When compared head-on to traditional boats, kayaks often prove to be more helpful when it comes to fishing. Although there is no way of moving as fast as 40 miles/hour, you get the benefit of being able to get close to fish without scaring them. As far as I am concerned, I own a kayak as well as a boat and mostly, I find that using the former is far more efficient. At times, it seems that I get more fish using a kayak within just a few meters than I get when revolving around a whole lake using a boat.
Why Are Kayaks Great for Fishing?
Providing the flexibility to use in any part or place, kayaks are loved for being quiet as well as lightweight. Further, these easy-to-launch water-vessels do not require an engine, resulting in noiseless movements. Since it is possible to get close to areas full of fish with kayaks without scaring the fish, sneaky ways work wonders.
Learning to Maneuver
Many beginners go kayaking without even understanding proper maneuvering techniques. That is one of the easiest ways to get disheartened and frustrated, because when the movements are not defined with expertise, it can become really hard to catch fish. Therefore, learning proper maneuvering techniques is very important. Moreover, along with knowing how to expertly paddle, one hand paddling practice helps too, since that can allow you to steer in the direction of a fish while paddling.
I remember this time when I found a fish having a weight of about 40 pounds. The fishing line I was using was quite thin, and I was about to run out of fishing line, but since I had the ability to paddle with a single hand, I ended up catching the fish finally.
Is using a number of accessories necessary?
Having mastered maneuvering techniques, the most logical step is starting to fish. I personally believe that it is best to use no accessories at all when just starting out. Although things like anchoring systems, rod holders, live wells, flags etc. help a lot, for beginners, those things can prove to be distracting. That said, of course, necessary things like pliers, reel, rod, cutting device, life jacket, paddle and fishing tackle are important to keep at all times, but other things are best avoided.
Most new kayakers find it hard to multitask, so it does not make sense to use heaps of accessories, only to get disappointing results due to too much unmanageable work. Even now, I tend to keep my gear needs to minimum.
Certain extras that help
Although most major accessories can be avoided, it is quite logical to keep a fish grip or a net. The reason is that you can never tell what fish you will actually encounter on a particular day. For instance, if you end up encountering something like muskellunge with truly sharp teeth, grabbing such fish by mouth will be impossible with the help of hand.
Moreover, try to always take an additional bag with dry clothes to tackle emergencies, just in case. Particularly when water temperature seems low, there is high risk of falling down in the water.
Starting fishing with your kayak
The moment you feel that you have all the required gears, it is your moment to launch the kayak. I mostly feel that beginner kayakers should start practicing in calm waters, either in a lake or river. Moreover, things like setting a rod properly while paddling, gauging convenient spots for keeping the gears etc. should be the main concerns at first. Personally, I keep my net, rod, grips and pliers within easily reachable distance. Also, I prefer to have a few extra lures, so that in case there occurs snapping due to some reason, I can deal with the situation quickly.
Having noted on a mental level the right spots to keep the gears, it is time to start the journey of fishing. Note that kayak fishing primarily depends on the type or species of fish you deal with. Mostly though, kayakers like to go for bass. Keep in mind that while fishing, especially bass, kayak positioning plays a huge part when it comes to determining success.
How to go about luring fish?
If the lures you are using are buzzbaits or hollow frogs – which are essentially topwater; casting toward the lake or river bank should be a good technique. The main reason is that real frogs are generally present only around the banks, so it makes sense for simulating frogs to do the same. However, if spinnerbaits or crankbaits appeal to you, try casting downriver. Moreover, note that bass generally prefer such lures when in frequent motion. You can also pause between reeling from time to time.
Further, in case you are utilizing soft plastics, casting downriver is the best thing to do. Going directly across in relation to the kayak to shallow water can be also helpful. When senko plastics are in use, it is best to twitch and sink those using irregular motions, or using movements having occasional pauses. Heavy plastic lures like creature bait work great when casting downriver as well. Such baits normally receive the most response when moved closely to the ground.
When you deal with catfish, carp or bass, anchoring can be the best thing to do. Basically, you keep the kayak unmoved in the water, while the bait remains still underwater. One very useful anchoring practice is to take help of eddies. Behind a water current, there remains little still area, which is known as eddy. When you keep the tip of your kayak toward the eddy rapids, being still for long durations becomes easy. At times, it may even feel like you are in the bank. The only thing you need to be aware of is the direction in which the kayak seems to be moving, and the apparent location of the lure.
Dealing with large fish
At times, you will have to deal with large fish, which can literally pull a kayak all over the place. In such a situation, always either allow the fish to pull the kayak or counteract it with the help of single hand paddle technique. The goal here is to get the fish tired of all the running around, and finally move it into your kayak. The best way to go about it is by allowing the fish to be very near to your kayak, so that there is no need to reach out too much.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.