How To Get Started in Kayak Fishing
Fishing from a kayak is easy – anyone can do it! Old or young, athletic or not, paddling a kayak will open a new world of fishing fun.
How do you get started? Start with the basics and dip your toes in a little at a time.
Kayak fishing isn’t for everyone. This is a water sport – you’ll get wet! Aquaphobics need not apply.
Great balance is strictly optional. The most popular fishing kayaks, all sit-on-top models, are known for their stability. Still, you’ll probably feel a bit tippy at first. Remember your first wobbly ride on a bicycle? Riding a sit-on-top kayak is easier and the rare crash landings are softer.
The first thing you need is a kayak. Fishing ‘yaks aren’t too expensive, starting at around $700 new and rarely exceed a couple thousand for the fanciest, most accessory laden, boats. That’s not so much that you’ll have to mortgage the back 40, but still a chunk of change for most people. You might want to take the sport for a test drive first.
Kayak dealers understand. Most shops offer free short-term demos, or will apply rental fees to a future boat purchase.
Better yet, borrow before you buy. Much of the rapid growth in kayak fishing is viral – you get it from someone who’s already caught the bug. Find a friend to take you or book a trip with a kayak fishing guide, a step sure to speed your learning process.
Ok, you’ve got a boat, paddle, and PFD. Now what?
Find some nice flat water, preferably warm water, a lake or a bay, and start slow. You might even leave the tackle at home on day 1 – the day you’ll get to know your kayak.
Explore the limitations of the boat. See how far it can lean without tipping. Challenge a wave or two, shimmy up and down the boat, and try dangling your feet off the boat edge. Test your limits a little bit – see what you are capable of when it is not critical to your safety. This is the equivlaent of taking your bike to the parking lot for the first ride. The best part is – no skinned knees, just a wet, happy paddler at days end.
Get the feel of paddling. Double the power of your paddle stroke by pushing with one arm at the same time you pull with the other. There’s a lot more to an efficient paddle stroke, but that’ll get you started in the right direction.
Now go fish! Grab a rod, a little bit of tackle, a drink, and a safety whistle (peferably already attached to your PFD). Improvise some tackle storage. Kayak anglers have been using milk crates outfitted with sections of cut-down PVC rod tubes for ages – Nanook probably kept one on his baidarka (that’s a north country skin kayak.)
Head to a familiar fishing hole and stick close to the beach on your first trips. Paddle upwind and enjoy an easy trip back. Use the fishing tricks you’practiced in a motor boat, only try them from the kayak. Soon you’ll get the hang of the sit-down fishing style, and catching more than ever.
Keep going and before long you’ll be ready to tackle the big water. Congratulations, you’re a kayak angler.