Milwaukee Rudder Woes

     I got so fired up to chase some salmonids after hearing the seminar at Lake Michigan Angler that a buddy and me decided to make a trip to Milwaukee with our kayaks the following the morning.  I got the Slayer loaded in the truck, my rods rigged up, and did some last minute research (YouTube) on trolling for brown trout.  I was so fired up in fact that I could barely sleep.  I woke up the following morning exhausted, but excited to get my chance at putting the new skills I learned to work on the big water.
     I arrived McKinley Marina on that cold morning and quickly set about preparing my kayak.  The air was a warm 27 degrees and I was shivering as I struggled to put on my dry suit.  My buddy soon arrived and got his Hobie unloaded and we went over a quick safety checklist before we left the shoreline.  I was only a few pedal strokes into my morning when I noticed that despite my best efforts I was going sideways.  A couple turns of the rudder handle and I was able to confirm that my steering cable had snapped.  Not a huge deal I told myself as I paddled back to the dock.  I grabbed a screwdriver from my crate and removed the BooneDox rudder.  I figured I would just pedal along and steer by dipping my paddle in the water, no big deal.
     This simple decision to just go out anyway proved to be the wrong one.  For those of you who have never tried to pedal a kayak as big as the Slayer 13 Propel with out a rudder in windy conditions, DON'T.  That was the craziest experience I have ever had in a kayak.  You have no idea how dependent you are on the rudder until it's no longer available.  Basically what happens is something like this; pedal, dip paddle, pedal, dip paddle, slide down seat, readjust, pedal, dip paddle, slide down seat, readjust, pedal, and so on.  I started out laughing, but ended the day swearing.  All this was going on while trying to tend my lines, keep baits from snagging bottom, and doing my damnedest to keep a relatively constant speed.  It was a nightmare until the wind picked up, then it was hell.
     I ended up calling it after just a few hours.  I just couldn't keep it going and the constant readjusting was killing my knee.  My buddy agreed to head in since we weren't marking any fish.  It was a cold and miserable day from the beginning and I was happy to see it end.  As far as the rudder cable was concerned Rutabaga Paddlesports got me back up and pedaling in no time.  Looking back I can honestly say I learned a lesson about going out in a compromised boat, DON'T.  Lake Michigan is a beast and I'm still fired up to get back out there again in my Slayer Propel.  I have a lot to learn about trolling from a kayak before the Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Series Event this September.  This year I'm going to land a fish at that stop on the tour.  I'm also gonna make sure I keep a spare rudder cable in my truck from here on out.
     Tight Lines.

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