Fish from your kayak? Absolutely.Kayak fishing is the joyous marriage between angling and paddling. Whether on a mountain lake or along with the ebb and flow of the saltwater tide, kayaking fishermen are able to get to places bigger boats can't.With the availability of relatively moderately priced, fairly light and easy-to-maneuver models, paddling with rod and reel is becoming increasingly popular across the state.Be it spin casting with bait or fly-fishing with a favorite lure, anglers can ply tighter spaces for trout, bass, salmon, stripers and other species while also getting some upper body workout from paddling. Shallow
waterways unwelcoming to bigger boats are accessible by kayak."I think it's become popular because anyone can buy their own kayak," says licensed New Hampshire guide Mike Ivone, owner of Barn Door Gap Adventures in Center Barnstead. "If you are paddling, why not just take a rod with you? It can be inexpensive, but you can also spend a lot of money on gear like depth finders, the best rods and GPS. A lot of the gear makes it easier to fish, but you don't need it all."Traditional sit-inside-kayaks (SIK) are fine for kayak fishing. But many anglers enjoy a sit-on-top (SOT) model where they can be seated with outstretched legs or dangle them over the sides. The open deck allows greater mobility and access to equipment. But SIKs are easier to paddle."You can actually stand up on my SOT," he says. "It's that stable."Kayaks can come fully rigged with rod holders and other accoutrêments or you can set them up yourself."You really can do whatever kind of fishing you want," he says. "I like to set up my own boat. It just depends on what you like."Gear BoxReady to set up your own SOT? Consider starting with the stable Perception Search 13.0, a boat with decent storage ($829).For a rod holder, try Scotty's Bait Caster/Spinny Rod holders ($20).Finally found the spot, but don't want to be blown away by the wind or current? Get anchored with the Seattle Sports Kayak Fishing Anchor Kit ($31.95) that installs to a kayak with deck rigging.For those looking for a rigged kayak, the Wilderness Systems Ride 135 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak ($1,029) features a pontoon-style hull, comfortable seating, ample storage, Scotty deck mounted rod holder and a pair of flush mounted holders behind the seat.Expert AdviceLicensed New Hampshire fishing guide Mike Ivone owns Barn Door Gap Adventures (www.kayakfishnh.com) in Center Barnstead. A lifetime angler and New Hampshire Guides Association member, he's led freshwater and saltwater kayak fishing tours for six years and teaches through New Hampshire Fish and Game's Let's Go Fishing program.How is fishing from a kayak different than from other watercraft? You can get into places you can't with bigger boats. If you are going for stripers, you can paddle into these tidal creeks. The same with bass fishing in freshwater. You can get into some places with cover. I like the peace and quiet. You can get into the same places as you can with a canoe but a kayak is more stable.Do I need a special kayak or can I just use the one I've had for a few years? You can fish out of whatever you have. A kayak is a pretty stable platform. You need a way to hold the rod, plain and simple. That's where trolling comes into play. Paddling speed is almost trolling speed. You can grab your fishing rod, small kreel and go. But having a rod holder is good so as not to get in the way when paddling. You can set up your boat yourself. Everybody's different.What about kayaks specially for fishing? Go to a kayak shop where somebody knows something and you can try them. Be comfortable. I like SOTs, sit on tops. They are easier to fish from, get in and out and to move around in. They have more storage and are comfortable. They can come fully-loaded with rod holders, storage, a depth finder and GPS. A lot of people are also interested in setting up the boat themselves. I recommend people set up their own boats. I have an anchor trolley and compass, too.Are their any challenges to spin casting? You might want to set up with a longer rod. If I'm sitting on my kayak, I don't want the fish to go under the boat. If you have a 12-foot boat and have seven feet in front of you with a four or five foot rod, the fish goes underneath. I want to be able to use that rod and reach around the front.What about fly-fishing? The process is entirely different in a kayak than standing. The mechanics are different and it takes practice getting used to it. You don't have the same room. When I'm fly-casting I take everything off the boat and put a cloth on my lap. You don't want the fly getting tangled in anything.Where do I keep the fish I've caught? I throw most fish back. In a fishing kayak, the sit-on-tops, there is storage in the back. I keep a small cooler there.How many lines can I fish? Two. But I take several all set up and swap them out. I might use one for trolling, one with bait, another with a popper.
This article appears in the September 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine