Words By: Mike Zilkowsky
In the past few years, chances are that you have seen more than a few anglers fishing out of kayaks. With a closer view, you will see that these anglers are rigged up and ready to give any fish a run for its money.
Over the past few years, kayak fishing has become the fastest growing area of the fishing industry. More manufacturers are jumping on board and we are starting to see kayaks that are built as pure fishing machines. Let me explain why this has become such a popular way to fish:
- An angler can get a fishing kayak, paddle and PFD for around $500 on the bottom end. Average prices for a fishing kayak, good paddle and good PFD will be closer to $1500 with the top end being closer to $3000. While the high end kayaks are out of reach for a lot of anglers; an investment of $1500 will get you into a great fishing kayak, a lightweight paddle and a PFD designed for kayak fishing.
- Fishing kayaks come in two flavors, the traditional sit-in kayak and the sit-on-top kayak. Both have advantages and disadvantages. More and more though, anglers are favoring the sit-on-top kayak for the limitless possibilities of rigging options and stability. They say “necessity is the mother of invention” and let me tell you, invention has favored the fishing kayak! Newer hull designs provide more stability than ever before and continuing advancements in seat designs allow anglers to comfortably be on the water for 10-12+ hours. Fishing kayaks are making waves in mainstream fishing scenes and streams.
- No longer do anglers have to drive around looking for a boat launch. They simply unload their kayak from their vehicle, throw their gear in and head out fishing. With the new plastics being used for the hulls and integrated skid plates on the stern, these kayaks can be dragged through the bush or across the ground to the launch. Add on a kayak cart and you have an easy method to transport your kayak across that crowded, paved, parking lot and avoid the wait at the launch. For me, the cost was a huge incentive. For less than $2000; I had a fishing machine that required no trailer, no insurance and no costly fuel to power it. I could fish any body of water that I could walk to and I wasn’t wishing that those remote lakes had a boat launch. One of the biggest advantages of kayak fishing is the ability to load your kayak onto any vehicle and head out. Whether you are loading up kayaks on your truck, a minivan or small car; you can fish from a kayak without having to upgrade your current vehicle.
- Innovations in kayak paddles have pushed the boundaries and allowed for the creation of super lightweight paddles made from incredibly durable materials. No longer are anglers paddling around with an aluminum paddle. Today’s paddles are made from carbon fiber and fiberglass. With options like ergonomic bent shafts, lure retrieval hooks and integrated measuring devices; kayak paddles have advanced beyond expectations. No longer are the days of just grabbing a paddle and heading out. Now you can have your paddle matched for the type of paddler you are and what you want to use it for. These paddles now weigh 25-32 oz. and range in size from 185 cm to 250 cm. Trust me when I say that the change has been great. My first paddle was a basic aluminum paddle with plastic blades. I’m now on the kayak with an adjustable length carbon fiber paddle that has an ergo shaft and foam core. I can barely tell that I have anything in my hands while I am out on the water fishing.
- Gratefully gone are the days of a life jacket that is one size fits all. With numerous personal flotation device manufacturers out there, the PFD is now selected based on comfort, size, gender and intended use. Companies are now constantly listening to their pro-staff and consumers for creative input. PFDs of today are designed to replace the old bulky, bright orange lifejackets with sleek, well designed, comfortable jackets that anglers will actually wear for the entire day on the water. Kayak fishing specific PFDs now come with mesh lower backs for comfort, multiple pockets for gear and new foam technology to reduce the bulk. Add in the fact that most now have 7-9 adjustment buckles and multiple gear pockets and it is easy to see why anglers are comfortable wearing these all day on the water.
I could get into the specific gear used by kayak anglers for outfit their kayaks, but it varies based on personal preference and different species the angler is pursuing. One thing for certain is that kayak manufacturers are constantly striving to improve their designs and incorporate built in rod holders, sonar and transducer mounts and integrated tackle storage.
Here in Alberta, we now have 6 kayak fishing events each year. The largest, the Eastslope Kayak Fishing Classic, is held on July Long Weekend and is open to any angler in a solo manpowered craft. Over the past 8 years, this tournament has continued to grow and is now attracting attention from anglers outside Alberta and large fishing gear manufacturers who are donating great gear for the anglers to win.We are now seeing that more and more stores in Canada and the US are seeing the benefit of stocking fishing kayaks and making it easier for anglers to access the gear. With more anglers realizing that they can fish waters that were inaccessible before and get a little exercise, there is a constant increase in the popularity of the sport. I, for one, am very happy to see that.
If having the ability to fish any body of water, anywhere, anytime sounds like something you might be interested in, stop by your local kayak store and check out the newest fishing kayaks.
Hopefully, we will see you out paddling on the water.
Wilderness Systems Pro-Staff
Scotty Fishing Products Pro-Staff
Adventure Technologies Pro-Staff