Kayak fishing in fog calls for complete awareness

Kayak fishing in the fog calls for complete sensory awareness to overcome the lack of visibilty. Photo Jeff Little
Kayak fishing in the fog calls for complete sensory awareness to overcome the lack of visibilty. Photo Jeff Little

Foggy Morning on the River

By Jeff Little

On the drive to the river, many of the vehicles I was on the road with put on their flashers. The fog in the low valley caused me to apply gentle pressure to my brakes as well. Once on the water, I hugged the shoreline as long as I could before striking out into the open water I needed to in order to get to my intended destination. With a quarter of a mile to go, I heard the distinct whine of a jet boat's engine heading upstream in my direction.

I could hear the boat, but knew that with the visibility less than about 40 feet, that they couldn't see me until it would be too late. I abandoned my straight path to my destination and paddled furiously upstream toward a nearby set of ledge rocks and accompanying rapid. The sound of the motor drew closer and I paddled harder.

The sight of a chunk of rock jutting up from the river was a relief. I assumed that anyone operating a motor boat at that speed was at least familiar enough to know their distances of open water in that winter pool. My assumption was correct.

Look for the protection of known structure when you hear approaching boats. Photo Jeff Little
Look for the protection of known structure when you hear approaching boats. Photo Jeff Little

I propped up my heel on the base of the rock to hold my kayak in place. Within a minute I heard two anglers discussing water temperature at close range, then heard the distinct clank of a trolling motor being unclipped and lowered into the water.

The next sound I heard was a tube landing within 20 feet of my kayak. The man standing on the bow of the boat gasped as soon as his eyes became trained on my 14 foot long orange kayak. "Woah, sorry man – didn't see you there!" he apologized. I nodded, reeled in my line, gave a nod and a polite wave and moved on.

There are things we can do to minimize the chance of being run over by a power boat in near zero visibility fog. But even the bright light on my YakAttack VisiPole wasn't enough for that angler to see me before making an errant cast directly at me. I don't blame him for the intrusion and potential fatal collision if he had arrived a minute or two sooner. But the next time I fish on a morning that foggy, I may just hug the shoreline before it clears.