Written by 7:47 pm Rafting/Kayaking

8 Essential Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners

Why go kayak fishing?

First, kayaks help you fish off the shore. Second, they help you fish where other small fishing boats are not able to maneuver because of the shallow water or thin access points. This is what makes kayak fishing both unique and enjoyable. Here are 7 essential kayak fishing tips for beginners, so you can make the most out of your experience!

7 Essential Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners

1. The weather should match the fishing

Unlike fishing on a dock, fishing on a kayak depends a lot of drifting with the undercurrent. The faster the current, the less productive the fishing tends to be. If you try to manage the position and direction of the kayak too much, the motion of the paddle against the water and the kayak might scare off the fish. Check wind and water forecasts to make the best use of your time.

2. Don’t forget your safety gear

Whether or not you’re kayak fishing with a companion, don’t forget to bring your own safety gear. A personal flotation device (PFD), also known as a life vest, can be bulky but it’s also your best bet against a flipped kayak or any accidents. Keep a first aid kit with any of your regular medications in your gear. If you’re expecting harsh weather, a spray skirt will help you stay dry as you navigate, and prevent you from getting waterlogged.

3. Dress for drift conditions

Kayak drifting means you’ll be under the elements for long amounts of time. Since you want to avoid disturbing the water as much as possible, you can’t just shift your direction to the shade. Wear sunblock and longer sleeves and pants instead, to protect your skin. You might also want a wide-brimmed cloth hat to protect your face and make it easier to drift longer. 

4. Bring drinking water

This isn’t like a kayak race or journey, where you’re constantly in action and you need to monitor water intake so your body doesn’t go into shock as the temperature lowers. However, the slower pace might distract you from drinking, putting you at risk of dehydration. While you still need to manage the amount and pace of drinking, don’t let yourself forget to hydrate, especially in sunny weather. 

5. Learn how to set the drag on your fishing reel

The friction drag is something you should set on your fishing reel to minimize the risk of a broken line, even before you start. The drag setting tells the line to start unreeling if the fish pulls harder than you set it for. Since you’ll likely be fishing for a few hours, you want to minimize the strain on  your lines. A broken line is not the experience you want if you’re a beginner.  

6. Move with the current

To avoid disturbing the fish, make sure your paddle slides smoothly into the water without hitting the raft or slapping the water surface. If you’re not familiar with kayaking, you can do this by relying more on your core than your arms to paddle. Keep your arms slightly bent, and turn from the waist each time you paddle. After sliding the kayak into the current, only give it enough momentum before shipping the paddle and letting it drift. 

7. Bring fish-handling gear

The most important pieces of gear to bring are a fish grip to hold the fish with, and pliers to take the hook out. Other pieces of gear are a net to hold the fish in by the side of the stream, line cutters for emergencies, and gloves if you prefer to fish that way. The last thing you want is to go fishing and not be equipped to manage it on a boat with as little space as the kayak.  

8. Make sure it is all in the right kayak

There are a ton of different fishing kayaks. Look at features specific to the different types of fishing kayaks available and leverage features that will give you the best angling experience. With the right kayak and the right gear, you can spend an entire day out on the water.

Work hard, play hard

If you prepare right for kayak fishing, even if it’s your first time out, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy the whole trip. 

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