Kayak Fishing Questions | FAQs Answered

  • Author: Ted Jones
  • Date: December 7, 2022
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When I talk to other people about my love of fishing, eventually it leads me down the track of talking about kayak fishing. The response generally falls into two camps. One, the other person thinks I have gone mad and he gives me a blank look.

The other response is the person is interested on knowing as much as they can about it. Then they bombard me with a million and one questions.

So that is where this article comes in and hopefully answers your kayak fishing questions.

Kayak Fishing Questions


Kayak Fishing FAQs

Some of these questions and answers, do cross into each other, or are similar. But it might be another point or way to understand the question differently.

For more tips and information, visit – 30 Kayak Fishing Tips For Beginners


Is it worth buying a kayak for fishing?

Yes, it gives you another way for getting close to the fish.

For weedy lakes and small waters that it isn’t practical to launch a big boat, a kayak is a good option. Sometimes it is too hard to fish from the bank, or the fish are just that little bit further out, so a kayak is a good choice.

For shallow rivers and marsh areas, a fishing kayak can access a lot of waters.

Some lakes don’t allow big boats or boat motors on the water, so a kayak is one way to take advantage of that.

It’s silent fishing from a drifting kayak and good exercise as well when paddling.

Besides all the advantages, it is just plain fun to get towed around by a fish.


Is Kayak Fishing easy?

This question can have a few meanings in the one, so I will do my best to answer it.

Yes, with most fishing kayaks they are designed to be stable, so you can cast easily and fish.

However, with some kayak brands and designs you can’t lean over too much when retrieving the anchor or landing a fish. So you do have to be aware of excessive movements.

Getting equipment, such as your dry bag from the stern well can be tricky on some kayaks and you do have to balance.

Fishing in cold waters does take more preparation as you might have to wear a wetsuit or dry suit. This is because when you are kayak fishing you will get a little bit wet by: paddling, waves and spray, hauling in the anchor and fighting the fish.

As far as catching fish, it is similar to boat fishing or bank fishing. If the fish are on the bite, then you should catch something. If the fish are not actively eating, then it is hard to catch one.


What color kayak is best for fishing?

What To Wear Kayak Fishing


There are two school of thoughts for this question. One is you need a bright colored kayak for safety, especially in busy waters.

The other view is too have the kayak dull or natural colors so it doesn’t spook the fish.

I have caught plenty of fish close to the boat’s hull and kayak in plenty of different colors, so I think having a colorful kayak, canoe or boat won’t scare the fish. However, if I was splashing about with the paddle or rocking the boat, I think that would frighten the fish more. Also a shiny hull would probably scare the fish as well.

For my ocean kayak were I sometimes launch, or fish in busy lakes or the sea, it is brightly colored for safety reason. As a kayak sits low in the water it is hard to see, especially in sea swells, a bright colored kayak is a good idea. (And safety flag.)

For my short kayak that I use in small lakes and shallow areas, I painted the hull in dull green colors. These fishing areas don’t get much boat traffic, so being seen by other boats isn’t an issue. (Plus I wear a red fishing PFD and sometimes my fluro orange fishing cap anyway.)


What size kayak is best for fishing?

This will depend where you fish and what distance you have to paddle.

Basically a longer kayak will track through the water easier and be easier to paddle for longer distances.

If you are saltwater fishing or in large open lakes, then a longer kayak is worth looking at. (Remembering you might have to unload and load it on a roof rack by yourself.)

A short kayak will be more suited for small rivers, where turning is harder for a longer kayak. Fishing around timber and weedy areas, a smaller kayak is easier to maneuver.


Can I fish from a regular kayak?

Some kayaks are designed to mainly be paddling from and may not be as stable when stationary casting. However most recreational kayaks will be good enough for kayak fishing.

If you have a recreational sit on top kayak, you can fit some rod holders to it easily enough.

If you are a beginner to angling from a kayak, then just start off with one rod. This makes it easier to control and you don’t need four fishing rod holders. You could just stand your fishing rod up, in a crate behind your seat when paddling.


What do I need for kayak fishing?

This question can be broken up into two parts. One, for what kayak fishing gear you need. The other is what clothing you need to keep dry and warm.

Here is a list of some of kayak fishing equipment and tackle you need:

  • Life jacket (PFD)
  • Fishing rods
  • Anchor and rope
  • Anchor trolley
  • Comfortable seat
  • Crate / Milk Crate
  • Fishing tackle bag
  • Kayak Fish Finder
  • Dry bag
  • Cooler
  • Kayak trolley
  • Safety flag
  • Bait


For more detailed information on what gear you need and how to set your kayak up click on – How To Outfit A Kayak For Fishing

Clothing is very important for kayak angling as well, as there is a good chance you will get splashed by the paddle, waves, hauling in the anchor, spray or fish jumping about, etc.

For cold water fishing, the correct clothing and gear is even more important.


Is Kayak fishing good exercise?

While you might be anchored fishing for a long time, when you paddle to and from your spot, kayak fishing is great exercise.

Hopefully you get some more upper body workout by fighting and winding in those fish as well.

If you don’t use a kayak cart or trolley, then your lower body also gets some hard exercise by carrying the kayak to the water.


Why are fishing kayaks better than boats?

I wouldn’t say they are better. But are another tool in your fishing skills and equipment to use and get you to a fishing spot and also a platform to fish from.

A kayak has many advantages (also disadvantages) over a boat as answered in the question, “What are the advantages of kayak fishing?”


What color fishing kayak is safest?

I would say fluro orange and yellow really stand out for me.

Hot pink is another good one, but I haven’t seen too many kayaks in this color.

Use a bright PFD, hat, jacket and safety flag for more visibility on the water.


Do fishing kayaks flip easily?

No, a good brand kayak designed for fishing is pretty stable.

Some models you can even stand up on.

If you are not sure about the stability of the kayak for fishing, see if you can try a few models out. Perhaps your mate has one, or you could hire one and see how stable you feel and how that model kayak performs.

Overall you shouldn’t lean out too far when pulling in the anchor though. (And always anchor correctly, so you are not side on towards the waves.)

Never go out in rough weather.


How do you keep fish while kayaking?

Depending on how hot the weather is and how long you are fishing for, you have three choices for keeping the fish.

  1. Chiller with ice to store the fish
    2. Keep net. That you put live fish in and you hang it over the die of the kayak in the water.
    3. Hessian bag, burlap, cotton bag or sugar bag. This is only for cooler weather. You wet the bag and store the fish in it.

You can keep the chiller bag or hessian bag in the stern well of the kayak.

Remember catch and release for undersize fish, or fish you don’t want to eat.


How do you land a fish in a kayak?

This is an interesting question and can take a bit of experimenting with for a start.

For the first few fish I caught in the kayak, it was chaos and I nearly lost the fish. (And my balance.)

After a few hooked fish, I learnt not to be too quick in trying to use the landing net.

Let the fish fight and run, until the fish is ready to be netted.

(It is amazing how even a small fish can move the kayak around.)

Use a long handled net and place the net in the water first to the side of the kayak.

Then pull and steer the fish with your rod into the net. (Don’t thrust the net at the fish, otherwise it will scare him and the fish will do another run.)

Let the fish come to the stationary fishing net.

I have landed fish without a landing net. But it is a lot easier with a long handled landing net and let the fish come to you.


What are the advantages of kayak fishing?

You can access a lot of water a bank angler may not get to.

You can fish in shallow or enclosed spots that boats can’t reach.

Starting off you don’t need too much specialized gear. You can just use normal fishing gear.

Depending on the size and weight of a kayak, you can transport it on top of the vehicle. So you don’t need a trailer.

Paddling is good exercise.

A kayak is cheaper than a boat.

You don’t have to service the boat motor.

It is fun.


Can you catch mackerel from a kayak?

Yes, you can catch mackerel in a kayak.

Anglers have even caught, tuna, sword fish, marlin and shark from a kayak. Although this does require a certain skillset, safety, mindset and experience.

Generally the bigger the fish species targeted the more knowledge, skill and specialized equipment the kayak fisherman should have.


Which kayaks are most stable for fishing?

Go for a brand name fishing kayak. A brand that has been around for a while and is well known.

A dedicated fishing kayak will be a bit wider and should be more stable than a kayak designed just for paddling. However the wider kayak will sacrifice some speed for more stability, as it is wider and the hull design.

A sit on top kayak is getting more and more popular for fishing.

Pelican Sport kayaks, Jackson Kayak, Johnson Outdoors, Hobie, Malibu, Wilderness Systems, Perception and Ocean Kayak are just a few of the many brands that make dedicated fishing kayaks. These brands are available in Australia.


How do you fish in a sit on top kayak?

The biggest advice is not too have too much fishing gear for a start when learning how to kayak fish.

Just use one rod and minimal gear. (You don’t need 100 different lures, or 10 boxes of flies.)

On land, sit in the kayak and position what exact gear you need. (Also test by wearing your life jacket.)

See how easy or how hard the items are too reach. Position items that you will use the most in easy to get too places.

Position items that you may not need in the stern well or crate.

Wear a PFD and have safety gear in the kayak and know how to use it. (Such as paddle float, safety whistle. Flares for fishing in large bodies of water.)

Dress appropriately as there is a chance you will get wet.

Put floats on gear or tether your rods and tackle bags. Use floats on fishing forceps, etc.

Use dry bags and tether them.

For your first couple of trips, just go close to shore, until you get used of paddling and casting while seated in the kayak.

Plan your trips around good weather. Never go out when it is too windy.


What colors should you not wear while kayak fishing?

For busy boating waterways, or you are fishing in large open waters, use bright colored clothing and gear for safety. Avoid dull and natural colors.

When I fish in small rivers, ponds and lakes I do wear dull colors for more a subdued look. But this is when there are hardly any other vessels on the water and visual safety is not a concern. I always wear a PFD.


What if your fishing kayak flips?

This is always a concern when kayak fishing. So wearing appropriate gear like a PFD, wetsuit and tethering your gear is a must.

So you can minify the risk and concern, practice capsize drills.

Practice in warm shallow water with you PFD and appropriate clothing on. You realize how hard it can be too get back on or in your kayak. But with training it will get easier.

Have a friend with you and practice using safety items like a paddle float, rope ladder, etc.

If your kayak does tip, you will have confidence to get back on it.

Tether your paddle and don’t let go of your paddle if the kayak flips. Otherwise the wind might blow the kayak away, faster than you can swim with a PFD on.

Use common sense and minimize the risk of a capsize, by checking the weather forecast. Don’t venture out in windy or rough weather.


Which is better sit in or sit on kayak for fishing?

Sit on top kayaks are getting more popular for fishing as they can be easier to use, versatile and are more common now. Such as sitting on them is easier to get on.

Sit in kayaks are still great for fishing, but some need more equipment, like spray skirts and more training if they capsize. A sit in kayak protects your lower body from the wind as it is enclosed.


Do I need a net for kayak fishing?

No, but using a landing net makes it a lot easier.

Also there is more chance you will land the fish.

In the confined spaces of the kayak and you are limited for movement, a fishing net makes it easier.

Also with some of the Aussie fish, they have sharp gill rakers or teeth, so a net helps land the fish.


How do you land a fish with no net?

Depending on the type of fish, you can hold it by the head near the gills and also the tail. But most fish thrashing about can be very hard to hold. Especially a fish three or so pounds or bigger.

Also the hook is dangerous if it comes out of the fish’s mouth and your hand is close by.

Just remember some fish have sharp spines, gill rakers and teeth.

Also fish lip grippers can be used, but some can put unnecessary strain on the fish’s back, if their belly is not supported.


Is fishing from a kayak fun?

If you enjoy fishing, then it is some of the best fun you can have!

Make sure you pick the right days for good weather.

On a nice day with little wind and the fish are biting, kayak fishing is great.

On nice days with little wind and the fish are not on the bite, then kayak fishing is still fun.


What is the difference between a fishing kayak and normal kayak?

The fishing kayak is normally designed to be more stable when stationary anchored for fishing.

It can be wider as speed isn’t as important for the angler.

Also a fishing kayak will have rod holders in it, or places you can mount external rod holders on it.

Some fishing kayaks also have places to mount a fish finder and transducer.


What does angler kayak mean?

Just another name for a purpose built fishing kayak.


Are inflatable fishing kayaks slower?

Yes they are a bit slower. But overall though, speed isn’t too much of a concern for kayak fishing, unless you are paddling a long distance to get too you’re fishing spot.

When a normal kayak is tracking through the water, because of the paddling movement the kayak will move a bit or angle a bit side to side. With a normal rigid kayak you lose a bit of energy from this. (A longer kayak helps this efficiency as well, compared to a shorter kayak.)

With an inflatable kayak, the hull is less rigid and you lose more energy from this side to side movement and also the vertical up and down movement of going through the water or waves.

Depending on the design of an inflatable kayak, the wind can catch it as well and slow it down.


Can two people use a fishing kayak for one person?

This will depend on the kayak model and build. Generally no, as you will be limited in space.

Also a kayak is designed to paddle easier with a certain weight limit.

If the kayak is over the weight capacity it will be harder to paddle and maneuver in the water.

You might get away with one adult and a child fishing from the kayak, but a tandem fishing kayak is better for two adults.



Why don’t people like Hobie kayaks?

I am not sure this is true for everyone, as some of my friend’s love their Hobie’s for fishing.

Perhaps the expense and weight of the Hobie can be a negative for some Australian kayak anglers.



What to look for in a fishing kayak?

Choosing a kayak can be hard. I know before I purchased my first real dedicated fishing kayak, I took months looking at the various brands, models and visiting kayak fishing forums.

So here are some questions, items and things to look for in a fishing kayak:

  • Design
  • Length
  • Weight
  • Weight Capacity
  • Quality
  • Price
  • Features

Design – Sit on top kayak or sit in kayak? A sit on top kayak is popular for most fishing options. For saltwater fishing a longer designed kayak would be favored as it can ride the waves easier, especially for exiting surf zones.

The design and hull should be wider enough so the angler can anchor and fish in open water.

What type of seat does it use?

Length – A longer kayak can be easier to paddle a long distance. But is harder to maneuver in small ponds or rivers.

A shorter kayak can be more maneuverable, but will hold less gear and be harder to paddle long way.

A shorter kayak is easier to transport.

Kayak Weight – If the kayak is too heavy, it is hard to put it on top of the vehicle roof racks by yourself.

Weight Capacity – If you are a large person, or planning to take a ton of fishing gear, you should check your fishing kayaks weight limit. If too heavy for the capacity, the kayak won’t paddle easily and it will ride low in the water.

Price and Quality – What material and construction process does the brand or model use. If it is too cheap, could the materials be low quality and the kayak eventually warps or cracks and leak? Has the kayak brand got a good reputable name?

Features – Does the kayak have options to fit rod holders, fish finders, moveable seats, scupper holes, carrying handles, and storage compartments, stern and bow anchor points, options for a kayak anchor trolley, skeg, adjustable foot rests? 


Why kayak fishing?

You can access good fishing spots you may not able to get with a boat. Ideal for weedy lakes and shallow rivers.

It is silent paddling and you can get close to fish.

You seem closer to nature as you are closer to the water and aquatic life and wildlife.

It is an adventure.

It is another tool to utilize getting close to the fish.

Kayak fishing can be relaxing on a nice day.

It can be an adrenaline rush for anyone who has tried catching big game fish in a kayak, or tried night fishing in one. Safely of course with PFD, lights, etc.

It can be cheap compared to a fishing boat.

No outboard motor to break down.

You can store a kayak easier than a large boat.


How to transport a fishing kayak?

You can put the kayak on roof racks, cargo rack or in some cases in the back of a pick-up truck.

Roof racks can be expensive, so a cheaper option is to use soft roof racks. (These aren’t advisable for long trips as they can move.)

Remember to have at least two tie down points on the hull of the kayak. Use a front bow and rear stern tie down as well.

Check for regulations and rules if you are allowed to have your kayak sticking out past the rear of your vehicle.

For bigger kayaks, a utility trailer or boat trailer might have to be used.

Don’t use ratchet type straps, as it is hard to feel how much pressure you have on the hull. Too tight and you can crack or warp the fiberglass or plastic hull.


How to set up kayak milk crate for fishing?

kayak fishing milk crate



The DIY milk crate for kayak fishing is an icon, common to find and easy to use. The advantage of it drains the water out through the holes easy and is cheap.

I use cable ties to secure some pieces of swimming pool foam noodles on the milk crate.

I put one or two pieces of foam vertically and horizontally on the milk crate. This makes the crate buoyant, so if it does come lose off the kayak it will float.

The vertical foam piece of swimming pool noodle can be used to hold a safety flag or navigational lights. Or a GoPro action camera mount.

The horizontal piece of foam, stops the hard plastic milk crate, from banging into the kayak stern well and making a noise. Which might also vibrate and scare fish away.

I also use homemade PVC pipe (or commercial) for rod holders. Tie these with cable ties vertically or angled on the milk crate to hold the rods.

The PVC rod holders or foam can be secured inside or out of the milk crate. You have more room for dry bags and fishing tackle if you attach them on the outside of the crate.

On the other hand, the foam and PVC inside the milk crate is more secure and less profile for fishing in tight weedy or bushy areas.

I use bungee or octopus straps to secure the crate on the kayak.

Dry bags, tackle bags can be attached on a tether and carabiner to the milk crate.


How to store a fishing kayak?

Here you have a few options.

  1. You can suspend if from straps (wide tie down straps) supporting two places around the hull and hang it. You can hang it on its side, every month or two I used to swap the side it is hanging on. (This will depend if it is stored in hot weather and the construction process of the kayak.)
  2. You can place it on a trailer, or elevated off the ground for storage and cover it with a tarp. Or use a shed or “A” frame mini shelter to protect it from the damp.
  3. Use a kayak storage rack, or make one yourself with two support poles / legs to sit hold it on.

Whatever way you store it, protect it from the sun and weather.

Make sure you air dry the kayak and open its storage compartments to air them out. Otherwise any water or dampness can go moldy inside the kayak if left for a long time.

Before you use the kayak again, check no nasty insects are living in it. Otherwise a spider popping out of the storage hatch could be an unwelcome surprise on the water.

Don’t place any heavy objects on the kayak when in storage, otherwise it can buckle it.

Don’t hang or support the kayak from the bow and stern carry handles otherwise it can buckle the kayak.

Don’t place paints, gasoline or anything on it, which can leak or damage the plastic, fiberglass or rubber material.

Don’t tie down the kayak with straps and leave pressure on the straps for a long time as the pressure can warp and damage the kayak. Especially as the weather changes from hot to cold and vice versa.


How to paddle a fishing kayak?

You just use a normal two bladed kayak paddle.

You do one stroke one side, then with the other end of the paddle, you place it in the water and do a stroke. When you get fluid at the movement it looks like a figure eight movement.

A fishing canoe use a “T” type handle and single bladed paddle where you might use one or two strokes the same side then swap sides.


How to anchor a fishing kayak?

Don’t anchor sideways to the waves or current. Otherwise a bow wave or wave can capsize you.

Consider using an anchor trolley set up, where you can angle your kayak either from bow or stern to fish easier from with the wind and waves. But still safely and not side on.

Use a quick release system if you have to ditch the anchor suddenly.

Have the correct amount of rope out for anchoring, as too short of length can be dangerous. With extra rope you can ride swells.

Keep an eye out for your position and make sure the anchor is holding correctly.

Use the correct anchor for the bottom type and structure. Example, use a sand anchor for the sand, etc.

Don’t use a heavy large boat anchor in calm waters, as you have to paddle around with the weight and bulk of it in the kayak.

Anchors and rope can be lost easy on a snag, so it might pay to have spare rope and anchor back in the vehicle. While it would be annoying to lose the anchor and have to paddle back to the vehicle, it would be more annoying to lose a whole day fishing because of no spare anchor.


How to do a kayak fishing trip for a beginner?

Plan ahead and go to a sheltered waterway first and get used to the kayak.

Don’t go out too far, keep close to shore, until you get confidence.

Your first trip, you might not even take the rods in the kayak, but just get the feel of paddling and maneuvering the kayak.

Have a checklist for your fishing gear and kayak safety gear.

Double check you have your lifejacket, seat and paddle.

Go with a fishing buddy for safety.

Tell your partner where you are going.

Check the weather forecast. Don’t go if it is going to be windy. Or predicted storms and lightning. (As water and electricity don’t go well. Especially in the middle of a lake and you have carbon fiber rods, aluminum paddle, etc.)

Some canoeing and kayak clubs have safety training days, which is worth going to and learning.

Wear appropriate clothing for the weather and water temperature. Such as a sun hat, wetsuits, rain jacket, gloves etc.

Check your boating and fishing rules and regulations for the fishing area. Remember you’re fishing license.

If you are fishing in a river going downstream, it can be harder to paddle upstream when you are worn out from fishing.

Also currents and tides can make kayaking hard, so just go close to land until you get experience.


What is the best way to get into a fishing kayak?

If you have a friend, get them to hold the kayak steady. They can also do it when in another kayak.

You can use a pier or jetty to stabilize yourself getting in as well.

Make sure no fishing rods or equipment is in your way.

Use your paddle and brace it on the kayak deck behind you. Sit on the side and position your bottom in the middle of the seat. Then swing around your legs while holding the blade of the paddle down flat onto the water for stability or touching the bottom.


Where to buy fishing kayaks?

A lot of kayak manufactures can have direct sales or supply retailers. Amazon, Anaconda, eBay, BCF, BassPro and boating / fishing retailers can have some great sales and bargains.

Trading post type websites and garage sales can be worth a look. Remember to check out the boating and kayak fishing forums for kayaks for sale as well.

Check out Black Friday Sales and Cyber Monday deals for some bargains.


Conclusion – Kayak Fishing FAQ

You can spend a lifetime on just lure fishing, bait or fly fishing and still only learn a fraction about it. But combine kayak fishing and there is more to learn. However this new skill of learning to fish from a kayak compliments and expands your other fishing skills as well.

Fishing can be an adventure with the stories about the big one that got away, places visited, sights and your friends. Mix this with some kayak fishing and you have some great memories and even more stories to tell. It is worth giving it a go and getting out on the water with a rod.

Happy fishing.


Additional Reading and Resources

Kayak Fishing Tips