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!
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.
Author : Jon Dykes
Inventor of the packraft table