It was a few hours after sunset. The tide was coming in to the marshes lining the Intracoastal Waterway. Several boats were already floating the various channels with lights beaming.
There was also one kayak.
Standing on the platform of the sit-on-top, pushing forward with a long bamboo pole with a trident fork offering the base, I was looking for one particular fish. It took me several trips to learn to spot them with accuracy. After all, the brown skin with different sized white spots blended in well with the sandy bottom below the water’s surface.
Flounder remain as one of North Carolina’s favorite coastal fish species for anglers. The manner in which the tasty flat fish are taken are also abundant including gigging.
Flounder gigging has a dedicated following throughout the Southeast and North Carolina. There have been a number of products introduced specifically for the method. Submergible lighting systems ranging from $50 for a basic 100 watt bulb screwed into a base with a glass housing and a feeder wire to hook to a battery all the way to several hundred for LED bars which can change colors to penetrate whatever clarity of water exists.
I had a simple setup with a single bulb that I was able to mount to the side of the kayak.
As the tide begins to rise, the flounder find their way back into the channels in the marshes and lie in wait for their prey to swim by. They gently embed into the soft muddy bottoms often just leaving their eyes exposed.
It takes a little practice in knowing what to spot.
It is quite common to see boats lighting up the water in the dark of night in search of the affectionately named doormats. Occasionally there may be someone walking amongst the smaller channels between the sea grass with a hand held light and a floating cooler in tow. So I thought, a kayak should be able to navigate these shallows with little trouble as well. I was right.
Basically, in calm waters, a kayak can do anything a bigger boat can do. With a sturdy and stable sit-on-top, it is not too difficult using a gig as a push pole and keep balance. Even when other boats leave their wakes I was able to maintain a standing position with little trouble.
The flounder light is powered by a 12 volt car battery which I keep in the rear of the kayak. I also use strap on headlamp to both help me see and warn boaters of my location.
Standing on the kayak and using the gig to push, I simply focus my attention on the bottom looking for a wallowed out football shape. Of course with flounder, a minimum size limit is enforced so you have to be able to judge how long the fish is.
The kayak tracks well in the channels and performs as well as a skiff guided by a push pole. While wakes can throw your balance, the same is true if standing on the front of a skiff and a large wake comes by.
After successfully harvesting a few and tossing them in the cooler, I tried another means. Plopping down in the water and fastening the kayak to my vest with a paddle leash, I used the kayak as my cooler and battery float. Having used an innertube in the same capacity in the past, the kayak works even better. And it is quicker to paddle out rather than walk out of the marsh.
In other words, a kayak‘s use is only limited to your imagination.