Kayak fishing grows in popularity

By Leo Maloney
Outdoors Columnist
The mist lifts from the water along a secluded backwater cove where hemlock and maple cast their shadows on the water. The only sign of activity is a flock of swallows swooping low over the water in search of insects. A kayak carrying an angler glides quietly into the cove as he carefully readies his rod and casts to the shallow edge of the lily pads. Suddenly the water erupts and the tranquil scene disappears a bass makes several leaps and thrashes the water at the end of the angler’s line.

One of the fastest growing sports in popularity is kayak fishing. There are many models specifically devoted to fishing and even publications focusing on this sport. Reasons can be summed up as it’s fun, easy and effective.

The advantages of kayaks are that they are light, easy for one person to transport, carry, and paddle. They are very easy to paddle on streams or still water and you can cover considerable distance effortlessly. They are also very maneuverable, steady and easy to fish from.

Kayaks are quiet and can go in shallow water where most crafts cannot. On small waters or in shallow water you are much less likely to spook fish. They are really very stable in the water and can be adapted to many types of fishing.

A majority of the fishermen in the northeast tend to use recreational style kayaks because of colder water and less need to get out and wade nearby areas. These will keep you dry and serve most of your fishing needs. If you wish, there are a variety of accessories that you can add, such as rod holders. One of my favorites is the “Yak Clip” which snaps on to your cockpit and holds the paddle while you are fishing.

Many others do not want to clutter up or add appendages to their kayaks and manage just fine. A small tackle pack, a two piece rod, and possibly a small net are all that you really need to successfully fish most waters. Kayaks with larger cockpit openings such as the Old Town Vapor are handier for pulling out rods or gear.

Most of the newer “fishing kayaks” are the open or sit-upon style which allows ease of getting in and out, or even standing up to cast. They come with rod holders for trolling, compartments or openings for your tackle boxes, or even a live well. These are

especially popular in the warmer, southern waters but you do see them in increasing

use in the northeast, Scott Locorini of Adirondack Exposure just south of Old Forge regularly guides fishermen in the Adirondacks or the Black River area, as well as in Florida during the winter. He uses kayaks extensively and this year has added a couple lines for sale. He is currently carrying Heritage and NuCanoe and his focus is on sporting boats.

They do have some basic recreational boats for paddling but we mostly have boats designed specifically for fishing and hunting. That means that they are extremely stable, have large cockpits (for the sit inside boats) and can be rigged with anything that bass boat can have to make fishing more enjoyable. That includes rod holders, fish finders, trolling motors, anchor trolleys, etc.

The NuCanoe is a "crossover" boat that is wide open like a canoe but is paddled with a kayak paddle. The options on the boat are limitless and there are even camo coverups and layout seats to make a duck blind out of them. In addition to that they can accept a trolling motor or a "hands free" motor where you steer with your feet and control your speed with a dial next to the cockpit. They are a true sportsmans boat!

Locorini likes to use the 12 foot Heritage Featherlite while fishing the Black River. The

anchor system is fantastic for fishing in these conditions where there is a little current.

You can drop the anchor (which is rigged to drop off the bow) and it will swing the boat

around so that you can cast upstream.

After a few casts you just pull up the anchor enough to float downstream a bit and drop

it again to keep fishing. Also having the ability to carry multiple rods and not having

them in my way was a huge plus. It's very easy to stay organized and keep fishing

when the boat is rigged properly.

The best advice is to try out several styles of kayaks – either from friends or many

dealers who let you test paddle. The style and model you choose will depend on your

style of fishing and what other uses you plan for your kayak.

Whenever I go out in my kayak, whether it is fishing or just paddling, I am often asked

about the suitability and tips for fishing. Last year I was paddling an Adirondack River

and came around a bend to see a gentleman fishing from his kayak. He grinned and

asked if I remembered him asking me about kayak fishing the year before. He laughed

and said, “I took your advice and have never regretted it.”

So whether it is your favorite bass lake or some remote brook trout pond, give kayak

fishing a try this summer. You will be pleasantly surprised at the fun and the results.