Like everyone said in Gulfcoastkayakfishing.com .... you must have your PFD within reach... WEAR your whistle at all times, make sure you have a 360 light if fishing in the dark, and also have your fishing license on you at ALL times... or you could be ticketed if checked. I will also add... if you don't want it... don't tie it down... plain and simple! You can be careful... soooo very careful... and STILL end up in the water. Come to our yak fishing meeting.. TONIGHT... and you will learn all kinds of things. They are held the 4th Thursday of each month.
Get a water proof bag as well. You will always want to take something that needs to be in that bag.
Don't go cheap on the paddle. Pay the extra money and get the light weight paddle, it really makes a difference.
When my wife and I bought kayaks we spent $1500 bucks. I spent 75 dollars on her paddle but got cheap and bought a 50 dollar paddle for me. It was a few ounces heavier and that turned out to be a lot. I spent all that money and then got cheap over 25 bucks and really regretted.
That said, you don't need the fancy paint job paddles, just get a good light weight paddle.
Justin - I may have answered your question on our site, but here it is for general information:
You must have a PFD readily accessible. Readily accessible means within easy reach and not stored in a hatch or out of reach. Preferably it should be worn - it is surprising how fast the yak can drift away if you were to take a spill. Another good point - the paddle will float, but tie it to the yak. Again, you can easily drop it and see it drift out of reach. Not good. The only exception is during a surf launch and landing where you you may want it un-attached...
You must have a noise signaling device, like a whistle or horn. A marine grade whistle is $4 at Academy. Works good, lasts a long time, and is cheap.
If you are going to be on the water after dark / before sunrise, you will need a 360 degree white light. A lot of us use an AA batt powered light on a short mast behind our seat. No running lights or registration required... unless you strap a trolling motor to it.
Keep in mind that you want to be seen - try to avoid the dark yak colors, wear bright clothing, maybe choose a paddle with yellow or orange blades. With all the boat and PWC traffic here, you want to be seen and the fish don't care. And bring your fishing license... These are the bare minimum requirements to be on the water.
There are other pieces of gear that can improve your safety, help you find, catch, and store fish, store your rods / gear, anchor the yak, etc... That's when the fun begins...
Feel free to come to our meetings or join up when we go fishing or post any questions - we would be happy to help...
I normally drift fish a LOT... but sometimes anchor.. just depends.
It depends on where your going to fish. Of course, the least amount of wind.. would be easier to maneuver your yak in. As far as yak fishing in higher winds... it's VERY difficult to paddle a yak and in no time... it wears you OUT. I have been out in winds gusting over 30mph... trying to fish.. whitecaps rolling over the front of my yak...and getting back to the launch area SUCKED... and I was even peddling. Had I been paddling... I would have had to pull over and pray that the wind would die down. While out there... it's VERY important to pay attention to the weather because it can change in a heartbeat... then you would be stuck or find yourself to be in a dangerous situation and can't get back in.
If you fish or plan on being in water where it is more than a 1 mile in distance between shores (i.e. bay, inter coastal, gulf) you must carry all required equipment; whistle, night time signal device, day time signal device, life jacket. Go to www.myfwc.com and they have a place you can input your yak specs and get a list of items needed. Good luck.
PFD's must be coast guard approved to be counted as a PFD. You must have a wearable type PFD for everyone on board to be legal. Wearable PFD's include type I, II, III, and V. Type V PFD's must be worn to count as a PFD. During the day the only other requirement is a sound producing device. A whistle is the preferred sound device on a kayak. Keep it attached to your life jacket with a lanyard. Technically all you need in the way of lights at night for a vessel under oars is a flashlight capable of being shown in time to prevent a collision. Having a flashlight close at hand is sufficient, but a 360 degree constant white light might be a good idea in areas with high boat traffic.