There is nothing a grizzled old riverman like me hates to see more than a caravan of brightly colored kayaks, forging down through a hole of water in the summer, whipping the water to a froth with those windmill paddles they use. In a shady spot where the current slows and you’ve caught a good smallmouth or two already it is quiet and peaceful. And then here they come, as fast as they can go, as noisy as they can get, and as completely out of place on that river as a white farm rooster in the Rocky Mountains!
So who woulda thought that just the other day a friend and I both floated down the river in a kayak? It’s easier to imagine John Wayne riding a Shetland pony, or Clint Eastwood on a donkey! Well we done it, Rich Abdoler and I, and by golly it wasn’t so bad. But there’s more to this story. First of all, we weren’t flapping down the stream zig-zagging in a red or yellow kayak with our knees up around our ears. If you are on an Ozark stream in something that is bright red or yellow, you are greener than a July cucumber. Grizzled old outdoorsmen try to blend in and fit in and go quietly down sacred waters where our ancestors slipped along in wooden johnboats, as part of the river rather than a gaudy intruder.
I learned a great deal that day. The little Nucanoe I was in floats high, and slides over the gravel bars and rocks in very low shoals without making much noise. I didn’t use those windmill paddles most kayakers use. I learned long ago how to paddle any boat from one side, and I just used my sassafras paddle to slip quietly down the river. I fished a buzz-bait, and the little craft held its course, and responded to the slightest and easiest dip of the paddle. It would turn so quickly and completely that I could get in a fast shoal and maneuver around rocks with ease, something a longer boat or canoe wouldn’t do. Gone was the grating sound of aluminum against rock.
The bottom of the Nucanoe was pliable enough to slide over the rocks, and tough enough to take the abuse. The river didn’t have much water, but when we came to some deep holes, there were bass eager to take the buzz-bait off the surface. I caught and released several, and I thought to myself that there will be times when I only have a couple of hours to fish, that the little outdoorsman’s kayak would be so easy to load and take to a small pond, a short stretch of river or even a remote area of one of our Ozark lakes. It weighs only 50 pounds. Seats in it are adjustable, and most people who use kayaks paddle them from the center, as Rich did his.
Page 2 of 2 - It is obvious that the little Nucanoe I used the other day won’t do everything that grizzled old outdoorsmen like Rich and I want to do. I will still use my 19-foot Grumman canoe, and my 16-foot johnboat on the rivers often, especially when I am taking one or two fishermen. But what I have now is something that gives some additional dimensions. I will indeed be great for duck hunting.
You can see photos of the kayaks on the trip we took on my website, www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.