With one hand on the steering wheel and the other resting out the window, Anthony Rinaldi halts at a stop sign and peers down an unfamiliar side street. At the end, the sun shines down on the bay. His sea legs step to the gas while his eager hands turn the wheel to the potential launch zone. Grabbing his vessel, he sinks and settles slightly into the water as the smell of undisturbed salty sea rises to his nose. Three deliberate paddles and he’s off. “No other boat can get where a kayak can go, he says. “And if you can carry it, you can launch it anywhere.” Born in Sarasota and raised on its waters, Rinaldi found himself in a typical Florida situation when he was 16—he wanted to buy a boat. But cruel reality put its foot down as the price point rose out of reach for the high school sophomore. “I just needed something,” he remembers, something manageable and affordable to get him out on the water whenever an opportunity might arise. That’s when a cheap Walmart kayak entered his life. Rinaldi learned the ins and outs of kayaking in his backyard lake—shifting weight and establishing rhythm while alligators waited for him to flip. The seat of the starter kayak broke on its third venture but it didn’t matter much—the kayaking obsession had already taken hold. Now full-grown and working at Economy Tackle Dolphin Paddlesports, Rinaldi has advanced from amateur to Pro Staff for Hobie, a water sport equipment manufacturer and world leader in pedal-driven kayak design. “The sport has gotten so much bigger in the last year,” he says, referencing COVID-19 and the widespread urge to be outside doing something, anything. Kayaking groups and new explorers have left Economy Tackle empty of kayaks for months at a time—sold out due to locals’ newfound desire for a full-body workout to escape the entrapment of staying indoors. “It’s really simple: Give me a pole, a paddle, a pair of pliers and some lures, and I’m good to go.”—  O.LIANG   Economy Tackle Dolphin Paddlesports, 6018 South Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, 941-922-9671,, @economy-tackle.

Favorite Spots to Kayak 

Vamo Road leads straight to Little Sarasota Bay with an intimate and isolated creek leading the way.  

Emerson Point Preserve for access to the Tampa Bay, Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay. You can go miles into a mangrove. Experience both backcountry waters and more mainstream bays. 

Bird Key allows for kayaking with a view while combating currents for some extra cardio. Paddle along the coast of downtown and weave through the pillars of the Ringling Bridge. 

Explore, explore and explore some more. Visit the Sarasota County website for public launches and their features.

Fitness + Training Tips

Kayaking is the sport that ages and intensifies with you. Luckily enough, there’s no need to train for a day out on the water. Instead, the sea itself will get you whipped into shape. The current and the water and the wind—it really does restrain your arms. You use a lot of your shoulders and your core paddling. The traditional kayaks strengthen your upper body, but swimming laps and lifting weights will certainly help in building those back, shoulder and arm muscles to go the extra distance.
Meanwhile, the pedal-driven Hobies gear more towards a rigorous, full-body exercise. 

Insider Tips

Decide whether you’re a peddler or a paddler.  While Hurricanes are the classic kayak option with a variety of sit-in or sit-on-top models that all weigh under 45 pounds, Hobies, pedal-driven kayaks, have revolutionized the industry for a fast and stable experience that relies more on the legs, though a paddle never hurts.

Level up with kayak fishing.  I go out in my Hobie Pro Angler practically everyday. For general kayak fishing—trying to figure out where to kayak, what to do on the boat, how to control it—it’s like any sport. You just have to figure out your routine. It’s all about drifting, moving with the current until you’re two to three feet away from a redfish or on top of a snook. 

Feel comfortable relinquishing control. When juggling wind, waves, fish or failed wayfaring, embrace the art of multitasking and settle into the sea. Whether you’re adventuring from a new launch zone or flowing with the tide, sometimes you just have to let Mother Nature take you, embrace the drift and enjoy the ride. 

Nourishment + Snackage

Water, water and more water. The tap should do-ya. Organic Lemon Pomegranate bars from Detwiler’s Farm Market Albacore tuna salad from Morton’s Gourmet Market.

Top Gear

While some kayakers weigh themselves down with 200-plus pounds of equipment, simplicity and time are the best solutions. I didn’t invest in accessories until a year and a half into my kayaking crusade, but you learn what you
want down the road.

The Hobie Mirage Outback kayak is the ideal all-in-one vessel for up-and-coming or dedicated kayakers who hope to venture out for exercise, fishing or some laid back pedal paddling. Measuring 12’8”, the newly designed seat, wide hull for casting and favorable tracking abilities make it easy to break through the waves and cruise anywhere and everywhere.

Anchor pins  (also called stake-out poles) are by far the most effective tools to temporarily anchor yourself in shallow water or at a mangrove shoreline for inshore fishing. Keep in mind, anchor pins can come in various materials such as PVC, wood, plastic and carbon fiber. Metal anchors are often the go-tos for their ability to stay better anchored at the bottom. However, wood anchor pins, though lighter in weight, are more noninvasive. Try the Moonlighter Flat Stik (5 1/2-foot) recommended for kayaks and small vessels to anchor in up to 5-feet of water.

Always be prepared with a dry bag to store and carry your essential belongings such as phone, wallet and keys, as well as a pair of water shoes or booties in case shallows, shores or wadable waters entice your exploratory spirit.

Black Diamond LiteWirecaribiner, Chaco Odyssey water sandals, Sea to Summit ultra-sil dry sacks, Hobie fiber shaft paddle, and (not showsn) Stick It anchor pin kayak system. Economy Tackle Dolphin Paddlesports, 6018 South Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, 941-922-9671,, @economy_tackle