If you see fishing and kayaking in your future then this may help. Hello, my name is Joshua Hess, I am a C6-7 quadriplegic who was injured in 2001 in a motor vehicle accident.  So, some things require slight modifications for me. While there are many options to choose from I will gladly discuss my experiences and recommendations, and if requested, I would be glad to accompany on an outing.  Fishing for me is a relaxing past time usually enjoyed with friends or family on the many great waterways of Pennsylvania.  I find fishing from boats to be the most enjoyable as it allows for greater terrain coverage and a good work out if you’re using a paddle for propulsion.  However, enjoying a cool drink while a bobber floats off shore of a river bank or pier, waiting for that prized specimen, also commands a deserved good time rating.

Fishing equipment I have found to work well for myself is just a standard fishing pole of choice with an added hand hold.  Generally, I use some type of Velcro strap with adjustability to tighten around my palm to keep the pole secure for casting and retrieving.  As I have limited hand dexterity, this helps secure the rod for casts.  I have used a Strong Arm assistive device before that accepts the fishing pole and then straps to your forearm for more security with bigger rods or those with less upper body strength.  The hardest part of fishing for me can be tying the lures on.  This can be aided be using quick clips, swivels, and some needle nose pliers or a hemostat type (because it locks closed), but of course practice helps! However, if you lack good finger dexterity I highly recommend bringing a friend who can assist with this part.  Also, there are some power reels that work off sip-n-puff technology, and assistive power casting devices for those with limited upper body movement.  As for tackle to use I won’t claim to be an expert as there are too many options to pick.  Rubber worms, real worms, sinkers, floaters, it can be a maze of choices.  Choose wisely, my friend, and of course be sure to follow all PA Fish Commission rules.

Kayaking Equipment, for me, is very similar to the fishing pole, as limited dexterity can make holding the kayak paddle a challenge, especially if you need to paddle hard in rougher waters.  I have experimented with Aquaplast, a type of moldable plastic once heated that hardens to shape.  This has been very helpful in crafting hand holds on the paddle.  This can be achieved with Velcro straps as well, or whatever works for you.  The kayak itself only really requires some added padding.  I generally try to pad my bottom with a jell pad and then add foam for ankles and knees if needed.  Some boats have good back support built in but others may require added support depending on your level of injury.  If needed, there are outriggers available to stabilize the kayak and help prevent roll overs (be careful to brace before spasms occur).  These may be good suggestions for those with lower injuries, or those who are new to the activity. There are some adaptive companies that offer these types of equipment.  It just boils down to needs and costs.  With all water sports there is an element of danger especially if on river ways.  Always follow approved boat recommendations and be sure to have proper documentation on your boats if accessing public water ways.

That wraps up my mini introduction to fishing and kayaking and I certainly hope it perks your interest.  If this is something you would like to pursue please feel free to reach out to me through phone or email. There are several great handicap accessible parks with piers and launches throughout the NEPA area, so I hope to see you out there putting them to use.  These parks and waterways can be found on the PA Fishing Commission website, as well as a wealth of additional information on season start/end dates and bag limits.  Be sure to stay safe and follow the rules, but most important have fun catching some fish!

If you would like to talk more about fishing or kayaking contact:

Joshua Hess (570) 945-3228 or email at Hessy007@aol.com




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