I told my wife I was planning to write an article about kayak fishing but I didn’t know specifically what I wanted to write about. I had spent days thinking about it. I couldn’t decide whether to write about fishing for a particular species, a particular style of fishing, or rigging a kayak. They were all good topics, but none of them really inspired me. One question provided me with enough answers for two articles: “What do you like most about kayak fishing?” she asked. “Catching fish,” was my smart aleck reply. The truth is, “Why Kayak Fishing” really all boils down to access, the water, and the fish.
I like fishing from a boat; I can fish places that I can’t fish from shore. I also like fishing from shore for the opposite reason. What about the places I can’t fish from either boat or shore, like shallow water areas such as flats or tidal creeks? Have you ever fished from a bridge and wished you didn’t have to keep throwing your bait up current? I can position my kayak as far away or as close as I like to structures such as bridge and dock pilings. I can paddle into or through areas with only a foot or two of water, places you’d be crazy to bring most boats. When I hit a rock with my kayak, and yes I said when, I simply bounce off and keep on going.
Sometimes shallow water areas are gateways to deeper tidal rivers that will hold flounder during all tides and my kayak is the best way in. Many tidal rivers and creeks are inaccessible by boat or on foot. Kayaks allow me to paddle along these creeks where flounder, striped bass, or even pike on flats are relatively unbothered by other anglers. I can also drift through tightly-clustered mooring fields while flounder fishing without worrying about hitting other boats.
If striped bass are chasing bait toward shore then I try to mimic their prey with my lures. That’s tough to do when you’re in a boat; you’re forced to retrieve your lure in the opposite direction as the fleeing baitfish. In my kayak I can drift into shore and presto, I’m shore fishing and retrieving my lure in the same direction as the fleeing baitfish. Then, just as quickly, I’m back out on the water. This makes me a more versatile fisherman and increases my odds of “hooking up.”
Access with a kayak is also much easier and cheaper than with a trailered boat. Not only can I use public boat launches, there are also tons of cartop access sites in New Hampshire thanks in large part to the NH Fish & Game Department. I can find places to launch my kayaks for free at any tide. New Hampshire is not alone in this. Most states have a plethora of cartop and public launches.
Every method has its time and place. Sometimes it’s better to fish from a boat and sometimes it’s better to fish from shore. What does one do when the shore is crowded and there is a lot of boat traffic? I’ll tell you what I do; I get in my kayak and get away from it all. Still, there is an aspect of kayak fishing that I can’t really explain. It’s calm and quiet. No motors, no exhaust fumes, just me and my gear…and hopefully some fish.
Tim Moore is a professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.