Beware: Kayak Fishing is Addictive


Why not fish from a kayak?

Everyone who does has that one friend with all the excuses: “Those little boats are too ‘tippy.’” “I’m too fat.” “I need way more room for tackle.” “I already have a bass boat.” “I’m too old.” “My back hurts too much.”

On the surface, these excuses have merit. But if you’re an experienced kayak angler, you can shoot all of them down.

So, let’s do that one by one.

‘Those little boats are too ‘tippy’’

True, you can tip over in a kayak far more easily than you can in a Ranger bass boat. But, surprisingly, tipping over while fishing is rare, especially for people new to the sport—yes, amateurs tend to be extra careful and don’t take chances. It’s the guys who have been doing it for years who are overconfident and push the limitations of regular boats, let alone the longer, narrower plastic ones they fish with. They stand up and face sideways while casting, creating a high center of gravity and shift weight to the side of the kayak. But even the widest, most stable models can tip over.

The only time I’ve capsized was when I was pretty new to kayak fishing and tried to propel my 12-foot Hobie through Lake Michigan surf. Instead of timing the waves and being ready to jump out just before hitting the beach, I just went as fast as I could, jammed the beach and a following wave turned me sideways and the kayak rolled. It was far more embarrassing than painful as a group of about a dozen kayak anglers experienced enough to stay onshore came to help me. I still have a clear vision of having one eye under the surface and another above the surface, and seeing whole lot of knees approaching my way.

‘I’m too large’
Kayaks are rated for maximum loads just as powerboats, and some larger fellows might think they’re too heavy for a plastic boat’s weight limit. Actually, most will find they are well within the range of bigger kayaks. The kayak I use the most is rated for 600 pounds. At 260, I’m not small, but I can take my 100-pound golden retriever and still be well within the weight limit of my 14-foot kayak. So, unless you’re on one of those shows where they use a crane to get you from your bedroom to the bathroom, you probably can find a kayak that will fit. And if you’re worried about being overweight and out of shape for try kayak fishing, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised if you give it a try. This type of fishing, whether padding or pedaling, is surprisingly easy, low-impact exercise. You might find it a great way to start getting into shape. This is one reason I’ve steadfastly fended off the temptation to try one of the electric-motor setups becoming more popular (some kayak tournaments allow competitors to use them). I’m pretty sure I’d like using a motor so that my last regular form of exercise would go by the wayside.

‘I need way more room for tackle’

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Sure, you can’t take the 27 different rods you can fit in the storage of a bass boat, but you can take 16. I posed the question of how many rods guys take on their kayaks on the Kayak Bass Fishing Facebook page and a few guys said they took up to 16. A bunch of guys routinely take nine, and the vast majority said they took six or seven. Some kayak designs, such as the Old Town Predator, have below-deck storage that lets you stow several rods and have several out and ready to go.

Most fishing kayaks also accommodate a separate tackle crate that straps down to the rear deck. These have rod holders for extra rods and have a good amount of room for taking along the flat tackle trays made by Plano and Flambeau.

Many serious kayak anglers eventually find that just because they can take along a lot of stuff, it doesn’t mean they should. Keeping the arsenal outfitted to fish the way they like to fish is what counts. Even in competitive bass tournaments, kayak fishing offers the opportunity to apply your strengths and leave some of that tackle back at the garage.

‘I already have a bass boat’
Hard to argue with that one. When you have a lot of money rolled up in a speedy fishing platform it’s hard to justify doing anything else. But here, again, some veteran bass boaters find that a small investment in a kayak gives them access to lakes and streams they could never fish with their regular boat. Often, it’s these waters that have more fish. I know of two cases of hardcore tournament anglers who have boats gathering dust in their garages since they discovered how much fun kayak bass tournaments can be.

‘I’m too old’
I have taken guys in their late 60s kayak fishing and they absolutely loved it. And, a friend’s dad is an avid kayak angler at age 86. If you feel you might be too old, just give it a try at a dealership or with an experienced guide who’s fished in kayaks. You might be surprised at how age doesn’t matter much.

‘My back hurts too much’
This is obviously a case-by-case basis, and if you have a bad back, check with your doctor before getting in a kayak. That said some guys—including myself—have constant lower back pain that actually goes away when sitting in the state-of-the-art seat of a modern kayak.

In conclusion, I’ve used my MirroCraft 17 1/2-foot aluminum boat with its 75-hp tiller Evinrude exactly one time in 2016 after buying it new in 2015. Maybe the way my kayak seat alleviates my lower back pain has something to do with what it might be like to be addicted to painkillers—I know when I’m not out fishing in my kayak I’m actually thinking about being out fishing in my kayak.

So, there you have some arguments for dispelling the reasons you might be resisting kayak fishing. Sometimes when trying to convince an avid angler to try fishing from a kayak I find myself sounding like Dr. Seuss’s “Sam-I-Am,” pestering the reluctant character to try green eggs and ham. The book ends with the guy finally taking a bite saying, “I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you, Sam-I-Am.”

I’m pretty sure most of you who try kayak fishing would be just as grateful.