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!
This past Sunday, we enjoyed a wonderful evening of trout fishing from our packrafts. We drove 45 minutes outside of Seattle to a local lake that we hadn't been to in 2 years. We launched the packrafts and started trolling with The Packraft Table. We got hung up in the weeds and were forced to switch it up. I put out the anchor and we switched tactics to still fishing with sinker & bait. Within two seconds, I had a fish on. I landed the trout and it ended up 13 in.
We wanted to, and are able t,o keep our catch at this lake so I filleted the trout right there and he was on his way to the smoker.
I re -baited and cast again. About 5 minutes later, fish #2 on! Landed that 11 in. trout.
Now Kristy immediately switched to my tactic.
10 minutes later it was fish on for Kristy.
We both caught one more and headed back to dock. It was a great packraft fishing evening
We are looking forward to smoked trout on our salads and some fish tacos. It was such a relaxing evening and a lot of fun. I can't wait for packraft salmon fishing coming up in 2 weeks!
On July 11-13th, 2014 the American Packrafting Association is hosting the First Annual Packraft Round Up. It is going to be in NW Montana on the edge of Glacier National Park. My girl friend and I are driving to the event and so excited we can't stand it!
I will most definitely be bringing my fishing rods and be packraft fishing on the N. Fork Flathead river. It is known to have some decent cut throat trout and even some bull trout. We will be bringing The Packraft Fishing Tables and can't wait to see if anything is biting.
We are excited for the keynote speakers, sessions on the water, raffle, and especially the Saturday night BBQ! I really believe this event is going to be great for the packrafting community and will help strengthen the bonds of packrafters around the world. I hope that this event will continue to grow the sport of packrafting! I will make sure to update you all with a trip & fishing report.
If you have seen the website and see Kristy or I at the event, make sure to say "Hello"!
Hope to see you there.
Since testing the Packraft Table in Mexico, we have been hard at work making improvements and changes. First of all we have found better material and now the Packraft Table is much lighter, but not loosing any stability. The Packraft Table also now comes in two sizes to better fit all models of the Alapacka packrafts. One specifically for the larger versions, such as the unrigged explorer, and one for the smaller llamas and yaks.
One issue was that the table wanted to fold when using larger rods, so we have added a center lock to ensure the table wont fold when using larger rods and hooking into bigger fish. We have also added two powerful magnets to the surface to allow you to keep you lures and flies in place and better organized. We are now using rod holders better suited for the low sides of the packraft. The rod holders hold any fishing rod at 25 degrees off of the water allowing for better trolling.
We believe these changes and improvements make for a much better fishing experience from the packraft. With fishing seasons opening up all across the U.S. we are excited to get on the water, test the new designs, and bring in some fish. We have been testing diligently and will be launching the newer Packraft Table very soon! Make sure to subscribe to the mailing list to stay up to date and receive exclusive discounts.
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