Kayak Fishing Tips, Tricks and Safety Advice

We hope you love the products we recommend. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

A relaxing paddle along the river, through even the narrowest of channels is one of the greatest parts of kayaking. But there’s also nothing like kicking back on a summer evening on your small fishing boat or along the shore, slowly sipping a drink as the fireflies dance and you wait for that big bite. But is there a way to combine the two?

Yes, there is—Kayak Fishing. Offering the best of both worlds, Kayak fishing combines the sport and ease of kayaking with the relaxing pastime of fishing. The result? An option for fishing that allows you to get into all of a river’s nooks and crannies, while also enjoying the sport of fishing that you love.

If you’ve never fished from your kayak, however, you might be a little daunted at the thought. Have no fear—or at least a small amount to keep you safe—and read on for everything you need to know to tackle your first kayak fishing trip.

Table of Contents

Your Boat and Paddle

First things first, you’re going to need a boat and paddle to take on the waters. Here are some buying tips to help ensure your kayak angling is successful:

  • Here is where you need to be discerning—not just any kayak or paddle will do. It’s best to shop around and get the best boat and paddle that you can afford. Why? A cheap boat won’t last as long, which means you’re going to have to replace it in a few years anyway. Buying a higher quality, more expensive one now will most likely save you money in the long run.
  • If shopping from local dealers, ask to give it a test run or to at least get a chance to check it out. Definitely see in person any boat that you plan to buy.
  • If paddles do not come with your kayak, shop around for the best deal on one that has a plethora of ease of use features, and ensure that you’re not buying a super cheap one. You’ll want a paddle that can last as long as your kayak!
  • Note: You’ll also need rigging for your angler kayaking session. You can get purchased rigging, which ensures you won’t have to do it yourself and can save you a lot of time and hassle. Or, you can choose to rig yourself, which can be very rewarding. Go for a simple option if possible, especially if you’re doing the rigging yourself. Whichever option you choose, make sure this essential step is completed prior to heading out on your trip.

Test Runs

Once you have your new boat, and before you set out on a long fishing trip on this new equipment, make sure you do some test runs. Maybe you’re planning to head to another part of the state or another state altogether to find some wide-open waters and a bevy of fish. If that’s the case, try to find a smaller body of water near you that you can practice your skills on. Understanding how to manage the kayak can go a long way towards making your kayak fishing experience a positive one.

Preparing for the Trip

There are a number of important things you’ll want to do to prepare for any kayak fishing trip. Here are some top safety tips to help you make the most of your fishing sessions—and catch the most fish!

  • Decide where you are going: Are you going to stay close to home and just find a nice retention pond or small dam to check out? Or, are you looking to take a trip a few hours away, where you can find larger bodies of water and a more relaxing pace? Either way, before you leave you’ll want to ensure you know exactly where you are going.
  • Check out local fishing reports: These will give you the inside scoop on where the best place to get some bites is located. It also ensures that you are a responsible fisherman.
  • Check out local weather reports: Whether you are staying close to home or headed out to waters beyond, it’s very important to know what the weather will be and plan for it. Storms, fog and more can really put a cramp on your fishing style—and can also be dangerous! For severe fog or thunderstorms, it’s best to stay in and plan your fishing adventure for another time.
  • Gather some necessities: You’ll not only want to have fishing gear and a paddle, but you’ll also want some other kayak fishing necessities. These include fish handling gear and anchors.
    • Fish handling gear: Once you’ve made the big catch, you need the right gear to handle it! This gear includes gloves, nets, pliers, line cutters, fish grips and stringers. All of these are necessary for cleaning and handling fish.
      • Gloves are also important to have, as they can aid in protecting your hands against sharp-toothed fish.
    • Anchor: An anchor is one item that many first-time fishermen will forget. There are a number of options to choose from, but one of the best beginner’s anchors is the folding anchor, which is smaller and as the name suggests, it folds up for easy and convenient storage. Whatever anchor you choose, please remember to only anchor it to the stern or bow, as a side anchor can cause your boat to capsize.

man kayaking

Kayak Fishing Safety

When you’re out on the water, you can never be too safe. Take all the necessary precautions to ensure that you and any guests stay safe while you try your hand at kayak fishing. Here’s some essential safety tips to make your fishing experience as smooth as possible:

  • Check the weather and don’t go out in bad conditions: As we said above, the weather plays a crucial role in your kayak fishing adventure. If it’s raining buckets, storming, snowing or it’s an excessively windy day—among other things, you’ll want to stay home! Don’t put yourself in a dangerous position by trying to take on Mother Nature. She’s going to win, every single time.
  • Always wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device): A flotation device is a must-have when you’re going to be on the water. No matter how wonderful of a swimmer you are, you could still find yourself in a tough situation, especially if you are caught off guard when you fall in or are stuck underneath the kayak.
  • Anchor smarts: It’s very important that you learn to use your anchor properly and that you never anchor in a swift current, as this can be incredibly dangerous.
  • Safety Kit: Don’t forget to bring a safety kit with you wherever you go! Include first aid items that you may need, like Band-Aids, Tylenol, bug spray and more. You’ll also want to throw in a flashlight and other safety items that can come in handy in case the unthinkable happens.
  • Snacks and water: Don’t forget to bring easy, non-perishable and highly portable snack items, like trail mix, nuts, and protein bars. You should also bring some fresh water, as well. Staying hydrated and well fed can help to stave off hunger-induced panic and drama.

Catching Some Fish

So, you’ve chosen where to go, you’ve packed up all your stuff and you’re ready to head out and catch some fish, but what should you do once you’re out there? If you’re a novice and unsure of how to make those fish come to you, here’s some tips and tricks for kayaking.

  • Become a one-handed pro. Learning to not only paddle with one hand, but also to cast with one hand can make a world of difference. You have a free hand for assisting with other tasks or for holding your beer. Either option is fine!
  • Use your cast to steer. Various types of casts can aid in steering, which can be so helpful when you’re out there all day. These types of casts include spinner baits, chatter baits and crankbaits. Cast your line and you’ll find that the resistance provided can be just what you need to steer your kayak where you want it to go. If you start to veer off course, cast another line gently and you’ll get a small boost to where you need to be.
  • Use Eddys to stay put while the current is flowing. Eddys can be used to your advantage when the current is strong. You might think that the current would take you away much faster than anticipated, but if you find an Eddy, you’ll be able to stay put while you fish.
  • Anchor as needed. If you really want to relax and catch some fish, don’t be afraid to throw down your anchor.
  • When it’s windy out, make sure to hug the shoreline. This can help you to avoid getting blown around by nasty winds or when you are paddling upstream and fighting against the current.

Kayak fishing can be one of the greatest activities in your arsenal for fun. Grab some gear and get some friends, you’re sure to have a trip you’ll never forget using these intelligent tips, tricks and precautions!