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by JD Pate
Bass fishing and kayaks are a match made in heaven, and a great choice is the Ascend FS128T Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak, which includes almost everything you need to get started kayak bass fishing. This advanced fishing craft sports a comfortable, removable, and adjustable seat; a rod tender and four recessed rod holders; multiple watertight storage hatches; and many more features to make bass fishing easy and fun.
Click kayaks to listen to a segment on kayaks on the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World radio. The hour-long radio show airs on Saturday's at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET on RURAL RADIO SiriusXM Channel 80.
Sure, you can race around multi-thousand acre lakes in a 21 foot speedboat looking for bucketmouths, but the truth is that big bass make no distinction between Lake Sam Rayburn and a 5-acre farm pond. In fact, some of the largest bass in history have come from small lakes: from George Perry's world record 22 lb. 4 oz. bass was caught in a tiny oxbow lake off the Ocmulgee river in Georgia. A 16+ pound lunker was pulled out of small Lake Pinkston in East Texas. And everyone knows there's an 8 lb. lunker in that little frog pond behind granddaddy's house.
A kayak is the perfect way to reach these big fish. Kayaking has become extremely popular in the last couple of decades, ever since manufacturers perfected an efficient and consistent method of roto-molding small watercraft that are lightweight, durable, comfortable, and affordable for nearly anyone.
Kayaks are easily portable—even on a car with the proper rack—and most adults can lift a kayak without assistance; there are also scupper carts for use in transporting the boat from vehicle to water. There's no trailer or motor to maintain, and no fuel to buy, so it's great for the environment. In a kayak, you can navigate waters less than a foot deep, letting you get way back into coves and farther into the spawning flats—and kayaks are virtually silent, so they don't spook fish. This also makes them ideal for viewing and photographing shoreline wildlife. And finally, paddling is great exercise for improving upper-body strength.
Tips for targeting bass in a kayak.
1. Though you don't need five rod and reel setups, you should at least have two—one rigged with a soft plastic rig like a Texas rigged 6" lizard or a weightless Stik-O, and the other rigged with a shallow hardbait like a Rapala DT 4 crankbait or an XPS Professional Series Minnow. Many times, if a bass fails to bite one lure, she'll pounce on something that's completely different.
2. Get shallow in the shade. Bass will stay very shallow in warm weather when shade is available, and if you creep up into the previously unreachable backs of coves, you'll discover a lush, cool feeding ground rich with bass and all the things that bass like to eat. Cast into these secluded havens, and you're likely to bag a trophy.
3. If possible, cast onto the bank and drag your lure in, or cast past target cover and work your lure past it. This enhances the stealth factor, and results in a more natural presentation—plus, the splashdown of your bait won't scare off any relaxed, hungry bass.
4. Wear good polarized glasses. You can get right on top of bass in a quiet kayak, and being able to see the bass is an incredible advantage—you can drag your lure right in front of her.
5. Occasionally land your kayak on shorelines not normally accessible to shore anglers, walk around, and fish for a while. This gives you a chance to stretch while still fishing rarely-touched waters.
6. Since you'll be fishing shallower water, leave the deep-water lures at home. Bring shallow cranks, topwaters, frogs, buzzbaits, and experiment with weightless soft plastics.
For more tips on kayak fishing check out the great kayak fishing tips on Bass Pro Shops 1Source.
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Let’s face it. Boat position is a chore no matter the type or size of rig, but wetting a line from a kayak brings its own challenges. When the water’s over waist deep, two indispensable items for kayak fishing are an anchor trolley kit combined with a sea anchor (also known as a drift sock) In windy and wavy conditions these two affordable items are a godsend. Here are three reasons why.
A sea anchor slows down drift speed. This lets you fish an area more thoroughly and stay in the strike zone longer. It’s the difference between getting 15 casts on a piece of structure versus five without the drift sock. Increasing the number of casts allows for more time to experiment with cast angles, different lures, retrieve speeds and different depths, to name just a few perks. Also, if you’re drifting a bait or pulling a rig, using a sea anchor allows for a slower presentation.
The parachute-like nature of a drift sock helps maintain a regulated drift in a steady direction. This helps fish productive areas with accuracy. Also, a kayak’s orientation is influenced by where the drift sock is tethered. An anchor trolley allows you to adjust this connection point using a pulley system to fine tune boat position. Add a rudder to the equation for even more control.
Using a drift sock boosts comfort. It reduces kayak spin, which means more time fishing and less time paddling. A sea anchor also lessens wave bounce for a more pleasant fishing experience.
From small ponds to big water, outfitting a kayak with an anchor trolley and a sea anchor will improve your angling efficiency and comfort on the water. For more information on kayak rigging, check out this article about How to get your kayak fishing ready at Bass Pro Shops 1Source.
A kayak is one of the stealthiest fishing platforms I've used. While boat design aids one's on-the-water stealthness, just how quiet things end up being is up to the individual. Here are three easy ways to keep kayak fishing covert.
Use Padding to Dampen Sound
A customization trick I've seen in a few kayaks is lining some of the cockpit's floor with foam padding. The premise is simple: The mat dampens sound in the event that something, such as a tool or water bottle, accidentally gets dropped. Non-skid mats are the handiest, as they prevent objects from sliding around, too. If you stand in your kayak to fish, sticking on some non-slip pads in the footwells will dampen noise, and also increase traction and boost comfort.
Stop Paddle Slap
Resting a paddle across a kayak is common when fishing, but this can work against you. Boat movement can cause the paddle to rock, hit the kayak, and spook fish. Instead, try these options: rest the paddle on your thighs, stow the paddle lengthwise, put padding on the sides to dampen sound, mount a paddle clip for storage, or float the paddle while keeping it within reach with a leash.
While it's fun to get close and sight-fish from a kayak, don't cramp your quarry's space. Active fish may not mind being crowded, but inactive ones are sure to spook. As with a powerboat, position the kayak a cast away from the area and volley accurate lure tosses to the hotspot. If you happen to inadvertently get over a prime area, stay as quiet as possible to avoid startling fish. If stealthy, odds are good that you'll be able to paddle back and catch fish after giving the area a little while to settle down.
Slipping quietly over a shallow weed bed, you feel the subtle brush of vegetation below your feet. With the sweep of a paddle a swirling vortex, water spins past the side of your small vessel as you slip gently through northern pike haven.
While fishing from human-powered watercraft such as canoes and kayaks is not new, this low-impact, low stress style of angling has grown quickly in recent years with the introduction of fishing-specific designs from companies like Ascend, with the Ascend FS12 Sit In Angler Kayak ($699.99) providing an easy and affordable way to access good fishing.
If you’re on the fence about kayak fishing, it’s worth trying out with a reputable guide if you aren't ready to invest in a boat — or you can jump right in. While it may not be for everyone, many anglers are quickly hooked on this method. Here's why:
Simplicity of maintenance — Yes, a powerboat is a wonderful tool quickly cover big water, but it comes with a high price tag and needs maintenance, fuel, a tow vehice and on and on. Some anglers find the simplicity of manpowered craft leads to more time on the water and less time in the maintenance garage.
Access to water — Find a body of water with a public bank, and you've found yourself a launch ramp.
Silence is golden — This term applies to fishing in a few ways. First, you'll get closer to fish without the spooking effect of an engine or even trolling motor. Second, it's just downright peaceful to float on the water in silence. The experience of gliding softly over a lake or river without engine noise drowning out the subtle whispers of nature is a great way to unwind.
Easy on the wallet — There's no way around it — power boats are expensive. While kayaks are are certainly not free, they pay huge returns, hold their value and last for many years with little or no maintenance.
Exploration — A watercraft that draws mere inches of water is unmatched or slow-speed exploration of backwaters, mountain lakes or secluded reefs.
Added challenge — Some anglers find the challenge of working off a kayak quite rewarding.
The exercise bonus — Kayaking is a great workout that tones the midsection, strengthens the back and burns calories. Getting a workout while fishing just may be the best multi-tasking combo yet, especially when it can even lead to dinner on the table.
If you haven't already, you owe it to yourself to give kayak fishing a try. As far as a fishing platform goes, today's recreational or angling-specific models are lightyears ahead of products produced less than a decade ago. It's incredible how rapid kayak fishability has improved.
A big perk of kayaks is how they allow you to access angling opportunities that otherwise would be off-limits. Case in point, any public shoreline along a waterbody can serve as a put-in spot to launch a kayak. The same can't be said for powerboats requiring launch ramps. A kayak also draws very little water, making it easy to sneak up shallow creeks to access interconnected lakes. I've had some great bass adventures this way.
Kayaks are also affordable as far as buying a fishing boat goes. I'm often asked how much it costs to get into kayak fishing. My answer is "give or take $1,000" for a new, entry-level fishing kayak with a paddle and some accessories. High-end gear is another matter entirely. Waiting for end of season sales on new or demo models, or shopping online classifieds for used kayaks and gear are ways to lessen the hit to your wallet.
Being a proficient paddler and feeling comfortable fishing from a kayak has let me do some incredible fishing while traveling. Chartering a fishing guide while on a vacation is often worthwhile, but this may not always be within budget. A kayak fishing charter is likely to be a less costly option. Even more affordable is renting a kayak for a half or a full day as a DIY option. Certain resorts I've stayed at have even had kayaks that were free to use for guests. Bring your own travel rod and fishing tackle.
The above are just a few examples of how a kayak can put you on fish. Even if you prefer powerboat fishing, consider logging some hours paddling. Having a bit of kayak fishing know-how may someday let you fish somewhere you never dreamed you'd be — it did for me four years ago. Red snapper were the quarry, New Zealand the country — unforgettable!
Larry Whiteley, host of the award-winning Outdoor World Radio show, offers the benefits of adding kayak fishing to your list of outdoor adventures.
One of the main advantages is the low cost. Fishing kayaks are available for almost any budget. Their light weight and small size also make them easily able to be transport from one place to another and make them very maneuverable. They glide silently across the water with each paddle stroke and don’t scare the fish.
Fishing kayaks are available in several models including sitin, sit on top, peddle drive, and even those you can stand up on to paddle and fish. You can add accessories like rod holders, fishfinders, anchors, and more to help add to the experience of kayak fishing.
The added bonus is the great exercise you get from the paddling and hauling in all the fish you will catch.
By Larry Whiteley is Host of the award-winning Outdoor World Radio
Paddling for fish in the quiet reaches of a salt marsh has a quality that not many other experiences can equal. The only sounds are the gentle ripples of the water around the paddle as you move forward, searching for that redfish tail or oyster rake.
Kayak fishing has taken off in America and around the world, and kayak makers are now specializing in boats built specifically for those anglers. These boats are relatively inexpensive and can be equipped with numerous options to fit any angler's needs.
Anglers in larger fishing boats are limited to fishing areas dictated by the water depth and access. Kayakers on the other hand have an almost unlimited access to water that is pristine and relatively unfished. That means they can find and catch fish that others can't reach.
Most backwater "Yak" anglers will be putting boats in the water a couple of hours before the high tide in the area they plan to fish. That gives them about four hours of good fishing water before the outgoing tide leaves the area unnavigable. Many of the areas that anglers fish in their Yaks are almost dry at low tide. That dictates keeping track of the time and paying close attention to falling water.
Yak anglers fish the salt marshes, the backwater and the bays that can only be accessed by boats like theirs. But, they aren't limited to those kinds of waters. Yak anglers have been found in harbors, in major bays and in the surf. Some are even brave enough to venture beyond the surf, paddling several miles offshore in search of bigger fish.
|Kayakers have almost unlimited access to water that is pristine and relatively unfished.|
The fishing gear used by yak anglers is really no different than any other fishing gear. It is usually light tackle, and spinning outfits are most common. A few bait casting outfits will be seen, but while sitting in a kayak, it is easier to work a lure or jig with a spinning rod than a bait caster.
The lures and baits used are the same varieties that are used locally by other anglers. Live bait, dead bait and artificial baits are all used by kayak fishermen. The only real difference is the vehicle from which they fish and the areas they can access.
Many areas of coastal America are looking to protect estuaries and salt marshes by closing large portions of those estuaries and marshes to motor boat traffic. To many anglers, that means closing their fishing territory. But, the kayak offers anglers the opportunity to explore and fish these areas even though they are closed to motor boats.
With more and more emphasis on the environment and habitat restoration, kayak anglers will have a definite advantage in the future. Only those super sensitive areas that prevent any human intervention will be off limits.
Kayaks for fishing come in two basic designs: "sit-in" or "sit-on-top". The sit-in kayak models are just that — anglers sit inside the kayak, actually on the bottom. These boats tend to be smaller than other kayaks, and while they do have a back rest, rods holders and other amenities, they leave you down low, right on the water. Some paddlers argue that they are the most stable design.
The sit-on-top kayak models allow anglers to sit higher in the craft. That gives them two advantages. First, from a safety standpoint, it gives them a quicker exit should the boat overturn. Second, it provides a higher profile that gives the angler a bit more fishing advantage. That makes it easier to cast and fight a fish. There are some sit-on-top models that allow the angler to actually stand to cast or fight a fish. These are usually double-hulled boats that offer more stability.
Whatever kayak you choose, you need to prepare for that first fishing trip. Head out with no equipment. With someone else at your side, flip the boat — yes, purposely get wet and flip the boat. Make sure you can get out of a boat that has flipped. You don't want to be on the water upside down and be unable to exit your boat. And, it's not a matter of "if" the boat flips — it's a matter of when! You would be wise to learn to flip the boat back upright with you in it!
If you don't want to loose the contents of the boat — tackle box, cooler, etc. — you need to make sure everything is tied down and secure before heading out. If you take a camera, make sure it is waterproof. Once again, it's not a matter of if — it's a matter of when.
All these warnings should not scare anglers from kayaks. Actually common sense and careful preparation make this sport very safe.
The beaver waddled up out of the lake to investigate lakeside vegetation for breakfast. He poked around and nibbled on a few green strands before slipping back in to the water. It paddled along the shore for several yards before climbing out for a second helping. I observed the beaver in great detail as if I was only a few feet away — actually I was. Sitting quietly in my kayak, taking in the early morning scene, on a glass-like lake surface, with the beaver paying no attention to me. Just moments before, I was sipping coffee while nudging the campfire. I spotted the beaver, slipped on the water shoes and slid the kayak off the lake shore, just a few steps from the campsite.
Paddle sports (kayaking and canoeing) continue to attract campers of all ages. Today, kayaks lying around next to tents and RVs are common sights at campgrounds. A study performed by the Outdoor Industry Association a couple years past, revealed the gain in paddling's popularity. According to that report, kayaking and canoeing had increased in participation by 4.1 percent and 4.9 percent respectively. Camping waterside while doing an overnight paddle trip is nothing new, but for a growing number of campers, paddling sports gives the "travel by land" camper an extra activity to enjoy.
While most families and individuals focus their recreational budgets, it becomes clear that paddle sports are affordable. If a kayak is not in the budget, the option to rent one is possible at most marinas, parks and campgrounds. This gives the occasional paddler the opportunity for a dose of aqua fun, without spending a few hundred bucks. Renting a canoe or kayak is perfect for those wanting to take a test run before committing to ownership of one.
It doesn't take years to become skilled enough to maneuver a kayak or canoe safely. Paddling is commonly viewed to be a skilled activity for the agile athlete. Not so, but a couple of hours learning to "feel" the balance of a kayak will get you on your way. Begin in shallow water in case you turn over. You can simply stand up and try the maneuver again. Whether you take a cruise in a rental kayak or captain your own, the more time you spend on board, the more confidence you will gain. For most first time paddlers, it only takes an hour to realize how surprisingly stable the small crafts are — and how immensely enjoyable paddling is. You may soon spend more time paddling than sitting around the campfire.
For all of us that dream of floating down rough rivers, either fishing or roaring through whitewater rapids, a quality dry bag is an absolute essential. Cameras, video equipment and GPS units are just a few expensive items that can be ruined with just a simple dunk under the water.
Kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding are excellent activities that get you into the outdoors, provide you with the opportunity to take in gorgeous scenery and wildlife viewings, and give you a great workout.
For beginners just getting started, however, the gear can be a pretty significant investment, with the main equipment and paddling accessories often costing several hundred dollars all the way up to the thousand-dollar range.
Those committed to paddlesports can certainly justify that expense; they’ll use the gear on a regular basis for years to come. But it’s normal to have an aversion to plunking down hundreds -- or thousands -- of dollars for a sport you’ve never even tried.
So how does one dip his or her toe into the world of paddling without breaking the bank? Check out our tips below for easing into paddlesports:
If, after getting your feet wet in the world of paddlesports, you’re ready to take the plunge into the investment and ownership of paddlesports gear, visit your local Bass Pro Shops. Our knowledgeable and passionate staff members can help set you on the right course when it comes to paddlesports gear.