River Kayak Fishing

 

Sit on top or Sit in Kayaks

Kayaking has exploded over the last few years. Canoes and tubers used to be all you would see on a Michigan river, but now they are pretty rare compared to kayaks. Really I can see why. Tubes are fun, but hard to steer down winding rivers and can be hard on the butt. Canoeing can be hard to master without tipping several times and is much easier with two passengers. On the other hand, kayaks are great for only one person, they are easily maneuvered through tight spots, and are easily transported by yourself.

I just recently started kayak fishing in rivers. The first couple times I deemed it impossible to cast where I wanted, reel the lure back, get the fish off the hook and release it before needing to drop the pole and grab the paddle. Most Northern Michigan rivers are very winding and have a decent flow to them, so I just used the kayak to explore new holes and get out in shallow spots to fish. The only problem with this method was the amount of time it took to float a section of river. Pulling over, getting out and back in really slows up a trip and can be very loud which in turn spooks fish. Then, there are the places that look like great fishing spots, but you just can’t find a place to get out and stand. All of these problems were solved with experience.

I started out with a sit inside type of kayak. It had pole holders, which told me right away that it was meant for fishing. This summer we bought a sit on top. Wow what a difference. With this type you have everything right at your grasp and in site, instead of reaching inside, feeling around helplessly. It has weep holes so any water that comes in, goes right back out, but this does mean water is going to come in and you will get wet. Anyways, that was improvement number one.

It takes practice to be able to see a good fishing spot before you get to it. While floating down river, I am constantly looking ahead of me, scanning the river. When you see a spot you would like to cast to, you need to figure out where your kayak should be positioned. That is the most important part. I typically fish the outside bend of a curve in the river. This means I’m constantly paddling to the inside of the bend. Always paddle backwards right when you first see a place to cast. This slows you down and keeps you away from the hole while you get prepared. If you end up floating into the hole, don’t be disappointed. Just paddle on and realize what you did wrong so you don’t do the same thing at the next bend.

The other important thing to learn is when to give up on a cast. Every trip I have to decide between making a cast and dumping the kayak. It’s much better to lose a five dollar lure than get tipped over and lose all your gear. Sometimes I have to put my pole between my legs while fighting a fish so I can steer away from downed logs and rocks. This can allow the fish to get off, but still better than dumping most of the time.

It’s like everything else in fishing. With a little practice and patience it can be a great experience. Give it a try some time, but remember, I hated it my first couple times and now love it, so don’t give up.

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