Kayak fishing - Tips for beginners
2nd August 2021 Jack O'Rourke
Kayak fishing is rapidly growing in popularity, with many keen anglers opting to buy a kayak over a larger boat. Their flexibility and manoeuvrability helps fishos explore waterways easily and access systems that haven’t been fished previously.
Deckee ambassador Matthew Pham started out flicking lures in his local system from an inflatable kayak at a very young age.
"Being out in the environment acts as a reset for me. Being out in nature, not having to deal with the noise of the city refreshes me,” explains Pham.
“Ever since I got into lure fishing I have been fishing off a kayak. Whenever I get a chance, I'm out on my kayak. It is just a hundred times more peaceful - you aren't fighting for spots or getting your lines tangled, it's just so much better.”
He shares with us some tips for those looking to get into fishing from a kayak.
The advantages of kayak fishing
Before you go out looking to buy a kayak, it is important to note the advantages of fishing from a kayak.
The big advantage is getting into zones that land-based anglers simply can’t get to.
“The day before, I like to bring up the Deckee app and find spots that are only accessible by water. That is my main focus when fishing from a kayak,” says Pham.
“You are able to find species that you don't see very often. It is a joy to find a rare fish or catch something you didn't expect to see in that system.”
Also, kayaks give you the freedom to explore. Moving from location to location gives you lots of variety. If you have been fishing for a while in a spot using different lures and techniques with not much result, you can simply paddle to another zone and try your luck there.
Picking the right kayak
If this type of fishing sounds appealing, the next step is to consider where you would most likely use the kayak. What kind of waterways do you want to fish? Outside the heads, around lakes or in the estuaries are the best spots for kayaking, and generally will require different types of kayaks.
“Predominantly I like estuary fishing,” says Pham. “It comes down to safety, that's one of the most important things for me. What do you feel most comfortable in? and what do you know what would work the best in the area you are trying to fish. I use a Hobie kayak.”
There are many kinds of kayaks and each one serves a purpose. Most commonly, they can be divided into Sit-On-Top kayaks and Sit-In kayaks. While SOT kayaks offer excellent stability, have less chance of capsizing and are easier to get in and out of, they are harder to paddle over long distances and don’t offer much protection from getting wet.
SI kayaks on the other hand are fast and easy to paddle and offer more storage space but are more challenging to remain stable and restrict your movement quite a bit.
Fishing kayaks are purpose-built for anglers and are designed with rod holders, hatches, bucket wells and anchor points. It is important to get a kayak with the right rudder set up, to free your hands for fishing.
Take the right equipment for kayak fishing
Kayak fishing offers great versatility. Generally speaking, you don't need to alter your rig and rod set up significantly when fishing from a kayak.
“I generally have two different setups. It generally depends on the species you are trying to catch. Pre-rig your rods the night before and carry with you two different setups,” suggests Pham.
“This gives you the option to switch back and forth while on the kayak without having to re-rig your rod every time.”
Having one light and one heavier set-up with optional lures is good advice. Be prepared if a bust-up happens so that you can easily switch between the lures.
Fishing from a kayak also allows you to cast your lures from multiple directions and hit different angles. It gives manoeuvrability and flexibility to pull the lure in different spaces and increases your chances of getting a bite. If the current is moving one way, then you can change the direction of your casting.
Prepare before you head out
Check the tides, check the swell and check the wind. Have an idea of which direction the wind is coming from, and keep an eye out during the day when you are out fishing to see if it changes. Be smart about the zones you pick to fish and use the current to your advantage.
The Deckee app has a lot of great information on it that should help you plan your trip,” recommends Pham.
“I think the app is great to show where boat ramps are available in the area. The individual markers make them easy to find, they are easily distinguishable and clear.”
Wear appropriate clothing to suit the conditions
“I recommend picking up a set of waders, they work a treat. At first, I didn't use them, as I was so reluctant to walk into the water to launch my kayak,” says Pham.
Moisture-wicking clothing that dries quickly is best, and avoid wearing cotton, as you will inevitably get wet. Have a dry change of clothes on hand for once the trip is completed.
Wear warm weather gear, especially in the middle of winter. The elements can creep up on you even if it's a relatively mild day.
Wear a lifejacket
When heading out on a kayak, always plan for the worst-case scenario, and assume that you flip at some stage. A life jacket will help you stay alive, especially if you are out on the open water and the conditions are chilly.
“A life jacket is an essential bit of kit no matter what waterways you are out on,” confirms Pham.
“I had to learn it the hard way, but thankfully nothing too dangerous happened. Every kayaker probably has a story of flipping over at the worst times possible.”
There are a few life jackets that you can purchase to give a greater range of movement while fishing.
Matthew proposes another safety tip: bring a head torch and a second source of light to attach to your kayak. This will alert others around you on the water of your presence, especially if you are going out before first light.
Be aware of your surroundings
Be mindful of boat traffic, especially if kayaking in busy waterways. Be aware of how traffic goes through an area on any given day.
If a big swell comes through, or you are caught in the wake of a passing vessel, point the nose of your kayak into the wave to avoid being tipped over.
A bucket and a sponge is handy to remove excess water from your kayak to prevent it from capsizing.
“I have had big waves wash over the top of my kayak and fill the cockpit up with water. It gets pretty uncomfortable to sit in a drenched kayak,” says Pham.