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More and more people are becoming interested in kayak fishing, seeing a kayak on a vehicle headed to their favorite fishing hole is becoming a common occurrence.
It is no surprise that kayak fishing is becoming so popular when there are so many good reasons to fish out of a kayak such as the cost of owning a boat, tough economic times, and trying to become less dependent on fossil fuel.
There are also the health benefits to kayak fishing, not only are you out on the water catching fish but getting exercise as well. Another factor that people are discovering is the ease of launching a kayak just about anywhere.
You do not necessarily need to find a boat launch to go fishing. Here on the Gulf Coast where I live we launch our kayaks right off the beach and we are catching snapper & grouper with one-half to one mile off the beach.
Deciding on the type of kayak you want to get is not an easy task. No one kayak is perfect for every situation, and if I had the room I would own three or four. But that is not really practical, so the best thing to do is decide what type of fishing you plan on doing most and research what type of kayak best suits that situation.
If you plan on doing any offshore fishing then a sit on top kayak is the only kayak to look at. Then there is the question to peddle or paddle. Peddling is growing in popularity among fishermen, due to the hands free fishing and the fact that your leg muscles are the largest muscle group which results in less fatiguing. Paddling is convenient when fishing tight quarters and maneuverability comes into play.
The next decision is whether you want a wide and stable but slower kayak or faster and narrow, less stable kayak. Some of the wider yaks allow you to stand up and sight fish but the speedier more narrow allow you to go farther or reach a bait pod or diving birds more quickly. But even if you settle on a narrower yak there are different things you can add to your yak to add stability when needed such as outriggers or stabilizers that allow you can stand.
Do not be afraid to head over to your local kayak shop to get help in selecting the best kayak for the type of fishing that you expect to do most often. Besides having a wealth of information about kayaks, kayak outfitters can help you with other facets of fishing gear and where to find fish. Some kayak shops provide or can recommend local kayak fishing guides to help you get started. If you can swing it, hire a local guide to aid in the learning curve especially if you are new to not only kayaking but fishing as well.
Safety is number one the water. By law, you are required to have a personal floatation device (pfd), and a whistle. When fishing close to dawn or dusk, a 360 degree white light is required.
I always recommend carrying a light because you never know when a battle with a sailfish or Cobia could take you into the evening hour.
I always have a knife, small first aid kit (in a waterproof container), plenty of water and sunscreen.
Always carry a cell phone (in a waterproof pack) and if service is an issue a marine vhf handheld.
Fish with a partner whenever possible. A great way to meet fellow kayak anglers is your local kayak fishing club by getting involved. If your town does not have a club, start one of your own!
If you do fish alone file a float plan with a family member or friend. All that means is leaving info with someone about your trip so they know when to expect you back.
I would not hit the open water the first day you get your kayak with plans to catch a marlin. Although I have seen some first-timers catch some amazing fish their very first time out!
I would find a shallow bay or some backwater and get comfortable in your new yak. You want to make sure your kayak isn’t taking on water especially if it is a used yak.
Reach around and make sure you can reach your gear comfortably without tipping over. The new kayaks designed for fishing are extremely stable, there are some that would be hard to tip, but everyone needs to know their limitations.
If you go out with the assumption that you are going to flip, then you can prepare ahead of time by having all your gear stored properly and everything lashed down. If you actually do flip it will be no big deal.
I would suggest stripping down your kayak at some point, leave the fishing gear on the beach or at home and practice launching and surfing in waves. Each kayak reacts differently, so get to know yours.
Generally you want to look at the sets when launching in the surf, wait for a lull then paddle quickly to get past the break. When coming in lean back and ride the waves in, being careful to quickly correct your stern if it starts to come around. If you your kayak gets sideways in a wave, you are probably going to flip or turtle as they say. It happens to everyone so practice and then you will be ready to flip your yak quickly back over and land safely.
Remember to keep everything lashed so you don’t have to swallow your pride and gather all your fishing gear that can quickly scatter along the shoreline.
Kayak fishing is the fasting growing water sport and once you get out there with your new kayak you will quickly see why.
Join a club or start one of your own, you will find the camaraderie enlightening.
Just remember that one of the joys is the simplicity of it, so don’t over-complicate things, just get out there enjoy the beauty of nature and catch fish.
Captain Linda Cavitt
Linda grew up fishing in Northern California. She moved to the Panhandle in her mid-twenties and fell in love with Florida’s emerald waters, extensive bayous and beautiful grass flats. She now calls Panama City Beach her home where she lives with her husband and two children.
Linda holds a USCG OUPV/Captains license and has teamed up with Sunjammers Watersports and tackle shop to provide guided kayak fishing trips. Her passion & excitement for kayak fishing is contagious and she enjoys introducing people to the sport.
She has caught everything from redfish to sailfish from her kayak, is the founder/president of PCKFA, the local kayak club in Panama City Beach. She is an instructor for “Cast the Flats” kayak fishing school and a member of The Hobie Fishing Team.
When not fishing, Linda stays busy reading and writing kayak fishing reports for the panhandle area on fishing forums and sites.
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