Tips for Catching Fish from a Kayak

kayak fishingThe ori­gins of kayak fish­ing goes back thou­sands of years to a time when sus­te­nance hunters were look­ing for alter­na­tives to the stren­u­ous effort of land caught din­ners. Today, the sport is much more of a recre­ation­al pur­suit, and the fish are smaller—although, occa­sion­al­ly, whales and oth­er mam­mals sur­prise kayak anglers fish­ing in the ocean. Kayak fish­ing hasn’t changed much over the years; it’s basi­cal­ly you and a fish in a tug of war.

To get start­ed, you need a kayak. More expen­sive kayaks have ped­al or elec­tric dri­ves that make it eas­i­er to trav­el far­ther and faster than you could while pad­dling. A dri­ve also makes it eas­i­er to fish hands-free so you can ready to react quick­ly and keep the line tight when a fish strikes.

Regard­less of the way it’s pro­pelled, when choos­ing a kayak, size, sta­bil­i­ty and weight mat­ter. Try to rent or bor­row a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent kayaks to see what best fits your needs and your bud­get before invest­ing in one.

Kayak Size
The most pop­u­lar length is about 12 feet. The gen­er­al rule is longer and thin­ner kayaks go faster, and short­er and wider kayaks are more stable.

Kayak Sta­bil­i­ty
The most pop­u­lar style for kayak anglers is a sit-on-top, also called a SOT. This type of kayak serves as a plat­form that won’t sink and is eas­i­ly remount­ed if you should hap­pen to fall in. It typ­i­cal­ly has a sus­pend­ed chair too. The oth­er style called a sit-in (or SINK as many kayak anglers joke) can eas­i­ly fill up with water when over­turned, mak­ing this style much less desirable—obviously.

Kayak Weight
After fish­ing all day, the last thing you want to do is lug a heavy kayak back to the car. Ped­al-style kayaks typ­i­cal­ly have remov­able mount­able wheel units that allow you to wheel the kayak from the car to launch.

kayak fishingRec­om­mend­ed Gear
Beyond the kayak (and a way to car­ry it on your car), you’ll need a PFD, or life vest, a pad­dle, a rod and reel, rod hold­er, and a lure, bait or flies. Some kayaks are out­fit­ted with fish find­ers, stor­age crates and, occa­sion­al­ly, a down­rig­ger (a device used for troll fish­ing, which is typ­i­cal­ly a man­u­al or elec­tric winch and weight (can­non­ball) that car­ries your fish­ing lines and lures to a spe­cif­ic depth, where feed­ing fish are to be found.

In most states, adults will need a license but chil­dren may not. Always check before you head to the water.

If you pre­fer bait or lures, use a small tack­le box or con­tain­er to hold your equip­ment and only take what you need for the day.

Your gear also needs to be with­in reach so you can main­tain your bal­ance while chang­ing lures or bait or re-rig­ging your rod. If you fly­fish, try to elim­i­nate any­thing in or on the kayak that will catch the fly line when you are cast­ing or retriev­ing the fly.

Fish­ing meth­ods vary by the type of water you are fish­ing. The best method is to troll your lure or fly slow­ly and change the depth of the lure until you find the fish. If you see fish jump­ing, stop the kayak, wait a few min­utes and cast to the fish. Because you are low in the water, you’re less like­ly to scare the fish than if you were in a boat. You’re also more like­ly to see them.

When you final­ly hook a fish, try to remain calm and reel it in while keep­ing ten­sion on the line. If you get too excit­ed and move around, you could tip the kayak.

It’s best to use a net, espe­cial­ly for large fish like a salmon. A net allows you to eas­i­ly man­age the fish before you put in a stringer or release it.

When every­thing comes togeth­er, kayak fish­ing is mag­i­cal. If you want to learn more, there are thou­sands of kayak anglers eager to share their sto­ries, tips, expe­ri­ences, and pho­tos of them­selves and their catch. A sim­ple search for “kayak fish­ing” on YouTube and you will find your­self won­der­ing where the hours went.