My Love Hate Relationship with Kayak Fishing
I have resorted to kayak fishing, as one step up from shore fishing. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages, just as anything else. First, I will start off with the “Hates”.
Wimpy Hook sets: I hate this more than anything when fishing in the kayak. Sure, there are times when you get a really good hook set, but everything has to be just right. The angle of your rod, position of your hands, or just simply being caught off guard all attribute to poor hook sets no matter what you’re fishing from. But when you are in a kayak, it can be that much more critical. You don’t have the leverage you normally would when standing up, so you really don’t have much margin for error. If the butt of your rod is too long, you will bump it on the edge of the kayak, or your life jacket, or whatever else manages to get in your way in the limited amount of space that you have. I’d say 90% of the fun of fishing slow lures like a jig or Texas rigged worm, is that vicious hook set, and feeling the fish tug back on the other end of the line. It’s really an indescribable feeling, and I yearn for it, but the kayak just doesn’t satisfy this need as much as I would like.
Covering Water: This one is pretty self explanatory. I just can’t cover the amount of water that I would like to. It takes too long to get to spots, and when you get there, you spend more time positioning and re-positioning than you do actually fishing. So if I’m fishing a larger body of water, I tend to stay closer to the launch area, especially if it’s really windy. It isn’t worth the frustration.
Fishing Sitting Down: I have never been a fan of fishing sitting down. It messes with my concentration, I zone out and don’t even realize it’s happening. I miss bites this way, and when I do, most of the time I don’t remember what I was doing in the first place that triggered that bite. Fishing heavy tackle is also very cumbersome and tiring as you are just using your arms. Fishing jigs and jerkbaits, or anything that needs to be hopped or twitched can be a mighty task. I can’t tell you how many times I have bumped my PFD with the butt of my rod, while fishing a jig, and thought it was a fish inhaling my jig, so I set the hook only to realize that it wasn’t a fish.
Wind: If you think wind is bothersome in a boat, I urge you to try fishing out of a kayak on a windy day. It can ruin your day faster than getting broken off by a 5lber. Sometimes you can use it to your advantage, but at some point throughout the day, you have to paddle against it, and depending how far you’re going, that can really take it out of you. Try fishing a jig or drop shot in 20 Mph winds. Yeah, you might do it from your boat with your trolling motor keeping you stationary in the wind and current. But even when anchored in a kayak, you still get pushed around quite a bit. It’s bad enough when the wind puts a bow in your line, so you lose contact with the bait, but when you are moving as well, it’s twice as bad. Trying to position yourself in the wind can be a tall order. You get to where you want, drop the anchor, only to realize that in the process, that big gust just drifted you 40 ft away from where you needed to be.
Accessibility: This one has two sides. In a kayak, you don’t stand a chance in a big lake with a lot of pleasure boaters. That’s why I stick to a lot of small lakes and ponds, with car top launches. I would love to take the kayak to Candlewood, but I just don’t know the lake, and exploring a new area is time consuming. Especially when you are dodging boats, it just seems like too frustrating of an experience for me to make an hour and a half drive. So you are very limited to where you can go, if you want to make the best of your experience.
Now for the other side, the “Loves”.
Accessibility: In a kayak, you can get to all the places that the big bass boats can’t. You know that small lake down the street that looks amazing? The one with no possible way to back a boat trailer into it? Well yeah, I can get my kayak in there and take full advantage of all that it has to offer. Rocks aren’t an issue either, as they are in boats, if I hit one, then it’s a little bump and nothing more, not a cracked hull or a damaged prop.
Affordable: Between my kayak, and my depth finder, I’m about $550 deep. Not $55,000 like some of these brand new bass boats are going for. I don’t need to put fuel into it and there is no maintenance. This allows me to spend my extra cash on tackle and equipment.
It’s FUN: There is nothing better than hooking a big fish in the kayak. You get towed around, and for a minute, it’s almost a fair fight. It adds a little unneeded challenge, but it makes it that much more rewarding when you have a successful trip out.
It Beats Fishing from Shore: Well most of the time anyways. There were always those spots that I would see that I just HAD to get to, but I didn’t have a boat. Now with the kayak, I am free to explore some of these spots that you just can’t get to from shore.
Stealth Mode: It’s very easy to sneak up on fish in a kayak. If you’re careful you can move silently through the water without spooking fish.
All in all, kayak fishing is pretty much what you would expect it to be. Somewhere between shore fishing and fishing from a boat. It isn’t ideal by any means, but it will get me by for now. If you are still stuck on shore, I strongly suggest investing a few hundred dollars in a kayak. It takes some getting used to, but it’s well worth it in the end.