Getting Started With Kayak Fishing
Written By: Mitch Donovan, August 13, 2013 Species:
I’m by no means an expert, but I have been fishing almost exclusively from kayaks in both fresh and salt water for the past 7 years in California, Oregon and Nevada.
I have a lot of bank and boat fishing buddies that are interested in kayaking and they ask me quite a few questions. My thought is that aspiring kayakers reading the Fish Sniffer Magazine might have some of the same questions. Hopefully my thoughts and observations will steer you in right direction.
Which Kayak Should I Choose?
This is a loaded question, because there are many factors to consider. Such as where will you be using the kayak, fresh or salt water! The size of the body of water you will be fishing in. Large wind swept bays or small ponds and lakes? How much do you weight and how tall are you? For example a 6'3" fisherman weighting 225 lbs would not pick a 10' kayak as his main boat to go saltwater fishing into a large bay!
Speak with your local paddle shop, ask questions, and most of all take a demo paddle. You will know which boats fit you after trying out one or two. Deal locally as you will have many more questions, and your local neighborhood paddle shop is always the best source. Be realistic don't try to have one kayak do it all, select the kayak for the type of paddling or fishing you will be doing at least 90% of the time. Do not select a kayak for that one isolated trip you might or might not take.
How Do You Transport A Kayak?
There are many ways to transport a kayak, by far the most convenient is a trailer. However, not everyone finds maneuvering a kayak trailer easy nor do they want the added expense.
The next best option is to choose a rack system from Thule, Malone, or Yakima. They all make great systems so you will not make a wrong choice with any of them. Decide if you want to transport a single boat or multiple boats, then comes the length and weight.
To transport small sit on tops or rec kayaks a J cradle style holder or vertical stacker is all you need. To transport more expensive or longer kayaks, look into the saddle holders by the companies mentioned. If you want an assist where you will not be lifting 100% of the boats weight look into the hull assist designs. There is a rack available for every vehicle on the road.
With the purchase of any rack system you will also get the very necessary tie down straps. Do not use any other straps other than cam buckle straps. Do not use ratchet style straps as they place too much pressure on the hull. Do not use bungee cords, and most importantly do not use string or poly rope.
Gearing Up A Fishing Kayak
Start small, you can always add items as you go. The essentials are a paddle holder and leash, a couple of rod holders, either flush mount or deck mounted. A milk crate or similar bag for you gear, a dry bag with a first aid kit, hook remover kit, and your rain gear.
Adding of electronics (DF, GPS, Compass) is important, but wait till after you use your kayak once or twice, you will have a better idea of which electronics to purchase and where to mount them.
Adding a rudder, or extra hatches can also be done at a later date. Remember, if you outfit it to the max and then decide to switch boats or do not like the placement of the options, it's hard to switch them around, plus you will have a couple of holes to fix. Holes anywhere in a kayak are never a good thing.
I usually recommend dealing with a local paddle shop that has had plenty of experience in mounting, drilling and cutting holes in plastic kayaks. They will be your best choice for options and also to answer your questions.
Always Wear Your Personal Floatation Device!
The use and wearing of a PFD should be considered the number one item to remember and always wear when out on the water. I have seen countless times fisherman and paddlers out on the water and not wearing their PFD's. The first mistake most commonly made is that a person dresses for the warm weather and not the water temperature. So on a nice sunny spring day they are out in a t-shirt and no PFD on. Well if you happen to fall in, the shock of the cold water will not give you enough time to put your PFD on, or if you happen not to be able to reach or find your PFD, you will drown.
The second common mistake is not purchasing a correct size or style PFD for your application. You've just spent hundreds of dollars on your new kayak and outfitting it, why skimp out on the most important accessory? If you purchase the correct PFD, it will be comfortable to wear and you will always remember to wear it.
Don't take unnecessary risk, always dress for the water temps and always wear your PFD. COLD WATER KILLS!
Summer time temperatures are not a reason to not wear or carry your PFD. People drown in all seasons. I once saw a young couple getting ready to launch there kayaks on a beautiful summer afternoon with no safety equipment, no PFD, nothing except themselves and a paddle. So I said to the young man that he should have a PFD for himself and his girlfriend.
His reply was that he had army training and was ready for everything. That may be true, but what would happen if a freak accident occurred and this young fellow was knocked unconscious? The last time I checked not even the army teaches folks to swim unconsciously…ALWAYS WEAR YOUR PDF!