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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!