Father and Son Discovery: Kayaks are Great Vehicles for Learning Boat Control


Thomas Allen takes a hands-on approach to parenting, spending every spare minute afield or on the water with his wife and three kids. From turkey hunting in spring to deer hunting in fall to fishing bass the entire year, the Allens buck the trend of solitary, sedentary electronic pastimes.

When it comes to fishing, Allen says he prefers a hands-free experience, letting his 9-year-old son take to the water wearing his PFD and go in his own kayak. He says this forces him to make his own decisions of how to orient the boat in relation to cover and where to cast independent of his dad, who’s usually just a few cast-lengths away in his own rig.

“My son is a budding bass fisherman, and fishing from a kayak has taught him the value of precision boat control and position,” Thomas says. “I can watch him make the right cast after evaluating where he is and how he needs to place a lure on a particular structural element. It’s impressive for a 9-year-old to be that effective, but he’s doing it, whether sitting or standing in the kayak.”

He says their Old Town Predator PDL has been the perfect watercraft for Allen to teach his son the core principles of boat control, further cultivating his son’s growing passion for kayaks and giving him the concepts that will stay with him as he fishes from any vessel.

“Now, when I turn him loose on the bow-mount trolling motor of the bass boat, the same principles apply,” Allen said.

This kayak has the reverse aspect of the Pedal Drive system, which has been absolutely essential to just about every fish he and his son catches. They are able to quickly and effectively slow, stop or back the boat up before drifting over cover, and put more control in their hands.

The hands-free experience the craft provides is awesome for all anglers, regardless of age. Allen’s son has now learned how to approach cover, back off as needed and how to line up his casting angles to get bit.

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Allen encourages families to look into kayak angling not only for the educational benefits, but also for the adventure and sheer fun of it.

“There is no bigger pride as a fanatical angler-father than to watch my son light up every time he catches bass by his own decisions.”

Allen says his son is learning how to catch fish under a myriad of conditions, but being in control of the boat and all the elements teaches him more than he would be capable of.

“Every time we take the kayaks somewhere and we’re on an adventure, a lot of times we’re slipping into waters where you can’t launch of a big boat.”

He says they’ve discovered some unreal bass fishing that’s usually in areas that are impenetrable.

“It’s a blast, and we’re getting some exercise too, which is always a plus.”