1. Choose the Right Kind of Kayak
The number of brands and styles of kayaks available for purchase can be overwhelming! For anglers, I recommend buying a kayak designed specifically for fishing.
These models provide more stability due to a wider base. They also have special features for anglers built-in, such as rod holders and storage for tackle and gear.
Fishing kayaks range from 10-16 feet long. The smaller versions are more maneuverable and the larger ones more stable. Make sure you take into account how you’ll transport your kayak. Will it fit on top of your vehicle or in the back of your pickup? If you want a very large kayak you may consider a trailer.
Fishing by nature is a time-consuming activity. You could spend quite a while sitting in your kayak. So make sure the seat is comfortable and fits you well. This will make your long day on the water much more enjoyable.
2. Focus on Safety
A small water craft like a kayak is a lot of fun, but the reality is you have to be prepared for problems. First, wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times on the water. I prefer an MTI inflatable PFD because it’s lightweight. I hardly know it’s there. Make sure your PFD is comfortable, because if it isn’t you won’t want to wear it!
Some other tips to consider for kayak fishing safety include:
- Watch the weather—Don’t get caught on the water by a thunderstorm or other conditions that can put you at risk. When fishing in extreme heat wear sun protection and carry plenty of water. Beware of cold weather situations where the water temperature can put you at risk in the event you capsize.
- Communicate—It’s always best to have someone with you while kayak fishing. You also should tell someone where you will be and when you should return.
- Be aware of your surroundings—If you’re on a larger body of water, watch for power boats. They may not always see you. Avoid high traffic areas or being in boating areas during darkness or foggy conditions. If you’re going to be out in the dark, make sure you have a 360-view light on your kayak to increase your visibility.
3. Know the Importance of a Quality Paddle
Many first-time fishing kayakers skimp on choosing a paddle. This is a mistake! A cheap paddle will lead to fatigue and less fun on the water.
A quality fishing paddle (like Bending Branches’ Angler Ace) gives you a carbon shaft and blade. It means lighter weight, and a flex in the shaft which will be easier on your wrists and joints. Your paddle will be in your hands almost as much as your fishing rod, so you want it as light as possible.
When you first get on the water it’s important to practice your paddling technique extensively. Learn how to steer, stop, back up and maintain position in wind or current.
4. Keep Your Fishing Gear Simple
Even the most accomplished angler start out by keeping it simple when it comes to what they carry in the kayak.
Getting used to operating in a very small space while fishing, tying on baits and handling fish can be a challenge. You will drop something overboard!
When starting out, limit yourself to one or two rods, and a tackle bag or a couple of lure boxes. As you gain experience, you can add a milk crate setup behind your seat to hold more tackle and rod holders to increase your carrying capacity.
Some other items to consider:
- Hawg Trough measuring device
- Fish Grips to safely handle fish
- A small cooler and first aid kit
- Pliers or a multi-tool
5. Do Your Online Research
Preparing for kayak fishing has never been easier thanks to the wealth of information online:
- Look up articles, videos and photos to help you set up your kayak and learn different techniques.
- Search for local kayak fishing clubs or groups on social media. It’s a great way to meet other anglers you can fish with and who can share their tips and tricks with you.
- Use Google Earth or other online sources to scout out small non-motor lakes, streams and rivers. One of the best things about kayak fishing is the ability to get on water that isn’t crowded with boaters. Pay attention to where ramp and entry points are located, as well as where some prime fishing spots may be. Doing this will help you save time, stay safe and will increase your chances of catching some fish!
So there you have it. I hope this both helps and inspires you to get rigged up and out on the water fishing!
(All photos courtesy of Jason Kincy)