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Using Drones for Kayak Fishing

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are remote-controlled aircraft that have exploded in popularity over the last decade. What was once a niche market has become quite mainstream. Drones are used in a wide variety of settings including search & rescue, surveillance, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring, firefighting, photography, videography, personal use, and so much more. 

You might be wondering about using drones for kayak fishing. Well, yes, there are even drones specifically for kayak fishing. 

What is a kayak fishing drone?

Like most drones, a fishing drone is a remote-controlled, aerial device with a motor, camera, and GPS. Several types of fishing drones are designed with special features like the ability to clip a fishing line to the drone that can then be dropped remotely (auto-casting). Kayak fishing drones should be waterproof, resistant to high winds, and able to fly for a long time. 

Recreational fishing drone:

This is the simplest drone and might not even have features specific for fishing, but it can provide aerial photography to scout new spots and take great pictures.

Professional-grade fishing drone:

These drones have advanced features specific to fishing like autopilot, fish finder systems, longer flight times, and automated bait delivery systems. 

Multi-copter systems:

These devices can carry a variety of high-tech cameras for aerial photography or videography.

Why use a kayak fishing drone?

Real-time data from aerial location

Because of the bird’s eye view and high-quality camera features, drones get an excellent “eye” on what is happening below the surface of the water. Anglers can scout for fish, identify structures, and focus on where the fish are feeding. Some drones even have features that can send back data on water conditions, temperature, etc. All this data can make you a more savvy angler.

Cover more area

A kayak is already a fabulous choice for fishing inaccessible areas, but a drone takes that up a notch. Now, you can cover the area - and do it faster. Instead of paddling into every little cove, you can send your drone ahead of you and see if it is worth the paddle. You can also roam a wider area with a drone by your side (or over your head). If you use a drone with an auto-cast feature, you can also extend the reach of your casts. Speaking of bait delivery systems. . . 

Deliver bait or lures

Some specially designed drones are equipped to cast / drop bait for you. You attach your line to the drone and then position it over the spot you want to fish and it will drop your line for you. With this method, you get very precise drops. You can hover over a school of feeding game fish and drop your bait right in the mix. It also allows you to access hard-to-reach spots. You can cast right into the weeds without having to paddle into the vegetation. It also makes a pretty stealthy approach so you don’t spook the fish with your kayak or paddle.

How do you use drones for kayak fishing?

  • Practice! Pick an area that is easy to access with few obstacles to begin.
  • Make sure you are well acquainted with your drone before taking it out on the water. Practice over land first. 
  • Teamwork. As you learn to juggle rod / reel, kayak / paddle, as well as your drone, it is helpful to have additional hands. Consider working with a buddy as you perfect your technique.
  • Think of your drone as an outrigger. Don’t let it get too far away from you. And make sure you have a sufficient line attached for whatever you are planning.
  • Activate your drone to a few feet and then attach the line to the release clip. Keep your reel bail open to allow the line to flow freely. Fly your drone to the perfect spot. (Tip: fly your drone on a scouting mission before you choose to attach the line.)
  • To drop the line, tighten the drag on the reel and release the clip. This will drop your bait into the water. Now fly your drone back to safety and begin fishing. 

What are some concerns around kayak fishing drones?

Legal regulations

Whenever and wherever you fly a drone, you need to be aware of laws that regulate their use. Drone pilots must adhere to the rules outlined by the Federal Aviation Administration and all local ordinances. At a minimum, there are rules around flying height, drone weight, line of sight pathways, and registration. Make sure to do your homework before you fly. 

Local restrictions

Some states (and countries) have banned the use of drones for fishing citing concerns about the detrimental effects on wildlife, maintaining fish populations, and reducing the intensity of competition for certain fish species. 

Ethical Implications

The debate around using drones for kayak fishing is a hot topic. Those who love drone fishing think it levels the playing field for all, allows more efficient fishing, and engages a younger demographic. Those who oppose drone usage for fishing point to harassment of wildlife, over / irresponsible fishing, and privacy violations / spying on other anglers. In addition, there is the discussion of whether drones make it “too easy” and anglers are compromising the skills needed to read the water, battle the fish, and take home the prize. This discussion is far from over as states and countries continue to weigh the implications. 

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