Kayak fishing is getting more popular among anglers, and for a good reason. Kayaks are lighter, sturdier, and more mobile than boats. Not to mention that their slender design makes it easier to access tight locations that'd be inaccessible with a boat.
If you're a beginner in the kayak fishing world, this is where to start. We'll walk you through everything you need to know about kayak fishing, the gear you need, and some extra tips and tricks.
1. Choosing the Right Kayak Propulsion System
There are three ways you can propel an angling kayak. You can use a conventional kayak paddle, a hands-free kayak paddling drive system, and a mountable electric motor. Each of these systems are designed to be used in specific environments.
A traditional kayak paddle is an excellent choice for kayak fishing in rivers and shallow water environments. The narrow draft line makes it easier for you to get into the weed. Not to mention that there will be nothing hanging below the kayak that could get damaged by obstacles or fast currents.
As for kayaks with pedals, these make an excellent choice for deeper waters because the underwater clearance is enough to avoid damaging the pedal system. The hands-free design allows you to cast your rod while moving your kayak at the same time, and can even help you cover more distance in a shorter time than a paddle can.
Motor-driven kayaks are the most advanced out there. However, if you'll be fishing in a harsh environment with lots of obstacles and a low water level, you'll risk damaging it.
2. Know the Waters’s Type
In addition to choosing the right propulsion system, you need to know the type of waters you'll be fishing in and pick your kayak accordingly.
Fast-moving waters require a kayak with extra stability to help you with the currents. On the other hand, fishing in still waters requires a kayak that's both short and inflatable with minimal rocker.
As for saltwater, it can be divided into two: inshore waters and offshore waters. Inshore waters require a slender kayak as it works best with strong waves and wind.
On the flip side, offshore waters are the most challenging to fish in since you'll likely have to paddle for long distances. Get a long and slim kayak with a moderate level of rocker so you can deal with unstable weather conditions.
Many anglers prefer to opt for sit-on-top kayaks to fish in this type of water. It's recommended for you as a beginner to skip fishing in offshore waters until you’re more experienced.
3. Anchor System
An anchor system is essential for kayak fishing. There are many times when you'll need to make your boat stay still when fishing since even a little bit of movement can make you lose your catch.
Moreover, a robust anchor system will help you out with tides and strong wind. A general rule of thumb is to use at least two lbs of anchor weight to stabilize your kayak.
4. Setting up your Kayak for Fishing
You don't necessarily have to get every single item on the list. Some items are a must, while others aren't necessary, but they're definitely good to have.
- Kayak cart: for moving your kayak easily on land.
- Kayak clip: to secure your paddle to the kayak.
- Kayak leash: for additional paddle securing.
- Fishing rod: to catch the fish. It's preferable to pick a medium-lengthed one.
- Fishing reel: to move the hook in the water. Make sure to match it with your rod according to weight class.
- Fish grip with scale: to hold the fish and weigh it.
- Hook remover tool: to detach your catch from the hook more easily.
- Fishing rod holder: so you can use your rod hands-free.
- Pliers: to remove the fish from the hook
- Fishing gloves: to protect your hands from sunlight and get a better grip on your rod.
- Stocked tackle bag: to organize your tackle conveniently.
- Fish bag: to store your fish at an appropriate temperature.
- Fishfinder: to find fish below the surface of the water using a camera system.
- Personal Floatation Device (PFD): to prevent yourself from drowning in case you fall into the water.
- Sunscreen: to protect your skin from sunburning.
- Whistle: to call for help in case something goes wrong.
- Compass: to find your way if you don't have a navigation device.
- Cell phone: to contact someone in case of emergency.
- Kayak light: for safer navigation during night-time.
- First aid kit: for immediate medical intervention in case of severe injuries.
- GPS device: to track your location and avoid getting lost.
- Fishing hat: to protect your head and neck from sunlight.
- SPF lip balm: to protect your lips from UV rays.
- Polarized sunglasses: to protect your eyes from sunlight reflection from the surface of the water.
It's worth noting that it's always a good idea to have a kayak paddle even if you're using one of the other two systems since you never know when your motor or your drive system will fail. You'll also need it to paddle for short distances, which is more convenient with a kayak paddle.
Pick a paddle with a length between 240 and 260 centimeters. The paddle's blade design depends on how you intend to paddle. If you're going to paddle a lot in a standing position, go for a high angle blade.
On the other hand, if you'll be paddling in a seated position most of the time, get a low angle blade. Some kayak paddles allow you to tether the blades, which can be very useful when the wind is strong. Tethering lets you adjust the angle of the blade on one side of the paddle, which can help you move more efficiently in strong winds.
5. Tips & Tricks for Kayak Fishing Beginners
Check the Weather Forecast
It's essential to take a look at the weather forecast before you go on your Kayak fishing trip. The last thing you want to do is to go fishing during unstable weather conditions like storms and heavy rain. It'd also help you decide what to wear and whether you'll need to change your clothes in the middle of the day as it gets hotter or colder.
Another essential thing to do is to research the environment you'll be fishing in so you can get a better idea and how you should prepare.
For example, you should check to see whether there are some well-known obstacles in that area and how you can avoid them. It's also a good idea to know the type of waters you'll be fishing in and prepare your gear accordingly.
Furthermore, you need to know the fish species in that area and pick the right bait for them. It'd also help you research the best techniques to catch different types of species.
When you go kayak fishing, you'll take a lot of gear with you, which's why you need plenty of storage space. It'd be inconvenient to just put your gear in the kayak haphazardly. It can even be unsafe if some of them are sharp objects. Get a large container to store everything in it.
Join Local Kayak Fishing Communities
Unlike boat fishing, kayak fishing has a more defined community that you can connect with and ask those who are experienced enough for tips. Everyone in the kayak fishing community is passionate about it and you'll find a lot of anglers who can help you out!
Kayak fishing is a fantastic way to have loads of fun, stay active, and get some fish to sell or cook. It's a beautiful experience that'll keep you craving for more and you can even make some new friends by joining a local kayak fishing community. Enjoy your time, but always remember to stay safe!