Kayaking in Michigan

Updated on March 2, 2019
Leland Johnson profile image

Leland is a man of many interests including: history, politics, religion, and, lest all study and no play make Lee a dull boy, adventure!

Kayaking, the new Jogging

The '70s and '80s popularized jogging and rollerblading, while the '90s and 2,000s saw health club memberships burpee their way through the fitness roof. Nowadays, especially in Michigan, you can hardly get on the road without seeing a kayak, or kayaks, strapped to the roof of an SUV or being towed behind a camper. For a reasonable investment, kayaking can take you places you've never dreamed of.

Great Activity for Couples

This is me and my lovely wife, Sondra.  We spent many hours on rivers and lakes this summer after the purchase of 3 kayaks.
This is me and my lovely wife, Sondra. We spent many hours on rivers and lakes this summer after the purchase of 3 kayaks.

My wife and I both turned 50 this year and we were looking for something recreational we could do together. Our joints have had about all the abuse we care to inflict on them so running didn't appeal. We have a gym membership, but we often find ourselves working out on separate ends of the workout room. Then a friend offered to sell me a kayak. I took him up on the offer. I liked it so much I convinced Sondra, which wasn't too hard, to buy two more so we could take the kids along too.

I had to buy a rack to attach to the top of our Dodge Nitro, and that was a bit of a challenge, but I got the hang of it after about a week and was soon able to load the "yaks" by myself. However, it is MUCH easier if you have a second set of hands for the task. Kayaks don't tend to be especially heavy, but they are difficult to balance over your head and can be awkward when hoisting onto the roof of your vehicle.

Use Ratcheted Tie-Down Straps to Secure Your Kayak

Note the step ladder I'm using.  This makes securing your kayak so much easier!  It's a fold-up stepper and I keep it in the back of my vehicle.
Note the step ladder I'm using. This makes securing your kayak so much easier! It's a fold-up stepper and I keep it in the back of my vehicle.
Tightly secured, the kayaks should not rattle or move freely beneath the tie-down straps.
Tightly secured, the kayaks should not rattle or move freely beneath the tie-down straps.

The last thing you need is for one, or both, of your kayaks flying off your roof and into the road. Properly securing your kayak can take up to 10 minutes, but once you get the hang of it you should be able to complete this task in less than 5. If you have help you can get two loaded in 5 minutes.

One of the kayaks I purchased, a Sun Dolphin Excursion, had a detachable compartment for bait or other supplies. I didn't have it secured in its recess and now it is somewhere between Tawas and Bay City Michigan. Suffice it to say, make sure anything that needs to be secured is secured.

We purchased two of our three kayaks at Frank's Great Outdoors in Linwood, Michigan. Frank's features a testing pool where you can to "test-drive" a kayak or canoe you are considering for purchase. The staff there is very helpful and knowledgeable. One of the young men that work in the water craft section of the store came out with me, and tied down the kayaks while teaching me how to do it myself.

Sun Dolphin Excursion Fishing Kayak

Kayaking Down a Sand Dune

My Kind of Kayak

I have the Sun Dolphin Excursion and I would definitely recommend it. It features a storage container, padded seat, and rotating rod holster as well as two rod holders behind the seat. These are a bit difficult to reach, but would be easy if fishing with a companion as the second person could easily retrieve them from that position. The only draw back for me is that the steering is very sensitive on this craft. One stroke to the right or left and you are turning instantly.

This is the Sun Dolphin Excursion Fishing Kayak

Cool Features of the Sun Dolphin Excursion

You'll note the rod-holster there on the front/left side of the kayak. It works very well allowing me to paddle from point to point without getting tangled in my paddle. What do we do with the paddle when we're fishing? See that black bungie on the kayak, just below the swaying bass? That is a paddle bungie that holds your paddle for you. Simply latch it in place and fish away!

The orange container just behind the rod-holster is a water canister tightly contained with cross-thread bungies and a shallow recess. It works great!

Bass Fishing on Foot Dam in Oscoda Michigan

I threw this little guy back to grow some more.  I'll try to catch him again next year.
I threw this little guy back to grow some more. I'll try to catch him again next year.

Recreation in Oscoda, Michigan: 5 Dams

Oscoda Michigan is simply some of the most beautiful country in our country, and yes, I mean in the whole USA. Endless miles of shoreline offer beach retreats, boating, fishing, kayaking, the works.

For our purposes in writing this article, I have to recommend Oscoda particularly for its access to the Au Sable river and subsequent dams. This system of dams contains some of the best fishing in the state of Michigan: steelhead, salmon, perch, walleye, blue gill, pike, bass, and a host of other mouth-watering fresh water whoppers.


Oscoda, Michigan

Additional Information for Michigan Kayaking

Below is a link to an article containing even more beautiful locations in Michigan that are a must for kayakers, or "yackers" as the saying goes. There is a lifetime worth of waterways and secret beaches to discover. I truly hope you'll come visit us here in the Great Lakes state. You'll be so glad you did, and I'm betting you'll become a life-long patron of the area. Nice people, great food, beautiful sites, and so much more will keep you coming back again and again.

Kayaking Safety

1. Kayak with a friend

2. Carry a whistle

3. Always wear a life-jacket

4. Be sure your kayak is appropriate for where you're going. That is, don't take a kayak out onto a big body of water. Getting caught in a storm or even just running into big waves could be deadly.

5. Practice getting in and out of your kayak in a safe place with a friend. It's harder than you might think.

Kayaking

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Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Leland Johnson

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      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        I would love to do that! I guess I'd just have to keep an eye out for Nessie :)

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 months ago from UK

        My nephew has kayaked in Scotland in the winter. It gets very cold up there.

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Hi Liz- another really cool aspect of kayaking is that it can be done in the winter so long as you're wearing the right gear. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 months ago from UK

        Only a few days ago I was talking about kayaking with a friend. She had injured her shoulder helping to haul a large kayak onto their car roof a few years ago, but prior to that they had made good use of their kayak especially with family. I have noted more friends taking up kayaking in recent years.

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Hi MsDora- You're right, it's so important to find things to do that both enjoy. Thank you for affirming that. I wanted to let you know I read one of your hubs about turning 70 and even read the sermon you included. I meant to comment, but I was thinking so much about what you said I forgot to! I'll get back to it. Thank you again my friend, and God bless you.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Leland, thanks for sharing. You do make kayaking sound interesting, but I like your story for more than that. I'm impressed that you and your wife are doing this together. Seems like an ideal activity for a couple at 50 who love life. Best to you two, in kayaking and in everything else!

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Wow! Your daughter is well advanced beyond my skill level! We love it. It's something we can do as a family and none of us get too worn out doing. Although there was one occasion when we started paddling with what we thought was a gentle current. We turned around after about a mile to discover it was faster than we thought and had a tough time paddling back to our vehicle. Lesson learned- the hard way! Thanks Flourish.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 months ago from USA

        This looks like a fun activity. My husband is a very active person although I am less so with my health problems (but I do try to keep up.) He and my daughter have been kayaking and my daughter has taken a camp course on it and been certified. She knows how to do the rollovers— definitely not my thing!

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