I was always looking for ways to improve fishing from the packraft, but never had the time to think critically about how to fix the problem. While I was out on the Olympic Peninsula scouting a river to fish and taking a friend for his first ever packraft trip, a small slip turned the trip into a cold, wet and bloody survival trip that finally slowed me down for two months. I was finally able to properly think about how to fix my packraft fishing problems.
It was Alex's first time backpacking and packrafting and he wanted to go on a trip to learn the basics. We had hiked four miles into a river valley in the Olympic Rainforest and made camp. From our tent we hike a little over a mile up the river to some better rapids. We had a great afternoon hiking and learning the basics of packrafting. We packed everything up and were hiking back to our camp for the night, when Alex slipped on a mossy rock and fell in to the river waist deep. I reached down to help him out and he slipped again, this time falling neck deep in the freezing cold glacial river, as the sun was setting. We were loosing light fast and immediately started to rush back to camp to warm Alex up. It was just about dark now and we came up to a big fallen tree. Alex boosted me up on top and could not clearly see what was underneath of me. In a hurry, I jumped off on to a broken piece of cedar that went through my packrafting shoes and deep into my foot. As I lay there on the ground, I looked up to a shivering Alex. We nearly sprinted the last half mile to camp and began to recover. Alex immediately got warm and I assessed the situation on my foot. I picked as much debris out as I could and scrubbed it hard. It was now nearly 11pm. I bandaged it up and finally had to go to bed. I barely slept at all that night. The pain just kept getting worse with deep throbbing. When light finally came, I quickly learned I could not put any weight or pressure on my right foot. I couldn't even stand. I knew it was a rough, steep four-mile hike back to the car, but I had no option but to do it. I crawled into the woods and crafted two crutches. My shoe had a hole in it, was filled with blood and debris, and I needed more stability, so I had to put Alex's boot on. It was still soaking wet from his swim in the river last night. I put on my pack and started crutching up and out of the side of the rainforest river valley. It was a long hike back to the car, and a four drive back to Seattle. I filmed some of the trip with my go-pro and the video is below.
We finally got back to Seattle and went to the hospital. My suspicion was confirmed and the wound had become infected. They cleaned the wound out really good, but I couldn't give me stitches because it had been over 12 hours since the incident. So they sent me home with pain medicine and told me I would just have to wait longer for it to heal. That night the pain continued to get worse and the infection spread. I went back to the hospital and had x-rays done. Turns out there were a few large pieces of cedar that had broken off and were deep in my foot. I had to go into surgery to get those removed and it landed me in the hospital for three days. After that it was into a surgical boot for 2 more months. All that recovery time allowed me to spend a lot of time solving my packraft fishing problem.
I was thinking about how to attach rod holders to the boat and where to put my tackle. That is when I had the idea for the Packraft Table.
As a fisherman, I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I saw a packraft for the first time. My mind instantly started thinking of the places I could fish with this boat. I thought of the high alpine lakes that I could now hike a good boat up to. I thought of all the wilderness trout lakes that don't have boat lanches, all the places I could now hike to and fish, and the small streams and rivers that this boat would allow me to explore and fish. I could finally store a fishing "kayak", the packraft, in my studio apartment that I could take anywhere in the world and fish!
As I started fishing with and from the packraft, I quickly learned that it was not ideal. I couldn't attach rod holders, couldn't use two rods, and couldn't troll. There were a lot of sharp objects flying around an inflatable boat, I had trouble landing the fish, and I couldn't bonk the fish once I finally landed it. These frustrations and limitations are what drove the ideas for the Packraft Table.
Now, with the Packraft Table, I can use multiple rod holders to manage my fishing rods as well as my equipment. I can now access my pliers, flies, and hooks without laying them on the spray deck or in my lap. I can now troll as well, which allows me to use the packraft for so many more fishing opportunities. The combination of the packraft with the Packraft Table opens up a whole new world for fishing!
Author : Jon Dykes
Inventor of the packraft table