Kayak fishing has been climbing to the top of water sports over the last few years. Every year more and more fisherman turn to kayaks to get into those tight nooks and crannies ordinary boats cannot reach. Whether you chose a sit-in or sit-on-top, outfitting your kayak is not much different than outfitting any other boat. The main obstacle is the storage limitations, however there’s plenty of gear to turn your vessel into a fishing machine.
Rod holders are critical to kayak fishing, since you need both hands to paddle. Most people install two rod holders behind the cockpit to keep them out of the way when traveling; flush mount holders work well for this as they do not clutter the kayak. Another popular method, and the one I use personally, is mounting a rod holder system, such as the Bass Pro Shops 3-position rod rack to a milk crate or office box. Most sit-on-top kayaks will fit a crate perfectly; you can use bungee cords to help keep the accessory secure when paddling. The best part of this approach is the added storage space the crate gives you. It can help hold tackle boxes and trays, fishing tools, etc. and is within reaching distance for when you get in that sticky situation and need tools fast. Storage is a common topic among kayak anglers, and there is no shortage of options. Use of dry bags and bungee cords will keep your gear dry while remaining accessible. Packing gear into bow and stern hatches also works. Hard plastic, water tight containers will help with the more fragile gear. Another option is the use of deck bags. They have plenty of storage pockets and are easy to store on the kayak. Soft coolers are also great for storing your favorite snacks.
An anchor system is another great fishing accessory. Use it when fishing to stay put when fishing on a windy day. Sea anchors, also known as drift socks, are especially useful in windy conditions and rough water. It is well worth it to install a kayak anchor trolley kit as they let you fine tune the best position with ease. Some newer kayaks, such as the Ascend FS128T, come with this already installed and ready to use.
Another necessity when kayak fishing is a kayak specific flotation vest. Kayak-specific designs allow for plenty of upper body movement so that you’re not constricted when paddling or casting. You will want a vest with a mesh back or a thin back to give your more space and comfort. When shopping for the right one keep color in mind. Black may look good but on those hot days you will regret not having a color, like red or yellow, that don’t absorb as much heat. They are also much more visible on the water than a dark color. Safety is, of course, the most important part of fishing or boating. At a minimum you will want to carry the following: a whistle, signal mirror, bilge pump, bail or sponge, throw rope and a flashlight with working batteries. A small first aid kit should also be on the vessel at all times.
Consider picking up a few of these items when you’re rigging your kayak. They’ll help keep you organized on the water, which should help you catch a few more fish this season!
Front End Lead