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Tips for Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing is a hybrid sport that has taken people by storm lately. You might be wondering why. Well, kayaks can be more accessible and easier to transport than a traditional fishing boat, plus you can take a fishing kayak out without the gear if you want diversity in your water activities. In this respect, kayak fishing allows the best of both worlds!

Even if you’re an experienced fisher or kayaker independently, it requires a different set of skills to be skilled at kayak fishing. Read on for some tips & tricks to improve or cultivate this sport!

Boating & Gear Recommendations for Kayak Fishing

Experienced anglers say that the best fishing kayak is the one you already have. This holds true in most respects, as most sporting / recreational kayaks will allow you to get out on the water more easily than traditional fishing boats. There are modifications and add-on rigging that you can purchase or DIY as you go, in order to have an easier time out on the water.  So, if you already own a boat, you don’t need to worry about having to find a new one.

If you don’t have a boat already, and you’re particularly looking to get into kayak fishing, it’s helpful to look for a boat with features pre-installed. Regardless of where you’re starting from, here are some things to keep an eye out for:

  • Sit-On-Top Kayak Design. For fishing, sit-on-top kayaks allow you more mobility, comfort, stability, and storage space than a sit-in kayak. With a sit-on-top fishing kayak, your legs are free to stabilize the vessel while casting off or reeling in. This design allows you a better vantage point, and easier re-positioning as you pivot cast-off angles or have to quickly stand to reel-in a fish.
  • Multiple rod holders. Come prepared for reeling in any sized fish! These are handy for organizing and storing any extra rods you bring along on your trip, saving you the trouble of being under-equipped.
  • Dry-Hatch or enclosed storage. This is helpful to keep extras of any materials or gear you have on hand, as well as keep safe the items you don’t want getting wet or damaged while out on the water.
  • Secured deck storage. For the items that you need to have easily at your disposal, such as your tackle box, it’s important to have this storage area tied down with something like a bungee cord. This prevents any risk of losing or ruining those items if they fall off while kayaking.
  • Proper paddle or retractable pedal propeller. You want to be able to maneuver efficiently and comfortably, so choosing a kayak paddle that is proportional to the size of your boat, accommodates for your paddling style, and reaches the water is key. 250 cm is a recommended starting point, or finding a kayak with a hands-free propulsion device, like the pedal propeller, so you don’t have to worry about storing the paddle once you’ve found a good fishing spot.

To have the most successful kayak fishing adventure, being equipped with the proper gear is also important. You don’t want to worry about where to fit your rods and bait once you’re out on the water, or struggle to balance your kayaking gear when actively reeling in a fish.

In terms of kayak gear, here are some helpful things to consider:

  • Multiple rod holders. Mounted rod holders are a kayak angler’s best friend. These allow you to have both hands free while paddling between fishing spots and gives you the ability to pack multiple rods with you for your trip. You can DIY them from a milk crate or find a professional mount that you’d like installed. Be prepared for reeling in any sized fish!
  • Comfy Kayak Seat. Planning to be out fishing on the water all day? Then consider the comfort of a padded, adjustable kayak seat to save the wear-and-tear on your back! Find an ergonomic kayak seat design that supports your back--proper posture and form will aid your cast-off technique.
  • Fish Finding Device. Whether it’s Sonar or GPS, most find it helpful to have a navigation system aboard. Fish finders are particularly nice when exploring new areas, so be sure it’s mounted in a place that’s easily- accessible and visible while paddling.
  • Rudder and Anchor. These two pieces are optional, but helpful depending on your style of fishing. If you’re more of a troller who casts while moving, a rudder can allow you to better follow biting fish. If you prefer to stop moving and see what comes your way, an anchor can help avoid unwanted drifting and further stabilize your vessel.

Don’t forget to dress for the occasion! Whether you’re on the water in the winter, summer, or both, make sure you’re dressed for success. Sunscreen, water, a personal flotation device (life jackets & vests) for safety, and either lightweight or thermal waterproof gaiters are must-haves for any kayak-fishing outing.

Kayak Fishing Techniques

Whether you’re an experienced kayaker, angler, neither, or both, it will take a bit of adjustment to get the hang of fishing from a kayak as opposed to a regular boat. The learning curve is half the fun when taking on a new challenge, though. Here are some tips to flatten the curve and help you hone your kayak fishing technique:

  • Invest in a fishing paddle. Kayak fishing paddles tend to be wider and lighter than traditional paddles. You’ll be out fishing for a while and the structure of the paddle can help prevent fatigue. Finding one with a tether helps keep track of it while using your rod, and if you can find one with a measurement guide on it as well, that’s even better.
  • Find longer fishing poles. Due to the width of a fishing kayak and the mild waves that any balance shifts can cause, it’s helpful to be able to cast further out so fish won’t be wary or sense anything disturbing.
  • Organize & Optimize storage space. A kayak is a smaller boat than you might be used to, but particularly sit-on kayaks can allow for a decent amount of storage space. You want to be prepared with a variety of gear while you’re out, so keep it organized so you won’t lose time scrambling to find what you need.
  • Come prepared with versatile lures. It’s less time- consuming to stick to single-hook baits, easy-to-fish lures, especially as a beginner. Chances are you won’t come across just one type of fish, though, so keep in mind the diversity of your bait, as well.

Kayak Fishing Navigation & Positioning Tricks

Whether you’re a new or seasoned angler, there’s always more to learn about how to have a successful kayak-fishing outing. Here are some general aspects of the sport to consider while you’re out on the water.

  • Some find it helpful to bring along a GPS or fish-finder tool to help streamline and organize their trips. There are mounts for either of these that allow you to customize your vessel, but knowing what kind of trip you’re looking for and how much time you want to spend on the water is helpful to plan out before-hand.
  • It will be to your advantage to learn to paddle and cast one-handed. This may take some getting used to, especially if you’re more familiar with casting from the bank, but starting out by anchoring or keeping close to the shoreline at first can help. It’s also good to understand that casting and reeling in your line can effectively steer for you in certain situations--you’ll naturally be pulled slightly in the direction from which you cast, so keep that in mind when you’re doing so.
  • What some new anglers don’t realize is that your feet can be helpful assets while kayak fishing. Some use them as rudders to steer and drift on the water, others anchor with them, and you can also navigate with them by pushing off of stumps or other obstacles while your hands are busy getting your catch. This can be a full body activity, so make sure your kayak allows you the freedom to reposition easily.

At the end of the day, make sure you’re getting what you want out of your angling expedition. Whether it’s relaxation or a new challenge, you should be set with the kayak, tools, and knowledge to enjoy nature your way. Happy fishing!

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