By Dino Cerdeira –
This is a small collection of frequently asked questions about kayak fishing and kayak rigging.
Question: Choosing your Kayak?
This is a loaded question, because there are many factors to consider. Such as where will you be using the Kayak, Fresh or Saltwater! The size of the body of water you will be fishing in. Large wind swept bays or small ponds and lakes! How much do you weight and how tall are you. For example a 6’3″ fisherman weighting 225 lbs would not pick a 10′ kayak as his main boat to go saltwater fishing into a large bay! Speak with your local paddle shop, ask questions, and most of all take a demo paddle. You will know which boats fits you after trying out one or two. Deal locally as you will have many more questions, and your local neighborhood paddle shop is always the best source. Be realistic don’t try to have one kayak do it all, select the kayak for the type of paddling or fishing you will be doing at least 90% of the time. Do not select a kayak for that one isolated trip you might or might not take.
Above is a perfect example of an improperly fitted boat. See how high the bow sits, and low the stern is, he is at least wearing his PFD.
Question: How best to transport your Kayak?
There are many ways to transport a Kayak, by far the most convenient is a trailer. However, not everyone finds maneuvering a kayak trailer easy nor do they want the added expense. The next best option is to choose a rack system from Thule, Malone, or Yakima. They all make great systems so you will not make a wrong choice with any of them. Decide if you want to transport a single boat or multiple boats, then comes there length and weight. To transport small sit on tops or rec kayaks a J cradle style holder or vertical stacker is all you need. To transport more expensive or longer kayaks, look into the saddle holders by the companies mentioned. If you want an assist where you will not be lifting 100% of the boats weight look into the hull assist designs. There is a rack available for every vehicle on the road. With the purchase of any rack system you will also get the very necessary tie down straps. Do not use any other straps other than cam buckle straps. Do not use ratchet style straps as they place to much pressure on the hull. Do not use bungee cords, and most importantly do not use string or poly rope.
Remember, you just made an investment in a new boat, and will be transporting it over public roadways, you do not want to damage your vehicle or anyone elses.
Question: Outfitting your Kayak for Fishing?
Start small, you can always add items as you go. The essentials are a paddle holder and leash, a couple of rod holders, either flush mount or deck mounted. A milk crate or similar bag for you gear, A dry bag with a first aid kit, hook remover kit, and your rain gear.
Adding of electronics (DF, GPS, Compass) is important, but wait til after you use your kayak once or twice, you will have a better idea of which electronics to purchase and where to mount them.
Adding a rudder, or extra hatches can also be done at a later date. Remember, if you outfit it to the max and then decide to switch boats or do not like the placement of the options, it’s hard to switch them around, plus you will have a couple of holes to fix. Holes anywhere in a kayak are never a good thing.
I usually recommend dealing with a local paddle shop that has had plenty of experience in mounting, drilling and cutting holes in plastic kayaks. They will be your best choice for options and also to answer your questions.
Question: Wearing Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
The use and wearing of a PFD should be considered the number one item to remember and always wear when out on the water. I have seen countless times fisherman and paddlers out on the water and not wearing their PFD’s. The first mistake most commonly made is that a person dresses for the warm weather and not the water temperature. So on a nice sunny spring day they are out in a t-shirt and no PFD on. Well if you happen to fall in, the shock of the cold water will not give you enough time to put your PFD on, or if you happen not to be be able to reach or find your PFD, you will drown.
The second common mistake is not purchasing a correct size or style PFD for your application. You’ve just spend hundreds of dollars on your new kayak and outfitting it, why skimp out on the most important accessory? If you purchase the correct PFD, it will be comfortable to wear and you will always remember to wear it.
Most New Jersey State parks require paddlers of all ages to always wear a PFD while on the water.
Don’t take unnecessary risk, always dress for the water temps and always wear your PFD. COLD WATER KILLS!!
Summer time temperatures are not a reason to not wear or carry your PFD. People drown in all seasons. I once saw a young couple getting ready to launch there kayaks on a beautiful summer afternoon with no safety equipment, no PFD, nothing except themselves and a paddle. So I said to the young man that he should be ashamed of himself for not having a PFD for himself or his girlfriend. His reply was that he had army training and was ready for everything, so I then asked him if the army trained him to swim unconsciously!!! THINK ABOUT IT.
Question: Proper Boat Ramp Etiquette
In my many years of being around trailered boats, and boat ramps I’ve seen just about everything. One big important factor that we all forget about from time to time is proper boat etiquette. When approaching any take out or put in area with a kayak, canoe, or trailer keep in mind that you are not the only one using this location. Be courteous, and think.
1. Do not block the area with your car
2. Do not block the area with your gear or even you kayak or canoe
3. If it’s an actual boat ramp, then go off to the side when launching your small craft.
4. You have many options to launch, a larger trailered boat does not.
5. Most importantly be ready! A boat launch area is not the place for you to start unstrapping your kayak, and making numerous trips looking for your paddle, gear, or checking to see if your lunch is still cold. Be ready have everything organize, launch your craft and get out of the way for the next person to do the same.
6. When you come back, be ready, take out as quickly as possible and do not block the ramp.
7. Remember your trash, if you packed it then pack it out.
Above is an example of what not to do. notice the 3 gentleman contemplating what to do with there car in the middle of the ramp, while others around are trying to retrieve much larger crafts.
Question: Keeping your Kayak from Drifting?
There are several ways to slow your drift, one of my favorite is using a small drift sock, no larger than 18″ and attaching it to the side of my Kayak with a quick release clip and a float. If you have to un tie or let go, you can simply locate your drift sock by looking for the float.
Question: Using a Stake Out Pole?
Use of a stake out pole is more prevalent in areas with lots of flats fishing. You can use the stake out pole to keep you in place while casting or sight fishing. Here in the northeast I use the stake out pole as a way of preserving my expensive paddle from breaking or to keep my kayak stationery when I’m beached or close to shore. I also use it to move away from rocks, down trees and other structure. It’s a great tool to have in any kayak.
Question: Rod & Reel Selection
With all of the many rod and reels on the market selecting the correct rod for this type of fishing can be confusing. So I recommend starting out with a 6’6″ to 7′ Medium to Medium Heavy action spinning rod; and a reel capable of holding about 115 yds to 140 yds of 8lb mono-filament line.
All fishing rods are rated by line weight or power. They start at the Ultra light category and go all the way up to Heavy. A Med or MH action rod will have to power and back bone to set the hook on a Bass that is under cover or buried in weeds. Anything lighter will not and you will experience more lost fish and thrown baits.
You can test the rods power by applying slight pressure to the rod tip from the butt section and see the bend. Too much bend and the rod is not stiff enough. Not enough bend and it’s too stiff.
As for the reel, it must have a smooth drag system otherwise you will loss a lot of fish when they make their run. You can test the drag by seeing how smooth the spool movers under pressure.
Remember to always leave a rod’s length line out when fighting your fish to avoid high sticking or break-offs.
Bait casting rods and reels are another topic for another discussion.
About Dino Cerdeira
A veteran tournament fisherman, Dino Cerdeira has spent years bass fishing local weekend tournaments to weekend outings, and managed to fish many of the popular lakes in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York. In addition Dina has fished far away places such as the Amazon River.
Dino provides guided tours of some of New Jersey’s hottest fishing spots. Visit Dino at The Pon Hopper ( www.thepondhopper.com )