Getting started with kayak fishing

How to start kayak fishing. An introduction into picking the right kayak for fishing in your area, what species you can fish for and how to prepare for hitting the water.

Share this article

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Twitter

Getting started with kayak fishing

We stood waist deep in the warm water of the lagoon, as a light rain began falling on our heads and shoulders. There, 100 yards on the other side a feeding frenzy was taking place. Violent splashing and chaos broke the surface of the tranquil surface as a school of snook ambushed baitfish up against a dock. We watched as the chaos hit a crescendo then slowly died. We were helpless to capitalize on the action. If only we had a way of crossing the 100 yards of open water. If only we had brought the kayaks.

The freedom of fishing on top of the water and not from the bank is unparalleled. Boats are an amazing asset, but require a certain amount of pre gained knowledge regarding engines. A boat also requires necessities like a trailer, gas, motor maintenance and even registration fees. 

Enter the fishing kayak.

Kayaks have helped hunters and anglers for centuries, but fishing kayaks have experienced a renaissance in the last few decades. For a fraction of the costs involved with owning a hard sided boat, engine and trailer, you can have a personal watercraft that grants you the freedom to explore water.

Why Kayak Fishing?

Outside of the financial benefits mentioned above, try to picture yourself gliding across a glassy lake, silently moving into position near a bed of weeds. The silent and low water disturbance nature of the kayak should make it an appealing watercraft for any angler. 

Lack of wakes, and engine disturbance opens up a lot more fishing areas. Without the rumble of horsepower, there is no need to let water calm down, wakes dissipate, or worry about spooked fish.

The wind whipping your face on a motorboat is enjoyable, but nothing compares to the peace and quiet nature has to offer when gliding across a lake.

Your kayak not only gives you a stealthy approach, but offers the opportunity to access sections of water motored boats cannot. Shallow waters that would damage a prop motor, and weed beds that will get sucked into a jet, are all available without effort to the kayak angler. 

Lakes and ponds aren't the only accessible waters either, but slow moving creeks and rivers offer access for hard plastic kayaks without fear of damaging a hull or prop motor.

Picking your Boat

Searching for your proper boat is all about fitting the water you fish and the species you cast for. A savvy saltwater angler is not going to have the same needs as a crappie angler floating the local pond.

Knowing what you're fishing for and where you're fishing will give you the optimal vessel and make sure you are paying the proper amount. 

Anglers sticking to small, calm, lakes and ponds, will want a shorter, wider kayak. Shorter kayaks will not cut through the water as fast as a longer variety, but in small water you will not need to travel as great of distances. The shorter bow will also allow you to maneuver better among reeds, overhanging trees and mangroves. 

Anglers venturing out onto the sea, or large unpredictable lakes will depend on a longer boat to travel from spot to spot faster. The long boats will also track better, keeping your course true, preventing you from constantly correcting your trajectory.

What Can You Fish For?

The species you can chase via kayak are only limited by your dreams and ambition. Anglers use kayaks for small freshwater species like crappie, pike, bass and other panfish, or in rivers and mountain lakes for trout.

In the saltwater, anglers use kayaks to target inshore species like redfish, snook and striped bass. Larger, bucket list species are also targeted on kayak, like sailfish, marlin, and tarpon.

You can learn more about some of these amazing catches and tips, by checking out the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament. The tournament series travels around Florida, featuring species specific events and overall catch competitions. 


Depending on the type of water you fish and the species you fish for will also depend on the accessory space available. Ocean and deep lake anglers often utilize electronics like depth finders, gps and emergency gear. The small water specialist may not have need for these devices and again can save money by selecting a boat that does have the space to store gear.

Small water anglers will want to look into space for storing extra paddles. Losing your main source of propulsion may not be a big deal on the local pond, but out on the ocean could mean serious issues. Storage space for an extra paddle is a must for the large water angler and should be absolutely considered.

Practice Practice Practice

You got your boat, now it's time to practice. Even if you aren’t heading out to fish, it's still a good idea to take your boat and practice some of the fundamentals of paddling. You can practice in gentle warm water lakes, or even a swimming pool. Practicing techniques like your forward strokes, backward strokes, sweeping strokes can have huge benefits while trying to maneuver with all your fishing gear. Bracing against the water to prevent tip overs is another important technique that can save you time, money and maybe even your life.

Other techniques like learning to paddle with your core muscles and not just your arms, could save you from injuries and pain later, as well.

Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing sports within the country and within the angling industry. The sport offers freedom and accessibility to fishing usually only found in high priced boats. Make sure to do your due diligence in picking out a boat and start experiencing fishing like never before. 

Don't forget to use the Fishbrain App for catch locations, depth contour maps and for posting your amazing kayak catches to the Fishbrain community!



Open in the Fishbrain App

Get app

Improve your fishing with Fishbrain Pro

Make your fishing dreams come true today and tomorrow

Learn more about Pro