We’ve put together the best kayak fishing tips for all the new enthusiasts we’ve encountered coming into our store for kayaks to fish from. If you love the great outdoors, then kayak fishing is for you. It combines two fantastic activities, kayaking and fishing. What better way to get out into nature and onto the water, than kayaking while on the hunt for fish?
Kayak fishing has become immensely popular over the last decade as people look for alternative methods of reaching the fish, without using motors or other unsustainable transport methods. When fishing off of your kayak, it is just you, the water and of course your target, the big fish.
Kayak fishing is an amazing activity and you will not only reap the benefits of catching fish, but also get healthier and fitter in the process. Before you start though, there some things you will need to both learn and consider, carefully. While this may seem a little daunting at first, once you have locked these pointers down, your fishing will just get better and better.
To get you started on your kayak fishing journey, we have compiled this list of essential tips for getting started. Check each of these off on your checklist and you will be well on your way to becoming a kayak fishing master.
Here are our 8 top kayak fishing tips to help you get started:
1. Decide on a Location
First up with our kayak fishing tips is location. You cant fish if you don’t have a location. Many people waste too much time just randomly looking for fishing spots. Ensure you maximize your water time by choosing your location before you head out.
Check the weather forecast, do your research on what spots work at certain times of the year and where best to head for the species of fish you wish to target.
Many beginners make the mistake of thinking that paddling further is better. Most times this will make for an unnecessary amount of energy burn and create a long paddle back home. Often the best route is a circular one that keeps returning to the starting point.
Also always ensure that you paddle upwind first, as working back against the wind when you are fatigued, is not a great way to end your day of kayak fishing.
2. Picking a Kayak and Handle
This kayak fishing tip relates to picking your kayak, and considering all your possible needs. There are a couple of important pointers to consider before making your choice of kayak.
Consider the conditions you will be paddling. Different types of kayaks are suitable for various kinds of water bodies. For instance, if you plan to be fishing in a steady lake or a mellow area of a river, you will need a regular kayak, like our Manatee. These often have a suitable flat bottom for working in shallower waters and won’t need the aid of a rudder.
However, if you wish to be hitting the surf, then bring in your big guns. The key points to keep in mind are the steadiness, sturdiness, stability and seating comfort you require. If you plan to be catching big fish, think large storage compartments. You will also need a craft that is designed to cut through the waves, with a sleek outline and a rudder system for control. An open water fishing kayak will make for a much better experience on the salt water.
Unless you live on the water, you also need to take into regard your mode of transportation. The bigger, open water kayaks are often over ten feet in length and you will either require a large truck or van to transport them, or a rack system on the roof of your vehicle. Ensure you have thought this out before purchasing your craft.
Once you have locked down your kayak, the next most important choice is your paddle. Often people choose a cheaper paddle to start. Our advice is to not skimp when it comes to this essential piece of equipment.
Fishing paddles are specific to anglers. They have a longer shaft for wider fishing kayaks. They have bigger blades to propel the larger, weighted-down kayaks. And they have angler features like a tape measure on the shaft and bending branches’ hook retrieval system in the blade.
You can always upgrade your kayak down the line, but a good paddle is essential from the start.
3. Length of Line
In the beginning, you want to start with a shorter line on your rod. If you get fouled on weeds or other debris, you want to be able to unhook it fast. If you hook a big fish, you don’t want to be fighting it for too long either, especially when it can tow you out into the deep water. This kayak fishing tip is important to remember.
To start, we recommend using shorter lines, until you get used to controlling your kayak while fishing. As you get stronger and more confident in your abilities, you can start lengthening your line.
Once you have mastered fishing while on a kayak you can start using bigger tackle and targeting the big game fish. Some of these can take over an hour of battling to land and tow your kayak over large distances.
4. Sight Fishing
Sitting on a fishing kayak you are on the water line. Sometimes this means it can be quite difficult to spot where the fish are. A good technique for giving yourself an advantage is called sight fishing. This kayak fishing tip and technique usually requires looking inside the water body from a high vantage point. This means that you either need to have heightened seating by perching yourself or will need to stand up on your kayak.
Our sight kayak fishing tip to you is to practice these techniques in some shallow, safe waters, before taking them out into the open water. Find a safe piece of water and practice lifting yourself off of the seat, or if you really want to master the technique, standing on your kayak. We also highly recommend using polarised sunglasses when kayak fishing, to see through the glare on the surface of the water.
Sight fishing is extremely useful in kayak fishing once you have mastered your technique. Due to the quiet nature of the kayak, the fish are not spooked, and are not alarmed by your approach. You will want to look for disturbances on the surface of the water, which generally indicate the movement of fish under the surface. Often you will actually be able to see the tails of the fish breaking the surface, called “tailing”.
When fishing on larger waters look out for big shoals of baitfish on the surface. These generally indicate the presence of large game fish, as the baitfish congregate in tight bundles to avoid being eaten. Get your bait or lure near these bait balls and get ready to have it taken.
5. Use Anchors
An anchor is not generally the first thing that enters your mind when thinking about kayaks. However, anchors are most definitely an essential item in kayak fishing gear and has got to be included in our list of top kayak fishing tips. Anchors are not really used for open ocean fishing, as you are generally trawling or moving with the currents as you fish.
They are useful if you plan to fish in an area which is an open lake or slow-moving river systems. These areas are often windy, and an anchor comes in very handy in positioning your boat in a particular spot and holding it there. Maintaining position will be hard to achieve without an anchor since the wind currents will keep shifting the kayak. For bass fishing, an anchor is an essential piece of gear for your kayak.
For most kayaks, a claw anchor weighing 2 to 4 pounds is sufficient. Make sure to use an easy-release anchor, since wind currents that are too heavy might end up pushing the boat underwater and drowning it.
6. Know Your Fish
There is a wealth of knowledge available to you online when it comes to fish species and locations. For example, if you are fishing in the Florida area, you could check out the Florida Go Fishing website.
Full of kayak fishing tips on great spots, which species to target and even which bait works best.
You can also talk to the staff at the local fishing and tackle shops, buy books on your local area and of course follow local angling stars on social media. In the beginning, a great way to learn about your local area’s fishing sites is to hire a local guide for a few trips. They will show you the best areas, what bait works and what species can be caught.
If you are someone who usually catches in a specific locality, you must know the fish life cycles. Do some research and find out what species exist where you fish. Study their life cycles and reproduction cycles and make a log out of it. This will help you keep track of when the population is flourishing and the fish numbers are at their peaks.
Maintaining a log will help you catch more fish in less time and hence prove your fishing trips successful. This result-oriented approach is fool-proof. Moreover, try expanding your horizons by not targeting just one kind of fish especially if you are a beginner. This might make catching very hard.
In the beginning, you need to concentrate more on your technique. Get your paddling and fishing techniques honed before you start targeting specific species of fish. Once you are totally comfortable on your kayak with rod in hand, you can start targeting species.
7. One Hand Paddling
This technique is the hardest and the most useful. One-handed paddling is needed in case you are tackling a fish with one hand and need to steer or maintain the kayak in a particular position. While one-handed paddling will seem extremely difficult at first, it does get easier with practice.
When a catch is at stake, you cannot use both hands to maneuver your kayak. This is where this kayak fishing tip on one hand paddling comes in. Have a way to anchor the kayak handle along with your forearm and steer with the paddle part dipped in the water. This is also when an open water kayak with a rudder comes in handy. You can use the foot peddles and your rudder to change the direction the kayak moves in, helping to stabilize the kayak.
8. Kayak Fishing Tips on Safety
If you are heading out onto the water, you always need the correct safety gear. Make sure to check your local health and safety regulations too, to make sure you have the correct safety gear for your area. Every fishing kayak should have a basic medical kit on board, and every person on a kayak should be wearing a flotation jacket or device.
You will be spending a significant amount of time in the sun, so always be prepared. A good factor 50 sunblock, large brim hat, polarized sunglasses, and protective clothing should be part of your fishing gear.
Another important kayak fishing tip is to always make sure you have water on board as you don’t want to dehydrate. A few snacks and energy bars are also a great idea.
Make sure you always let your family and friends know where you will be fishing. Also, make sure you have your cellphone in a waterproof pouch in case of emergencies. Every craft on the water should carry flares.
Lastly, make sure you have a good pair of fishing pliers and a sharp knife. This is invaluable for when you have to quickly de-rig a line, cut an anchor or perhaps even remove a hook from your body. Accidents happen, so always be prepared.
Kayak fishing has become immensely popular across the planet and for good reason. It gets you out on the water, close to nature and most importantly, close to the fish.
On top of that, its eco-friendly nature makes it a favorite among nature lovers. There are no age restrictions, though an adult should always accompany minors.
Use our top kayak fishing tips above to get started, and you will be on the fast track to becoming a great kayak fisherman. It takes time, so put in the practice and make sure you are prepared before hitting the water. Most importantly, catch fish and have fun!