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Stand-Up Paddleboard Offers Intimate Nature Encounters

Posted by Jim Mize on April 5, 2017

From yoga enthusiasts to fly fishermen, outdoor enthusiasts are discovering Stand-Up Paddleboard, also known as SUP.

Outdoors people tend to enjoy intimate contact with nature and often water is involved. Kayaks in whitewater will provide a chance for a splash in the face. Canoes allow you to cover ground and see the scenery. A more recent mode of aquatic transportation is the Stand-Up Paddleboard, or SUP.

Subscribe to Rethink:Rural's monthly e-newsletterPaige Bakhaus, a certified paddle instructor, started Hooked on SUP in Englewood, Florida in 2011. Since then, she has been bringing the sport to kids of all ages. It’s hard not to grin when you get to play in the water and get hands-on with its inhabitants.

The nature aspect of paddling is of such importance, says Paige, that besides paddling certification, the Hooked on SUP crew has also become certified as Florida Master Naturalists.

On our trip, Paige detoured us into the shallows where we caught and observed squirters, starfish and anything else too slow to elude us.

This is exactly how they engage kids in their summer camps, adding lessons in ecology and fishing to go along with the paddling. It’s also not unusual on their tours to make the acquaintance of a passing dolphin or manatee.

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Perhaps the greatest lure of a paddleboard is its versatility. Our class ranged in age from twenties to sixties and all were standing to paddle in five minutes. But as the morning elapsed into afternoon, every paddler took a different pose.

Some were sitting and cruising, others kneeling and skimming the shallows, while the rest stood and paddled. This versatile method of travel lets each person adjust to their comfort zone, moving back and forth as the urge arises.

As an interesting aside, these SUPs have also infiltrated the fishing world. Fly fishermen are now taking SUPs out for lake fishing. The higher profile allows them to see down into the water better than they can from a kayak. Also, the higher rod position keeps the line off the water and allows for longer casts.

Although getting started doesn’t take long, a few simple instructions help immensely. Little things like how to move from sitting to kneeling to standing can help keep you upright.

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The shops that specialize in SUPs most likely have certified paddle instructors on staff and can help you get started.  For example, at Hooked on SUP, they offer introductory instruction, advanced classes, and week-long camps for the kids.

Still, these are floating boards that you stand on, leaving you the opportunity to commune with the fishes. But in our class, only one person went swimming accidentally. Of course, it was me.

That’s just part of learning how to paddle a SUP. The more important part is that after communing with the fishes, I came up grinning.

For more information on SUPs, contact Paige Bakhaus through her website at or by phone at 941-504-1699.  

All photos courtesy of Jim Mize.

Jim Mize

Jim Mize has written humor and nostalgia for magazines including Gray's Sporting Journal, Fly Fisherman Magazine, Field & Stream, and a number of conservation magazines, picking up over fifty Excellence In Craft awards along the way. His most recent book, a collection of humor for fly fisherman entitled A Creek Trickles Through It, was awarded best outdoor book in 2014 by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. More on Jim and his writing activities can be found at

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