The Evolution

Kayak fishing has evolved over the last ten years from a couple of guys doing their own thing to something with a life of its own. I am reminded of the old Frankenstein move when Dr. Frankenstein screamed "IT'S ALIVE!!!" It has evolved from its humble beginnings to something that has surpassed all notions of normal expansion.

     There is a social aspect to kayak fishing that has also evolved drastically. In the beginning there were a few guys that were using things like yahoo messenger or other instant messaging formats to communicate amongst themselves to coordinate trips and discuss tactics. That evolved into using sub forums on other larger outdoor forums, then the eventual migration of each regional group hosting their own forum. This was an awesome source of meet people in your region and also most forums had a treasure trove of information in their archives for information seekers . Today Facebook is really expanding the ways in which people communicate and are exposed to kayak fishing. This one may be responsible for exposure to kayak fishing by those who were not first online looking for information on kayak fishing. Unfortunately Facebook has drastically reduced the amount of traffic on all but the biggest kayak fishing forums, this is a shame because a lot of the kayak fishing forums archives are a wealth of knowledge.

     Kayak fishing has also affected the direction and growth of an entire industry in just a short time. The commercial aspect of kayak fishing has moved into the future from a place where one bought a recreational kayak and with ingenuity, duct tape, bailing wire and PVC pipe made his vessel a fishing kayak to a place where there are a plethora of options and products designed just for the kayak angler. The amount of support and desire for kayak fishing products have really facilitated the rapid growth of this Industry.

     This rapid growth has been exciting to watch however it has created its own set of unique problems. As with any sport the more people that get involved, the more everything will fragment into specialized sub cultures. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of unity and sometimes does create friction between the different groups. As with any category I may put someone into; there is always pros and cons about each group that can attract people to the sport or send them running from the main stream culture of kayak fishing.

       Sub Cultures
       One of the first groups to evolve were the recreational angler. This is the person who could not afford to purchase a powered boat to go out fishing and settled for a kayak. This person originally thought that they were settling on something of a lesser value so they could just get out on the water. However as the case always is, they soon realize that they no longer want a powered craft because of the advantages of fishing from their little plastic boat. 

       Another of the groups that evolved from kayak fishing is the kayak tournament angler. These guys and gals often travel great distances to compete against their fellow anglers for the chance at winning prizes, cash and notoriety. In the beginning Anglers petitioned the larger Bass fishing tournament organizations to allow them to compete against their counter parts in powered craft. This however never could be because of huge sponsorships by boat manufactures, Motor manufactures, Fishing electronics, rods, reels, and tackle. It has always been my opinion that if some guy went out in a plastic kayak and beat all these highly sponsored anglers, people would be less likely to purchased their overpriced products and settle for a kayak. Therefore this would never be allowed and Kayak anglers went out on their own and organized their own events. 

      The next group that evolved would be what I call the Promotional kayak angler. This is the guy or gal that has official endorsements, sponsorships or represents a Company or product. However we can not discount the sub group here that just promotes the sport of kayak fishing and safety out their love of the sport and passion to share it with others. Many new kayak anglers look up to these people as experts and ambassadors. All Promotional kayak anglers should have the desire to help others and share their passion and experience. Unfortunately this is not always the case, Some get into positions of leadership in the sport and it completely goes to their heads. When this happens it is because they took the position for selfish reasons and do more damage than good. I would caution anyone about entering into any agreement or sponsorship as you always put more into it than you get out of it, and if you do not put more into the promotion instead of what you may get out of the arrangement you will not be around long.

      The final group will be the Professional kayak anglers. These are the people who make their living off of kayak fishing. Whether it be working for a kayak manufacturer, Guiding or working in kayak retail. These are often the people who have the most tenure and experience and are commonly a wealth of knowledge. They love the sport so much that they have honed their skills and are happy to work in the industry they love. Most are also very liberal in sharing their passion and knowledge with others.

       These groups will also subdivide into smaller groups like the river guys, the Lake guys, the pond guy's, the salt guys, the Flats guys, ect. you get the picture. 


    There have been many good things that have come out of this sport we all love so much like Regional kayak fishing clubs, Charities that help those in need, product testing and advancement, better kayaks and most of all a sport that we can all call our own. I have made some of the best friends a guy could have from a kayak. There is a connection that most kayak anglers feel one for another. However as with any rapidly growing entity there will be growing pains. Most of these stem from elitism, money, and lets face it some people are just jerks. However the good far outweighs the bad in this community and lets face the facts people, we are all Kayak Anglers! Doomed to enjoy fishing from a small tupperware container for the rest of our days.

Welcome to the Addiction!

   Kayak Fishing is the fastest growing segment of sport fishing today and draws hundreds of people into its ranks on a daily basis. There are many reasons why this phenomenon has been so successful in growth and shows no sign of slowing down in the future. Perhaps this is mainly due to the ready availability of quality fishing kayaks and the recent development and marketing of accessories that make fishing from a kayak more user-friendly. However I think that there is perhaps more to it than just this.

There are many advantages to going fishing from a kayak. Kayaks are first and foremost a challenge; they test and develop an Angler’s skill. When fishing from a kayak you are not able to zoom all over the lake searching for your prey with the latest electronics. With the limited range of a kayak one must make some decisions about where and when to launch with their kayak so as to be on the targeted species. This process is in itself an education and improves an angler’s decision making process on their local waters. Kayak fishing also forces an Angler to hone his fishing techniques to be more productive.

Another advantage to kayak fishing is the affordability of getting set up and getting out fishing. The initial cost of kayak fishing is just a fraction of owning and operating the traditional watercraft. One could buy a new kayak including gear for as little as seven to eight hundred dollars, or you could buy used and save even more. Kayaks require almost no maintenance, just the occasional cleaning and maybe a wipe down with some form of UV protection. I love the fact that I can go fishing more because of the low cost of getting out on the water. Most local trips only cost me about fifteen to twenty dollars, which includes fuel to drive to the water and the purchase of bait. 

Kayaks are also a great way to get some exercise; Paddling and fishing from a kayak is a low impact activity that in most cases can give you a good aerobic workout, increase the muscular strength in your back arms and chest. The great thing here is that you go at your own pace, so it is a great sport for young and old. Most of the kayak anglers that it has been my pleasure to fish along side of have ranged in age from 9 years old to well in their 60’s.

Fishing from a kayak gives you access to waters that are not accessible by boats; a boat launch is not required, any place that you can get to the bank is a potential place to launch your kayak. A kayak generally only requires 6 to 12 inches of water to float even when loaded with 300 to 400 lbs of driver and gear. This allows kayak fishermen to go where the traditional powered boat cannot.

Fishing from a kayak is stealthy; in some of the heavier fished waters, I believe that fish have learned to associate motor noise, sonar noise, electric motors and various noises with danger. From a kayak you have the ability to get to fish with the possibility of spooking them decreased. Not to mention that kayaks allow you to experience nature in a closer and more personal way allowing you the opportunity to observe things you normally would not notice.

It is an environmentally conscious means of fishing; first and foremost you are not burning fossil fuels, not to mention the savings in fuel and maintenance costs which are getting higher every day.  This directly translates into an environmentally conscious activity that is more than sustainable on a consistent basis.

Kayak fishing is therapeutic; there is no doubt that fishing is a great way to get away from the rat race even for a short period of time. Doing it while in a kayak just makes things so much simpler and peaceful. When I have had a long work week and just feel like life is too complicated and rushed, nothing soothes the soul and reenergizes me like a day out on the water… Just me, my kayak and fish.

There is a certain attraction to kayak fishing that stems from a love of nature and the challenge of doing things just a little different than the norm. I for one would have never realized the amount of enjoyment and satisfaction that one can get from kayak fishing until I had experienced it. I have observed wildlife in a way that I never would have from a powered craft. The challenge of effectively pursuing sport fish from my kayak has definitely made me a better fisherman who understands my prey in ways not necessary before. I have been able to access waters not accessible to boaters, and catch fish that have not been fished heavy. The kayak gives me a connection with my environment that was not possible before. 

There are many other reasons for the growing popularity of kayak fishing like spending time with your family and friends, teaching our kids the joys of fishing, enjoying nature, or just getting out of the house. There is also the proverbial “Sleighride” you get when hooking a large fish that you will not experience from a larger craft. 

DIY Stake Out Pole by Bigyaker

Good Buddy of mine shows how to make your own stake out pole. You can check out the rest of his videos on his channel BIGYaker TV

Kayaking, The First Part Of Kayak Fishing

The problem with most kayak anglers is that they are fisherman first and never really consider that they may need to become a proficient Paddler. Most never even bother to learn proper paddle strokes and just begin paddling and fishing. After all the first part of Kayak Fishing is Kayaking.

     Kayaks are human powered craft; they are steered, propelled and balanced by the operator. Just like any craft the efficiency of that craft depends entirely on how well the locomotion apparatus operates. On a kayak that is you. Therefore the better you are at controlling your kayak the more efficient you will be in using energy and time spent on the water. Most of the time a sloppy paddle stroke is fine until conditions get bad or you have to cover a great distance then the proper paddle technique may make the difference between you getting home and not getting home. The techniques listed here are the minimum that you should master.

It is important to have good posture in your kayak. You should sit up in your kayak instead of leaning back or reclining. Good posture allows you to make all of your paddling strokes as powerful as possible. Always keep your feet resting firmly against the feet rests as this anchors your body to the kayak and allows you to get the most out of your strokes.

Forward Stroke: This should be the first stroke that is learned, moving your kayak forward seems easy and often perfecting this stroke is over looked by many however, as you might imagine, this is the most important stroke that you can learn. Depending on where you're going to be kayaking, how long and how far you intend to travel, good forward paddling may end up saving you a lot of time, effort, and muscle strain.

The entry point of your paddle should be as close to your feet as possible, so reach as far forward as you can before inserting the paddle into the water. You should twist your torso to reach this point. Then as you move your stroke to the rear you will untwist your torso which coils your torso in the other direction and sets up the next stroke on the opposite side. You should also work on relaxing your grip on the kayak paddle, as well, as this will make it easier for you to sustain your paddling pace. The easiest way to do this is to hold your paddle with the ok sign between your thumb and index finger with your other fingers just lightly resting on the shaft.
The most effective and efficient forward stroke is one that is planted deep and is as close to the kayak as possible as drawn backwards. If you follow this advice, and work on strengthening the parts of your body that fatigue quickest while paddling, then you'll find that you’re forward paddling will improve.

Sweep Stroke (for turning): One of the best strokes for turning your kayak is the sweep stroke. This stroke will turn your kayak much more effectively than just stroking forwards on one side then backwards on the other. Since it is a turning move, you should be working on getting the power of the move right, and find out just how far it is capable of turning your kayak after just one forward sweep stroke. Therefore, you should start out learning the forward sweep stroke while your kayak is sitting still. You should be able to turn your kayak in circles relatively easily using this stroke. After you've learned the techniques that you need in order to do the forward sweep stroke, you should work on doing it while you are actually moving. After all, that is when you are more likely to need this move.

You should also consider that you will need more practice with the forward sweep stroke while moving than you would otherwise. With the extra practice, you'll be able to figure out just how strongly you have to paddle in order to turn your kayak as far as you want to.

The forward sweep stroke is similar to regular forward paddling in that the paddle should enter the water near your feet. However, it is different in that instead of paddling straight back, you should sweep the paddle out away from the kayak in a wide arc that creates a “C” in the water, it goes out away from the kayak near the bow then as you pull backwards it turns in towards the back of your kayak. This should turn your kayak - but make sure that you pull the paddle blade out of the water before you hit the back of your kayak.

Once you learn the forward sweep stroke, you'll find that your ability to turn your kayak is improved immensely. If you reverse this stroke by inserting your paddle behind you and move through the stroke going forward while sitting in place you will be performing the reverse sweep stroke.

Draw Strokes (for pulling close): Sometimes you may want to slide your kayak sideways. The draw stroke is an effective method of pulling your kayak to the side without turning. Once you've learned how to paddle forward and in reverse, you may want to learn the draw stroke. This stroke is also called "pulling" the kayak, and will help the kayak to move from side to side. This stroke is also somewhat more difficult than the regular forward and reverse strokes, so you may need to take some extra time to learn it.

This stroke is primarily useful for avoiding obstacles, though it is also useful for people who do whitewater kayaking so that they can make sure their kayak is properly lined up with the rapids.

First, you will need to turn your body a little bit toward the place you are planning on moving the kayak towards. Then, you should raise the arm that is farther away from that side of the kayak. You should reach as far away from your kayak as you can and put the paddle blade into the water. Then, pull the paddle closer to your kayak (you should be aiming somewhere between your hips and thighs.

You should keep in mind that when you are doing the draw stroke, you want to keep the kayak paddle as vertical as possible. That way, you will not be losing any power in the draw stroke.
Make sure that you also pull your paddle out of the water before you hit the kayak, as otherwise you may do some damage either to the kayak or to the paddle you are using. If you are noticing that the draw stroke is not working properly for you, then you should adjust your technique as needed until the kayak is pulling entirely in the direction that you want it to.

Reverse Forward Stroke (for stopping): Stopping your kayak suddenly requires practice as well. When you are kayaking, stopping is one of the important things that you can learn. While it is not always obvious as to why you will need this move, you should keep in mind that situations at sea can change rather rapidly. This is also the case in rivers or lakes. Also, since you are close to the water's surface, it is not always easy to see obstacles from far away.

Stopping suddenly requires that you know how to reverse paddle, since chances are good that if you need to stop suddenly to avoid some sort of obstacle, you will need to back away from it as well.

The stopping stroke, also known as the emergency stop can keep you from running into obstacles like tree stumps, rocks, and other Paddlers. Therefore, you should definitely work on and learn this move before you go on any long kayaking expeditions.

When stopping, you should use the back side of your paddle blade like you would when you reverse paddle. Then, you should move your paddle forward with quick, short strokes. This will stop the kayak. If you're worried about the kayak turning from side to side, you can counteract this by using short strokes on either side of your kayak.

If you need extra help learning the emergency stop in your kayak, there are plenty of different kayak classes that will teach stopping as well as several other kayaking techniques. Once you learn the emergency stop, you'll be that much better prepared to deal with the dangers that will pop up when you're kayaking.

Low Brace (keep from capsizing): The low brace is used to avoid capsizing when you feel the kayak beginning to tip.  To do this stroke you pull the paddle in close to your belly on the deck, and then stick your elbows out straight and high on each side. Depending on what side you’re tipping, put the back side of the blade flat against the water. Pushing your paddle down will provide the support needed and keep you from tipping further.  When you first begin to practice this stroke you will actually want to slap the water with your paddle and continue to push it down. Once you get the hang of this stroke you will be able to perform it without actually slapping the water. While using this stroke you will use your hips to bring the kayak back under your body, while the blade keeps you steady.

These are just a few simple strokes that will not only make your time on the water more enjoyable, they will increase your range, ability to maneuver quickly and help you when things get rough out there. Stay safe and fish hard.