In the last decade, kayak fishing popularity has exploded. The fact one can get into a quality fishing kayak for $1,000 to $3,000 made it an attractive option for serious anglers. Not to mention their easy portability and launchability of a kayak gives anglers access to waters they were otherwise blocked from fishing, which often means a bounty of eager-to-bite fish. These reasons alone should make anglers eager to consider kayak fishing benefits.
The latest generation of fishing kayaks offer better fishability, versatility and angling efficiency than their predecessors. If you've been debating getting into kayak fishing, there's never been a better time to start than now.
I began kayak fishing seriously in 2008, thanks in part to friendly nudges from Don Theoret, Ontario kayak-fishing forerunner and founder / former owner of Yakfisher.net. ?Like many, Theoret began kayak fishing to get off the bank and access remote waters loaded with big bass. Despite owning an aluminum fishing boat, Theoret quickly convinced me of the kayak fishing benefits.
Whether you own a boat or are looking to get off the bank, here are 6 reasons to consider kayak fishing:
- Versatile fishability
- Traveller's friend
- Improved perspective
More affordable than a power boat
A fully-rigged kayak is more affordable than a basic fishing boat and motor. Beyond the substantially lower cost upfront ($1,500 to $3000), kayak anglers spend less on towing fuel costs, insurance, maintenance and launch fees. For those on a tight budget, a kayak's an excellent fishing platform to get you away from the bank.
Not all fishing kayaks are created equal, mind you. Adding electronics, accessories and opting for a propulsion system beyond a paddle increases the price.
In the story Choosing a Kayak, Eric Jackson suggests anglers on a budget consider buying "a higher quality used kayak instead of a cheaper quality new one". I agree wholeheartedly with this recommendation. In addition to buying pre-owned, looking for end-of-season sales will also save you coin. I lucked into a deal when a local paddle shop changed the lines they were carrying.
Easy water access
Whether in a plane, train or automobile, I can't pass a waterbody without wondering what fish I'd catch in it. Followed by the same question every time: "How can I get a boat in there?"
A powerboat requires a launch ramp. Not so with a kayak, which lets anglers access waterways off-limits to powerboats.
"This is by far the biggest factor for me," Theoret said. "I can dump a kayak into virtually any body of water that has any type of public access to shoreline. Try that with a boat and trailer. Couple this with the fact that I can get a kayak into or through the skinniest of water without fear of clogging up a bow mount or scratching that shiny metallic gelcoat on a $60,000 bass boat."
You can fish a wide range of waterbodies in a kayak and catch many species. Theoret likes kayaking into backwaters and sloughs where big largemouth bass lurk, but will use the same rig to hop pools in small, fast rivers or drop shot deep bass from northern shield lakes. Beyond bass, his kayaking catches include muskie, pike, walleye, panfish and striped bass, to name a few.
Many fishing kayaks are wide and stable enough to stand in and fish. This is handy when executing underhand casts (i.e., pitching) to targets. I use a kayak to access small lakes for panfish, and being able to stand, see and cast to deep grass helps me catch more bluegills and crappie.
Kayaks are also fairly easy to transport to and from the water. This was plain as day on the first trip Theoret and I took together.
He arrived at my house in a small sedan sporting two kayaks strapped to a roof rack. A few hours later we were plucking largemouth from a bay filled with stumps and pads. Like I said, it didn't take him long to convince me kayak fishing is effective and fun.
Using a trailer or hauling a kayak in a truck bed are other options. For more details, read Jackson's What You Need to Know to Start Kayak Fishing.
Travel on a dime
Once you learn how to fish from a kayak and are a proficient paddler, new angling adventures will arise. No matter where life takes you, if you can get access to a kayak when you're away from your main boat, you can wet a line.
Several years ago, my wife got an amazing work opportunity in Australia, so we went. My boat didn't make the trip. While emailing Theoret for advice on buying a kayak, he introduced me to hard-core, Australian kayak angler, Derek Steele, who, as luck would have it, lived 20 minutes from me in Australia. It's a small world, folks.
In short order, Steele and his 'yak fishing posse adopted me as the token Canadian. When I'd talk about buying a kayak, the answer was always the same.
"She'll be alright, mate," Steele said many times. "You can always borrow a kayak from one of us. Save your money."
So, thanks to the generosity of newfound friends, I caught fresh and saltwater fish, and paddled parts of Australia I never would have otherwise. Their hospitality and gear paved the way, but being a proficient paddler and a confident kayak angler beforehand certainly helped me fit in and start setting hooks right away. I also dipped a paddle and caught fish in New Zealand and Vanuatu during this time.
While many of us are keen bass anglers, the chance to get out fishing - no matter the species - is never far from our minds. I encourage you to try kayak fishing on your local waters to get comfortable with it. With some basic know-how under your belt, you'll be able to rent or borrow a kayak to go fishing when opportunity knocks. This could be when taking a winter vacation down south, during downtime on a business trip or should you ever happen to find yourself on the other side of the world, far away from home (and your powerboat).
Fishing from a kayak provides unique angling benefits compared to being in a powerboat or when bank fishing. Here are 5 examples:
- Low angles - "Kayaks are low to the water line, making it quite easy for a kayak angler to skip a soft plastic bait up under a dock or between the limbs of downed timber," Theoret said.?
Being low to the water also puts you closer to the action. If you think topwater strikes are cool standing, wait until you see them seated in a kayak. It's addictive.
- Slow and relaxing - Fishing from a kayak's slower than a power boat. I don't mean this in a derogatory sense. Far from it. Many folks, myself included, enjoy kayak fishing for this very reason. The downtempo pace and quiet paddle strokes are relaxing.
- Fishing where you are with what you've got - Many anglers credit a kayak for helping them improve angling skills. Because mobility's limited, one tends to spend more time on a spot trying to figure fish out. You learn to be thorough and maximize bites.?
Related to this, most don't carry as much tackle in a kayak as they would in a boat. This encourages learning to use what you've got to catch fish.
- Change is good - Kayak fishing offers a refreshing change from the casting deck or the bank. As anglers, it's important to mix things up now and then. It challenges us to learn new ways of catching fish. It can also help reconnect with one's passion for fishing, similar to what Wired2fish Publisher Jason Sealock was eluding to in Why You Should Fish for Other Fish.
- Fitness advantage - Jason Sealock has been looking for a way to incorporate fitness in with his fishing and kayak fishing can mix a workout with time on the water and give you a break from running, walking, and biking while allowing time to stop and fish as you go.
There are many reasons to consider kayak fishing, but overall a kayak opens doors to new angling opportunities. If you haven't already, borrow, rent or invest in a used kayak and see if it doesn't improve your opportunities.