Kayak Fishing For Beginners: A Get-Started Guide

Kayak Fishing For Beginners: A Get-Started Guide

Kayak Fishing For Beginners: A Get-Started Guide

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 6/23/2022

That day, fishing was slow on the lake. Due to the hot weather, the bass was lethargic and ignored anything in my tackle box. I knew another lake was south of me, connected by a shallow, narrow creek. The water was deeper there, and it had good shade. The lake was not accessible by boat, and it was several miles from a road, so the only fishers had to cross a tiny creek to reach the lake.

Due to the dry summer, I knew the creek would be shallow or empty due to the dry summer. I paddled out to where the stream began and was delighted to see some water there. Towards the end of the day, I began to paddle down the creek. In some places, the creek was dry; in others, it was only 7" deep and 5' wide. Before reaching the creek's end, where the water covered my knees, I had to pull my kayak through shallow water and a dry bed. My boat drifted down into a small lake, no bigger than 50 acres. I threw a cast to the pads and slowly retrieved the frog back to me.

After catching a few small fish in deep water, I began to look for lily pads in the far corner as the sunset. In the hope of catching a few on a frog, I paddled over. I continued to cast the places in hopes that they would take, but nothing happened. As the sun disappeared behind the trees, I threw the pads. Since night fishing was not an option, it would have to be soon if I wanted to catch anything.

I drifted down the pad line quietly to avoid spooking any fish. He landed an inch up on the muddy bank with a lofting cast. I gave it a few pops before it sunk, and I hooked it quickly. As soon as it started taking a drag, my braid started whining. A tree fell, and it became tangled in the branches. I applied pressure to the line in hopes that it would free itself but to no avail.

While paddling over, the line shot straight down into the pad; I was unaware it was still attached. Hopping into the water, I saw a frog's yellow belly, which indicated where it was stuck. At least I got my lure back, even if I lost the fish. As I reached for the interest, a branch moved, signaling that the fish was still on. After I lifted my head from the water, I retrieved the frog from the mouth of the 4.2-pound bass. It was not a trophy, but it was decent.

Kayak Fishing

Why Should I Start Kayak Fishing?

You will have better chances of catching fish if you have something that can traverse shallow water, such as a kayak. You might consider a kayak if you have limited storage space or a limited budget. Garage sales or flea markets are good places to find them, and their size makes them much easier to store than a large bass boat. If you have limited storage space, you may even want to consider inflatable kayaks, and they deflate and can be stored almost anywhere. 

Kayak Fishing Benefits

Kayaks come in a variety of styles. If you like fishing saltwater or in the great lakes, you can find kayaks designed for rougher waters. You can also paddle around on a farm pond or a small lake nearby. Even if you decide to buy a larger kayak for fishing on big lakes or saltwater, know that those are typically pricier options than the smaller 9' kayak that you can take out on skinny water.

You'll most likely fish local rivers and lakes with this if you're like most anglers. You can successfully fish these waters with kayaks and use kayaks on a wide range of waters. You don't need to turn around and return home if you get to a dry spot before the water gets deep again while fishing in a low river. Rather than paddle in, you can get out of your kayak, get into the water and pull until you reach a depth where you can swim.

Connecting lakes and rivers via small waterways is the same. If I were in a bass boat, there wouldn't be a story about me diving in to grab a fish. However, I opted to navigate through the skinny shallow water and ended up in a lovely deep lake. Kayaks can also hold any equipment you might need during the day. Aside from large areas to store coolers and tackle boxes, there are many nooks and crannies to put the gear on.

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Series
Easy to inflate
Leg room

Kayak Fishing: Where Can You Go?

Crabs in the Bering Sea are pretty much the only exception!

Saltwater kayaks are designed to handle the strong currents and surf of the ocean, rivers, and lakes. Based on the type of kayak you choose, REI Coupons & Rebates page only limits you to where you can go. In shallow and calm waters, a shorter, cheaper kayak would do well, but in waves, they would struggle. A kayak can be used almost anywhere and for nearly anything, and it's an excellent fishing tool.

Getting Started

In order to get started on your trip to the lake, you will need a few things.

Choosing A Fishing Kayak

The gear you need will vary according to where you fish, what type of fish you're after, and how many rods you have. It's also important to consider your budget and whether you have any storage restrictions.


Saltwater kayaks will be the most expensive and most extensive kayaks you can purchase. However, these are built to withstand rough ocean waters and have incredible balance. Additionally, their larger bodies have ample room to add accessories such as rod holders, sonar units, and everything in between. Along with large lakes and rivers, kayaks are also suitable for waterways. It is possible to use them on smaller bodies of water, but navigating small creeks could be challenging.


Smaller than their saltwater counterparts, these can be used effectively on smaller bodies of water, such as creeks. There is plenty of room on these to hold your fishing essentials and smaller items for the day. Despite being smaller, they are spacious enough to accommodate rod holders, wade sticks, or anything else you desire.

Gear Storage

All of this depends on what you're hoping to bring along.

Angling gear is a major obsession for many anglers. A lure, paddle, sonar, tackle box, more excellent, and so on must be the latest and greatest. However, there are also some minimalist designs. When choosing your kayak, consider what kind of angler you are. Few anglers carry more than they need. Could I use just a few lures, pliers, and a rod? Do I need to bring everything I own for fishing? Kayaks come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. It's just a matter of shopping around and finding the best one for you.


  • Your budget will determine how much you spend.
  • Garage sales usually offer cheap used kayaks for about $50 or less.
  • Around $150-200 would be a good price for a cheap new one

These are usually bare-bones and don't have a lot of space for storing gear. Kayaks of this type are traditionally sit-in models. Fishing from them is still possible, but they won't have the same stability as a sit-on-top kayak, which you can stand on. A new sit-on-top kayak can cost anywhere from $400 to more than $2,000. The most expensive ones will be bigger and have better stability and more storage.

Kayak Setup: How To Do It

It is simple enough to take it straight to the water from the store if you are a bare-bones angler, and it takes just a few minutes. You can, however, customize kayaks as well. Changing the seats to higher ones would provide a better vantage point and make standing easier. The seats also come with backrests to make them more comfortable.

Kayaks do not always come with rod holders, so you might have to install them yourself. Alternatively, you could use rod holders as spider rigs for crappie fishing. Most rod holders have a clip on the side. However, some may require drilling into the boat. When casting, you should also have something to hold your paddle. You won't have to worry about your paddle banging around in your lap if you want to drift along and release.

You can attach your paddle to a handle or anywhere else on your kayak that has a loop by wrapping some paracord around it. As soon as you cast, you can let your paddle float in the water, and when you want to move again, you can grab it. You can also set up sonar on your kayak. You will need to drill a hole for the mounting bracket, but you will soon be using sonar in your kayak after a bit of rigging.

kayak fishing23

Must-Haves For Kayak Fishing

Paddles, rods, and reels are all you need. It is possible to make kayak fishing easier with several different items. You can store tackle in the front or back of the kayak with great success. To be ready for anything, you can keep anything you want in there if you organize it properly. At least two-rod holders can be helpful.

It is simple to hold two rods and tie two different lures to each while paddling out to your spot. You can do this when you have a fish hit your first lure and miss, and then you can grab your second rod and cast out to the same spot again. Sonar is also an excellent tool for learning the structure of a lake or river when fishing. When you don't know much about a particular body of water, it can be a great help. This equipment can help you stay on top of fish all day long to see precisely where structure and baitfish are.

Tips For Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing can be done in several ways.

  • You can troll for crappie or other panfish with a spider rig system.
  • You can quickly fly fish from a sit-on-top if it allows you to stand up.
  • It's possible to fly fish from a sit-in, but it's usually difficult.
  • As well as using a spinning rod or a bait caster, you can also use the traditional cast and retrieve method.
  • You can also sight fish, especially during the bass spawn. A kayak with good stability, however, would be helpful. You'll be able to easily spot the bass beds as you drift along the banks.

Kayak anglers will find that a rod holder and a paddle holder are great to use.

Pelican - Kayak Fishing Rod Holder
Easy to install
Value for money

You are leaning your kayak paddle on your paddle while casting could result in the paddle falling into the water or banging around and spooking fish in the area. If you attempt to paddle with rods on your lap, they will end up at the bottom of the lake. Having both a rod holder and paddle holder is preferable, but a rod holder should be the first thing you add to your fishing kayak.

rod holder

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Choose A Fishing Kayak?

Your budget and personal needs will determine what you buy. It is essential to consider the type of water you're going to fish, your price range, and how much storage space you have at home. You might be able to use an inflatable kayak if you live in a small apartment in the city. You can read the article I wrote here to help you make a decision https://www.boardandkayak.com/article/best-fishing-kayaks-under-1000-1651347591173

How Should I Dress For Kayak Fishing?

It's beginning to sound like a broken record, but again, it depends. When will you be fishing? If you enjoy fishing in cold weather, then something waterproof and warm would be the best choice. Bring a light jacket, and if you're feeling in the spring on a chilly morning. By midday, shorts and a t-shirt can replace long pants. Any sun shirt or lightweight pants will do if it's summertime and you want to keep calm and protect yourself from the sun. As a rule of thumb, don't wear anything too cumbersome as you need to be able to move around while paddling your kayak. Wear something waterproof or something you don't mind getting wet.

Kayak Fishing Is Dangerous?

The water can be dangerous for any activity done there, and it is possible to hurt yourself or worse if you are not careful seriously. When you take the proper precautions, such as not fishing during inclement weather or rough water and wearing your PFD, it is a completely safe and enjoyable activity.

What Is The Best Rod And Reel For Kayak Fishing?

It doesn't matter what you use as long as you're out on the water and enjoying yourself. I wouldn't recommend using a heavy surf rod to catch crappie, but whatever works for you.

Last Thoughts

Kayak fishing is a great way to get out on the water and enjoy nature. It's not only a fun and relaxing way to get outdoors, but it's also good exercise. If you paddle around a lake all day, you will see results if you do it consistently. Kayaking is a hobby you can pursue throughout the rest of your life. When you're young, you can quickly start and continue to do so.

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