A friend recently asked me why I like kayak fishing and why I don’t own a powerboat. My answer was because I have friends with boats which means I don’t have to deal with all the responsibilities that come with ownership. But the truth is different. That truth goes deeper than simply taking a cast from a kayak.
Recently I was approached by an acquaintance asking if I knew a shop that could lend him a kayak to try out. He wanted to fish from a kayak before he committed to a purchase. I told him that we could meet, and he could fish from one of my kayaks. So, we did, and in the process another fishing buddy was made. I’m friends with several other likeminded kayak anglers around Maryland. We normally meet at the water’s edge, make small talk about what we are targeting that day, trade ideas, methods, and recent fishing experiences. While on the water we communicate if we are catching, the lures used, and the pattern that is catching that day.
One day I may be hunting speckled trout on a northern Virginia river with one friend; the next day I may be targeting largemouth bass on a reservoir with another. Some friends are retired, some are not, some are college students, medical doctors, doctors in fishery sciences, company owners, sports writers, and some are still trying to figure out what they want to do professionally. But what we all have in common is a passion for fishing and fishing from a kayak.
With a kayak you have access to more fisheries than a powerboat owner. And, I believe, so much more enjoyment out on the water.
For example, on a recent outing while launching my kayak, quietly sliding it into the water, I heard a pileated woodpecker’s call between its drumming, hunting its insect breakfast. I pedaled out from shore making my way down the lake, surveying what was before me. A shore bird was working and standing ever so still, hunting a minnow or maybe a bigger fish. I startled a bald eagle, and it took off and headed across the lake. Up ahead, there was a ripple on the water’s surface. Was it a turtle or my prey? I took a cast, the sun rising; the sky, light blue with pink and yellow hues reflecting off the clouds. There were no takers on that cast, so I took another next to a grouping of lily pads. I worked my bait along the outer edge of the pads, saw wake, and then felt the take. It was a chain pickerel, but smaller than what I was looking for. I slowly moved and repositioned the kayak. Taking another cast and following the edge of another section of pads, I worked the bait back towards me. This time there wasn’t any telltale sign of the pending take; my rod tip was pulled forward, and the fight was on. The fish came out of the water and did a tail dance before it took another desperate dive to escape the net. This fish measured a bit over 22 inches.
Kayak fishing gives you more versatility and access to fisheries than you would get on a bigger boat. Kayaks are quiet, stealthy, and provide greater mobility and access. You can fish in water as shallow as a few inches to water over 100 feet in depth. You can troll, cast, or vertical jig on your prey.
So, get out there and take that cast off a kayak. You never know what you may catch or who you may meet. Remember, a cast not taken is a fish not caught, and you may meet a new friend who enjoys kayak fishing as much as you do!
By Eric Packard (Follow him on Instagram!)