Words By Landon Mace
Making the transition from fishing from the dock to fishing to your SUP can be as simple or as complex as you would like to make it. I find myself falling into both categories, generally depending on the amount of time I have to get out on the water or the fish that I aim to target. With dock fishing, you already have a handful of the items needed to get you fishing off of your SUP and with the information below, you can easily make that transition.
First and foremost, safety is paramount. Check with your local state regulations and find out which laws your SUP falls under and which items you will need on your board in order to keep you safe and legal. For example, Florida treats SUP/paddle boards as vessels, therefore requiring each individual on the board to have a flotation device present and a sound-producing device (whistle) on the board. Another item that I like to include in the safety section, is sunscreen and bug spray. These items are absolutely essential to every time you get out on the water.
I often try to practice a minimalist approach to all of my fishing and bring just what I NEED. This also includes a few items for those 'what if' situations, because we all know Mother Nature is unpredictable and so are the fish, so it is nice to be prepared for when those situations arise. For days when I want to get out for a quick trip or want the bare essentials, my items include a paddle, camera, dry bag, fishing rods, tackle/fly box, and that is it. This practice gets me on the water and to the fish quickly.
When I tend to bring more items, these are the days when I know that I am going to be putting in some hours and miles, so that I am able to cover all bases and be better equipped to handle certain fish. The following are items that I will bring with the previously mentioned items for the longer days (which are the more burdensome things to carry or load), including a cooler, stake-out pole or anchor, and fish finder. Like I stated earlier, you can make the process as easy or elaborate as you like.
This is a topic that needs much consideration and also requires you, as an individual, to make sound decisions that will not put your well-being in jeopardy. Use whichever app or means you prefer when checking the overall weather. It is good to look at the future forecasts, just to make sure there is no surprise storm or lightning that may pop up unexpectedly in your area.
The wind is without a doubt a SUP fisherman's best friend or worst enemy. To put it plainly, you essentially turn into a human sail and can easily be at the mercy of a strong wind. I have been in situations where wind gusts have occurred and a 15 minute paddle back to a launch turns into a 60 minute one. There is only one situation that I enjoy having a steady but tolerable wind and that is when I am able to get out and troll for fish in the Gulf of Mexico. It is also a rare case though, when you have a wind that will take you in a direction you want and later change back into the direction that is where you launched from. Outside of that, it is nice to have the low to no wind days where you can enjoy the paddle, as well as fishing much more.
Technology is your best tool in this regard. For wind, a good friend of mine introduced me to the Windfinder app. It does an excellent job of predicting correct wind speeds and the direction that the wind is expected to come out of. With this, you have options to choose the best fishing locations that offer you the most protection from the wind.
Ryan Hambel throwing his cast net. | Photo Courtesy: BOTE Boards
Hopefully this information will help you make a transition from spending time on a dock, to getting out and visiting other areas of water you could be fishing. The information provided is not all inclusive, so please expect to gain much more knowledge as you go and experience the world of SUP fishing on your own!