Whether you're fishing a tournament or just spending a day paddling your kayak, one way to ensure you have an enjoyable time is to make sure you are well prepared for the day ahead. This means having all the supplies you may need for the day. You should perform a pre-launch check to make sure you have the below list of required and recommended items with you before you shove off from shore!
Required Safety Items:
According to the US Coast Guard there are three required safety items to have in your kayak. These items are a USCG Type I,II, or III Personal Flotation Device (PFD or Life-vest), an auditory signalling device (horn or whistle), and a visual signalling device (flashlight or lantern) which can be visible for as least 2 nautical miles. Other safety items you may consider are a signalling flag, a marine radio, and a Type IV (throw-able) PFD.
Sun Protection: It's easy to forget about sun protection, especially on those days you may be launching in the dark or on those cloudy days, but sun protection is important every time you're on the water. Make sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, gloves, and other sun protective clothing.
Layers: In those spring and fall months there can be huge swings in temperature from the morning, to the midday, to the evening. Make sure to have different layers for both the cold and warm times.
Bug Spray: The only thing you want biting when you're in your boat are the fish. A quality bug spray will make sure you don't spend the next few days itching.
Food & Water: Paddling a boat is a workout, and you can quickly become dehydrated. Pack water and sports drinks to stay hydrated. Packing some snacks like granola bars, nuts, cookies, or a sandwich is also a great way to keep yourself fueled and going strong.
Rain Gear: If the forecast calls for a chance of rain, you can guarantee it will rain where you are. A light poncho or stowable rain jacket is a handy item to keep yourself dry when that quick shower pops up.
Dry Bags: Lets face it, you're in a boat so things are going to get wet. But some items like your wallet or cell phone need to stay dry. Zip top bags or dry storage bags are great at keeping those important things out of the water.
First Aid Kit: Hope you never need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you have one.
Key Chain Float: The truck is locked and your keys are at the bottom of the lake. A simple float can keep that nightmare from happening.
Toilet Paper: Because when you gotta go, you gotta go! Most launches have Porta-Potties, but most Porta-Potties seem to be lacking in toilet paper.
That's just a short list of things to bring. There are so many beautiful moments you'll experience out on the water. So lastly make sure to bring a camera and take a moment to record some of it so you can look back and remember all your great times spent in your boat.