What looks like a long, wide surfboard is the latest fishing platform.
Stand-up paddling has been catching on among those who enjoy getting a good core workout by paddling across the water. SUPers can be found on lakes, lagoons and rivers and catching waves in the ocean.
And for those who like to sneak up on fish in the shallows, the SUP is becoming a promising new platform. SUP boards combine the quiet of a kayak with the see-into-the-water elevation of an angler standing in a flats boat.
Standing tall is important for seeing fish in the shallows while fishing for species such as seatrout, redfish, bonefish and permit. You’re more likely to spot a redfish before you scare it away from an SUP board than from a kayak or canoe — though some paddle-fishing veterans stand up while fishing from their canoes and kayaks.
I tried SUP paddling around mangrove islands in the Indian River Lagoon just north of Fort Pierce Inlet recently with my friend Peter Hink of Royal Palm Beach, an avid kayak fisherman who is adding SUP boards to his arsenal of paddle- fishing vessels.
Because the Coast Guard considers SUPs to be boats — and because it’s a good idea — we were careful to wear life jackets and carry whistles while we paddled the 13-foot Dragonfly boards, which have V-shaped bows like small boats.
We mounted dry-box coolers on the boards to hold cellphones and other valuables before shoving off from the Stan Blum boat ramp in Fort Pierce. The coolers doubled as seats and had rod holders mounted on them.
Wary at first, I sat on the cooler to paddle. After about 10 minutes of paddling with a light, single-blade paddle, I developed the courage to stand up. I liked it, but I have to admit it felt unstable at first.
After half an hour or so, I began to get more confident in my ability to stand up, paddle in various types of wind and fish from the board. It’s not that hard. You simply use your leg muscles to maintain balance, which is part of the SUP workout.
The first fish I caught from the paddleboard was a small jack crevalle. That would have been fine except for the pelican that wanted to steal it. I moved the hooked fish from one side of the board to the other trying to avoid Mr. Pelican, who jumped on the board at one point as he chased a free meal.
I finally avoided the pesky pelican by moving the hooked fish close to the board, reaching down with long-nosed pliers and releasing it.