You’ve seen the photos. The ones in which some lucky guy is hoisting a fat largemouth or slug of a sailfish – and the fish is nearly as large as the kayak he’s sitting in. Must be something to this kayak fishing craze, hmm? You’re itching to give it a try.
The Hobie First Cast program is the easiest way to dip a toe and sample kayak fishing. Based out of local Hobie dealers, for a nominal fee, anglers can experience a guided trip on mellow water, and quite likely catch their first ‘yak fish. They can test different rides, and see if a Mirage Outback or Mirage Pro Angler 14 might be a better fit. Find a First Cast program near you.
If you’re ready to dive in, buy a kayak or borrow one from a friend, but then pump the brakes – just a little. Don’t just quickly bolt on a couple of extra rod holders and charge offshore with a brace of untethered rods or other pricey gear. More than a few who’ve taken this route have paid a heavy price in gear dropped overboard or lost in the uncaring surf, seasoned with a big dose of no-fish frustration.
Kayak fishing is something nearly anyone can do, but fishing from a human powered craft takes some getting used to. Start slowly, particularly if you’ve never pedaled or paddled a kayak.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with your new steed. In fact, for the first trip or two, it’s not a bad idea to leave the fishing tackle at home. Use the time to become accustomed to the limits of the boat. With the MirageDrive, it’s easy, just hop on and go. If you’re rocking a paddle craft such as the Quest, one of the first things you should do is double the power of your paddle stroke by figuring how to push with one arm at the same time as you pull using the other. There’s a lot more to an efficient paddle stroke, but that’ll get you started right.
Go somewhere sheltered and safe and get comfortable with the kayak – and your PFD, which won’t be any help if it’s stashed below decks when you need it. Today’s sit-on-top fishing kayaks are stable and forgiving, so you’ll be able to pull hard on fish, but they still have their limits. It’s better to learn them ahead of time. See how far you can push your boat before it turns turtle. It’s a great excuse to practice climbing back on once you’ve fallen off, otherwise known as self-rescue.
When you are ready to go fishing, keep things simple at first. Limit yourself to one or two outfits and a handful of tackle. If you haven’t already noticed, you can take a lot of gear but there’s definitely a limit. The trick to managing it is everything must have its place. And if you can’t bear to lose something, tether it to the kayak.
Pull on a fish from the deck of a sportboat or from shore and it comes to you. On a kayak, hook a good fish and you’re off on a thrilling ride. You reel yourself to the fish. When it comes time to land it, there’s nowhere for it to go but your lap.
Since fighting and handling fish is so different from a kayak, it’s a good idea to get some practice on smaller models before you set your sights on bigger game. Ponds and sheltered bays are excellent for making those first casts and paddle strokes. Catch some fish, learn how to survive boat wakes and other turbulence, and soon enough you and your kayak will be one. Then it’ll be time to head out on the big water.