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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Ok today I just launched www.packrafttable.com. I am really excited to get the site launched. This blog will be about the behind the scenes of The Packraft Table, ideas, as well as blog posts about fishing excusions with The Packraft Table.
This February we are taking the boats and tables down to the islands in the sea of cortez for sailing, hiking, and fishing. Stay tuned!!!
Author : Jon Dykes
Inventor of the packraft table