I donít think I need to go into detail about how the sport of kayak fishing has been growing immensely as of late. Shore anglers are looking for ways to get off the banks, and we all donít have the money to invest in a boat with the additional costs of a vehicle to pull the boat, a trailer, registration, gas, repairs, maintenance, etc. Kayak fishing is a great alternative for the angler on a budget. In a kayak you can cover water quickly enough to allow you to fish multiple areas on larger bodies of water where in a float tube, for example, it might take you all day to reach your first and only spot. You can also take kayaks on smaller lakes and ponds where boats arenít allowed which is one of my favorite things about owning a kayak. Long story short, kayaks are awesome!
As someone who jumped in to buying a kayak without doing a whole ton of research first, there are a few things I wish I knew before I made the plunge. First things first are the safety requirements. Thereís a few things you need to make sure you do before you take that kayak to the lake for the first time. To make things simple: get a life jacket (and wear it on the water), get a whistle, and have your contact information on your kayak somewhere. Those are the basic safety requirements but you will want to read through the boating safety regulations as there are additional rules when taking other things into consideration such as night fishing while anchored.
Now that youíre all set for safety here are some other things wish I knew.
1). Do not make any modifications to your kayak before testing It out first. I made this mistake thinking I wanted my kayak to have certain features, but then after using it on the water it turned out that I wasted time and money investing in things I didnít need or want.
2.) Take it easy your first time out. Go to a small pond until you feel comfortable on the kayak and you know how well it handles. My first trip was out on Horsetooth Reservoir
and I quickly knew I was in over my head once the wind picked up and I was facing those waves and fighting the current.
Fortunately there werenít many boats out that day but that would have been another thing to worry about. Another piece of advice is to go in the summertime when the water temperature is warmer. The last thing you want to do is to flip your kayak in 50 degree water temps. Some people even advocate for purposely flipping your kayak the first time out so that you can learn how to get back in to the kayak in case you are ever faced with that situation.
3.) When transporting the kayak make sure it is safely secured to your vehicle. I throw my kayak in the back of my pickup and use ratchet straps to tighten it down. Using ratchet straps is a cardinal sin in the kayak world as people tend to overtighten the straps and crack the hull. Cam straps are the preferred straps, but if youíre like me and opt for the ratchet straps just make sure you donít overtighten them.
4.) Shop around. Kayaks come in all forms of shapes, sizes, and prices. Which kayak is best for you depends on your budget, the bodies of water you fish, your fishing style, what features are important to you, etc. In Colorado we are lucky to have a wealth of knowledgeable kayak anglers very willing to help you make this decision. The Colorado Kayak Fishing Club
is a great place to start if you want to ask about testing different types of kayaks.
I hope this helps out all the beginners or those interested in taking up the sport of kayak fishing. If I left anything out go ahead and add it to the comments.