From bass to tarpon, kayak fishing is a great experience for all anglers.
By Trent Jonas
Paddling is an awesome way to get some exercise and get out on the water—it’s also a fantastic way to stealthily put yourself where the fish are. A kayak is a stable platform from which anglers can chase all kinds of species, from bass to redfish, tuna (yes, tuna!) to tarpon. Many companies now make kayaks designed specifically for anglers, but with the right gear, you can turn your own boat into a fish catching machine. Here are half a dozen accessories to get you going this fishing season.
Whether you’re using your kayak for trolling, fishing with multiple rods, or simply need to use your hands for something else, rod holders are a must to make your kayak fishing ready. Scotty makes several types and sizes of rod holders that can be mounted with little effort onto a kayak. The beauty of doing it yourself is you get to pick the locations to best suit your own fishing needs.
If you’re going to put in the effort of paddling out to catch fish, it helps to know where the fish are and when you can stop paddling and start casting. This is why a fish finder is a critical piece of gear. Look for a fish finder with GPS capability, like the Garmin Striker 4, so that you can mark the honey holes and never worry about navigating your way back home.
Sometimes drifting is the best strategy for fishing, but at other times, you may want to stop and work a specific spot or piece of structure for a while. On those occasions, you will need an anchor to keep your boat from drifting so you can fish where you want to. An anchor designed specifically for use in a kayak will ensure that you have the right kind of hold without carrying unneeded weight in your boat. Seattle Sports Co. makes anchor kits for kayaks that are stowable and easy to deploy.
You already have a paddle, so why do you need a paddle specifically tailored to fishing, right? Well, the truth is, you probably don’t need one, but you’re likely going to want one if you spend a lot of time fishing from your kayak. The Bending Branches Angler Classic, for example, has a ruler built into the paddle shaft, so you can measure your catch to make sure it’s within any slot limit—all without having to wrestle with a measuring tape. The Angler Classic also has a hook/lure retrieval tool built into the paddle blade, which sure beats getting wet while wrestling with a snagged line.
Tackle crates are designed specifically for fishing from paddling platforms like kayaks. Most open-hulled kayaks have space for a tackle crate behind the seat or tucked up against. They are a great solution for securely storing and easily accessing everything you’ll need for a fishing excursion, such as bait or lures and other tackle. Some crates, like the Hobie H even have built-in holders for transporting your fishing rods.
Fishing-specific PFDs are like fishing-specific paddles: Yes, you can live without one, but why would you want to? With specially designed pockets, loops, and anchor points, PFDs like the Stohlquist Fisherman are made to make things safer and easier when you’re out on the water. The Fisherman, for example, has pockets that are shaped and sized to fit small lure boxes and strategically-placed mounting locations for hemostats, pliers, retractors, leader-line, and the like.