Our kayak fishing pages and our Paddler's Edge columns are dedicated solely to yakkers, and I'm not a kayak fishing sharpie – so why the heck am I writing Paddler’s Edge this month?! Because my friend and intrepid FishTalk Head Art Dude Zach Ditmars took me kayak angling not long ago when he was testing a new Old Town Topwater PDL fishing kayak (see Old Town Topwater PDL Fishing Kayak Review, to find out how he liked it). As a mostly boat angler, I made some interesting observations from the outside looking in which I think y’all might be surprised at – and you might be able to utilize to catch more fish. Here’s what I noticed:
- Yakkers aren’t always as stealthy as some of us might be thinking. There were multiple times when paddling that gurgling scuppers and shifting gear created enough noise to make me wince. But most importantly, kayak anglers often talk among one another. And since they’re not on the same boat, they often yell or speak loudly. Let’s remember, folks, the human voice does carry through into the water and is audible beneath its surface. In many scenarios I’m sure this doesn’t matter much, but in a dead-still-calm situation, there’s no question that it does. When there’s no wave noise or background noise to cover the sounds we make, we’d probably spook fewer fish if we called one another – even when just 50 yards away – and whispered into the cell phone. Note to self: turn off ringer, and set to vibrate???
- Modern kayak seats can be incredibly comfortable, and you really can sit in one all day long. If you have one of those kayaks with a molded plastic seat it’s time to upgrade. And if you’ve hesitated to get a fishing kayak because of the uncomfortable seating (that’s me), this is a problem of the past. Try sitting in a few, find the right one for you personally, and I’ll bet you’re amazed at just how comfortable they can be.
- Despite the volume thing, fishing with a friend or two will definitely be a plus in the long run. As we each probed different areas, we could call each other in. More than once, one of us discovered something that was well worth sharing. A creek arm with clearer water (and a better bite), a lure color that improved the success rate, and a bottleneck that held good numbers of fish were all things we alerted each other about – and the constant sharing of real-time intel definitely led to us both catching more fish overall.
- Paddlers may actually have an advantage over peddlers when trolling, because the more erratic nature of that form of propulsion gives some added action to your lures as they move through the water. Don’t get me wrong – I think the pedal yaks are awesome – but when trolling you might find the bite’s a bit stronger if you try swinging the paddle from time to time. The variations in speed will “work” your lure just like motion added via the rod tip. In the long run, my guess is that a kayak is probably a more effective trolling platform than a boat which pretty much always maintains a steadier speed.
- Wow, you yakkers have a LOT of specialized gear! But from what I can tell, it all goes a long way in making for a more effective fishing machine. The loading and unloading gear and stick-on wheels speed up the pre/post fishing process, the collapsible rulers and nets save space, and the organizational crates and boxes make it possible to keep track of a huge amount of fishing gear in a very small area. My take-away here is that if you’re making a boat-to-yak transition or you’re just getting into kayak fishing, don’t shy away from getting all that extra stuff because it really does help.
So: have I become a dedicated kayak angler? Oh, heck no. I still love my boats and the many varied places they can take me. But, have I become interested in kayak angling for life? You bet, and I’m now convinced that a fishing yak belongs in every anglers’ fleet – including mine.
- By Lenny Rudow