The peacefulness you experience as you float across the water. The patient hunt for a hungry fish. The beauty of the natural world. For those of us who love outdoor sports, nothing beats kayaking.
People who enter the world of kayak fishing typically either have a fishing background or a kayaking background, but not both. That’s certainly fine if you’re just getting started, but the most rewarding, and safest, way to experience the sport is to become equally adept in both areas. Fortunately, one of the great aspects of kayak fishing is that it’s fun for people of all skill levels. So no matter if you’re a total beginner or an experienced kayakker, here are some awesome kayak fishing tips for a smooth ride.
Safety First, Every Time
Even if your planned route is through calm, shallow waters, you should still treat the venture as seriously as you would any other outdoor excursion. This means bringing along essentials such as a first aid kit, food and drinking water.
Additionally, you want to understand the area you’ll be in. A compass, map or other suitable navigational equipment is always a good idea. You should know the weather, but also be prepared for any unexpected weather changes. You should also be prepared to get wet.
Dress for Success
Always wear your Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Beyond that, however, operate under the assumption that everything and anything can go into the water. Wear clothes which are going to work well weighed down by water; avoid anything which will be too heavy or cumbersome to swim in, or even walk in when wet. Waders are great for shallower waters, while a full “dry suit” usually works well in deeper, choppier and colder waters.
Aside from clothing, you should also prepare your equipment for any unexpected water adventures. Everything in the kayak should either:
- Be attached to your kayak
- Be able to float
For floatables, you want to leash them to either yourself or your kayak. For anything which can’t get wet, such as a cell phone, you want to invest in a quality dry bag.
Of course, just because flipping your kayak is common doesn’t mean it’s always harmless. If you’re new to kayaking, you should have some professional instruction before you head out for the first time. Knowing the proper way to recover from an overturned kayak is an absolute must.
No matter whether you’re yakking in fresh water, salt water, deep water or shallow, the better you can control your fishing kayak, the better your experience will be.
One “handy” tip is to always have your paddle at the ready. Many kayakers prefer to rest their paddle across their lap. Without your paddle, you’re at the mercy of the water. With it, you can control your own destiny, and quickly prevent accidents. It also doesn’t hurt to practice paddling with one hand – it could be useful in an unexpected emergency.
When it comes to kayaking, where you look is where you’ll go. The more centered you can keep your head, the easier you’ll be able to balance in your kayak, even in rocky waters. Many a fisherman has taken an unexpected spill after reaching around in their kayak to grab something behind them.
Drifting is another skill you want to practice. By learning how to use your body in conjunction with the wind, you can move your kayak without using your paddle. It’s a great way to improve the number of fish you catch.
After all, catching fish is a pretty important aspect to kayak fishing. Aside from mastering drifting (which can take a long time, of course), there are a few other ways you can fill your cooler with fish.
- Use the correct length of line – One rod’s length of line should be enough room to grab your fish or lure, while also working with the slack line. Too much line, and you won’t be able to reach everything you need.
- Utilize a Fish Finder – A medium-sized or small fish finder is the perfect addition to your kayak. There are plenty of modes which are expressly designed to be mounted to your kayak.
- Properly Mount Your Equipment – More than just your fish finder, you want to make sure everything attached to your boat is secure and readily accessible.
One great way to properly mount any accessories to your kayak is to enlist the help of a friend. You’ll sit in the kayak, and your friend will hold the item in a few places. The idea is to see where the item will work best for you when you’re sitting in the kayak, but without having to deal with the hassle of attaching the item multiple times.
Buying equipment can sometimes seem overwhelming. Online reviews, on sites such as Amazon, can be a great way to gather unbiased information about which products work, and which will leave you up a proverbial creek. Also, there are plenty of kayaking and outdoors magazines which can provide useful reviews and opinions.
When your equipment is properly set up for success, you’re chances of good fishing increase substantially. You’ll now be able to troll while you paddle, which is a great way to attract salmon and other fish which keep one eye on the ceiling.
The type of fly you use will depend on the local fish. If you don’t know much about the area you’re fishing in, your best bet is to ask local experts. No matter what type of fly you use, remember that kayaking involves movement through the water. It may sound obvious, but it can be easy to forget to reel up before you enter rough water.
If you kayak fish in the same general area repeatedly, it can be a good idea to keep a log. Keep track of what species you’re catching, where you’re catching them and what type of bait you’re using. Over time, you’ll begin to notice important patterns.
Plan Your Route
Of course, understanding the waters is about more than just good fishing. It’s about staying safe, and minimizing any hazards.
You should always have a solid understanding of where you’re going and what the conditions will be like. Generally, the more circular your route is, the harder it’ll be for you to get lost. When applicable, pay attention to the tides. You certainly don’t want to have to carry your kayak through unexpected patches of mud.
On the other side, when you’re in a large body of water, you should always be aware of other water vehicles. If the body of water is a lake or an ocean, you might have to deal with larger vehicles, including motorized watercraft. A kayak can be hard to see, especially in overcast or foggy weather. If you’ll be kayaking in such conditions, make sure your clothing and paddles have a high visibility. Reflective tape and bright colors could prevent a serious accident.
As with any outdoor venture, be sure and tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Done properly, kayaking is very safe, but nature can certainly throw a surprise or two our way.
Set Yourself Up for Success
There are three key elements to kayak fishing which you should always keep in the back of your mind. They are:
- Stability – By keeping your head centered, and your gear evenly distributed, you’ll drastically reduce your likelihood of a flip.
- Gear Storage – Keep the valuables in a dry sack, and ensure everything else can float and/or is leashed. There’s really no need to consider any of your equipment expendable. It can always be secured in some manner.
- Comfort – Kayaks certainly aren’t big or especially comfortable, so you want to do everything you can to maximize your ability to sit for hours at a time. A high quality seat cushion can certainly be worth the money. Additionally, careful placement of your equipment and an organized environment can certainly reduce your stress when you’re out on the water.
Kayaking is enjoyed all across the country, from small streams to large rivers to ocean coastlines. Kayak fishing is a great way to access areas you can’t get to on land. A whole new world of saltwater and freshwater fish are available for you to find and catch.
How to Get Started
If you’re new to kayaking in general, the first thing you should do is take a basic kayaking safety course. This can not only be informative, you can also meet some great people to kayak with later.
While kayak fishing can be enjoyable alone, it can also be great fun to enjoy with others. There are many kayaking clubs across the country. The best way to find them is to meet other kayakers out in the water, or search for “kayaking clubs” or “yakkers clubs” online.
Kayaking as a Lifetime Passion
Truly, nothing beats kayaking. By following these tips, you’ll always have a safe, fun time – and hopefully catch a lot of fish. Remember: the kayaking determines the fishing. To do the opposite is to put your safety at risk. No matter where you’re kayaking and what you’re fishing for, may it always be a safe, enjoyable experience.