The fishing world is stunned after a tragic accident that occurred on Lake Okeechobee on January 3rd, 2018. Friends, family, and the fishing industry mourn over the recent loss of Nik Kayler. Nik was reported missing on January 4th, 2018, the day following the first day of competition in the FLW Costa Series tournament. Fellow anglers, tournament contestants, FWC, and other government agencies searched for days trying to find Kayler. Both the boater and co-angler ended up in the water because of inclement weather. Nik Kayler was the co-angler. Both Nik and his boater were wearing life preservers during the incident.
In general, there are two types of personal flotation devices or PFDs used in today’s fishing industry. However, there are many versions of the two. There are many positives and negatives to both types of PFDs and also many different things you can do to help insure your safety while out on the water. One rule of thumb to consider when going out on any body of water is if the body of water has “Lake” in its name, it’s no joke.
The first type of PFD that is offered in today’s industry is the one that most of us know, the traditional life jacket. Let’s start with the positives regarding the traditional life jacket. For one, compared to inflatable life jackets, no matter the circumstances as long as you have chosen the correct jacket for your weight you will float. There is no need to pull any strings or worry about any maintenance when it comes to the non-inflatable life jacket. Now there are some rules that you must follow when choosing either of the two life jackets. The biggest thing to remember is you must purchase a life jacket that supports your weight. One big thing to take into consideration is the fact that while out on the water you will be fully dressed and possibly in winter attire. This means that you must take the extra weight from your clothing into consideration. One negative to non-inflatable life jackets are that they are quite bulky and hard to store when not being used. They also don’t give you the mobility to move around and provide little to no ventilation.
Moving on to inflatable PFDs, there are two types. The type V inflates when water is detected. Type III requires that you have to manually pull a string for it to inflate. Again, we will start with the positives. Inflatable PFDs are are very light weight and allow you to move freely even when fishing. They allow you to have more ventilation and are very easy to store when not being used. Depending on the type of inflatable PFD, some negatives apply. With a type III, you will have to pull a string or self-inflate the PFD if you do find yourself in the water. With a type V, the PFD has the potential inflate if it takes on too much water in the rain or from over spray while running in rough conditions. Inflatable PFDs must also be periodically checked and maintained to insure that they will work properly. Additionally, once the life jacket has been deployed and inflated you must buy a new Co2 cartridge and install it.
Another option when it comes to thinking about safety is a PLB or Personal Locator Beacon that can be attached to your PFD. These devices can make a huge difference, especially when you are overboard for a long period of time. When activated, a PLB will send your location via satellite to authorities and give you the best chance at being rescued. There are many times when our freshwater vessels experience rough conditions similar to those found offshore with saltwater fishing. The safety equipment you choose could very well end up saving your life or someone else’s and is no place cut back on cost.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Kayler family and friends. We are deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident.
Capt. Neal Stark
Fishing with America’s Finest, Inc.
“Changing Lives One Cast at a Time.”
501(C)(3) Non-Profit Organization, FEIN #45-5494005
American Everglades Guide, Inc.