An expert advises you try a kayak or canoe on a lake before trying a river.

More and more people are trying out kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards as we hit summer.

DNR instructor, Todd Robertson, says you can have a lot of fun, but you need to learn a little before heading out. He says it’s best to practice first on a lake or pond. “The problem is, if you head straight to the river and you don’t have any paddling experience, you are going to run into trouble if you don’t know how to control that boat or that board. So, it is always advisable to hit flat water first,” Robertson says.

He says there’s no current to deal with and you can learn some techniques. “Learn what it is like to dump the boat. What are you going to do when that happens,” he says. “Know all that stuff before you go out on a river,” Robertson says.

He says the type of craft you select depends on what you want to do — if you want speed and to track straight, the longer the boat or board the better. The shorter they are, the easier they turn and maneuver on the water.

Robertson says Iowa also now has more advanced options for those who want more of a challenge. He says you can buy a whitewater boat and take lessons and go to one of the whitewater areas now available. “But you just have to use common sense, if we do that, we are going to be safe. It’s when we go out and we don’t have a life jacket, or we go on a river we are not ready for — that’s when we can end up in trouble,” he says.

Robertson says you can take kids along with you kayaking and canoeing. Robertson says as long as parents are experienced and you go out in a group, it can be safe. “Especially on a lake. That changes when you get out on moving water,” he says. “So you don’t want to be a new family with kids and have never been on a river before and just take the whole family out.”

Robertson says there are plenty of training courses available so you are ready when you decide to hit the water.