by Team NuCanoe member Kevin McCullough
I recently got back from a trip to Gulf Shores, AL with my family. I had planned on showing all the pictures of fish I caught but since that didn’t happen I figured I’d offer some advice I came up with on taking you NuCanoe with you on family trips. My wife, two girls, and I try and make it to the beach once a year. If I am going to the beach I am taking my NuCanoe. Below are 10 things I’ve learn from multiple trip to the beach with my family.
1. Plan out what accessories you need versus what accessories want to bring. One of the great things about NuCanoe is all of the ways to rig your kayak. Make sure to account for how much room the accessories will take up. My first year taking my NuCanoe Frontier down to Destin FL I packed just about every accessory I had just in case. What I learned was I didn’t need a lot of them and the more stuff you pack the more room you take up which is less room for your family’s stuff. Also the more you bring the more you have to keep up with.
2. Make a fishing equipment checklist. This will help make sure you don’t forget to pack anything you may need. It also helps to make sure you get everything you need for the next day. I learned pretty quick that my wife did not appreciate me stumbling around in the dark getting ready while she and the girls tried to sleep. Having a checklist make sure I can have exactly what I need for the next day ready without waking them up.
3. Make sure and pre check any overnight hotel stays before booking. This year we decided last minute to leave the night before our condo check in to break the trip up. We booked a hotel while driving down. When we showed up I realized parking was in a parking garage. This required me to take my trailer and hand walk it to a parking space. This didn’t go over to well with the hotel or the family.
4. Plan on moving equipment to and from the kayak during stops. My routine on overnight stops on the way to vacation is to get to the hotel and unpack the family for the night and then take everything off my kayak. The space that held out luggage is where I put my accessories. This also requires me to get up earlier before leaving the next morning to rig my kayak to make room for family luggage. 4A- Take rigging time into account when giving a time it will take you to fish. My wife normally wants to know when I’ll be back from fishing so we can plan the rest of the day. I didn’t take into account the time to take everything off my kayak and was late the first day. I started off my trip in the dog house.
5. Verify condo/hotel allows trailers before going. Every year I’ve been down I’ve had to keep my kayak and trailer outside of the parking area. What this normally means is I’ll have to park them in a different area away from normal parking. This year we show up to the condo, which we’ve stayed in before, to find out they do not allow trailers anywhere on the property. The condo owner never told us no trailers and I didn’t ask since it was allowed the past trip. I ended up having to pay $23 a day to store it at a marina.
6. Take screen captures of the fish size limits and a screen capture of your license if you buy it online. I found it hard to remember all of the different fish and size limits. A quick look at the picture helped and just in case you don’t have cell service you can still sees it. Same with the license if you get checked.
7. Have a plan, a backup plan, and backup to the backup plan. Before my trip I had it all planned out. I was inshore fishing one day, hitting the Gulf another day, going out with a guide on Saturday. Well the wind and tide would have been perfect for the Gulf the day I was going inshore, the wind switched on my Gulf day and I ended up inshore fishing, I showed up Saturday to fish with a guide and his broke was messed up. I fished from my kayak 5 days and it never went the way I had planned before heading out on the trip.
8. Make sure to give a float plan to someone in case they need to find you. I printed out maps with launch points and areas I planned on fishing each day. I checked in with my wife during my fishing trip. I always called when I got off the water.
9. Make sure and have all required safety equipment with you. This is very important and is also the law. I’ve never been checked for safety equipment but it wouldn’t matter if I was because I always have it with me.
10. Take what you’ll need to clean and store any fish you keep. Cleaning your catch is so much easier with the correct equipment. I have cleaned redfish in the condo sink with a steak knife. I butchered the fish and my wife wasn’t too happy with the smell. I learned after that trip to take my own knives and a storage bag for my fish while on the water. Half gallon or gallon zip lock bags help also.
Hopefully some of this advice will help someone not make the mistakes I have made. Next time hopefully I can how I caught fish but until then I’ll be daydreaming of my next Gulf adventure.