The popularity of kayak fishing has exploded in the last 10 years. Kayak manufacturers have designed boats specifically for anglers. They’re wide, stable, comfortable, have plenty of room for gear and can be outfitted with advanced electronics. The sport has grown rapidly on the east, west and gulf coasts of the United States. In the last five years, we’ve seen this craze move inward to the Midwest.

1 Kayaks can get into remote and skinny water where boats can’t go

Kayaks are extremely portable. You can load your gear and get kayaks into waters that are NOT accessible to power boats. Kayaks can be carried, or wheeled on carts, to launch areas that are unavailable to motor boats. Do you like fishing spots that get very little pressure? Kayak anglers do and we’re giddy about it! Another advantage; once you’re on the water, you can get into spots that big boats can’t. Kayaks can get into skinny water that’s only a few inches deep. We can fish those waters or go past them to access other waters nearby. Fishing from a kayak opens opportunities to fish waters that aren’t accessible to other water craft.

Many kayak anglers are Bass fans. Bass anglers know the importance of not disrupting Bass that are bedded. Kayaks offer the ultimate in stealth. You can move from spot to spot very quietly.

2 Fishing is about excitement fishing from a kayak gets you closer to the action

Nothing beats the feeling of setting the hook, the anticipation of seeing the fish, enjoying the fight and landing that fish. It’s fun from shore and from a power boat, for sure. But in a kayak, you crank up the experience! You’re VERY close to the water. I’ve enjoyed many experiences where a large Northern followed my lure right up to the side of my kayak. The fish was within a few feet of me when our eyes met before it turned and darted away. Even more exciting is when you’re hooked up. A big fish can you pull you around in a kayak. For kayak anglers, this is known as a “sleigh ride.” Hang on while you get pulled around, it’s FUN! Then the real excitement starts – landing the fish. I really like targeting Northern Pike from my kayak. They’re aggressive, do that gator roll thing and have feisty attitudes. They’re inches away from you when you get them to the side of the kayak. Makes my heart pump just thinking about it.

3 Paddling & moving about quietly & freely on the water creates a strong sense of serenity

There’s a common thread among people who enjoy the outdoors. We enjoy the fresh air and connection with nature. Just being on the water and fishing is relaxing and fun. Kayak anglers enjoy time on the water in a different way. Most kayak anglers either paddle or pedal their boats, so you get a workout that includes many muscle groups. It’s quiet and there’s no rumbling exhaust or gas and oil smell from a motor. The experience is more tranquil.

For safety reasons, it’s a good practice to meet with a group when you go kayak fishing. You watch out for others and they watch out for you. But that doesn’t mean you need to fish in the same spot. You’re free to go where you want and fish the spots you like. No debate with a boat mate on where to fish next.   

4  The kayak fishing community is welcoming, friendly and helpful

Selecting rods, reels, tackle and all the other gear is fun…but can be daunting for newbies. Kayak anglers have unique items that are specific to our type of fishing. Kayak anglers welcome newcomers and will help them choose and rig their rides. There is a strong do-it-yourself (DIY) spirit among kayak anglers. Hacks, work arounds and user innovation is celebrated and shared on social media and forums. Kayak anglers LOVE seeing what other enthusiasts are doing to outfit their yaks and share what they know.

There can be a strong sense of competition during tournaments, but most kayak anglers are willing to share tips and tactics to help you become better at the sport. Some of the top members in our club share their knowledge with youth groups, lead seminars, administer and contribute to online resources and work one-on-one with those who have questions about the sport. You’ll find people with passion in this sport, and you’ll also find new friends.

I’ve fished with many people in my life. Some of my closest fishing buddies have passed away, including my dad, brother and best friend. Their company cannot be replaced, but the people I’ve met through kayak fishing have brought their unique style, caring and sharing to my fishing outings and daily life. I’ve met an irreplaceable cast of characters. When I talk to new members or those thinking about getting into the sport, I tell them, “You’re going to love it, we have a GREAT group of people.” I say it proudly, with conviction and sincerity. I’ve made some good friends.       

5 Kayak fishing presents opportunities for anglers of all types

Anyone who is into fishing knows it’s a huge and varied topic. Ice fishing, bow fishing, shore fishing, salt water, inland, the list goes on and on…fishing sub topics all have their place and fans. Kayak fishing draws people from their mid 20s all the way to people in their 70s, men and woman alike. You can get started in kayak fishing at a relatively low price point compared to power boats. Entry level kayaks are an affordable way to get moving on the water. If you decide to try kayak fishing, there are many ways to get your feet wet. Most dealers have demo days. You can try different boats on the water. Our club encourages new users to do this. You’ll get a feel and knowledge of what makes an entry level boat different than a premium top-of-the line fishing kayak. You can also contact our club. Many of us have multiple yaks and will share or we can help you get a demonstration kayak to use at one of our events or tournaments.

Kayak anglers also come from the ranks of those who own power boats. This includes me. I still have my power boat, but I fish from my kayak over 90% of the time, these days. It’s easier to load, launch and jump from lake to lake. I can meet a group of other kayak anglers early in the morning and stay as long as I like. Others can leave before me or stay later. It’s makes scheduling fishing outings very flexible, because each person has their own kayak.

6 The kayak fishing fever is growing nationally, at the state level and locally

It’s fun being involved in something that’s new and growing. We started the Minnesota Kayak Fishing Association in 2013. Our mission is to grow the sport in the upper Midwest. Membership in our club is FREE. You can use our forums or like our Facebook page to ask questions, learn about events and more. You’ll find people to fish with – you’ll probably find friends for life. You’ll learn new things. You can fish tournaments – or not. You choose what you want from the club. There’s something for everyone.   

7 High profile kayak fishing tournaments and social media activity give credibility & visibility to the sport

In the last couple of years, national kayak fishing tournaments have hit the scene and continue to grow in popularity. There are even worldwide kayak fishing competitions that draw contestants from countries around the world. Some of the top Bass fisherman in the world have become national ambassadors for the top fishing kayak manufacturers. Social media is constantly buzzing with posts, videos and more from users of all levels. The social sphere for kayak anglers is vibrant, alive and fun. When you’re not on the water, you can easily find information online.

Is kayak fishing for you?

I asked myself that question years ago. I took the plunge. I got in my yak and I’ve never looked back! This article presents some of my favorite things about kayak fishing. I think the sport is unique, exciting and different from other types of fishing. I invite you to join our club or contact me about the sport and how to get involved at 651-639-1947 or online at www.mnkayakfishingassociation.org.

About The Author

Ron Strauss

Ron Strauss is the President of the Minnesota Kayak Fishing Association.