5 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED KAYAK FISHING
When I started kayak fishing, I was greener than green. I approached the application as a fisho first and foremost. I treated it like any other fishing application. But kayak fishing isn’t like other applications.
I knew what lures would attract Murray Cod, I could tie my rig blindfolded, and I had built my own flies to take Brown Trout, I assumed as a veteran fisho, I would be a great yak fisherman. But I was like a fish out of water. My paddling was frantic, I couldn’t get the kayak to stay facing the direction of travel, and most of my first day on the water was spent battling with basic mobility.
It was demoralising, but thinking back, the challenging nature of the application is probably what kept me coming back. These are some of the things I wish I had known before I started kayak fishing to make the transition easier from other applications.
LEARN TO WALK BEFORE YOU CAN RUN
On my first day out on the water, I had borrowed a kayak from a friend, spent a large amount of time selecting what tackle to bring and what target species to target, and done my research on my local waterways to find the ideal, fish-biting spot. As soon as I got on the water, this went out the window.
Before you load up with rods, rod holders, tackle boxes, fish finders, and all the gadgets under the sun, take some time to get used to paddling a kayak. Don’t expect to jump right in and start taking fish. Before you install all your modifications, spend some time in your kayak without any accessories and learn the basics of kayak safety and movement.
Not only will this avoid mishaps and accidents, it will give you a feel for your paddling style and give you an indication of where you want to place your gear. There is no sense in drilling holes in your yak and positioning rod holders, only to realise once you have spent 3 days paddling that you need to move it to another less intrusive location.
LOADING UP YOUR KAYAK IS AN ART FORM
Once you have mastered the basics and you are ready to start fishing, you will soon realise that efficiently packing your gear and loading up your kayak is a useful skill to have in kayak fishing. With other applications, you can throw your gear into your tackle bag, and once you’re on a fish if you need to rummage for them, it’s not the end of the world. Try rummaging for a set of pliers in the bottom of a tackle bag when you have a monster ‘yakside. You’ll never leave your pliers in the bottom of your bag again.
When kayak fishing, you need to pack efficiently and know where everything is. It can make the difference between staying dry and ending up in the drink.
PADDLING FURTHER DOESN’T MEAN MORE FISH
In my early years of kayak angling, I had this idea that the best fishing spots were always just around the corner. I would paddle further and further in search of that ideal fishing location, arriving drained and exhausted before I had even cast my first line.
This is rarely the case. Because of the increased freedom of kayak fishing, doing your research before you set out become more important. Use Google Earth and find locations before you set off and set realistic paddling distances. You don’t want to run out of energy before you even start fighting fish.
THE PADDLE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE KAYAK
Invest in a good paddle right from the start. A heavy paddle can ruin fishing days. They wear out your arms and back, and can leave your hands blistered and sore. Get a good paddle as early as possible to increase comfort levels.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Unlike other applications, not knowing your limits in a kayak can get you in real trouble. Test your limits by all means. That is how we improve. But do it without your fishing gear, in a controlled environment with plenty of supervision who can assist if things get out of hand.
With these tips, you will begin your kayak fishing career in a much stronger position than I did. Practice makes perfect, so get out there and start fishing, but before you go, don’t forget your paddle!
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