10 Best Kayak Fishing Tips For Beginners
From the very beginning, people were drawn to the water to catch their dinners. Native Americans used canoes or fished from shore. Today, there are kayaks that are easier to carry and maintain than rugged wooden canoes.
Not to mention, the fishing gear of today is more advanced than a simple pole, string, and a hook which makes kayak fishing more than an outdoor adventure. On top of that, kayak fishing is also an essential way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
People these days are looking for a way to reconnect to nature and back to times of old where fishing was a natural part of life. Perhaps that is why kayak fishing has become so popular, with the “go green” trend sweeping across the country it is only natural for people to look for new ways to get back to their roots.
And, while fishing has become more of a past time and a hobby, kayaking makes the adventure more thrilling.
So, you have everything ready, and your kayak is rigged, and you are staring out at the water searching for that perfect spot.
If this is your first time trying to fish out of a kayak, there are essential things that you will need from proper clothing to the right kayak and everything in between.
Here are a few things you need to know and make sure to double check before you set out on your trip.
1. Mind the weather at all times
Weather can become one of the biggest threats to your kayak fishing trip.
Always keep an eye out for clouds brewing in the distance that may indicate a storm is coming. The wind usually kicks up before a big storm system comes through and can cause you issues when you are trying to paddle back to shore.
Not to mention casting your line out. It is best to check with the weather service before you go so that you know what you are getting into before getting stuck.
Lightning is another thing to watch out for if a storm blows in. Your rods are up in the air like a beacon and can get struck by lightning when you are the only thing out in the water.
It is best to lower your rods when you suspect a storm is coming to avoid any electrons. If you happen to be fishing during the early morning or late hours, fog may also become an issue for you.
It is important to be wearing a life vest that has reflectors on it so that others can spot you in low visibility.
It is also important for you to have some sort of light source or sound so that you can send a signal out to others who may be looking for you, and for you to find the shore if you are out on open waters.
A compass and GPS is also other lifesaving items for you to have while on a kayak in open waters so that you know which way you need to paddle to get back to shore.
The best fishing trip when kayaking is usually one that offers plenty of sunlight. While it may be common sense, some may not know how to dress in layers.
You want to be able to protect yourself from the elements and that includes the heat from the summer day. When you dress in layers, you can take off your clothes piece by piece so that you don’t become overheated while out on the water.
Remember to bring sunscreen and bug repellent as well, we all hate mosquitoes and other pests that like to call the lake their home.
2. Know what you are fishing for
You can get overly excited when you reel in your first fish from your kayak as a beginner.
But you should remember that you are now closer to the water than you are on any other vessel. You need to pay attention to your surroundings and what you are reeling in.
Some fish have sharp jagged teeth and scales that will slice into you if you are not careful. Be prepared and stay focused.
Mind your hand placement and the critters scales that can cause you harm.
It doesn’t matter where you are fishing you are bound to come across some undesirables.
It is imperative to keep an eye out for gators and snakes in lakes. While gators generally stay dormant during the midday, they have been known to come out if they feel their territory has been invaded.
Snakes can sneak up on you, and there are some parts where snakes are venomous, so be cautious and stay sharp.
If you happen to be kayak fishing in the ocean, then you should be acutely aware of the sharks that can troll the waters beneath you.
It is entirely possible for you to hook a shark and have it drag you out to sea.
That is why it is important to always carry a knife or scissors for you to cut the line when in an emergency situation like this. The shark may steal your fish, but at least it won’t take your life.
4. Expect the Unexpected
It is possible for you to have a monster of a fish that will begin to pull your kayak.
Word of advice - let it do its thing.
If the fish is dragging you, you know that it has the hook embedded in its mouth, and it’s not going anywhere.
Let the fish drag you and wear itself out while you are in control with your spinning reel. When a fish pulls you, enjoy the ride and know that you have supper for the night.
5. A fish can pull you off your kayak
First off, if you set your drags correctly, you shouldn’t find yourself swimming after your dinner.
However, some fish are aggressive and can be huge.
If you find yourself off balance and have been pulled off your kayak, you can do one of two things: let go of your rod or you can release the line and let the fish take as much line as they need as you try to get back in your boat.
But the best thing to do is cut the line and let them go, especially with big game fishing. No fish is worth drowning for.
6. Enjoy to the fullest
Sure, kayaking is fun, so is fishing but they don’t have to be done together all the time.
It is encouraged that you do both sports separately that way you don’t get overwhelmed by one or the other.
Sometimes a day by the lake is just as rewarding as a day on the lake. Plus, when you just go out kayaking without all your gear for fishing you can practice your paddling skills and see more of the environment.
Kayaking is a great exercise as well and even though you may spot a few fish around while out, you can always jot down the location on a map and come back to it later.
7. Rig your kayak to flip
Don’t be surprised if you flip your kayak the first time you go out.
It is important however to keep this in mind so that you don’t lose all your gear. Make sure everything is tied down and secure.
That includes your cooler, tackle box and anything else that is “loose” and not fastened to your boat.
You may not flip, and you could have a very stable kayak that is nearly impossible to flip but don’t take the chance.
You spent a lot of money on your gear and supplies for the day so don’t underestimate the possibility of tipping over.
8. Be mindful of your body
Have you ever seen a person drive where it’s like their head is attached to the steering wheel and whenever they look to one side, the car turns in that direction?
Well, that is the way it is when you are on a kayak.
Every little movement of your body can shift and rock your boat. Keep your movements slow and steady.
Think of the kayak as an extension of your whole being.
Even a quick head turn that causes your neck, shoulders and back to turn will shift the boat, and if done too quickly, you may tip.
9. Don't go alone
Just like in school, you should have a fishing buddy that way you both can help each other out should something happen.
Plus, one person can have different lures that are working than what you have.
If you can’t find someone to go with, at least let people know where you are going.
There are a lot of things that can happen out on the water and it is best to let people know so that if you don’t get home on time, they can send help to you.
10. Practice makes anglers perfect
There are no guarantees that you will catch a fish every time you go out.
That is what makes kayak fishing so much fun, and that is why it is important to practice.
Try out different strokes in your kayak and different gear.
While one day one lure might work, the next time, it won’t that is just how these things work.
When you are fishing from a kayak, you need to learn all you can about your vessel, and the only way to do that is by going out and practicing.
Some people even go as far as taking kayaking lessons so that they can get a better feel of what to expect when they are fishing.
How to prepare yourself for kayak fishing?
Many people are tempted just to go out to the nearest sporting goods store and buy a bunch of kayak fishing gear without thinking much.
This is natural, especially if you want to dive right in and get started.
But it is important to do your research and plan ahead before even setting a boat in the water. You need to have the proper gear and essentials like a proper kayak, life vest, clothing, reels and bait, at least.
Rigging your kayak for the first time can also be exciting.
There are so many things you want to do to your kayak that you can get a crazy and turn your kayak into a monstrosity.
When you are rigging your kayak and getting everything ready, here are a few things to consider to make your trip better.
Not all kayaks are created equal.
Some are designed for white water, and some are built for speed while there are others that are designed with the angler in mind.
You can pick out some boat and rig it to suit your needs, but in doing so, you will find that you are spending a lot of money on your rigging supplies.
That is why there are fishing kayaks that offer a pre-rigged boat that will hold all your gear and have a place for your poles.
If you really want to start right away, then the best advice is to go with a kayak that is made especially for fishing.
Fishing kayaks that are pre-ready will have things like netting, rod holders, ample space for your tackle box and some may even have cup holders.
One of the best fishing kayaks that are ready to go for beginners or even professional anglers is the Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler II.
The Prowler offers you everything you could want in a fishing kayak.
This kayak has plenty of space for everything you need. It can hold up to 600 pounds and has an adjustable support track foot system that will keep you steady while reeling in the big fish.
The only thing you will need to purchase is your rod holders.
Because there are different size rods, you will need to match your holder to your rod and place them where you want them.
Other than that, this kayak is ready to go and provide you with the stability you need for your first time out kayak fishing.
If you insist on buying a regular kayak and rigging it yourself, please that into consideration that you will need power tools to apply the things you want for your kayak.
Also note that you may inadvertently cause damage to your kayak after your custom work is done, so being a beginner, it is recommended for you to find a fishing kayak that is ready to go.
Many states require by law for you to have a life vest on board.
Some life vests are bulky and can be a burden for you to move around the boat or even cast your line.
That is why you need to find a vest that is made for fishing. Life vests that are made for fishing also have different compartments to hold your supplies in and keep things simple for you and should you take a dip, will keep you buoyant.
Not to mention that a vest with a whistle on it can save your life.
The NRS Chinook PFD is lightweight and provides you with optimal maneuverability.
On top of that, it also comes with a mesh back so that you don’t get overheated while fishing.
Plus, the NRS vest includes a rod holder allowing you to troll the waters.
The Stohlquist comes with many different pockets to store your hooks and other tools you will need while you are out on the water.
The shoulders are padded and Gaia flotation foam to make sure your head stays above water in case you find yourself in the water.
Any one of these life jackets will put you in the safe zone.
Gear and Bait
There is a plethora of different baits you can use and different poles to get.
Only you know what kind of fish you are hunting for and the kind of bait you will need to attract the fish to you.
It is wise to speak with a local fishing guide to see what works best in the area you want to fish.
What you wear while out on the water is important.
You don’t want heavy material like cotton. When cotton gets wet, it is hard to dry and can cause chaffing especially if you wear jeans.
While cotton may keep you warm, if you do happen to tip, cotton will soak up water like a sponge and becomes heavy making it more difficult for you to get back into your boat if you flipped.
There is a whole line of lightweight clothing designed for fishermen that will dry quickly should you get soaked and look stylish.
Just don’t be surprised if you go out on the water to find other people dressed just like you. You will notice, though, no one is wearing cotton while fishing in their kayak.
Now, if you are a do it yourself kind of person, don’t go overboard with many rod holders you put on your boat.
2 to 3 rods will suffice since this is your first time. Any more than that and you may find yourself with your hands full, especially if all the rods go off at once.
If you are planning to go to the ocean, get a saltwater reel and rod. Or, if you are going to a nearby river or pond, find a freshwater reel and rod that fits your needs.
You may have to fight the instinct to bring everything you can on your trip, but remember that each kayak can only hold a certain amount of weight and that weight can add up quickly.
Stick with the essentials that you know you will need, like your lucky lure and favorite accessories.
Try to remember that fish can add extra weight and may capsize your vessel if you don’t plan ahead.
Believe it or not, your seat can impact your fishing a lot.
If you are not comfortable, then your day may be cut short. You don’t want to find yourself out on the water squirming or shifting too much due to your rear end going numb or your legs for that matter.
A proper seat will also help alleviate back pain and help to keep the blood flowing to your legs.
There is nothing worse than catching a fish and finding your leg has gone numb from sitting down for so long.
Find a seat that you can relax in that won’t cause you issues. There are kayak seats that provide lumbar support for those with a bad back.
The seat has to be one of the most important parts of your kayak and should not be overlooked when you customize your kayak for fishing.
Other things to consider
Another thing that you might want to think about when you head out for the first few times is where you are going to put your paddles when you have a fish.
The best thing you can do is invest in a paddle leash. Paddle leashes attach your paddle to your boat, so you don’t accidentally lose your paddle in the heat of the moment.
And, when you do catch that fish, don’t panic. When a fish is on the line, being on a kayak may seem like you are going to go overboard.
Stay focused and make sure your hook is set.
Always keep a tight line by moving your rod above your head and don’t try to stand up if your kayak isn’t designed for standing.
The urge will be there, but resist.
When the fish is close enough to land, give some extra slack to your line and be mindful of the type of fish you have. As stated above, some fish have sharp fins and teeth that you will want to avoid.
One thing about fish is that they are skittish and fearful. That is great news for those who want to get into kayak fishing.
Kayaks provide the calmness and quiet that fish like. Unlike motor boats that send the fish racing away, kayaks glide smooth through the water and don’t make noise so long as you don’t bang the side of your boat too much with the paddle.
When you are fishing in a kayak, it is best to think like a boy scout and be prepared for anything. What you don’t expect is usually what will happen so always be prepared.