Kayak fishing has become one of the most rapidly growing areas of angling in both fresh and saltwater fishing. I interviewed several enthusiastic Carolina kayak fishermen and asked them about their love of this growing sport.
“Boat fuel, maintenance and storage started taking its toll,” says Guffey, “so I decided to get lean with my sport.”
He says he found kayak fishing instantly enjoyable.
“I like the silence and intimacy since you become part of the vessel itself,” Guffey says. “After a while moving it around is as natural as walking, so your focus sharpens on fishing rather boat position. When you get close to cover you find yourself one-on-one with the fish and in the tiny boat you both get to fight. It's as though you're on the fish's level and it's both liberating and humbling at the same time.”
Drew Haerer, vice president of the Duke University Bass Fishing Team, has only been kayak fishing for four years though he grew up wade-fishing and casting from all sorts of personal watercraft. He is now dedicated to the sport and runs the outdoors adventures website Man Powered Fishing, as well as being on the pro-staff for Malibu Kayaks.
“I think kayak fishing is so appealing because anyone can have fun doing it,” says Haerer. “The low cost doesn't hurt either. If you want to fish all day, you can. If you want to fish a little and paddle a little, you can do that too. If you don't like lakes, you can paddle a river. If you want to be in the middle of nowhere all by yourself, that is very possible. Kayaks allow for countless options, so you really can plan your own adventure based on your interest and skill level.”
Haerer is one of many kayak anglers who find largemouth bass a perfect target for their sport.
“I am mainly a bass fisherman but I love fishing for anything and everything,” Haerer says. “I fish year round, so if the bite for one species slows down I will switch gears and try for something else.”
Guffey specializes in bass fishing as well, but like Haerer says the kayak befits many species.
“I spend a lot of time on the largemouth bass, but I like both trolling for striper and spider-rigging crappie too," says Guffey. “Many times I'll have a couple of bream-busters out while I'm casting for bass. You can multi-task since it's all within reach on the kayak.”
Guffey says his largest fish from the kayak was a 22 pound striped bass.
“The striper took my Hopkins spoon and I went for a serious ride around Smith Mountain Lake,” Guffey says.
Haerer has caught some similar-sized fish in his kayak as well.
“I have landed some big gar and catfish from my kayak that were in the 20 pound range,” he says. “I have yet to land what I consider to be a true giant. However I have caught about a dozen NC trophy fish citation species from my kayak. This year I am also attempting the BASS Slam, which is to catch all the species of bass in the US in one year with each meeting a length requirement. So far, so good!”
Harerer urges those new to the sport to be cautious.
“Always put safety first,” he says. “I wear my life jacket and have safety equipment onboard- whistle, light, emergency kit, knife- every time I hit the water. Be smart about your approach to that first trip. Don't go out on your first day and attempt a 10-mile paddle on a river with big rapids. You just won't like it. Ease yourself into kayak fishing. Have fun with it. Being able to enjoy some time outdoors is what it is all about.”
Aki Min of Cary is relatively new to kayak fishing and has only been doing it a bit over a year.
“I enjoy being out on the water fishing for just about anything that swims,” says Min. “I especially enjoy trolling for bass and crappie and casting to breaking fish. When fishing from the kayak it seems like you are a lot closer to the action; you’re sitting right by the water. I also enjoy improving my kayak. I’m always thinking of ways to make it better.”
Min says that he likes the low-maintenance aspects of kayaks compared to boats.
“Kayaks are easy to maintain, they have little to no costs after purchase,” says Min. “They are quick to get out on the water, they are cheaper than boats, and personally I would rather catch a fish from the kayak than a boat any day. There is nothing like being towed around by a fish.”
All of these anglers get together to talk about kayak fishing on the popular board at NC Angler.com.
“From a practical standpoint it's the most versatile form of fishing out there,” says Guffey. “There is virtually nothing you can do in boat that you cannot do in a kayak. Likewise you can fit nearly every convenience from a boat onto a kayak with a little creativity. Be warned though, kayak fishing is seriously addictive!”
For many more free fishing articles see my blog A Dash of Salty