Why would anyone want to fish from a small, easily capsized vessel when there are plenty of motorized, comfortable bass and Jon boats out there? Kayak fishing is wet, more full-contact, and uses much more energy on the part of the angler. So why bother?
Easy. Because kayak fishing allows you to enjoy the complete experience of stalking your piscatorial prey. You are now on the fishes level, with all the excitement and satisfaction that entails, coupled with the fact that you are creating a negligible impact on the environment. It really doesn’t take that much investment in time, or money, and the returns are more than worth it. There is something incredibly satisfying about catching fish using nothing but your own muscles and mind. No expensive motors to fool with, in most states no licensing fees, no need for a trailer, which also has to be licensed, and no polluting the water with non-degradable petroleum products.
The cons? Well, you will have to have a kayak, but I doubt many people would consider that really a ‘con’. You have to expend energy to propel the boat, burning calories, and probably losing a little weight, getting healthier, etc…. But is that really a con? You will have to learn how to paddle properly, navigate, and a few other things. Is that so bad? The worst thing I can think of is running the risk of almost certain addiction to kayaks, Once you’ve been in a kayak, other boats just aren’t the same anymore. They pale in comparison.
At the risk of starting a lot of internet arguments, it’s been my experience that you can fish from any kind of kayak. I have fished from touring yaks, recreational yaks, and even a whitewater yak. But if you plan to really fish, you need a fishing kayak. They are designed a little differently from the standard formula. Fishing kayaks are usually a bit wider for more stability. They have fittings for tie-downs, paddle holders, rod holders, and some even have a live box compartment. There mounting points for fish-finders, and other accessories.
Although fishing kayaks are made both as Sit On Top (SOT) and Sit Inside Kayak (SIK) models, the SOT is the preferred style for most anglers. SOTs offer easy entry and exit from the water, most gear is easily reached, and you sit a little higher in the water than in SIKs. But either style is perfectly suited to fishing.
Fishing kayaks are available in just about any price range. Ideally, you should get the best yak you can afford, based on the companies Customer Service reputation, and the kinds of fishing you plan to do. You can certainly use an Ocean Angling yak to chase trout and crappie, but it may be a little overkill for your purposes. Use good judgement. Be that as it may, you will save money in the long run by spending more money on a yak now, rather than trying to upgrade later.
WiIl anyone be fishing with you? You might want to consider a tandem. You might want to take your dog out with you. A lot of anglers that fish together use their own individual kayaks, and encircle the fish, so a tandem might be more boat than you need. You be the judge.
Fishing kayaks come in all different colors. Unless you are planning on duck hunting from your yak (and some people do…), or maybe leading a clandestine assault somewhere, leave the camouflage and darker colors to the Rambo-wannabees. You want to be as visible on the water as possible so you don’t get run over by ski-boats, jet skis, etc…. Go with the brightest colors you can find. The fish don’t mind. Kayaks are so stealthy that it is not uncommon to actually run into a fish before it notices you, even in a bright orange yak. I’ve smacked into dozens of large carp and gar in a canary-yellow Wilderness Systems Bravo yak.
Different Strokes For Different Folks
Paddles are another area where you don’t want to scrimp. You’ll need a good set of fishing-specific paddles. They are a little wider than standard paddles to facilitate paddling the wider fishing yaks, have useful features, like a ruler right on the shaft to measure fish length, tools inside the shaft, and some even have hook removal tools built into the paddle blade. Be sure to use a paddle tether to keep from losing your paddle if it goes overboard. Putting floats on it is also not a bad idea.
Speaking of floats, it is also a good idea to put floats on your fishing rods and other gear so it can be recovered if it goes into the drink.
Floating Along… Last words:
A PFD (Personal Floatation Device) is another area where you don’t want to scrimp. I don’t care how well you swim, anyone can die in an unexpected tumble into the water. And in most places, you are required by law to wear a Coast Guard Approved, Type II PFD when on the water. You should really have two, in case you need to throw one to someone during a rescue. There are PFDs made specifically for fishing, with lots of pockets and attachments for gear. These can be invaluable on the water. Even top-end PFDs don’t cost that much, so there is no excuse not to have one, and always wear it when on the water.