Professional kayak angler and Ruffwear Ambassador, Drew Gregory, has been pioneering the sport of kayak fishing for years, often with his dog Lu on board. Drew and Lu are passionate about exploring wild freshwater rivers in search of big fish! Check out Drew’s tips for kayak fishing with your dog – gained from years of sharing the kayak with Lu – and see why he chooses the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat™ to keep Lu safe on the water. Story and photos by Drew Gregory.
I don’t have any kids…yet. However, I can sort of imagine the feeling a parent might get when they take their child fishing with them. It certainly won’t be the easiest fishing trip for the parent; their patience will be tested, their selflessness will be tested and their ability to smile and laugh when the fishing doesn’t go as planned or turns into more of a “lets play in the water” kind of trip. No matter how big the challenge is, the reward must be exponentially worth it when you see your child have a blast in the outdoors.
All of this is how I feel about taking my dog, Lu, fishing with me. She can be a handful and it can certainly affect my fishing, but boy is it worth it when I get to see her have a blast on the water and let out some of her seemingly infinite energy!
People always ask me how in the world did I get my dog to be such a good kayak fishing dog? Well, like any dog (or child) that first 6 months to a year is critical for this. I got Lu when she was 8 weeks old and a couple days after I got her I had her in the water, training her to swim and of course had her on the kayak. The sooner you can get your dog into your kayak with you, the more likely it will be that they will enjoy it and feel comfortable with it, and the water. I would also make sure you get a Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat as soon as possible. This will make sure they are comfortable in the vest and of course that they are safe.
I would also find a kayak that has room for a dog to sit or stand comfortably, and make sure they learn where “their spot” in the kayak is. If they are shaky legged, uncomfortable, and never learn where their spot is, they will never want to be a kayak dog! I have really enjoyed having Lu on the Coosa HD by Jackson Kayak. It has plenty of stability for a dog to join you and even a removable console that allows for more room on the front deck area for a dog.
If you don’t have a dog yet then you may want to consider how big of a breed you are looking to get, if you want them to be a kayaking partner in a solo kayak. Lu is about 35 lbs, but honestly I wouldn’t prefer a dog that is more than about 40 or 45lbs on a solo kayak with me. If you do get one that size or larger, the best option would be a tandem kayak, such as the Jackson Kayak Big Tuna or Kilroy DT.
If you’re an angler, the lure selection while fishing with your dog should be considered. I prefer to fish with single hook lures and fish with less rods on the kayak than I normally would. One thing to keep in mind with lures is that some dogs who love to fetch and chase sticks, frisbees and balls will no doubt also want to chase your lure as it flies from your rod into the water. This will be a challenge! Lu barks at every cast and eagerly watches the lure as it comes back to my kayak. The good news is that I’ve taught her not to jump out of the kayak to chase it!
As challenging as it can be, it is so much fun getting out on the bank or on an island and allowing Lu to just be a dog and swim around and play! Every time I see her out there having a blast I think of how rewarding it is that I brought her with me on the water. Sure, I may not catch as many fish or catch as big of a fish as I could without her, but like your child, it is so much more rewarding getting to share my favorite past time with my pup!
Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat
Having owned several brands of dog flotation devices (DFDs!) before owning a Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat has given me a better perspective on what I love about my dog’s DFD! The Ruffwear Float Coat is a top-notch product because it allows for the best flotation, fit and comfort for dogs of all shapes and sizes. I’ve really enjoyed how easy it is to put onto my dog, and because of that she doesn’t fight it or get bothered by it. It also has a very strong, thick and sturdy handle for hoisting your dog back into a kayak or boat. I have been impressed by the fabric and how much more stain resistant it has been than other brands I’ve owned. It’s also durable for when the dog wants to roll around the ground or rub up against trees to attempt to dry off with it on. The loops on top are perfect, and strong, for attaching them back to your leash when needed. One of the last features I love has got to be the reflective strips that just make the coat look cool and of course provide that extra visibility.
My overall take on this product is that it is simply made much better and is more durable, feature rich with practical features, than other brands I’ve used. This means that I not only get a better DFD, but one that will also last longer which saves me money in the end! I spend enough on my dog as it is so any chance I can get to help someone buy a better product that will last longer and save them money too is an opportunity I gladly want to extend towards others.