Perhaps the greatest thing about fishing is its universal appeal.
It attracts people of all ages and from all walks of life. Some anglers fish for relaxation or to spend time with family and friends, and others to supplement their groceries. Then there are those looking for some outdoor adventure who find it with a fishing rod.
While each angler has an individual preference of fishing platform, such as a boat or the shoreline, one platform that continues to grow in popularity is the kayak. According to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s 2018 Special Report on Fishing, 4.8 percent of anglers fished from a kayak in 2017. That is up a full percentage point from 3.8 percent in 2013 and translates into about 2.4 million anglers.
So, what accounts for the steady increase in the number of kayak anglers?
The answers are as varied as the kayaks anglers use to pursue their fishing avocation. Included among them are the relatively low cost of a kayak compared to that of a full-size fishing boat, the peace and quiet that can be found when paddling in a quiet cove or on a small body of water, and the ability to sneak up on fish. Then there is the low cost of operating a paddle- or pedal-powered craft.
If you are thinking about making the move to kayak fishing, do yourself a favor and research the various makes and models. Pay attention to hull design, the deck layout and the build quality. They are not all created equal. Nor is every kayak designed for fishing. Buying one that is will make all the difference in your experience.
One of the fun aspects of owning a kayak is accessorizing it. There is a long and growing list of aftermarket accessories available, and each has been designed to enhance your fishing experience. At least that is what the marketing material says.
When I first became interested in kayak fishing, one of the best pieces of advice I found but didn’t pay attention to can be summed up this way. “Take it slow when selecting and mounting accessories on your kayak.”
But instead of waiting for completion of my first outing, I went right to work and put rod holders wherever a neophyte thought they should go. Before long, I had two along the gunnel in front of the seat and two behind it. Then I added a few to a milk crate and placed that directly behind the seat. The fit looked good to me, and I stood back to admire my handiwork.
“What could possibly go wrong?” I thought.
How about everything?
That became apparent when I loaded a half-dozen fishing rods and launched my new yak. To begin with, the paddle hit my forward-mounted fishing rods with every stroke. That caused me to shorten my paddle stroke and made it difficult to control the kayak.
Then there were the rods standing up in the holders behind the seat. They were in direct line of my back cast and the hooks on my lures. It didn’t take long to learn how easy it is to tie a good knot when winding up for distance cast. And I had so many fishing rods on the kayak that it resembled a trawler with outriggers.
Outfitting your kayak requires some real thought and time spent on the water before attaching your accessories. Pay attention to your paddle stroke and your casting motion. How far forward do you reach with each stroke? And what are your tendencies when you cast your fishing rod? Do you have a sidearm motion or is it more of an overhead motion? Knowing those and other things about yourself will help you plan the location of your accessories.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.