Tag Archives: Kayak fishing

Kayak Fishing Tips For Catching Large Fish

A man catches a big fish while kayak fishing

Image: Alex Vail

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

More and more people are catching bigger and bigger fish from kayaks every day. Kayaking fishing for big fish isn’t just a challenge, but also a rush. Hooking and fighting big fish from the ‘yak is one thing, but landing those fish is a whole different story entirely. So here are a few kayaking fishing tips to consider when it comes down to the final step of landing your trophy.

Consider Your Safety When Kayak Fishing for Large Fish

There have been numerous instances in my life where I simply feel unsafe bringing a fish aboard the kayak. Situations such as rough seas, strong currents, sharp teeth, and flailing fins have kept a few fish in the water and away from my body. Sharks are a prime example of fish like this. Sure it’s great to get a hero picture of one before I let it loose, but if I’m feeling even remotely unsafe about the situation, I’ll just cut the line boatside. Especially large fish such as tarpon might not need to be brought aboard in order to prevent something like capsizing. Sure the picture might be awesome, but losing all your gear when it flops isn’t ideal.

Leg Sweep Method

For instances such as catch and release, the leg sweep method to land fish works fantastically. Just as the name implies, one simply brings the fish along side of the boat and uses their leg to get underneath the fish and lift it into the kayak. Getting a lip/gill plate hold helps ensure the fish’s head isn’t going anywhere, while the leg does the heavy lifting from below. Just be prepared to get slimy.

Someone has caught a large fish while kayaking

Image: Alex Vail

Gaffs

What can I say? Gaffs are sort of the be-all and end-all of landing fish. There’s no catch and release with these tools, and a good gaff shot can almost guarantee a successful landing. One thing to consider, however, is how to hold the gaff. Gaffing from a kayak is a little different than gaffing from a boat because of how low in the water you already sit. From my experience, I find it safer to actually gaff from underneath the fish rather than from above. This way, the actual gaff acts as some protection between you and the fish. Gaffing from above can quickly send an angry, toothy fish right into your lap.

A fisherman uses a net to get a fish into the kayak

Image: Alex Vail

Nets

I see more and more people using nets to land large fish from the kayak and I have to say that it’s a very good method. You instantly eliminate the chances of the fish getting away boatside the moment that it’s in the net. Also, when using a net, you don’t hurt the fish at all. Sadly, I’ve yet to see a net big enough to easily handle 100+lb tarpon from the kayak, but for slightly smaller fish, it’s a perfect method.

Other tid-bits

Always remember that safety is the most important thing. With that said, toothy critters such as king mackerel, wahoo, sharks, etc, should be landed with their business end pointed away from you. The last thing anyone wants is some razor sharp teeth chomping around in their lap.

A man kayak fishing while a llarge fish rests in the bottom of a kayak

Image: Alex Vail

As stated before, when your kayak fishing it isn’t always necessary to pull the whole fish into the boat. Often merely lipping the fish or using a lip gaff will suffice. The picture gets taken, the fish swims free, and you (and your gear) remain safe and sound.

So when you’ve done everything right and are about to land the fish of a lifetime from the kayak, just remember these tips for the final step. With these methods you can safely land big fish and avoid the horrible feeling of losing a fish boatside before getting to at least snap a picture. Just don’t forget to bring the camera!

What to Bring Kayak Fishing

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

A few days back, I had the pleasure of taking a friend on his first kayak fishing adventure. The night before we left, he asked me a question that I’d never actually been asked before:

“What should I bring?”

I then realized that if you’ve never been kayak fishing, what to bring might not be obvious. So, for anyone new to the sport, I’ve compiled a quick list of things I deem necessary to have aboard for a half day of kayak fishing.

Kayak Fishing

Image: Alex Vail

1. Paddle
Having a good kayak paddle is essential. It is, after all, the only form of propulsion you’re going to get. It’s important to have a paddle that fits you and your kayak. Taller people need longer paddles and how high/low your kayak sits in the water also determines how long the paddle needs to be. 

2. Life jacket
Pretty straightforward here. It’s the law to at least carry one life jacket on board.

3. Anchor
Though I personally don’t use one too often, an anchor is a very nice tool to have around. Whether you want to get out of the kayak and wade around, or you just need a break from paddling, a good anchor ensures that the kayak isn’t going anywhere.

4. Dry bag/Case
It doesn’t matter how calm the water is. If you’re kayak fishing, SOMETHING is going to get wet, be it inside the kayak or outside. It’s just a fact of life. With that said, it’s important to protect your valuables like cell phones, wallet, keys, etc. A dry bag or waterproof case is essential. I put my valuables inside one and store it inside one of my hatches. Even though it’s sealed up inside, there’s still a little bit of water that finds its way in and having my things dry is extremely important.

5. Food
Unless you’re planning to spend an entire day out on the water, I wouldn’t bring something like a meal. I recommend sticking to snack foods, like candy bars, trail mix, etc. As stated before, everything is going to get wet at some point or another, so try to pick food that isn’t going to get ruined by a little water.

6. Water
It doesn’t really matter what you carry it in, just as long as you have it with you. Camelbacks, canteens, water bottles, whatever. With it being summer right now, it’s vital that you stay well hydrated. Remember to continue drinking water throughout the day. 

7. Sun Protection
The summer sun, especially down here in Florida, is absolutely brutal. I’d suggest not working on your tan too much while in the kayak. Things like hats, sun screen, sun buffs, long sleeve shirts, all of these are important if you want to stay protected from the unrelenting sun. I’ve noticed that many first-time kayakers forget to apply plenty of sunscreen to their legs (especially the front of them). Since your legs just sit there, basking in the sun, they’re the first things that are going to get fried.

8. Fishing Tackle
Last but not least is fishing tackle! What rods and reels to bring is obviously a matter of personal choice and dependent upon what species you’re fishing for, but it’s important to remember not to over do it. Since space is limited in your kayak, don’t bring the whole kitchen sink with you! I’d suggest getting a hold of a small tacklebox (the soft sided ones are perfect), and take exactly what you need. This will cut down on how much space you’re taking up, and will make re-rigging/changing lures much quicker. Unless you’ve decided to carry a cooler on board, and you plan to keep fish, a stringer is perfect to carry inside the tackle box. Just remember that it’s EXTREMELY difficult to paddle while the stringer is in the water. It’s like dragging an anchor. If you have rod holders, take advantage of them and carry more than one rod. Rigged differently, a second rod can stay ready to cast to that surprise species that your main rod isn’t set up for yet. 

Tackle Box Cell Phone

Image: Alex Vail

There are, of course, a billion other things that can be brought along on a kayak fishing trip. But for a simple morning out on the water, this list covers the basic necessities. When in doubt, carry that extra gear, even if you think you won’t need it. The more often you go out on the water, the more refined your gear list will become. Before long, the question “what should I bring” will be a thing of the past.

Kayak Fishing

Image: Alex Vail

Be sure to check out the Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and more!

Yakking for Bass: Pros and Cons for Kayak Bass Fishing

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

With kayak fishing’s popularity on the rise, many anglers find themselves leaving the power boat at home and hopping into a small plastic boat instead. Perhaps you’re thinking about giving kayak fishing a try, too. Or maybe the thought has yet to even cross your mind. Either way, as an avid kayak angler myself, I’ve thrown together a list of pros and cons for kayak fishing for largemouth bass. This list is intended to neither persuade nor dissuade someone from giving kayak fishing a try. Its sole purpose is to inform.

Pros:

Stealth– Let’s face it—kayaks are the stealthiest watercrafts available. Their lack of motor and low profile makes them incredibly sneaky. Fish simply don’t know a kayak is nearby. I’ve had fish strike lures just mere inches away from the kayak solely because they didn’t know I was there. With no motor noise, the only sound that should be coming from the kayak is the swishing of the paddle and you, as the angler, are in control of exactly how loud you want to be. In addition, sitting down low in a kayak means that there’s a much smaller chance that a fish is going to see you skylined from below. These things combined means that an angler is going to have a MUCH better chance of catching those fish.

Kayaking for bass

Shallow Water– Kayaks are known for being able to handle skinny water with ease. Usually only drafting a couple of inches, they make those impossible-to-reach places for power boats a real possibility. Also, many of those shallow, weed-choked areas that lunkers like to hang out in suddenly become accessible. With no prop to get stuck, an angler can glide right into the vegetation with little to no trouble.

Fishing for bass

Cost- Aside from the initial cost, kayaks are extremely easy on the wallet. Now, I understand we’re all fisherman, and we love to have our gadgets, but as far as everything else goes, kayaks are cheap. Since you’re the primary means of propulsion, the only fuel needed is food for yourself. There will never be that cringe at the gas pump when you’re done filling up. In addition, maintenance is extremely low. Wash the kayak off if it gets muddy and…that’s about it. No flushing the engine. No fiddling with bow lights. They’re cheap to use. You’ve just got to get them to the water; the same as you would with any boat.

 

Kayak-on-a-truck

 

Cons:

Range/speed– This one is a big one and has probably crossed your mind already. Your fishing areas are limited to exactly how much you want to paddle. I personally wouldn’t suggest trying to fish something beyond 4-5 miles away for a half day trip. Power boats have that awesome ability to crank the motor and go. Thirty to forty mph sounds a lot better than 3-4 mph doesn’t it?

Room- Probably the most limiting factor aside from range is the amount of room available in a kayak. An angler constantly finds himself struggling to make things fit. Now, if you fish bare bones like I often do, this isn’t much of an issue. A tackle box, seat, couple of rods, paddle, and water all fit in the kayak with room to spare. It’s when you start tossing in things like fish finders, live wells, coolers, etc, that space quickly becomes an issue. There’s simply more room to comfortably fit things on a boat. Plus there’s the luxury of being able to walk around without the threat of capsizing.

Inclement Weather- Though all boaters have to consider the possibility of foul weather, kayakers have to take special note. When you’re 1-2 hours away from the dock in the kayak and a huge storm brews up, it’s not as if you can suddenly put the motor in the water and run. You’re forced to paddle away at what always feels like a snail’s pace. Though foul weather doesn’t take as big of a toll in protected waters, it becomes a real issue in big open water. High winds and waves can turn a pleasant day of kayaking into a real chore. Even though today’s fishing kayaks are extremely stable, one still runs the risk of capsizing when faced with extremely rough water on big open lakes.

 

Bass-on-a-kayak

 

So, if you’re considering giving kayak fishing for bass a try, be sure to really think about these pros and cons. These are, of course, just a few of the many things one must take into account when deciding if kayak fishing is something to get into. But if these pros outweigh the cons, seriously give kayak fishing a shot. Talk to local kayak dealers and test different paddle styles before deciding on what’s right for you. Also, try talking to fellow fisherman who already kayak fish. There’s a wealth of knowledge that’s ready to be shared by experienced paddlers, and they’re almost always more than willing to help another angler take his first steps into buying one of those plastic boats. Just be ready; kayak bass fishing can be a blast!