• Rob Baker

Kayaking habit is good

I've been kayaking around Florida for a few years now. The idea took hold a while back when my family vacationed on Fallen Leaf Lake (south of Lake Tahoe) at the Stanford Sierra Camp. A few months after that trip I bought a couple of kayaks so my daughter and I could go exploring (mine is a convertible tandem, so mom could come too).

I was happy to be back on the water, and this time in a boat facing forward and able to enjoy it. I rowed for a lot of years after college and it became more painful and burdensome than I cared for, so I had to find an alternative. Kayaking is a great on the water escape, with the freedom to go almost anywhere so long as you have the endurance to get there and back.

One of my most frequented kayaking spots is the Butler Chain of Lakes near my home southwest of Orlando. There are a lot of houses around the 15 lakes in the chain, with other areas designated as nature preserves and therefore undeveloped. So far I have fished close to my launch spot (Orange County Sportsman's Association) on Lakes Sheen and Tibet because I didn't want to have a super long kayak before I started casting lures, but I'll expand my range with time.

The video below is Lake Sheen in the winter time with temperatures around 75 degrees. Florida was showing yellows and reds on the national heat map while the entire rest of the USA was blue and white (literally). Good times here in the winter.

I love to kayak in the saltwater estuaries, both on the Atlantic and Gulf sides of Florida. Mangrove tunnels are fun. A typical day includes dolphins, manatees, rays, crabs and other coastal wildlife. Manatees in particular have gotten my attention lately.

Kayaking on the road also gives me a chance to visit places on the water, and gain a unique perspective. In my rowing days every stretch of water was instantly evaluated in terms of rowability. Now I look for a put-out spot. On a summer trip to see my Dad in Virginia, my daughter and I had a chance to paddle around a small part of the Philpott Reservoir near Roanoke. We launched from Bowens Creek. The fish were everywhere in this lake. Next time I'll bring my gear and get a license. Flat water and gorgeous skies!

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