While I was living in Colorado, I had the opportunity to hike and fish some great alpine lakes. However, back then I didn't have the packraft and always dreamed of utilizing one to get away from the bank and search "un-touched" lake shores. A common problem with alpine fishing is that it can be hard to get good bank access once you finally reach these lakes. Many times the trail follows a river up to the lake and the outlet can be clogged with big, unstable, logs as well as marshy edges due to snowmelt. Sometimes it can be 10-20 swampy yards to even get to deep enough water to fish. If you are fly fishing, the brushy lake shore can limit your backcast and make for a really frustrating day. The Alpacka packraft and Packraft Fishing Table allows you to get away from marshy edges and log jams, and have a totally liberating alpine fishing experience. Now you can stealthily paddle right up to the shadows and log jams to comfortably fish anywhere.
I love kayak fishing, but high alpine lakes and hard-plastic kayaks don't mix. Carrying a heavy, bulky, plastic fishing kayak up those mountains is not possible. The Alpacka packraft and Packraft Fishing Table allow me to bring my fishing kayak anywhere, including up steep mountains. Even if you have your regular hard-plastic fishing kayak, this portable combo can be your "to-go" or light weight set-up. Great to have in any kayak fisherman's quiver.
This past week I had an opportunity to get away to the mountains for some much needed hiking, packrafting, and fishing. The Cascade mountains in Washington state have tons of alpine lakes to hike and fish. I had marked this chain of alpine lakes on the map and have had it on my to-do list for a while. Only 2 hrs from Seattle, I packed up the Packraft Fishing Table and was off on a quick two day adventure. The 7.5 mile trail up the mountains is steep, but it rewards you by taking you along side waterfalls and numerous lakes en-route to the last and highest lake.
As the trail crested the last mountain, it dropped me off at the last and most beautiful of the lakes. I put the packraft in on a rock ledge and paddled across the lake. I put on a small Dick Nite and started trolling up the opposite lake shore, which was only accessible by boat. As I turned the corner to the back part of the lake, there was a large hidden meadow of wildflowers in bloom, crystal clear waterfalls, and stark white snowfields. It was the start of this lake, the small mountain waterfall, and one of the many starts to the larger river in the valley below. After exploring that, I trolled around the lake some more and tried the chartreuse rooster tail. Still nothing, not even a nibble! The lake was really clear and you could see a long way down. I stopped every now and then to see if I spotted fish, but I never saw anything swim.
After a few other unsuccessful attempts fishing and trying a few fly patterns, I started to paddle back to my camp. As I headed back, the wind died and the mosquitos came to life. The wind blowing earlier in the day meant I wasn't carrying my Cedar Oil and was helplessly paddling back to my supply, getting picked apart on the way. I asked some of the other fisherman up there if they had any action and they didn't catch anything either. I ate my dinner, climbed into my bivy, and enjoyed a beautiful view of the sun setting over the mountains.
While I didn't catch any fish it was still a great trip. I always say that fishing is not catching and that if catching is your sole purpose in the activity of fishing, then you will not be a very happy person. While the packraft made fishing better, it really made the whole trip. There were a lot of people up at the lakes and on the trail hiking. While I am not opposed to seeing people, I do seek solitude in the wilderness. The packraft allows me to paddle my own trail and access areas that others can not get to. It gave me a part of the lake all to myself. Check out the video of the adventure below.
Kristy and I just returned from the 1st annual American Packrafting Association "Packraft Round up" in Montana. We didn't know what to expect from the event but it blew those would be expectations away.
We drove 10 hours over to Montana from Seattle and it was a gorgeous drive. We saw desserts, mountains, lakes, rivers, moose, and deer. All the different climate zones are amazing to drive through.
As soon as we go there, Kristy and I got on the river. We packrafted around the first two bends in the N. Fork of the Flathead river and then hiked back to camp for the evening. It was nice little jaunt and got us even more excited for Saturday.
That night Moe from the American Packrafting Association spoke and kicked off the weekend. It was so cool to see all these packrafters together. People came from all over the world, the Canary Islands, England, and Australia. The people that this event brought together was amazing. One guy biked into the event and another floated down from Canada for 3 days to the campsite. Some of the pioneers of packrafting, whose videos we had all watched a 1,000 times on YouTube, were there. It was such an inspiring and incredible group of people to camp with. That night we were split into groups based on experience and made our packrafting plans for the next day.
The next day our group, the "Aquapaddlefiles", packrafted together down the N. fork of the Flat head river. It was an amazing day on the river with some amazing people. It was great to be able to push ourselves packrafting. We took more difficult lines, practiced self-rescues, and surfed waves. There was no serious consequences on the river and we were surrounded by some of the best packrafters in the world. We all learned so much. Below is a video of the day on the river.
That night John McLain and Matt Brain gave a speech about the beginnings of packrafting in Tasmania Australia and showed some amazing footage of some really cool rivers. As he was preparing for this talk he discovered his old videos and was able to show it to us all. The trips he was doing at 15, in the 80's, were incredible. He is a true pioneer and has some amazing stories to share! Check out some of their material below.
We had to get back early on Sunday and decided to take our time and fish on the drive back. I caught a cut throat trout and kristy caught two bull trout. We didn't get the chance to fish from the river with The Fishing Table, as that was not the main focus of the trip, but we were extremely please to wet our lines and catch some Montana trout.
The sport of packrafting is growing a lot and I am excited to be a part of the growth. It is amazing to see and hear about how people are using these boats for all sorts of things and are taking them to some amazing places. Make sure to join the APA, its free! They are great people and we cant wait until the 2nd Annual APA Round Up!
Summer is here in the Northwest and the weather has been fantastic! I finally had the chance to get back out packraft sailing on the sound and try some new routes.
I started using the Windpaddle Adventure Sail to sail my unrigged explorer Alpacka packraft last year and it has been great thus far. The portability of the packraft/Windpaddle/bicycle combo makes it so versatile. You can bike to any launch point. Blow up the raft. Put your bike on the bow, and set sail. Wherever you land you can roll the packraft up and bike away. Combine that with local bus routes and you can go pretty much anywhere.
The Windpaddle sail clips easily to the bow loops of the packraft and just like the packraft, is extremely portable. It collapses and fits into most backpacks and is easy to stow away when not sailing. The adventure model Windpaddle feels just right for my Alpacka unrigged explored while my girlfriend has the Alpacka Llama and uses the cruiser model. She likes that one, but when we go fast and longer distances, my larger setup can make it hard for her to keep up.
The plan for this trip was to leave from Shoreline, bike to Richmond beach (red), sail the packraft and bike to Golden Gardens beach (blue), then bike back to Shoreline. One big biking packraft sailing loop!
This was my first trip with my new bike and testing the lee boards on bigger water. I learned a lot and will be changing a few things for next time, but overall the trip went great! The mountains were out and the weather was gorgeous.
With perfect 9-11mph NW winds, It took me 2 hours to sail 5 miles. I didn't have to steer that much and the lee boards did help keep me straight and not get blown around as much. I mainly used my paddle and just dipped the blades in order to keep me straight. I used my paddle to stabilize myself on a few larger tidal waves; however, I did not tip and felt stable the entire time.
It was a great afternoon, a solid work out, and an awesome way to see the Puget Sound. It is so much fun to be riding along in such a small boat. It feels like its just you, flying across the water, riding waves, surrounded by mountains and the blissful silence.
Check out the video of the adventure below. As always make sure to subscribe to to the mailing list to stay up-to date on the latest news and receive exclusive discounts on Packraft Table products.
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!
Winter in the northwest can get rainy. Longing for some sun and always wanting to go to the Baja peninsula, we headed for Mexico. We knew it was a world famous kayaking location and wanted to try it with the packrafts. We looked at the maps and found a suitable island, with deep bays, that was perfect for packrafts. I also wanted to test the Packraft Table and the Windpaddle Sail and try fishing and sailing in the Sea of Cortez. We contacted an outfitter who could drop us off on our island, and then we started packing for the trip. We finally got it all down to 2 packs and a small roller bag.
We were staying in town for 2 days to explore the city, experience the culture, and finish packing for the trip. As we were doing that, we both got sick. Kristy got a little stomach bug on the first night and I got wiped out for 24hrs on the second day. We had to postone our island drop off and pick up where we left off, just 1 day behind. We headed to a local grocery store and picked up all the food for our trip. Being in mexico we decided for some tortillas, rice, and beans, as well as some Mountain House favorites.
We headed over to the outfitters 1 day behind, rented white-gas, pfd's, and got ready to head out. We had to re-shuffle our boat ride out there and ended up going with his cousin's tour company. Also that day turned out to be perfect weather that allowed us to circumnavigate the island by boat and swim with the sea lions!
The outfitter pulled out a table and we ended up having a farewell lunch on our beach, before he dropped us off. He gave us some great advice about how to keep away from bugs and avoid snakes in the area. Then he left and it was just us two on this remote beach on a Mexican island in the Sea of Cortez. We hiked around and explored the cactus and got our bearings for where we needed to start packrafting tomorrow. The sun was starting to go down and we set up camp. As the sun started to set we could tell it was going to be beautiful. We scrambled up some rocks and watched one of the most amazing sunsets of my life.
We woke up early the next morning, on Kristy's birthday, and starting packrafting. We started early to take advantage of the calmer seas and avoid the gusty afternoon winds. We loaded all the water on the Packraft Table and it worked great! The surface was also very handy for putting my camera, sunglasses, snacks, as well as a good place to keep the map out to chart us along our path.
It was great paddling and we moved a long faster than we had anticipated. The water was crystal clear and gorgeous to be out on during sunrise. After about 2 hours of paddling we arrived at our next beach we would be camping at.
We set up camp and I immediately wanted to go fishing. I paddled out to the end of the bay; however, the north wind started to gust pretty strong. It was too dangerous to fish in, especially from a packraft. I decided to make the best of it and bust out the Windpaddle sail. It was perfect for sailing.
After that, we decided to hike up and get a lay of the land. We hiked up the side of the canyon and got to peek over the other side into a huge lagoon as well as get a birds eye view of the bay we were camping in.
We hiked back down, ate some great bean and rice tortillas, and fell asleep to an amazing star show. The next morning it was up early again to packraft further down the coast. It was incredible to packraft next to huge pink cliffs that were carved from the relentless sea.
We packrafted further down the rocky coast to the bay we were getting picked up in, the next morning. After 2.5 hours, we arrived at another beautiful white sand beach. We tested out some other packraft prototype products we brought with us and went out snorkeling. We both got in the Alpacka unrigged explorer and paddled out to the reef. We both jumped off and swam around for an hour and then returned to the packraft. We also sailed a little that evening and Kristy was worn out. She decided to head back to camp and I decided to head out fishing for one last evening. I had put my line in and was trolling a Rapala lure, when all of the sudden two dolphins came swimming right at my boat and shot underneath of it. I didnt know what I had just seen, until they surfaced on the other side of me and jumped out of the water. I immediately reeled in my line and started to paddle towards them. Then I see the rest of the pod coming up to me. 15-20 dolphins passed within 40 yards of the front of my packraft. They jumped into the air and did full 180's, showing off and looking for fish. It was an unforgettable moment to encounter them and watch them swim off into the sunset.
Although I was not able to reel in a fish from the Sea of Cortez, I did have an amazing encounter with dolphins. I was happy with that and with the sun just about set, paddled back to camp. We had paddled down to the southern most point of the island and could see the main Baja peninsula. The mountains were majestic. We enjoyed one last sunset in the Sea of Cortez before we would be picked up the next morning.
Turns out, the next morning the gentleman picking us up was told to look for two kayakers, but didnt understand that our "kayaks" fit in our backpacks. We watched him through the binoculars as he missed us and left. We had to flag down a scuba boat to call him back.
We are back from our packrafting adventure in Mexico and had a blast. The Packraft Table performed flawlessly and we couldnt have done the trip with out it. Check out some clips from the trip to see how it is used with loading gear, fishing, and sailing. More to come...stay tuned!
At the end of January Kristy and I are going on a packraft adventure to Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez. We are getting dropped off on the north end of the island and spending 5 days packrafting and hiking to our pick up beach at the south end of the island.
We are also planning to snorkle with the sea lions on the way out. This obviously means a lot of gear. We are bringing almost all of the gear down with us, on the plane, and will buying fuel for our stove when we get there.
My main pack will be the Barney's Pinacle pack. That think can hold a lot, 7800 ci. Everything is going in there. I am bringing the packraft table with me and will be fishing while we are making our way around the coves and inlets. Baja Mexico is a world renowned kayaking, camping, and kayak fishing location. I cant wait to bring the Packraft Table, some Rapala lures, and a breakdown rod and see what happens. The Packraft Table enables the packraft to be your portable kayak fishing set-up. It all fits in a checked bag.
I am also brining the Windpaddle sail to use with the packraft. We are hoping to catch some northly wind and sail some portions if possible.
We are doing the trip un-guided, DIY style, and that means being prepared. We have packed meticulously and planned our routes the best we can. The only thing we can guarantee is it will definitely be an adventure. Our motto for the trip is, "Embrace Spontaneity!" We are bringing the Go-Pro and will be filming as much as we can. Check back for the video!
Author : Jon Dykes
Inventor of the packraft table