It is kayak fishing season! Well, it seems that way as summer starts and more anglers are starting to explore kayak fishing. Kayak fishing is great for adventurous anglers or for those who want to get out on the water, but cannot afford a larger boat. Kayaks give anglers the ability to access smaller and shallower fishing areas and to reach places that bigger boats or even shore anglers cannot reach. Plus, there's the added benefit of physical activity gained from kayaking.
Today, you can find all kinds of fishing accessories tailored to kayak fishing. I would recommend starting out with some basic gear, and then adding what you need as you go. One of the first items I needed for my kayak was a swivel rod holder. The Scotty Bait Casting/Spinning Rod Holder is a great swivel rod holder that is easy to mount to a kayak. It is also a good idea to get a paddle leash and a rod leash or rod floats. These ensure that gear is not lost if accidentally knock it into the water.
For tackle storage, I found it easy to carry a Plano 3700 StowAway ProLatch Adjustable Compartment Box with just the basic lures, jigs, bait, and terminal tackle that I need. When I want to carry more tackle, I strap my Berkley Powerbait Tackle Bag on the front of the kayak. The large size bag holds up to four Plano 3700 boxes and unzips on the front for easy access from the cockpit. For those anglers who need to take their smartphone, wallet, or other items that can get damaged when wet, the LokSak Waterproof Storage Bags are great for keeping things dry.
Other gear that is useful for kayak fishing is an anchor, fish storage, and fish finder electronics. A small anchor is all that is needed to hold a kayak. Some anglers opt for an anchor trolley system that helps to keep the kayak facing a certain direction no matter which way the wind is blowing. A fishing net, such as the Frabill Trout Landing Net or the Frabill KwikStow Folding Net are great to have, especially for "Catch and Release". Another piece of equipment that I use is a floating fish basket. The Eagle Claw Floating Wire Fish Baskets or the Berkley 15” Floating Fish Basket are great baskets to keep your catch in throughout the day.
One of the newest products available in fishing electronics is the Vexilar SonarPhone Sonar System. The SP100 model can be cast or pulled behind a kayak and links up to your Android or iOS device to provide a fully functional sonar system.
With a kayak, you can easily sneak right up on the fish, so you don’t always need to cast out far. Quiet, short casting works well with Berkley Flicker Shad Pro Series Crankbaits or Rapala Shad Rap Lures. Varying your retrieve allows you to catch more fish.
Vertical jigging out of the kayak is often extremely effective. I use slip bobbers such as Thill Wobble Bobbers or Thill Pro Series Slip Floats with Thill Premium Bobber Stops. My go-to bait is the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnow in Emerald Shiner or Smelt color on a Lindy Fuzz-E Grub jig or with a Southern Pro Triple Tip Grub on a Southern Pro Painted Minnow Head jig head.
Trolling is another technique you can use while kayaking. Often I have to paddle a distance to reach the spot where I want to fish anyway, so I will throw a Rapala crankbait or a Berkley Havoc Smash Tube on my rod and troll it behind me. Some anglers even use small planer boards to troll beside their kayak. The Off Shore Tackle Reversible Mini Planer Board works well for a kayak with minimal resistance when paddling.
Kayaks come in many sizes and styles, and more companies are producing kayaks designed specifically for fishing. Using a sit-on-top versus a sit-in kayak is mostly a matter of preference, as they will both work for fishing applications. An important thing in choosing a fishing kayak is determining what type of gear and how much gear you want to take along. A basic kayak can work for most casual anglers, and gear can be added as needed. Serious anglers may want to opt for a fully tricked-out fishing kayak. I purchased a basic fishing kayak that included two rear rod holders and some extra storage space so I could carry a cooler and tackle.
Safety is very important when kayak fishing. Always wear a personal floatation device, and carry a whistle or air horn. I was able to find a life jacket designed for fishing with mesh uppers that does not restrict casting and includes extra pockets for my tools. Pay extra attention to the weather reports before going out. If you plan to fish at night, make sure you have the proper lighting. In addition to any required lighting, I also use the HT Enterprises ClipOn Cap Light to help see directly in front of me. This is helpful for tying knots, removing hooks, and more.