and fortunate to have experienced the large gathering of migratory birds before they continued on their journey south. From my kayak, I distanced myself from the 9-ft-wingspanned birds and enjoyed the view.

Refuge #2

American white pelicans and cormorants gathering before migrating. I was truly blessed and fortunate to have experienced the large gathering of migratory birds before they continued on their journey south. From my kayak, I distanced myself from the 9-ft-wingspanned birds and enjoyed the view.

Refuge #3

American white pelicans and cormorants gathering before migrating. I was truly blessed and fortunate to have experienced the large gathering of migratory birds before they continued on their journey south. From my kayak, I distanced myself from the 9-ft-wingspanned birds and enjoyed the view.


A great egret patiently waiting for its next meal to swim by. I watched this egret for about 30 minutes, patiently waiting for its food. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any feeding activities from it, but do admire the great discipline these bird have to patiently wait for their meal, knowing it will come, but when?


A northern leopard frog chilling. As I loaded up on my final destination, a leopard frog jumped towards me. Initially startled, I grabbed my camera and captured its picturesque feature.


Two trumpeter swans floating the Chippewa Flowage wetlands. While paddling back to shore, two swans floated past me, heading deeper into the wetlands.

Wild Corndogs

At the time of this shoot, I was getting hungry, and it didn’t help that these cattails looked like corndogs.

Chicken Mushroom

After curious research, I believe these are laetiporus mushroom, spotted from my kayak when I noticed something vibrant orange from the woods.

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

Peering out at the refuge water. A Wisconsin wildlife gem, home to countless wildlife, migratory and nonmigratory.

Lake of the Pines

A cool, mist-ridden sunrise on Lake of the Pines.

The Kayak That Made This All Possible…

Chang with his Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2 overseeing the Mississippi River

The Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2 kayak. Stable, fast, maneuverable, spacious, comfortable, reliable; I can go on and on about the great feature of the Feelfree Moken that made this trip memorable. This kayak has been through it all with me for two years in all types of inland bodies of water, and definitely a kayak I would recommend to anybody in a heartbeat. Along with the great physique of the Feelfree Moken, Feelfree Kayaks also make products suited for their kayak brand, such as the Feelfree Crate Bag featured in the above image, which was used to store both my camera and fishing tackle; that is how much trust I have in the Feelfree Crate Bag to the extent I would house the most expensive equipment (camera) on my kayak in there.

If you are interested in learning more about the kayak I use – Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2 – or about the Feelfree Kayaks, leave a comment or send me a message at one of my social media! I have owned many Feelfree Kayaks and each serve a different purpose for the types of water you’re fishing, types of activity you’re doing, and personal needs. You can also visit the Feelfree Kayaks site to learn more about every model and their specifications!


“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Margaret J. Wheatley


I was asked to sum up my 2-week excursion on the Chippewa flowage and Mississippi River in one word. That word is overwhelming. Why?

Setting out to unfamiliar waterways, I became overwhelmed at the hundreds of acres of lakes, rivers, creeks, and marsh that the Chippewa flowage and surrounding wateres had to offer; and ultimately, where to even start? I didn’t seek out a guide nor have a fish finder. I came into this trip with the mindset of, figure it out yourself. And that’s exactly what I did. So, with my Feelfree Moken, I set out to kayak-accessible locations and I paddled nonstop through 15+ mph wind, white caps, muck, lily pads, over obstructions, anything to get to unpressured waters and unprovoked wildlife. And as I persisted, I was rewarded with some of the best fishing of my life, and unimaginable wildlife photos captured.

I sit here still feeling overwhelmed, knowing that during the two weeks spent exploring the Chippewa flowage and surrounding areas, I covered less than 5% of that entire flowage. This was not a surprised from a kayak. Yet, I still left the trip satisfied, but wanting more! And thus, the desire to return to the Chippewa flowage in the future increases. This desire of wanting more pushed me to continue this excursion onto the MS River Pool 6, for the remaining few days I had. And this comes with no surprise; the MS River provided great fishing and rich wildlife opportunities.

Furthermore, I believe reflecting on one’s experience improves future occurrences. And the chances of me replicating the same trip is high. The end of this trip is a continuation of my journey. Now let’s reflect. The following 8 reflective questions were created by Marc Cappelletti -Travel Industry Marketing and Product Consultant – on questions to ask oneself after returning from a trip. Comparably, my trip was statewide, but does allow me to broaden my thinking that can be applied to future trips and life.

  1. What about this trip am I most thankful for?
    The staff at Lake Chippewa Campground. This was my first time camping at this site, and the staff provided me with all information regarding amenities and attractions in and surrounding the camp. Very thankful for their helpfulness and positivity making the trip extra special with the great customer service.
  2. Did I shy away from doing anything? How can I address that fear?
    Yes, exploring more of the Chippewa Flowage. I love my Feelfree Moken, but shied away from paddling into open waters to distant bays. I knew I would be able to get back to the boat ramp, but also needed to conserve energy for two weeks. I have considered getting a pedal kayak for next year’s trip, such as the Feelfree Lure, Feelfree Flash, or Feelfree Dorado, both models that can be equipped with the pedal drive. The pedal drive will definitely increase my confidence in venturing out further with ease.
  3. What did people I saw not have that I take for granted?
  4. Which rituals or activities did I experience that could benefit my daily life, or that of my loved ones?
  5. Did I meet any people or organizations that would benefit from my assistance, financial or otherwise?
  6. What, if anything, did I get frustrated with while traveling that was out of my control?
    The wind was brutal while out on open water, which I did on the first two days of my trip at the Chippewa Flowage. The wind was going to be 15+ mph for the entire week, and I adjusted by fishing in areas that were more covered, sheltered from the wind.

    What do I do at home that I didn’t miss while I was away? Can I stop?
    Technology. Half of the trip I was in a low to no service area. This forced me to not use my phone nor any online activities. Part of the trip I also had no electricity, which allowed me to truly indulge in nature. I recommend to myself and anyone if you are camping to get away from technology and social media, camp at non-electric campsites. cell service should be present in case of emergency. I will not be able to stop using technology at home, but it can definitely be moderated.

    What did I learn from this trip that will help me increase enjoyment of future trips?
    Not so much learned, but doing more wildlife photography. I am finding great satisfaction and joy from capturing my surrounding; more joy than capturing a fish sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, fishing is the reason I got into kayaking; to allow me to get onto the water and go after the fish vs the fish coming after me. However, when I’m photographing wildlife, I’m not just looking for photo op; I’m enjoying my surrounding, looking at the drifting clouds, hearing the distant birds/crickets chirping, looking at the woods to see if there’s any woodland critters nearby, and just plain relaxing. I dedicated more of my time to wildlife photography to see if this is a hobby I am interested in pursuing. Nine months later and I am still anticipating the next shot, wherever that will be.


I appreciate and thank you for taking the time to ready this article. I believe a big part of traveling is storytelling, as Ibn Battuta quotes. I am hopeful this blog will inspire and give you the urge to engulf yourself in the great outdoors. I will embark on shorter trips for the rest of the year, but am looking forward to extended trips such as this in 2023. For next year, I will be looking into upgrading my camper to something more spacious; still in the market, recommendations are welcome! And also looking at another Feelfree kayak, this one with pedals!

If interested in continuing this topic of discussion relating to this blog, feel free to comment, or connect with me through one of my social media. I look forward to meeting and talking with you about the great outdoors!

Have a wonderful day!

8-Day Camping [And Kayak Fishing] along WI/MN Boundary Waters

I’ve returned home from a recent 8-day camping trip along the Mississippi River between WI/MN borders and what a fun-filled journey that has been. The fishery, the wildlife, the peace: all exuding right here in Wisconsin. This article will break down my trip into three segments – preparation, experience, and reflection – so – you too – can vicariously experience the journey I went on through words and images.


“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Preparing itinerary. I started initially planning for this trip back in March. I knew when I wanted to go on this trip, and made the necessary campsite reservations ahead of time. I used Google Maps’ Trip Planner service to mark destinations, traveling distances, and dates. See below for sample. I live north of these five campsites and my thought process with the itinerary was to start south and work my way north, towards home, which worked well in my case since I was beyond exhausted towards the end of the entire trip. I knew I was going to be primarily kayak fishing, I selected campsites along the Mississippi River, with waterfront access or near-proximity to water. I had 10 days reserved for this trip: two nights per site (I did fast-track towards the end, hence 8 days instead of 10 days). The routine for each trip was:

  1. Arrive 3pm to check in.
  2. Kayak fish in the evening. Sleep.
  3. Wake up. Kayak fish full day. Sleep.
  4. Wake up. Kayak fish in the morning.
  5. Check out. Drive to next campsite.
  6. Arrive 3pm to check in at next campsite.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6.

Meals occurred in the morning and evening, with a snack in the afternoon. After I knew what my itinerary was, the next step for the next few months leading to the trip was the packable items. Below is a list of all the items I packed for my trip. Keep in mind my activities consisted of kayaking, fishing, and photography on this trip. Your list may differ, or be similar depending on your activities.

Camping Essentials

  • Camper (or tent)
  • Food
  • Snacks
  • Water (1 gallon/day)
  • Sports drink.
  • Coolers
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • SPF clothing (shirts/pants)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Extension cord (25-50 ft)
  • Waste bags
  • Switchblade
  • Flashlight + extra batteries
  • Handwipes
  • Facewipes
  • Towels
  • Soap
  • Patio umbrella

Photography Essentials

  • Camera
  • SD cards
  • Extra camera battery
  • Camera charger
  • Camera cleaning supplies
  • Gopro
  • Micro SD cards
  • Extra camera battery
  • Battery pack (20,000+mAh)
  • Battery pack charger
  • Gopro mounts
  • Laptop
  • Laptop charger
  • 1-2 TB external hard drive

Kayak Fishing Essentials

  • Kayak: Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2
  • Paddle
  • Life jacket (PFD)
  • Feelfree Crate Bag
  • Fishing poles
  • Tackle/Lures
  • Fishing net
  • Tethers
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Fish grippers
  • Buffs/neck gaitors
  • Visibility flag
  • Bilge pump
  • Sunglasses
  • Eyeglass ear grip
  • Kayaking gloves
  • Cap
  • Mosquito face net
  • Water
  • Spare clothing
  • Whistle
  • Dry bag

Emergency Essentials

  • First Aid Kit for land
  • First Aid Kit for kayak
  • Electrolytes packet
  • Emergency Poncho
  • Spare footwear
  • Charged phone (75%+) before hitting the water


“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

Martin Buber

I will limit typing so much in this section and let pictures do the speaking. I embarked on this 8-day camping trip with the intent of fishing each day at various sections of the Mississippi River between the WI/MN border. Each area I fished in produced a healthy population of fish. I threw hollow body frogs, the R2S Whopper Plopper 75, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and several flies from my fly rod. Water condition was relatively clear at 2′ except for 2/8 days where heavy rain occurred, muddying up the water. Quick, daily recap of each day can be viewed on my Instagram or Facebook page! When the fishing became slow, I switched to the DSLR and captured the wildlife and scenery surrounding me. There were ample backwaters on the Mississippi River and I was truly fortunate to capture some of the best nature had to offer.

Aside from engulfing myself in the backwaters, I had a pleasant experience with my fellow camping neighbors, locals, and anglers throughout my trip. Many weekday campers/anglers were retirees and it was absolutely special to be in the presence of hard working individuals who are happily enjoying themselves with nature.

Please enjoy these few slideshows of some of my catches, wildlife, scenery, the Hobbit Home, and my kayak!

Fishing Photos

Wildlife Photos

Landscape Scenery Photos

The Hobbit Home & Kayak (Feelfree Moken 12.5′) Photos


“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Margaret J. Wheatley

I believe reflecting on one’s experience improves future occurrences. And the chances of me replicating the same trip is high. This was my first solo, multi-day, multi-campsite trip. However, the end of this trip is a continuation of my journey. Granted, I have camped in the past and have also camped on the water, so I was not foreign to how this all works out. However, eight days – which seemed short during the trip – is quite long; because I did all my planning a few months ahead of time, I was able to cruise through the five campsites with minimal issues. Now let’s reflect. The following 8 reflective questions were created by Marc Cappelletti -Travel Industry Marketing and Product Consultant – on questions to ask oneself after returning from a trip. Comparably, my trip was statewide, but does allow me to broaden my thinking that can be applied to future trips.

  1. What about this trip am I most thankful for?

    I could generate a list of a hundred things I’m thankful for (which I absolutely am regardless) on this trip, but the one that I’m most thankful for on this trip was a good night’s sleep. Being on the water for 8+ hours each day, I needed my body to be healthily restored while on the water to avoid any incidents. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep the first two days as I was adjusting to my “bed,” but after getting accustomed to the space and sleeping position, it really was just like sleeping in my bed at home.
  2. Did I shy away from doing anything? How can I address that fear?

    I shied away from using enough insect repellent and sunblock each day, which came with itchy and burning-sensation consequences. I had the items, but did not take the proper time to apply them onto myself. Also, since some of the campsites didn’t have shower, I was attempting to be careful not to over-apply the repellents and sunblock on myself. This is not a fear, but I can address this by dedicating time, whether that’s setting reminders on my phone or watch, to apply the necessary repellent and sunblock on myself to prevent further damage to my skin.
  3. What did people I saw not have that I take for granted?

  4. Which rituals or activities did I experience that could benefit my daily life, or that of my loved ones?

    Stretches!!! I stretched the first thing in the morning, the first thing before getting into my kayak, and the first thing after getting off my kayak. Knowing I’d be sitting for extensive hours for eight days straight, stretching kept my muscles and joints relaxed and strong for the day, eliminating stiffness and cramps that I would otherwise deal with on the water, which would not be enjoyable. Doing morning stretches will definitely be a routine I will continue to do at home and the workplace, or wherever I venture to!
  5. Did I meet any people or organizations that would benefit from my assistance, financial or otherwise?

  6. What, if anything, did I get frustrated with while traveling that was out of my control?

    Weather. Pre-planning months ahead of time always comes with unknown weather conditions. Some of my outings were delayed or cancelled due to storms in my area. This was definitely out of my control and was expected.

    Mosquitos. All five sites were inhabited with mosquitos. My first day on the trip, a storm rolled through which increased the mosquito presence. As mentioned above, I was lackadaisical with using insect repellent and I faced the consequences of bites throughout my legs and body, primarily in the evening.

    FLIES (gnats). I was surrounded by flies during my 2nd campsite both days. Repellents didn’t work and it was truly frustrating trying to fish and paddle with flies buzzing in and around my face. I fortunately had a mosquito net to put over my head, which allowed me to proceed with my activities unbothered. But the moment the mosquito net came off, the flies were back in full force. I knew flies’ disturbance could be present on my trip and had my mosquito net ready for them.
  7. What do I do at home that I didn’t miss while I was away? Can I stop?

    To add some humor here, I did not miss mowing the lawn while I was away. Unfortunately, I cannot stop this (ha). On a more serious note, I did not miss having to pack my meals every night as I prepped them all before start of trip. These weren’t off-the-stove meals mind you. I cannot stop this, but I can get [back] into meal prep for the week for work so I don’t have to do that every evening when I’m done with work, which can be exhausting.
  8. What did I learn from this trip that will help me increase enjoyment of future trips?

    Be in the moment. Capture your surrounding in person, and with a camera (if available) for future reminisce. Embrace advancements of technology and savor the memories made now for the future.

All in all, the 8-day camping trip met my expectation. I traveled effortlessly from one site to the next, and had some of the best fishing this year. I definitely plan on replicating this trip (or something similar) next year, and maybe target more (bigger) species than what I did this trip!

Kayak Acknowledgement

I do want to take this time to also recognize the durability my kayak – Feelfree Moken 12.5′ V2 – endured during this trip. Together, we paddled through tons of inseparable duckweed, skidded over entrapped logs, and remained buoyant against boat-formed waves and heavy winds. The Wheel in the Keel was definitely definitely imperative on this trip as I launched and relaunched dozens of times at multiple boat launches. I couldn’t imagine having to drag the kayak without the Wheel in the Keel with all my gears in it, whilst having to also load atop my vehicle. The Moken’s stupendous feature made for a convenient way to transport, move, and fish out of. It was the perfect kayak for this trip!

Photo courtesy of Tyler Thiede, Small Craft Fisherman, Small Craft Outfitters

Thank you for reading!

Trip highlight can be viewed here.

Video on a quick look at the Hobbit Home can be viewed by clicking here.

Subscribe to this blog or my other social media to stay connected with future adventures!

My first kayak camping experience:

Tyler Thiede of Small Craft Fisherman and I have long wanted to do a multi-day kayak camping excursion on the MS river. This year, we had the opportunity to float a stretch on Pool 4 from Maiden Rock, WI to Pepin, WI.

After weeks of careful planning, mocking our kayaks for storage, and mapping out the float trip, we were ready to begin the journey. Tyler and I were not oblivious to the adventures of river floats. We have done many outings on local rivers and this multi-day float would be that next step in the kayaking experience.


Tyler and I arrived at Maiden Rock, WI, Point A, for the launch. Thank you to Tyler’s wife, Stacy, for being our transport and dropping Tyler’s car off at point B. The cool, dusk air has slowly faded as the day began to warm up. We launch off of our Feelfree Moken 12.5′ v2s and begin our journey down the Mighty Mississippi, aka Lake Pepin on this stretch. The wind was calm; we casted a few topwater and finesse across the open lake while getting our bums ready for the long float. There were no catches for the first one to two hours, but when one is out on a kayak camping adventures, the scenes of nature should also be caught and captured. Shad were swimming in school of dozens and the scattering of thousands of mayflies along the shoreline were breathtaking (and annoying). While floating down the river, we counted dozens of eagles from nearby and afar, both adolescents and mature.

For the first few miles of floating, it was just that: talking, observing nature while nature observed us.

Towards the later afternoon, we did a rest stop in Stockton, WI, thinking their campsite would be opened for camping (sadly, it was closed, potentially due to plumbing/water issues). Being the quick-wit that he was, Tyler announced plan B, which was camping along sandbars. This was a more adventurous option, and we did come out to venture so this fit our impromptu agenda. A few miles down from Stockton, we stopped by a quarter-mile long sandbar to have dinner and set up camp.

I fell into a deep sleep for a few hours, being massaged by the sand. Tyler stayed up for most of the night and was able to capture some scenic landscapes. By the time I woke up, the sun has set and the mayflies have begun to fly across the shoreline of the sandy beach. The sound of waves crashing and fishes splashing from feeding on the mayflies was enough to end the night.


I woke up to the condensation from the cool night dripping on my face. My tent on the inside and out were cool and wet, which was a great wake-up call because this was going to be one of the best mornings I’ve had this year (possibly ever). The lake was motionless, mayflies were out and about, ripples could be seen throughout the shoreline from the feeding frenzy, and temperature were cool enough where if I needed to warm up a bit, I’d dip my feet into the still-warm sandy waters. I observed the feeding frenzy and decided to toss a lure that would mimic a minnow. One regret ran through my mind, which was not bringing along my fly rod. Mayflies coming down to the water are instantly taken by the fish underneath. I rigged up an inline spinner onto my spinning combo and casted as far as I could, slowly reeling, waiting for that hit. After a few casts, I finally got a bump on my lure and pulled in an 11″ smallmouth bass. I wasn’t expecting anything big; the bites that I have been seeing across the shoreline were small. Nevertheless, this was a GREAT sign! The fish are going crazy! I continued to cast out the inline spinner and caught a few more smallies, including a 15.” I also caught a white bass, which was shocking to me because I really didn’t know what I’d catch on the riverbed.

As much as Tyler and I wanted to fish longer, it was time to move along if we wanted to hit our next destination: Pepin, WI. We packed up our camping and fishing gear and proceeded down the river. With the weather quickly warming up, we prepared for the paddle. Many boaters were already out in the morning and waves have started to emerge throughout the river. Thankfully, the Mokens were well-built to handle these types of waterways.

A few miles of floating later, we reached the harbor in Pepin, WI. This area was not kayak-friendly with all the boats and waves; but we were destined to land. It wasn’t a surprise that we were the only kayakers by the harbor; I don’t imagine any inexperienced or recreational kayakers wanting to partake in activities with these big boats.

We shored our Mokens and sat with our drinks and planned for the rest of the trip, whether to continue onward for the next few miles or cut the trip short. After much thought, we decided to end the trip a day early. As much as we wanted to continue he journey, there was a storm brewing up in the evening. Considering we were going to camp again on sandbars, the increased water level was a concern to us. Although the trip was cut short, the trip was one in the books and allowed me to better prepare for future multi-day floats.

What I’ve Learned…

Multi-day kayak camping takes on a whole new level to kayaking. The amount of energy one needs to use and conserve is significant. Balancing time to fish, float, paddle, and set up camp has to all be thoroughly planned for the entire trip. I’m glad Tyler was able to get this set for us. The most memorable part about the trip was the scenic view throughout the entire float. I thought I would be fishing most of the trip, but time was more spent on exploring new bodies of water.

I admit I was unprepared for the amount of water I would be covering. I bought 30 17-oz water bottles for the trip and I went through half of it the first day. Have we continued the trip, I would have had to drink river water (kidding!).

I was able to research and prepare for the entirety of the trip. After reflecting and taking into consideration what I used, needed, should have, here are a list of ESSENTIAL supplies I would bring with me for my next kayak fishing camping excursion:

  • Paddle
  • Paddle leash
  • Life jacket
  • Spare clothes
  • Water (plan for 1-2 gallons a day; much of your energy will be consumed from paddling)
  • Snacks (chips, beef sticks, sunflower)
  • Food (I brought tortilla wraps, canned tuna, spinach)
  • Working phone/communication device
  • Chargers + batter packs for phone/communication devices
  • Tent
  • Blanket
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Hand wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Portable propane grill/stove
  • Propane
  • Flashlights/lights
  • Hi-vis pole/flag
  • Matches/lighter

Add’l Photos

Enjoy some more photos from the trip!

Photos contributed by Tyler Thiede

Kayak Fishing FAQ: Should I get a sit-inside or sit-on-top fishing kayak?

Photo retrieved from https://www.kayakhelp.com/sit-on-top-vs-sit-in-kayak/

IT DEPENDS ON YOU, but you will quickly learn that your first fishing kayak purchase will not be your last. This article will give you a brief comparison between a sit-inside and a sit-on-top kayak and what is most preferred for kayak fishing. Keep on reading!

***Scroll towards the end of this article for answer.

The advantageous part about kayaking is the ability to diverge into many water sport activities. One of these activities include kayak fishing. Both sit-inside (SIS) and sit-on-top (SOT) can be used for kayak fishing. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, though. If you decide that kayak fishing is an activity you would like to try out and potential do regularly, there are reasons to go with one over the other.

First, let’s compare the differences between SIS and SOT kayaks.

DESIGN: SIS kayaks have a hollowed-out hull design allowing the person to sit inside the kayak via a [typically circular] cockpit. SOT kayaks have a relatively horizontal and leveled deck allowing hull space to be use for storage, stability, and buoyancy. SIS kayak’s narrow design allows the vessel to cut through water; great for recreational kayaking and giving the person dependency with the kayak. SOT kayaks push water with its less-narrow hull design, but maintains stability.

SPEED: When comparing speed between both a SIS and SOT kayaks, SIS kayaks are traditionally faster and are built for speed. Sitting low to the water allows for more paddle-water contact, creating a more constant speed. SOT kayak’s high seating and wider design makes the user more prone to constant speed. Generally, as a rule of thumb, the narrower the kayak, the more speed it will pick up as it cuts through the water. There are a few SOT kayaks that are more narrow versus wide as shown on the image above on the right.

COMFORT: When comparing comfort, SOT [fishing] kayaks are built for duration. The kayak fishing industry has invested much to ensure anglers are getting a comfortable seat to endure hours on the water. I have fished with SIS kayak anglers and after an 8-hour float, their back starts to hurt due to stiffness. With a SOT kayak, you have the option to stand and stretch if needed. Additionally, the seats are normally comfortable and allows you to sit higher from the water, as if you were sitting on a chair. The industry does acknowledge the importance of comfort and are ergonomically developing products to enhance the fishing experience.

STABILITY: When comparing stability between both a SIS and SOT kayak, SOT kayaks are far more stable due to the wider hull design, allowing user to sit higher and stand without wobbliness. The V-shape design of SIS kayaks tends to rock the kayak, which can be more of a hinder if trying to stand (I would NOT recommend standing in a SIS kayak). A stable platform is essential when fishing to maintain balance when casting, setting the hook, and reeling in the fish.

MOBILITY: When comparing mobility between a SIS and SOT kayak, a SIS will allow the user to control the kayak more because they will be the center of the kayak on both axis. This allows the SIS kayak to easily track without having to battle wind resistance. A SOT kayak will struggle with tracking due to wind resistance on the angler and paddle. There are certain SOT kayaks that track well regardless, but the U shape hull will need additional effort to track the kayak.

WEIGHT: When comparing weight, SIS are traditionally lighter than SOT kayaks. SIS kayaks are normally under 50 lbs and SOT kayaks are above 50lbs. The weight depends on the design of the kayak and material use. Traditionally SOT kayaks are built for convenience outside of recreational paddling, such as fishing. SIS kayaks are built more for recreational kayaking where the need for excessive weight is unnecessary. When I still had my SIS kayak, I was able to carry it over my shoulder or above my head with no problem. With a SOT kayak now, I have to use my vehicle/trailer support to get the kayak mounted.

ACCESSORIES: SIS kayaks do not offer much accessories to enhance the fishing experience as compared to a SOT kayak, which can be equipped with rudder, pedal drive unit, rod holders, and storage. Kayak fishing industry primarily develop and market products towards SOT kayaks, but a little creativity and DIY will allow for add-on features on both a SIS or SOT kayak. Realistically, all you need to kayak fish is a kayak and a fishing pole. All other accessories, specs, and features are tools used for convenience.

RE-ENTERING: Because of the hollow design and cockpit, a SIS kayak is quite difficult to re-enter if tipped over and suddenly filled with water. Whitewater kayaks can be re-entered quickly if educated and trained properly, but a SIS fishing kayak is more difficult. SIS fishing kayak may require rescue or drag to shoreline to drain out water. A SOT kayak has scupper holes across the deck that allows for water to exit. Because the hull is dry, water will not enter it regardless if the kayak tips upside down; this is an advantage with SOT kayaks. If for some reason you do capsize or the SOT kayak tips over, it is simple to re-enter because the kayak will stay dry inside the hull and remain buoyant. The angler, however, do need to learn how to re-enter properly without exhausting themselves. I try to practice kayak re-entry at least once or twice a year. I have also created a video on two ways to re-enter a SOT kayak: from the front, or the side. Commonly with a SOT kayak, the angler is the one that falls overboard while the kayak stays stabilized. This is not to say that it is impossible to enter a sit-in fishing kayak when it does capsize, but may require a buddy to hold the kayak steady so it does not rock back and forth; this is also assuming your SIS kayak has not been filled with water. If your SIS is full of water, use a bilge pump to pump out the water. I HIGHLY recommend carrying a bilge pump with you if you choose to purchase a SIS fishing kayak; I would even carry one for a SOT kayak in case of an emergency.

ANSWER: Sit-on-top kayak. There are a few selections of SIS kayaks designed for kayak fishing, but the kayak fishing industry is primarily marketed towards SOT kayaks. If you have ever observed or gone to a kayak fishing event, you will notice that majority of anglers use SOT kayaks. SOT kayak’s stable deck allows angler to fish sitting down or standing. The deck also allows for a dry hull that will not sink if someone were to capsize. The scupper holes on SOT kayaks will allow water to freely drain. SOT kayaks are normally costlier than SIS kayaks, but SOT becomes advantageous with features that can turn it into a fishing convenience such as rudder-capability, pedal-drive capability, more DIY options, deck space, dry hull for storage, and ease of re-entry. There are reasons to get a SIS kayak if an angler feels more comfortable sitting low to the water and like a lighter kayak for transport and mobility. If you are committed to kayak fishing and long trips are on your agenda, a SOT kayak will be a more ergonomic and convenient choice. Whether inland or offshore kayak fishing, you will realize that the type of kayak you select matters; it’s about personal preference, but also geographical preference!

The next step is WHICH SOT kayak to purchase. This will be tabled for another article, but I advise doing some research on select brand and live demos if you are able to. I own a few Feelfree SOT kayaks and will gladly assist you in selecting the right kayak for your need! Remember that whichever fishing kayak you decide will probably not be your last. To get the most out of your kayak, try and initially find one that is right for you. Enjoy shopping and welcome to the kayak fishing world!

2018 Annual Wisconsin Kayak Fishing Club Bass Tournament [predominately SOT kayaks]

My Upcoming 2020 Fishing Season with Feelfree: Promoting Passion

I joined the Feelfree Kayak Fishing Team in July 2017 with the intent of promoting what I passionately love doing and using. Every year since then have been an accumulation of knowledge on the Feelfree products and services, and meeting some of the most dedicated kayak anglers who share the same passion.

As the 2020 fishing season approaches, I will be continuing my kayak fishing journey with the Feelfree Kayak Fishing Team. A few reasons why my interest and passion with Feelfree persists is their innovation, affordability, customer service, and the Wheel in the Keel feature on their kayaks.

INNOVATION. A stagnant business is a dying business. Feelfree’s R&D team has done amazingly well in developing products that creates convenience for its customers. Feelfree has introduced new and/or improved products to their product line. 2017 was the Overdrive unit; 2018 was the Feelfree Dorado; 2019 was the Feelfree Moken 12.5 V2, other V2s, and the Feelfree Summer Slam event. I, along with the other team members, are eager to see what awaits the Feelfree community come 2020 and the future!

AFFORDABILITY. Have I known about the Feelfree kayaks when I first got into kayak fishing in 2015, I would have purchased one of these for myself. Feelfree carries 21+ kayaks ranging from $400 to $2500. For $600, one could get the Feelfree Moken 10′ V2 with adjustable seat and rudder ready, features that are redefining the kayak fishing industry. For an additional $300, one could get the Feelfree Lure 10′ V2 equipped with the patented Gravity Seat, an extremely stable platform, removable pod, and rudder ready! For an additionally $200+, one can get the Lure 11′, Tandem, or Dorado, all that can be retrofitted and equipped with the Overdrive system. The point is, Feelfree has enhanced their products to improve the “Feelfree experience” by providing each kayak angler with a variety of kayak selection for all types of waterways.

CUSTOMER SERVICE: I can attest through other Feelfree forums and myself that Feelfree has one of the best customer service in the market. Coming from a manufacturer that has a core focus in customer care, Feelfree has demonstrated their dedication to ensuring all customers are taken care of. For a business that creates products for customers to refrain from technology, Feelfree has really embraced all platforms of telecommunication to actively engage with its consumer. I have contacted Feelfree on multiple occasions via emails and phone calls and their response time has always been within reasonable time. Emails have been within 24 work hours and phone calls [during their work hours] are usually immediate. Feelfree has built great trust with their consumers and will do what they can to get their customers back on the water so that they can “feel free.”

WHEEL IN THE KEEL. Feelfree’s patented Wheel in the Keel is one of the most unique feature that sets itself apart from other competitors. The wheel has made dragging kayaks to and from the water many times easier, and less scratches to the kayak’s keel. I have tried using kayak carts for my Feelfree kayaks, but none is as convenient as the built-in wheel. One primal reason why I purchased a Feelfree kayak was because of the Wheel in the Keel. This innovative feature has made portability simpler and quicker.

I am eager to see what awaits me in 2020. Subscribe to this blog to read future articles. Connect through my social media links @cxfishing to see regular activities of my fishing activity come this season! And don’t forget to check out Feelfree’s online store for limited-time discounts and sales on kayaks, accessories, storage, and merchandise! If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to reach out to me. Have a great season!

Building My First Kayak Trailer

Before continuing, I’d like to thank Tyler Thiede of Small Craft Outfitters and Small Craft Fisherman for his help and assistance with transforming the utility trailer to a kayak trailer. Much, much appreciated.

Prior to purchasing a trailer, I spent hours researching various trailers’ sizes, weight, material, and brand to see the best fit for me. I was looking for a trailer that could transport at least two kayaks. There were a ton in the market, new and used. However, the prices of new trailers exceeded my budget; and the used trailers did not meet my expectations. Upon my search for a trailer, I spoke with Tyler and he steered me towards the Harbor Freight 1090 lbs. Capacity 40-1/2 in x 48 in Utility Trailer, which was at a discount at the time of purchase for about $260. I spent a good amount of time reading reviews for this trailer, both positive and negative feedback, and contemplated on purchase. Based on Tyler’s recommendation, I made the purchase for that trailer; it did come disassembled so I spent a good week assembling the utility trailer. Looking back now, I was glad to have assembled this trailer to better understand the ins and outs of it in case any issue arises. If you have the time and capacity to assemble your own trailer, I would recommend it!

The trailer jack was purchased separately knowing I’d be physically moving the trailer in and out of my garage. The U-bolt spare tire carrier and spare tire were also purchased separately as well. Also, based on Tyler’s recommendation and past experience, the Bearing Buddy was also purchased for continuous grease application onto wheel bearing.

Upon completion of assembling and wiring the utility trailer, it was time to transform it into a kayak trailer. I only had one minor issue which might have occurred during assembling, but one of the side markers went out. Not a big issue as it was easily troubleshooted. I have no experience with building a trailer, so I reached out to Tyler for the help. Below are a list of supplies used to construct the kayak trailer:

I used this trailer throughout the 2019 season and had minimmal issues. I have driven on rough roads and gravels and there are the occasional bump from lesser weight, but nothing dramatic. On highways, I was able to go at a constant 70 mph for 200 miles (longest travel so far on trailer). Overall, I have put in a near 2,500 miles on the trailer in 2019. This purchase that I made was a great addition to my kayak fishing voyage. I will continue to use this trailer throughout 2020 as I do more traveling in state.

✔ Kayak Fishing Checklist ✔

Those who knows me knows that I’m very forgetful. Don’t be bothered if I ask for your name again the second time (or the third time, or fourth). I’ve forgotten paddles, life jackets, fishing poles, and much more; all things that forces me to return back home and contemplate returning or relocating to lakes/rivers closer to home. Because of this very reason, I’ve created a checklist to do the night before so I don’t rush myself the next morning before heading out. Since using this checklist, I’ve saved so much gas! All kidding aside, I would much rather be overprepared for a kayak fishing trip than underprepared.

Below is a simple list of gears and supplies I prepare the night before for my fishing trips. Most of my kayak fishing trips are 6+ hours long and I’ve been on enough trips to know exactly what’s needed based on water location, water condition, water terrain, weather condition, and time. It may seem like I’m being too excessive with my list, but these supplies fall under three categories that I keep in mind when packing: (1) recreational, (2) internal safety (safety of myself), and (3) external safety (safety of others).

––FOR THE KAYAK      ––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Paddle w/ leash
Life jacket w/ whistle in pocket
GoPro w/ cable charger
2x external charging bank
2x 64 gb micro sd
Crate bag (lures, fish grip, scale, first aid, license)
Ketch board
Dry bag
Towline (store in hull)
Kayak cart (C-tug)
––FOR MYSELF      ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Spare clothes (store in hull)
Face mask
Eyeglass clip-on cord
Sun screen
Bug spray
Toilet paper

After viewing my kayak fishing checklist, what do you normally pack on your paddle craft fishing trip? I’d love to read about it! Comment below.

Why I Wear A Life Jacket…

NOTE: I’m sharing my thoughts on life jackets with the kayak fishing/kayaking community. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment below this article!

The subject on life jackets and whether small craft anglers should wear it or not becomes a very sensitive topic in the kayak fishing/kayaking community. It’s not ignorance that refrains an angler from wearing their life jacket nor is it lack of experience that encourages an angler to wear their life jacket; it’s a matter of choice. In most states, it’s legal to not wear your life jacket, as long as it’s in your vessel and in a reachable distance in case of capsize/emergency. Of course, there are anglers who promote and advocate for kayak safety by encouraging others to wear their life jackets; but that’s all it is: encouragement. Nothing is being forced onto anyone as long as it’s within legal regulation.

I wear a life jacket not because I’m an inexperienced swimmer or fear capsizing. I can swim just fine and I know how to re-enter my kayak if I ever do capsize. I even have a kayak re-entering video for proof! Click Here. There are many reasons why I wear a life jacket, but here’s a few…

…Because anything can happen. The water is unpredictable and proactiveness is key in preventing accidents. Modern technology is great when it comes to predicting weather forecast the next day or even the next week, but there’s a reason why water forecast is not a thing… I’ve seen and have helped rescue groups from river floats on beautiful days. No matter how great of a swimmer you are, you cannot outswim a river current, also adding the factor that river sweepers, rocks, and fallen trees below the water surface can easily entrap an arm or leg. Wearing your life jacket will not change the water condition, but it will make you visible to rescuers if anything was to go wrong.

…Because life jacket floats and I don’t. I’ve heard excuses from larger individuals claiming PFDs will not work properly due to their physique. That is why there are so many life jackets in the watercraft business! If you haven’t purchased a life jacket beyond a Type II life jacket, then you may want to do more research. And if you don’t know what a Type II life jacket is, then definitely do research! There are tons of articles and sites sharing knowledge and information about what PFD to wear (I may potentially write one in the future). There is a life jacket for you; it’s a matter of going that extra mile to find it. Life jacket’s purpose is to make the wearer stay afloat. Eventually, a body will stay afloat, after they’ve drowned… If you are ever unsure if your life jacket will support you, test it out at the beach or pool.

…Because it reinforces positive PFD wear rate. Take the time to view the following article by the JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. on the life jacket wear rate from 1999-2017 and analyze the trend of paddle craft PFD wear rate: http://uscgboating.org/library/national-live-jacket-wear-study/2017-Life-Jacket-Wear-Rate-Observation-Study-Report.pdf. I have also attached two tables from the article below this paragraph. It’s interesting to see the differences between adult PFD wear rate versus youth PFD wear rate. It’s clear that youth are wearing PFD more than adults, but does the title “Adult” push individuals away from wearing life jackets? If you’ve read the article, you’ll see that within Figure G under the kayak section, the wear rate is actually lower than what’s shown below (which is the average for all paddle craft); same goes to canoers. Youth PFD wear rate has increased in the past six years, but why have adults’ PFD wear rate still relatively the same since 1999? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this…

…Because I may save a life. If wearing my life jacket encourages others to wear theirs as well, I will continue to do so. All the photos and videos that I post on social media will show me wearing a life jacket on the water (if you do see a photo of me without one on, scold me!). I’d like to model positive life jacket wear and the best way to influence action is if I do so. I’m not calling myself an influencer, but an advocate for life jacket wear. I would hate to hear a victim of drowning on a paddle craft say, “I did not wear my life jacket because so-and-so didn’t wear theirs either.” I’ve been kayaking for six years [and counting] and have capsized on my kayak; I know the struggle of re-entering a kayak while simultaneously trying to gather all my personal belonging; it never goes as planned, because you never plan to capsize in the first place. Now, add to that struggle trying to reach for your life jacket in your kayak as you try to shuffle all your personal belonging on and below the water surface. Your life should always be your top priority; wearing your life jacket will reduce that negative mindset because you’ll know that you’ll stay afloat. Others need to see that as well; that wearing a life jacket can reduce the foreshadowing of capsizing.

Just know there’s no harm in wearing your life jacket. Wear it like a clothing attire. If it’s uncomfortable, purchase a more comfortable one. I wear mine so often (every time I’m out) that it’s now part of my kayak fishing routine. If I don’t wear it, I don’t venture out onto the waterways.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on life jackets. Do you usually wear yours? Vote below!

Additional reads: