Fishing from a kayak is a great way to get outdoors in nature to experience what lay in wait below the surface. Fishing from a kayak is a great way to stealthily target certain species of fish. It allows you to creep up on the species in question without spooking them. A kayak also allows you to get to spots that would be un-castable from the bank and inaccessible in a larger vessel.
One thing’s for sure, fishing from your kayak can certainly give you a fishing edge and get you banking more fish with a higher rate of success, but there are ways to improve your success rates further. There are dozens of ways to improve your kayak fishing and in this article, we will be looking at 5 killer tips that will help you get more fish in the net.
What Species Can You Target From a Kayak?
You can catch any fish from a kayak. There are even people out in the Azores hooking into 1,000lb+ marlin from kayaks…
Alright, most (if not all) of you aren’t here to learn how to catch more marlin from your kayak, but you get the idea. you can basically catch anything from the comfort of your kayak. So, what species can you catch in Ireland from your kayak? What are the most common fish to target when fishing from a small vessel?
Without a doubt, the most popular fish to target from a kayak in Ireland is the northern pike. Most people targeting this species from a kayak head out onto snaggy intimate waterways with a spinning rod in hand and a box full of lures. The freedom to roam that a kayak offers makes it an excellent vessel to spin fish from. The northern pike isn’t the only fish swimming in Irish waters that you can spin for though.
There are several other species that you can target using lures, spinners, and jigs while on your kayak. In freshwater, you can target pike, perch, trout, and even chub in the right locations using spin fishing tactics. In saltwater, you can target bass, mackerel, cod, haddock, pollock, and much more using similar tactics.
So, what about bait fishing from a kayak?
Bait fishing is definitely possible from a kayak and it could be a killer tactic that other people aren’t using. It is possible to float fish from a kayak in still water however it’s harder to fish ledger (fixed on the bottom) unless you’re tethered up or anchored. You can also use a kayak to get to bank spots that are inaccessible by foot. You can then use your kayak to row baits out to fish un-castable spots from the bank. This is a great tactic for carp fishing.
There are plenty of species that can be fished for using bait on both float and ledger methods in Ireland. Species such as carp, bream, roach, rudd, and tench can be caught from your kayak using bait fishing tactics in freshwater. Other species such as conger eel, dogfish, flatfish, flounder, smoothhounds, and even shark species like blue and porbeagle can be caught in saltwater!
There’s plenty to go for from a kayak in Irish waters. Whether you’re the freshwater angler, the saltwater fisherman, or dabble in both, you’ll be spoilt for choice. So, how can you improve your chances of hooking up to some of these fish?
5 Tips to Improve Your Kayak Fishing Results
1. Get Your Location on Point
My biggest and best tip when looking to improve your kayak fishing is to get your location on point. This starts by finding a water. Make sure your water has a good head of your target species in it. Or if you’re hunting larger specimens, ensure there’s a head of big fish in the water.
The next step to location is finding the right spots on the water you’re fishing. Kayak fishing usually takes place on large rivers, large open bodies of freshwater, and even in the ocean. When you get to a new water it’s a good idea to have a proper paddle around with some polarizing sunglasses on to see if you can spot fish. Look in areas of snags, deep pools, underwater channels, gravel or sand bars, and hidden bays in the reeds.
You should also look for areas with a natural food source. Areas of silt on sand or gravel bottoms can hold bloodworm and leech that fish will feed on. Areas of fresh weed will harbor water snails, caddisfly larvae, and other invertebrates that fish love to eat. If there’s natural food present there should be fish holding up, including baitfish that are loved by predators such as northern pike.
Keep a mental picture in your mind of these likely-looking spots and target them strategically. Pre-baiting if you’re bait fishing or working them with lures in a rotation.
2. Do Your Research Beforehand
Doing your research before you start fishing a new water in your kayak goes hand in hand with getting your location on point.
Before you start fishing a new water get online and get searching. Find any information you can about the water and if possible find out where the fish are holding out, popular places to fish, and any angling news about the water.
Google maps is also an extremely valuable tool for researching a water before you start fishing. Google maps can show you the terrain surrounding the water as well as different depths and features in the water. You’ll be able to scope out where the islands are, where shallower areas are, where hidden bays are, and where potential fish-holding locations are well before you put paddle to water. This is extremely handy because as soon as you go there you can get moving to those likely looking places you’ve found beforehand.
3. Map The Water Out
Mapping the water out is key. If you’re going for carp or other bottom-feeding species it can be wise to attach a lead to your line and cast around to find areas of hard bottom, weed, and silt. This way you can map out areas where rigs can be placed effectively and areas where bottom feeders may be grubbing around.
Alternatively, you can use a kayak fish finder or a piece of equipment such as the deeper sonar to map the bottom out. This will allow you to take an in-depth view of underwater features and areas that are holding fish.
Keep all the information about the areas you find logged in a notebook or in your phone for future reference. Add the depths, bottom type, and any underwater features that you find alongside rough coordinates and visual markers such as large rocks or trees on the bank.
Once you start fishing your spots it’s also a good idea to write catch reports so you can see exactly what is coming out from each of your spots. This will give you a great insight into the productivity of your fishing locations and allow you to target your more productive spots more effectively.
4. Consider Trolling From Your Kayak
If you’re using your kayak to go spin fishing for predatory species it’s definitely worth giving trolling a go. You don’t have to do this all day long but it’s a great tactic to use when you’re traveling between your fishing spots. It allows you to fish while you are on the move and allows you to cover a lot of water quickly.
Doing this can also help you discover fish-holding areas that may not have been noticed before. If you hook a fish while trolling it’s a good idea to stop and fish that area for a while because where one hides others also do.
Trolling is a killer tactic especially if you find yourself kayak fishing on large lakes. The amount of water you can cover and the ability to fish while you are on the move can be extremely effective.
5. Know When to Change Tactics
Finally, knowing when to change tactics is key. Too many times have I seen anglers overfishing one tactic or anglers changing tactics way too much. You want to have a balance. When bait fishing, if you haven’t caught for a few hours and you’ve caught previously on the tactics you’re using, there’s no need to change too much. It’s likely that in these situations the reason you’re not getting bites is simply that the fish aren’t feeding. However, if you’ve done several days without a bite it would be wise to change tactics (end tackle, rigs, or baiting approach).
If you’re a lure fisherman you can change lures much more frequently. Try a lure your confident in at a few different spots. If you don’t get anything don’t be afraid to change up your lures to see if a different pattern gets you a bite.