Looking for a new hobby or maybe just a way to unwind after the hustle and bustle of your work week? Do you love being on the water and fishing? Ever tried kayak fishing? Well, you should – and we’re about to tell you why, as well as everything you need to know to get started – Keep reading for invaluable kayak fishing tips.
What is Kayak Fishing?
So, what is kayak fishing? Well, you guessed it; it’s fishing from a kayak.
Okay, but why kayak fishing? What makes it different or better than any other type of fishing?
Well, here are some perks of kayak fishing
- Kayaks are cheaper than boats (Usually less than 1/10th of the price!)
- You get a chance at fish that are usually scared off by the sound of a motor
- Fish in any environment!
- Kayaks are much more portable than boats, simply get (or make!) an attachment for your car, and haul it anywhere you want to go!
- Get a little workout while you fish (let your significant other know it’s not just fishing, it’s a workout too!)
- Being out in a kayak has been said to be much more relaxing and soothing than driving a boat
Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners (the best tips & tricks!)
- Talk to an expert! A lot of towns/cities near water have kayak fishing guided tours & charters; you can try it out and see if you like it before you commit to purchasing your own equipment. Or you can at least go in and ask the guides some questions & get some info before you make a decision!
Some questions to ask:
- What are their favorite places to fish in the area?
- What are their favorite fish to target?
- What gear could they not live without (besides a “life” jacket)?
- What kind of kayak should you get?
- Figure out where you want to fish, the ocean, ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. Also, look up what affects the fish in your area (the moon/tide, the seasons, weather, etc.)
- Look up the best kayaks for the type & place of fishing you decided on in the steps above. The internet is wonderful, yes, but going to an actual store and talking to someone, seeing, and testing the boats will be of much more value.
Now, there are many types of kayaks – recreational, touring, whitewater, inflatable, and folding, to name a few. What you want to make sure you are searching for is different types of FISHING kayaks. Longer boats are usually swifter and move more quickly through the water. Wider boats are typically more stable. If you’ll be doing a lot of standing and fishing, maybe lean towards a wider version. Boats with “upswept bows” or “rockers” are better in waters with current or waves, but not so great in still water. There are also “sit on top” kayaks and “insider” kayaks. Basically, this means one version is more of a platform that you sit on top of, and the other has a seat, or cockpit, carved into the boat itself. They both have their pros and cons. The sit on top version, let’s just say you may get a little damp, as there is not much protection from the outside water. However, with this type, you can more easily add on some goodies and accessories, and it’s a bit easier to get out of the boat into the water if you prefer to wade or stand. The insider kayaks are great for colder and deeper water as they tend to protect you much better from the surrounding water. Insider types also provide more stability, since you are lower into the boat, however, this does make it a bit tougher to get out of the boat to stand or wade.
Before you choose a kayak to purchase, TEST, TEST, TEST! Test even the ones you hate at first sight. Most dealers will let you rent and then apply the rental fee to your purchase. A lot of dealers will also provide classes on paddling and other techniques to get you started.
- Gather up some goodies! Whether it is rod holders, a cooler, an anchor, or comfortable seating – or maybe all of the above! (You’ll find some must-haves later in this article).
Once you get into shopping and testing, you’ll come to realize that there are more expensive “pre-rigged” angler models and much cheaper stock models. You can save quite a bit of money by rigging a stock version yourself. Now, this does require drilling holes in something that’s designed to float, so if you’re not comfortable with your power tool skills, I’d go for the pre-rigged model. It’s also a good idea to take your new kayak out a few times to get a feel for where you would like accessories to be.
- Transportation! Whether you want to buy a rack for your car or make your own out of some foam noodles and nylon, you have to haul it somehow!
Make sure to think about this ahead of time, because if you go to purchase a kayak, you’ve got to have a way to get it home! Now, obviously, retail dealers are going to sell transportation gear. If you’d rather just buy it, and be done with it, there is always that option. You can ask the store clerks what they recommend and possibly even have them help you install it. Now, if you’d like to save a few bucks, you can always look online to order a rack that is versatile, so it will fit whichever kayak you end up purchasing. Now, if you’re like me, and like to save more than a few bucks, you can make one yourself! There are tons of DIY kayak rack instructions you can find online, but here are the basics:
- Get three pool noodles from the dollars store, Walmart, or whatever store is nearest you, cut them to the width of your car’s roof.
- Lay the noodle across your car’s roof (short-ways, or from driver side to passenger side, end to end), one near the windshield, one in the middle, and one across the back near the rear-view window. (Try to do this out of the wind or you’ll be chasing noodles down the street like a fool)
- Lift your kayak onto the roof, on top of the noodles, make sure it is balanced.
- Now secure with some straps. You can either use nylon straps with buckles, a ratchet type strap, or bungee cords. All of which you can find at a home improvement store if you can’t find them at a dollar store or Walmart.
- Open all your doors, run the straps over the boat into the car doors and secure inside the car at the ceiling. Make sure the straps are tight, but not too tight as to dent the roof. You may also want to run a bungee cord from the back of the boat and hook it under the back of your car to the frame.
- You can also run a bungee cord from the front end of the boat, over your windshield, and hook it under the front of your car. This isn’t to keep the boat secure, but to make sure it stays pointing forward. You can skip this step if you’re feelin’ extra lazy.
- Voila! You have your own, homemade, kayak transportation device!
- Now that you can transport your kayak, what will you do with it once you get it home?
There are tons of storage options that you can find online. Most people prefer to keep their kayak outside or in the garage unless you plan on your kayak doubling as a 14’ nightstand. If you plan on keeping it outdoors, keep in mind that plastic doesn’t do well in prolonged light and heat so definitely look into some of those storage options (or you can always build your own!)
- Learn some techniques! From boat positioning/drifting to casting to “sight fishing”, there are tons of interesting techniques to try
First things first, you need to know how to paddle, how to get in and out of the boat, and knowing basic water reading skills and safety. As mentioned before, most kayak retailers will have classes you can take that teach you the basics. Get comfortable in your kayak before you try fishing. Google and Youtube are your friends here. There are endless techniques you can try depending on the types of fish and environments you will be fishing.
Some Tips to Get You Started
- Google and YouTube are your friends! Research, research, research! We can tell you a lot, but there is endless information available!
- Always have your paddle lying across your lap, ready to grab if you need to re-position yourself or push away from something.
- Practice being ambidextrous. Try paddling with one hand and holding your rod with the other.
- Typically, you can locate more fish if you let your boat drift, control the direction of your drift with very light paddling.
- Use a rod’s length of line when landing a fish. Work with the slack line.
- Always make sure everything on your kayak is secured; always be prepared in case you flip!
- Bug spray and sunscreen!
- Bait that gives resistance can actually help you steer. Reeling in the bait can pull your boat in the direction that you cast.
- Always rinse your gear when you come in. Especially if fishing in salt water
- Always let someone on shore know when you’re going out, and when you plan on coming back in. Carry a mobile phone to warn them if you’re running late.
- Understand and utilize the tides
- Get a fish finder (recommendation below)
- What to do when you get a bite
First of all, remember, you’re in a kayak, your instincts will tell you to bury that hook, but if you rare back too hard, you’re going to end up soaked. The main trick here is once you hook that fish, to keep your rod tip very high, almost vertical, and bring the fish to the side of the kayak. Once the fish is right up next to your boat, you should be able to see it without taking it up out of the water and you can determine if you’ve gotten a keeper or if you should let it go. If you’ve gotten a keeper there are a few ways to get her on board. You can use a net – without leaning too far, scoop up the fish and unhook her. If you have the fish close enough to the boat, you can simply coerce the fish onto the boat with one hand.
- Now that she’s on-board, what to do with her?!
Now that you’ve done it, you’ve finally caught a fish worthy enough to bring home for dinner. How on earth do to you keep this thing fresh on board your kayak? As soon as the fish dies, it starts to deteriorate. Keeping the fish cold is your main priority. There are numerous options to keep your fish fresh, you can use insulated fish bags, coolers, stringers, and burlap sacks. A lot of kayakers prefer to use fish stringers rather than carry the fish on board. This does cause some drag since you will have moving fish tethered to your boat, and may also double as some shark bait, so keep that in mind depending on where you plan on fishing.
- And now everyone’s favorite – Safety, safety, safety
Check your state laws and regulations for what is required to have on your boat and anything else you need to be aware of before you hit the water! Always check the weather for storms and wind. The wind causes rough water which puts you at higher risk for overturning. If you ever hear a buzzing or vibrating sound coming from your fishing rods, get off the water ASAP, this is a predictor of lightning. While heading to shore, lower your fishing rods so they don’t act as lightning rods. Fog increases your risk of getting lost; always have a compass or GPS on board and try to steer clear of foggy areas. Always dress for wet, hypothermia is ALWAYS a threat when you’re on the water. Beware of thrashing fish with hooks and teeth – always use caution when handling fish. BEWARE of wildlife! Alligators, sharks, snakes, always keep an eye out and try to prevent bloody trails in water. The biggest threats to kayakers are powerboats, avoid high traffic areas and try to always be noticed if you are near powerboats. Do your research, be aware of risks, and take all precautions!
Must Have Gear For Your fishing Arsenal
Since we just got off the topic of safety, first and foremost, you need to get a PFD (personal floating device) if not only to save your tail (he-he, get it.. cause fish have tails) if you fall in the water, but also, IT’S THE LAW! Double check your state laws on what is required. Some states require you to wear your PFD at all times, while others only require you to have one on your boat that is easily accessible.
Now, whether you decided to go with the pre-rigged or the stock version of a kayak, you’re going to need some storage for all your gadgets and goodies. Our favorite water-resistant accessory bag is the Shoreline Marine Ultimate Kayak Bag. Seriously, it’s the only bag you’ll ever need.
I know I told you to go check out your local stores and TEST, TEST, TEST. But that doesn’t mean you can’t test, and then buy online. Also, there are always tons of reviews to check out if you would rather trust the word of others. Our favorite, after TESTING, TESTING, and TESTING (we did it so you don’t have to) is the Ocean Kayak Prowler Fishing Kayak.
Don’t get discouraged if you just can’t seem to find those fish! We had some trouble too… That is until we came across a wonderful bit of technology; The Deeper Smart Fishfinder floats in the water and transmits detailed bottom and water column information directly to your smartphone screen. We don’t ever leave land without it.
Now that you’re armed and ready with the basics, get to work! Do your research and get prepared to embark on your new favorite hobby. Remember to consult an expert, ask lots of questions, be aware of safety measures and precautions and last but definitely not least, have an awesome time learning, exploring, and catching tonight’s dinner!