If you're like me:
Learning something new stirs up lots of feelings.
Excitement about learning something new and what it’s going to add (hopefully) to your life.
Nervousness about not knowing what to do or how to do it…and looking like a doofus while learning.
Overwhelm about all the things you don’t know…and how you’re going to ever be anything more than a beginner.
You're not alone...
Every beginning kayak fisherman/woman has those feelings.
How is Learning to Kayak Fish Like Driving an 18-Wheeler?
I remember when I started learning how to drive an 18-wheeler.
The first time we went out on the road I thought my heart and my head were going to explode!
It was the first time I'd ever had to double clutch, drive a 60+ foot-long vehicle, or use a 10-speed transmission I needed to shift at an amazingly low 1200-1500 rpms.
All the while trying to remember all the normal stuff of driving like looking for traffic, using turn signals, not running stop signs, etc.
Man – it was exhilarating.
Luckily, kayaking and fishing come at a much more relaxed pace!
In fact, that’s probably one of the main reasons you probably decided to take up the sport.
Maybe you’re an angler that wants the serenity and feeling of oneness with the water that comes from using a kayak or canoe.
Or maybe you’re a kayaker looking for another way to enjoy your sport and the outdoors.
Of course, you could be like me and you’re new to both kayaking and fishing.
Whatever your situation, though, this beginner’s guide to kayak fishing will be helpful.
Kayak Fishing for Beginners - According to Experts
We reached out to 6 kayak fishing websites and got their top tips for beginners and we present them below.
You’ll find them to be a mix of:
- Boating and water safety
- Trip planning and preparation
- Taking the right kayak fishing accessories and knowing how to use them, and
- Fishing tips
These are summaries of their actual lists, so when you see something the interests you, click on over to the website by clicking on the graphic and check out the entire article. They all have much more info that presented here.
South Texas Kayak
- Practice sitting and standing on dry land.
- Lay out all your gear before you leave home.
- Put your kayak parallel to the shore rather than perpendicular when boarding.
- Practice sitting and standing in very shallow water.
- Put your stuff in a waterproof bag and secure them.
- Place everything you’ll need within reaching distance.
- Stage and/or stow your gear before you push off.
- Test any electronics like fish/depth finders before leaving shore.
- Try to reach everything you might need while out in the water to make sure you can actually reach it.
- Practice pedaling while close to shore.
- Go with other, more experienced kayak fishermen the first few times.
- Talk with experienced kayak anglers on forums (like yakangler.com) or local paddle shop
- Planning where to fish is paramount, plan a circular route
- Know how to adjust your fishing to a number of different species rather than focusing on one
- Figure out exactly how you’re going to use the kayak for before you buy one; and rent a few before as well
- Plan out what fishing gear you need and where you’re going to mount/store it
- Make sure you know how you’re going to get your boat to and from the water
- Learn how to paddle one handed and use the wind, current and land features to keep you headed in the direction you want to go in
- Make sure your line is the right test strength and length for what you’re likely to catch
- Have a plan for what to do with the fish you catch
- Fish with a buddy and remain aware of weather, wind, hooking yourself, and predatory animals in the water and on land
The Kayak Critic
- Keep your gear simple – a net, a knife, a rod, pliers, and a couple tackle boxes plus a 3 pound claw anchor should be plenty.
- Dress to swim – because you will someday
- Rig to flip – because you will someday
- Try to keep your head upright and centered in the kayak at all times – it will help you not to flip
- Make sure to give yourself some slack line to work with when you get a fish close to the boat
The Adventure Junkies
- Check local fishing reports to understand what’s biting
- Stay aware of other boats or ships in the water
- Bring your safety gear and know how to use it
- Wear skin protection
- Pack plenty of food and water
- Carry an anchor
- Make sure to bring the proper fish handling equipment with you
- Bring a camera on a mount
- Learn to sight fish
- Stay as quiet as possible
- Practice changing lures so you can do it quickly
- Practice and utilize drifting – maybe even using a drift chute
- Set the drag on your reel properly
- Keep your rod tip as low as possible to keep it out of the wind
- Understand and practice positioning your kayak properly in relation to your targets and the shore
- Buy a kayak cart to get the boat from the truck to the water
- If going offshore, make sure you have marine VHF radio
- Practice re-entering the kayak
- Learn one handed casting
- Master one handed paddling
- Use your feet
- Cast to steer
- Maximize eddies
- Don’t be afraid to anchor, but do it safely
- Hug the shoreline when it’s windy
- Don’t go cheap on your paddle
- Bring bug spray and use it religiously
- Use a waterproof camera and mount
- Take an anchor, push pin or power pole to keep fish from dragging you for miles
- Use sunscreen and protective clothing
- Get and use proper fish handling gear (fish grip, pliers, net, line cutters, gloves, stringer)
- Bring fresh water with you and drink it
- Keep bananas off your boat
- Take (and use) proper safety gear, communicate your plans to someone staying onshore, fish with a buddy…especially in the beginning
- Be prepared for rain…always
- Use fishing reports to plan your trip ahead of time
Enjoy Learning Kayaking and Fishing
Unlike when I learned to drive the 18 wheeler, you’ve got as much time as you need to learn the skills you need.
And – just like in driving – some learning will only be done through experience.
So, get out there and do it.
Enjoy yourself, ask others for help (in forums and at the water’s edge), and never forget pre-trip planning or safety.
Your Turn - What tip is missing?
Leave us a comment below and tell us which tip is most valuable in your eyes.
Or - which tip(s) we completely missed.
What should every beginning kayak fisherman know?