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Well-designed angling kayaks are a valuable and efficient means of getting to fish you otherwise could not reach.
Kayak anglers enjoy this platform for its comfort, stability and capacity for a solo fishing experience. Angling kayaks are also equally well suited for anglers using fly rods and reels as well as spinning and casting equipment. I often carry both fly rods and spinning/casting rods on the same trip.
The kayak angler has easier access to water otherwise inaccessible to boats and fishing from the shore.
An angler’s respective perception of and bias for or against any style of angling is very personal. Such is usually a matter of a lack of opportunity, a misunderstanding or a lack of willingness to embrace the opportunity to experience that which is different. I will leave it to the reader to reflect on her or his own perceptions and bias for or against varying angling styles.
So imagine the reaction from anglers when they first see me walk to the water with one of my kayaks rigged for a day of fishing. My experience in such situations ranges from open curiosity and interest, quiet neglect, and at times less than complementary words as I paddle away from shore. We all need to remember that the spoken word travels a long way over open water.
Please consider these reasons why i think a kayak offers an added productive benefit to any style of fishing in almost any body of water.
1. Staring at unreachable pools on a stream or river or areas in a pond or lake can be quite frustrating. It often has me trying to wade into water that I quickly recognize as being too deep or too fast moving for safe access on my feet. A kayak, float tube or canoe are the only possible options. I have used them all but in fast running or deep water or a pond or lake I find that paddling, anchoring and fishing from a kayak is well suited for the solo angler. Kayaks can also be very comfortable if designed with a high quality seat for angling. But remember that getting to the water you want to fish is not the answer to catching fish. You still have to use the proper flies or lures and presentations to be successful. The kayak is not what attracts or catches fish.
2. Well-designed fishing kayaks afford great mobility and a stable platform for fishing. One of my favorite trips here in Maine begins with a small stream with interconnected ponds and streams that ultimately empties into a pond. Without my kayak I would simply not be able to run this 10 mile stretch of water in a single day. I cast from the kayak, use the kayak as my vehicle for quick, comfortable and stable mobility.
I can also easily stop and either anchor or get out to fish or wade water that holds nice fish.
This one trip affords fabulous opportunities for Landlocked Salmon, Brook Trout and Smallmouth Bass in one watershed. Imagine great fishing, calm surroundings, birds, beavers, an occasional moose and on a couple of occasions a quick look at a black bear.
3. The kayak also allows me to carry gear not possible when wading or hiking. For long trips I always carry my Primus gas stoves for a nice shore lunch along the way. Nothing like a hot cup of coffee and meal while resting on shore. This with no one else around except perhaps a friend making the memories with you. I can also take one or two fly rods as well as spinning and casting gear rigged for different presentations and different species.
4. Don’t forget the photo op. My kayak is rigged with a remote operated GoPro, and a still camera. These are waterproof and tough cameras. I also carry a Digital SLR in a dry bag for higher quality pictures.
My Wilderness Systems Ride 135 and similarly well designed fishing kayaks have the capacity for all of this gear with plenty of space for fishing gear, rods, tackle and flies and lunch or dinner.
It is also a very stable kayak thus reducing the risk of getting wet unless you do not use good judgment.
So embrace the kayak as an angling platform regardless of your angling preference. Of all the valuable lessons my dad taught me, being relaxed and enjoying a day of fishing was one of the best. He also instilled in me the knowledge that you only become better by trying new and different experiences. I have fished for more than 60 years and fly fished for more than 40 years. I have fished from a kayak for about 20 years. Kayaks designed for fishing will last a long time if taken care of. I still fish from my 20 year old sit inside style Pungo 14. My newer sit on top Ride 135 has, however, become my go to kayak due to its stability, comfort and capacity.
I love to fish and I love to learn. I find some of the best conversations occur when fishing and interacting with other anglers. A shared tactic, a shared story, or simply a quick smile and nod as I paddle by. I often share one of my kayaks if an angler seems interested. My only requirement is the paddler wear a PFD at all times. I carry a few different sizes of PFD’s in my Jeep for such occasions. I have later seen some of these anglers in her or his own kayak enjoying a day of angling.
So please do share the water, share the tactics and when possible learn new methods of fishing. And oh yes, do include a fishing kayak in your adventures. I am confident you will find an angling kayak to be a productive and safe fishing platform.
About the Author: Jim is an avid angler who lives in Maine and fishes using fly rods, and spinning and casting gear for cold water species, and warm water species (salmon, trout, bass, pike). He also fishes tidal waters in Maine for Striped Bass. He is a member of Trout Unlimited, BASS, and Federation of Fly Fishers. He is a member of the Wilderness Systems Kayak Pro Staff.