23 Things to Remember When Fishing With Kayaks

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Updated on

When I was a kid, I used to paddle some canoes. I’d paddled a little whitewater as well. But, Farmville, VA has its fair share of long-time canoeists and whitewater paddlers. Many famous paddlers too hail from Farmville. So, I decided to embark upon a different scene. 

Yes, I decided to try kayak fishing. As a kid, I’d fished a lot with my Father. On occasion, as a teen, I retained this habit of fishing as well. But, I hadn’t done much fishing in my adult life. So, I started going fishing, relying on a used kayak back in 2014.

I took an interest in kayak fishing thinking that it would be a good marketing angle. Angling can help you pick up some skills. With those skills, you can relate to that share of the paddle-sports market. For someone who shares a bond with fishing, this shouldn’t be far-fetched. 

My Journey as an Angler 

Back in 2012, I started working at Appomattox River Company in Virginia. That fall, I had reprised a marketing-digital role and begun looking for ways to generate our brand awareness. Appomattox River Company already had gained prominence in the paddle-sports industry, and I wanted to involve more people and guide them into the fun. 

I also thought it wouldn’t take much of an effort to appeal to the larger fishing market. I initially didn’t think that this motivation would quickly turn into a complete obsession and that within me kept latent a passion that exploded with that first cast and that first kayak caught bass.

By June of 2013, the addiction became firmly ingrained. My first catch was saltwater fish from a kayak while in North Carolina. I caught some common carp that day.

Fast forward to 2018, it’s been over five years since this journey began. I’m constantly learning along the way. These angling lessons proved immensely valuable to me. I decided to share some of those lessons.

If you’re just starting out kayak fishing, hopefully, some of these will prove useful for you too. Kayak fishing offers a fantastic, soulful way to spend some time.

Many think that you need to buy a premium-grade kayak. But, in many cases, you do not need to buy a sophisticated kayak. But, talking to some experienced people about the best kind of kayak will go a long way.

You have to choose a kayak perfect for the water you plan to be fishing. This is usually combined with your height/weight and paddling ability. You may find articles stating that you can start with a $200 kayak. That’s true, for some folks.

However, I have received a lot of phone calls from the visitors of this site who bought pricey kayaks that can’t carry their weight. So, talking to people who know kayaks, before you buy will help immensely.

So let’s get started with things that are so important while kayaking and you should always keep those in mind.

  1. Avoid bringing your most pricey rods on the kayak your first few times on the water. It is possible for first-timers to flip (or turtle) once or twice. Then, you’d understand that it’s better to lose or break cheap rods than to watch your favorite ones spiral down to the bottom of a deep lake. 
  2. Speaking of lost rods, I had lost 3 cool Abu Garcia rods at the bottom of Summersville Lake in WV. If you ever find them, let me know. 🙂
  3. Kayak fishing is specifically different from fishing from a boat. You must be self-contained and ready to tackle any situation, by yourself. It’s both the beauty and risk coupled with the activity. Be sure to wear your PFD. There have been a lot of drowning incidents recently due to kayak anglers casting lines without flotation. 
  4. I bring a lot of necessary items in my PFD that I need. I do not fish without a tool. Fishing PFDs have made it a long way. However, do not mistake them for the 1970’s banana colored, camp lifejackets.
  5. Speaking of bananas, you don’t want to turn up to the boat launch, on event day, or any day, eating a banana. People will shout at you. Seriously, this thing happens. Google it if you don’t believe me. I made the mistake once. I won’t do it again.
  6. Do not hassle people asking for fishing spot info. Propel with a sense of adventure and try to be on your own as much as possible. Generate fishing reports, download the Google Earth app, scour old forum posts and explore. You can be enough knowledgeable with patterns, good fishing holes, etc from investing just a wee bit of effort. 
  7. As I stated before, kayak anglers depend on self-made skills, and most of the good ones put in a lot of hours perfecting the skill and exploring spots. Don’t expect them to be a passerby who would just turn around and hand that info over to you if you don’t have any initiative or plan. So, you must do your homework and pursue your goals and you’ll quickly be accepted into a great community of giving people.
  8. Getting a great shot of your catch sounds creative. If you want to explore your creative side and gain some followers on Facebook, get a mount for your camera (Yak Attack or Yak Gear). Join some fish grips and form a T-Reign retractor tether. When you seize the moment, slap it on the tethered fish grips and let it cool in the water while you get your camera all prepared. Push the timer setting and when the camera gets all set to snap, pull your fish up and you will have a fresh fish for the photo.
  9. This brings me to this tip for action cam users. GoPro cameras feature many settings, but few buttons. Learn to find the way around them quickly and correctly, because if you by chance hit “Burst” instead of “Time Lapse” you end up with 20 of these shots and none of them will feature full fish. I swear this is a good 3-4 lbs.
  10. If you are planning on spending all day outside, then keep some sun protection clothing. It’s too hard to remember to foam sunscreen throughout the day. With SPF clothing, you don’t need to remember, and you can pretend you’re a kayak fishing ninja. Glow your shins enough, you’ll layer up.
  11. Stay hydrated. Remember that kayak fishing requires all daylong exercise, much more so than sitting on a boat. If you spend the day outside, bring plenty of water. Nothing gets me all dizzy like a lack of water. It’s difficult to focus on developing a pattern for catching fish when your brain is dried up like a raisin. Dehydration will make you cranky and will just amplify your frustration if the fish aren’t biting.
  12. Now those of you who are switching from fishing to kayak fishing, remember this: A bad day kayak fishing isn’t bad at all. It could still be a good day kayaking. I struggle sometimes to keep this in mind. But, studies show, exercise will keep you happy. So, go out there, paddle and catch fish. Don’t be scared to invest some work. Some of my most rewarding days did require lots of paddling to find and catch the fish. And, when it pays off, I feel like an Avenger.
  13. Don’t overlook straps, and to leave your dry clothes in a vehicle. These things must be available at the takeout when you get there. Running shuttle will be impossible, and there are numerous ways to mess up the process, including not remembering to block with gas (nothing worse than pulling up a car on E at the takeout), not bringing a spare tire, or, worst of all, leaving your car keys at the put-in.
  14. A true paddling expert knows how to portage their canoe alone. You can always juggle carrying, but for real backwoods, cred learns to lift their boat solo. Stand next to the center thwart, in front of the canoe. Keep your knees twisted into a high squat, seize the gunwale closest to you, and lift the canoe up to the hull remains rested on your thighs. Reach across the boat to grab the far gunwale with one hand, and then put the other arm under the hull. Now, in one fluid motion, lift up with one knee and rock the canoe overhead. Allow the center thwart or yoke to stay on your shoulders behind the neck.
  15. Sometimes (as in, usually) you may not find changing rooms at paddling takeouts. Here’s how you can cope: Open two car doors to form a three-walled barricade, drape a towel around your waist and then disjointedly disrobe under the cover of the said towel.
  16. Put your paddle across the kayak just behind the cockpit, with one end expanding to shore. Now grab the paddle shaft and cockpit rim using one hand–creating an outrigger for further stability–as you ease in, or out, of your kayak.
  17. Find French press or filter hassling? Good, because a true river cred wouldn’t bring them anyway. Just carry a pot of water. Boil the water and throw in a few handfuls of grounds (precisely, two heaping tablespoons per cup, but let’s not make things difficult).
  18. A dry bag can come in handy as long as you take the responsibility to close it. To ensure water-tightness, first pack it right–no heavy items, with soft things occupying toward the top, and not too full. To close, coincide with the flaps, put pressure on to purge the air, and then collapse the closure firmly at least three times. “You want to fold it rather than rolling it,” says NRS rafting expert Clyde Nicely
  19. This stroke necessary is a clear-cut technique that divides good canoeists from everyone else. It’s a forward stroke that draws closure with steering input, allowing the stern paddler (or a solo canoeist) to drive the boat tracking arrow-straight without canceling speed. The key, says professional instructor Gordon Black, is keep the paddle’s power-face occupied right through the stroke.
  20. As the forward stroke finishes, twist your torso toward the paddle. Let the paddle blade travel behind you then twist your top hand down, pointing your thumb toward the water,” he remarks. 
  21. Rolling a kayak is a trick that shows your expertise–a simple maneuver that never fails to make an impression. It’s much easier to do than to give details, so learn from an expert instructor who will direct you through a series of skills and confidence-building drills at a speed that’s right for you.
  22. Aside from the obvious–making sure the seat’s on properly, not putting it next to someone’s tent door, and ensuring a little of privacy–there’s really only one thing to confirm this when setting up a river toilet: Choose a spot with a great view.
  23. Here’s something you need to remember about kayaking tradition: If you go swimming, you might be asked to drink a beer out of your wetsuit booty. To dispense, fill the booty as you would any fine stein: tip the ankle opening somewhat to evade foam and try not to gloat. 

Bottom Line

Kayak fishing will surely be your favorite pastime if you know how to fish. This article contains very important tips and techniques for kayak fishing. An angler can take his/her fishing in a kayak to the next level by following this.

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