As kayak fishing continues to grow in popularity, it's striking to me how many people have neglected one of the most productive and rewarding times to be on the water.
Not only can you go after work, but you will be treated to very little boat traffic, cooler temperatures, and no need for sunscreen!
While paddling to your destination you can experience the stars overhead. When the moon is shining brightly, you will get an opportunity to observe sea life you may have never witnessed before. These could include sharks, stingray, squid and even river otters.
If you fish around the Destin Harbor or on Crab Island, you will be treated to live music and fireworks shows.
However, fishing at night does offer certain challenges.
First, you need to scout possible launching areas and make sure you can legally park your vehicle there during the night. Purchasing the lightest possible kayak will be a great benefit as you may need to carry or pull your kayak to the shore.
Before heading out, visit nws.noaa.gov to determine wind speed and direction. Also, check the local tide tables, particularly around Destin's East Pass, where the tides can become quite strong very quickly.
Once you are in the water, you need to make sure others can see you. I have reflective decals placed along the sides of my kayak, a backup LED flashlight, and a hands-free LED light clipped to an orange ball cap for an extra measure of safety.
One of the biggest hazards when paddling at night is losing your bearings. Don't make the mistake of relying on moonlight to help you see your way home. Instead, always locate two to three points for reference. Using these reference points will help you determine position, distance from shore, and how quickly you are drifting.
As always, make sure someone knows where you will be fishing, how long you plan to stay out, and where you are parking your vehicle.
Once you've started casting your line, be aware that you are not the only one looking for a meal. It is prudent to assume bull sharks are prowling nearby. When reeling in your line, stop several feet short of your boat and lift your bait up and into the kayak.
When landing a fish, never reach into the water! Instead, use a fish gripper or short hand gaff if you intend to keep the fish.
Not only does casting around docks or near disturbances on the surface greatly increase your casting accuracy, it also makes you more aware of your surroundings, which are skills you can employ any time and anywhere you choose to fish.
David Boggs is a lifelong Northwest Florida resident. He works in children's ministry at Crosspoint Church on PJ Adams Parkway in Crestview.