Kayak access: fish the overlooked – Jackson Kayak Tip of the Week

Jackson Kayak Tip of the Week

A great way to approach moving waters is to paddle over to soft water, tie off to your 'yak and wade fish. Photo Matt Ball
A great way to approach moving waters is to paddle over to soft water, tie off to your ‘yak and wade fish. Photo Matt Ball

By Matt Ball

Years ago, one of the things that really got me interested in fishing out of a kayak was the ability to find and access water that most others either overlook or just can’t get to in the bigger boats.  As a kayak angler, we have the ability to drop in or float some of the country’s most often overlooked hot spots. Kayaks not only provide ease of access to these areas, they also offer the ability to effectively fish remote waters.

Here are a few tips to make these trips even more productive:

Many kayakers favor fishing in rivers and small streams.  On that type of waterway you are generally going to encounter moving water that can be roughly divided into deeper, slower water or shallower, faster water.  Fishing in deeper, slower moving water is fairly straight forward.

What about those places where the current picks up, and small rapids or riffles tend to move you through with only a few casting opportunities?  Those are exactly the places that tend to provide some great fishing! Yet a good number of anglers tend to simply hit swift water briefly on the way by.

Getting where no one else fishes is one of the major attractions of fishing from a kayak. Photo Matt Ball
Getting where no one else fishes is one of the major attractions of fishing from a kayak. Photo Matt Ball

Instead, I like to pull over to the shore or paddle into an eddy near shallow water, tie off to my kayak and get out.  By doing this I am able to thoroughly fish the sections that I otherwise would have only made a few select casts to.  This also gives me the chance to present my lure more naturally, by casting upstream and working back past the fish holding structure in the rapids.

Getting out and fishing also opens up more opportunities to use many more techniques that require a slower presentation. This can be difficult to do while flying through a rapid. I then make my way slowly down the moving section by either wading or floating down a little further and exiting the boat again to fish. This is a much safer method to fish sections of fast water, much better than trying to use an anchor or drag chain which can very easily turn disastrous.

Another approach I take that requires you to get out of the kayak is to work my way upstream.  Two things that keep a lot of people off the small streams and rivers are either a lack of access points or the lack of a shuttle vehicle.  Often you encounter a nice looking section of stream that you want to try, but you either do not have a second vehicle, or the next access point is too far downstream to realistically fish in an evening or even a day.

The target of the hunt! Quality bass were waiting for Matt Ball and his fishing partner. Photo Matt Bell
The target of the hunt! Quality bass were waiting for Matt Ball and his fishing partner. Photo Matt Bell

Many times with a little work you can simply put in and paddle upstream till it gets too shallow, then drag your boat up to the next pool and continue upstream as far as you like.  This is a good way to get to some great spots for a short trip.  It is also a great tournament day technique that can put you on some water that others may not get to until the end of their float.

Also, don’t forget to look for feeder creeks off of the main rivers that may lead you to some excellent, remote fishing hot spots.  One river I frequent has a great example of this.  There is a smaller stream that feeds into the main river that most people just pass on by.  My good friend and fishing partner and I pulled our kayaks upstream through the moving shallows to find a beautiful waterfall and deep hole that has held some great bass.  Without getting out of the boat and doing a little dragging, we would never have hit this hot spot.

Fishing out of a Kayak is kinda like driving around in a 4-wheel drive,  It will get you to a lot of places others can’t get to, but don’t forget to stop and get out to fully enjoy the ride!

Editor’s Note: Matt Ball is the reigning Kayak Bass Fishing National Champion, winning $32,700 in the 2016 event.

It may seem like hard work hauling a kayak upstream but the payoff can be oustanding. Photo Matt Ball
It may seem like hard work hauling a kayak upstream but the payoff can be oustanding. Photo Matt Ball