For a long time I wondered about kayak fishing. It’s not like I needed any more reasons to get on the water, but I have very fond memories of fishing when I was a kid back in Argentina. With the family, we now find ourselves in a location with easy access to lots of coastal paddling, creeks, and marshes – all filled with sea life.
Also, we love the idea of possibly adding fresh caught local fish to our meal rotations. So it felt like the perfect time to give it a try. What I was not expecting was for fishing to make me sound like a 10 year old again when I caught my first fish!
Learning (and Loving) Kayak Fishing
Before going out there, I researched what types of fish were local to these waters, which would be a good idea to focus on, and what equipment would be appropriate. I reached out to friends for advice, got my fishing license, and checked local regulations. I got a cheap rod online, some lures, basics and was ready to go. This video shows my first couple of days learning to fish from my kayak.
The three types of fish I’d be looking for were redfish (red drum), trout and flounder. These tidal creeks and marshes would hopefully be a perfect spot to find them. There were plenty of oyster beds, tall grass, and depth changes. These fish like using all of these types of features to ambush bait. Also, I’d have to get used to using a rod again. Thankfully my casting started improving through the first day, since at first it was awful. Eventually I felt bites, but didn’t get anything on the line. I changed locations throughout the day, trying to take advantage of features I had researched. For my second day, I decided to start off in the spot where I had the most bites the day before. Some bites came, but I did not get any fish on the line. My casting continued to improve, and I started to get a feel for the equipment. By now I had seen the full tidal cycle in several spots, so I hoped it would help me find good locations.
I ended the day on a creek’s mouth that comes off the main channel. It had a sand shelf, and a significant depth change. I realized maybe I had been trying spots that were a bit too shallow overall. Another day ended with just bites, and no fish on the line. Still, it had been a wonderful day on the water, and was absolutely worth it. When I got home, I pulled up satellite imaging of the area and realized that all the spots I had targeted were indeed really shallow – the shelf at the end of the day and the creek it led to would be my next area to explore as it would give more options with deeper waters. Shallow is good, but I spent a long time at low tide in areas that were extremely shallow.
By the third day I was ready to change things up, and now the tides had cycled through enough to start the day at full high tide. This time I’d get to see the entire cycle as the water drained, and my aim was to find as many new locations as possible. The bites were significantly more intense, and I managed to get two fish on the line — sadly both came off. I’d have to work on setting my hook. But still, progress nonetheless, and I now had a specific location to target on my next outing.
For the fourth day, I had in mind the spots I had scouted and was ready to take advantage of the ebbing tide when I realized my cheap reel would not lock in place. It allowed the line to continuously go out. I tried to clean the saltwater from it each day, but it seemed the mechanism had stuck, and then just let go. I tried taking the reel apart to fix it, but couldn’t get it working. I wondered if I should head home and come back another time, or if I should work on finding another way to get my line out. I kept thinking of my time in Norway when we used simply a piece of wood with a line and couple of hooks, and that was plenty to catch enough for some stew at camp. Granted, water conditions were different, depths, types of fish, but overall I knew I had the day to be on the water and didn’t want to give it up. So I tried a couple of different setups by using my water bottle to hold the line. Eventually I decided to run the line through the rod and reel it back by hand.
Catching my First Fish
And then, when I least expected it, I caught my first fish. A beautiful little spotted trout came up showing me the setup worked. Also, my new scouted locations had the right idea. After releasing it, I focused on finding bait, spotting ripples moving on the water’s surface and following their patterns. In time, I caught two flounders. The first was a bit small, but the second was a 13 incher, 12 being the minimum length. Sure, it was not enough for a full meal, but it was a delicious part of our dinner that evening and felt like a huge accomplishment.
As I said at the start, I figured I’d enjoy kayak fishing. Being on the water all day, learning about the locations, its wildlife, hopefully the satisfaction of catching a fish. But I never expected to enjoy it this much. I loved it. The magnitude of life found anywhere you looked, the sounds, the transformations caused by the tides – it’s incredible. I thought I was taking it all in when we paddled and explored these areas, but so much goes unnoticed. Day after day, I discovered so much more. And then when I finally caught fish, the excitement of the catch, hoping to land it, releasing the smaller ones and keeping that bigger flounder, it felt just like I did when I’d get lucky enough to eat my catch as a kid. So, if you’ve thought of trying kayak fishing it but haven’t yet, I highly recommend it.