Pick Up Your Boat and Head Out Kayak Fishing
Paddlers hit the marsh for Kayak FishingKayak Fishing © Ron Brooks
Kayak fishing is growing at an amazing rate. This relatively new fishing sport is becoming more and more popular every day. Areas where I used to fish and have the water all to myself are now being regularly sought by kayak fishermen. In the past, kayak fishing was pretty much looked at as a curious anomaly in saltwater. But, today, kayaks are being made specifically for fishing, with bells and whistles that meet an angler’s needs. Kayak fishing has arrived!
What You NeedObviously the first thing you will need is a kayak. Not many places have grown to the point of renting fishing kayaks, but many areas offer the best made fishing kayaks at a price much less than a full sized boat. You can get an idea of what types of boats are available at About.com’s Paddling site.
Fishing EquipmentThe fishing gear required for kayak fishing is not any different than any other fishing gear. It needs to be tailored to the fish you plan to pursue. Spinning gear, because of the relative ease of handling, and the longer rod butt works well in a kayak. That longer rod butt makes it easier to stay put in a rod holder.
Where to LaunchI suggest planning your trip by picking an area where larger boats will not interfere with your travels. Not all boaters are courteous enough to slow to a “no wake” speed when they pass paddlers. Launching can take place anywhere you can gain legal access to the water – which means stay off of private property, and make sure it is legal and safe to leave your vehicle parked where you launch. Kayak fishing makes so many places launchable, and some of them could very well include private property or road right-of-way. The beauty of kayak fishing is that you can literally go “where no boat has gone before” – power boat that is. You can access shallow water, water that won’t float even a kayak at low tide. This past week I encountered kayak anglers fishing at high tide in an area that is a huge, dry mud flat at low tide. They told me they could fish it for about two hours before heading off the flat. I had trouble leaving the flat with my boat and trolling motor, and the tide had only been going out for about a half hour. Many kayak fishermen use a super kayak and actually fish the ocean. Although, I’m not sure how far they can stand to paddle to fish, many anglers have caught king mackerel, and even sailfish from their tiny boats. Obviously it takes an adventurous soul and a day of lighter winds to fish the ocean.
Where to FishThis is where the kayaks have an extreme advantage. They can fish areas that are untouched by other anglers. Back country mud flats, oyster rakes, and salt marshes are all accessible and fishable in a kayak. Take a chart of your area – a NOAA chart – and find some of those back areas, and look for an easy launch or access point. Go there at low tide and scout the area from land if possible. Look for holes, drops, oyster bars, etc – anything that can attract fish. Then mark your chart, come back about two hours before high tide, and launch. You should be able to fish all the way up to high tide and an hour or two after the tide turns. There are creeks and runs that hold plenty of water at low tide to float a kayak, but not enough to float a bigger boat. These are ideal locations. The trick is to get off the beaten path and look for areas that other anglers can’t reach.
What Do We Catch?The species of fish that populate an area differs from south to north and from east to west. In the southern Atlantic states up to New Jersey and New York, expect to find red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish and more. In other areas, look for the fish that migrate to the shallow salt marshes looking for food.
- You must remember that you are paddling in areas that may not float a boat at certain tide stages – like low tide!
- Plan your trip accordingly and make sure you leave yourself enough time to paddle back to the launch site before the water runs out.
- Take plenty of water – being stranded for several hours is not a fun thing in the hot sun.
- Paddle in pairs. It is not advisable to fish from a kayak alone. Always plan to take a partner along in another boat.