If you feel limited by shore fishing or you are intimidated by the expense and hassle of owning a motor boat, then a kayak may be right for you. After many years of fishing from kayaks, I have come to appreciate the benefits they offer. Here are 7 reasons why your next gear purchase should be a kayak.
1. Affordable and customizable
There is no denying that a motor boat is a money pit. Certainly they have their place. You are unlikely to go tuna fishing 40 miles off the pacific coast in a kayak. However, if you are unwilling to shell out thousands of dollars for a fishing boat, then a kayak is the perfect compromise.
Kayaks are now sold at most sporting goods and large retail stores like Walmart. For under $200, you can get a basic kayak paddle and life vest. Getting out on the water has never been cheaper.
Want more customization? You can fully outfit most kayaks with pole holders, tackle storage and even anchor systems. Even fully loaded kayaks, specific for hard core anglers, can be bought for less than $800.
Don’t forget about maintenance. A motor boat will require engine servicing and fuel. And in most states, there are annual licensing and title fees for both the boat and trailer. Kayaks do not have these hidden costs. The molded polyethylene hull of a kayak handles abuse and does not need costly servicing. In most states and jurisdictions, a kayak powered by a person does not need a title or license.
Regardless of your budget, a kayak is the perfect way to start fishing your local lakes without breaking the bank.
2. Easy transport and storage
Any vehicle with a roof rack is capable of transporting a kayak. Most basic kayaks weigh less than 50 pounds and are easily secured with a few straps and some rope. Add J-shaped kayak carriers to a roof rack and you can easily fit two kayaks on a small car. If you have a pickup truck with an open bed, kayak transport is even easier.
Upon arrival at your fishing destination, a kayak is a cinch to carry to the water. Kayaks on the lighter end of the weight spectrum can be carried by one person over the shoulder. If you have a fully loaded kayak with a day’s worth of gear, then two people or a kayak dolly will make the job easier.
The benefits of a kayak become most apparent when it comes time to store it. Few people have a place to park a large motor boat and trailer, but most people have space for a kayak. Even those living in apartments or condos could find a spot to store a kayak.
There are many kayak models less than ten feet in length. They can easily lie on their side against a wall or you can store them vertical in a garage. If floor space is limited, utilize the ceiling. A ceiling mounted kayak hoist will do the trick.
3. No boat launch needed
One of the biggest benefits of a kayak is the ability to launch from just about anywhere on shore. If the lake you want to fish does not have a designated boat launch, no problem. Just find a spot from shore where the water is deep enough to float the boat, step in, take a seat and push off. It’s that easy.
Most boat launches, at lakes or salt water locations, require a launch pass and fee. You will need to check the launch rules to see if kayaks are exempt from paying the fee. However, a kayak is portable. To avoid the launch fee, you have the option to park and launch elsewhere from shore.
You will really appreciate the convenience of a kayak at exceptionally crowded launches. While long lines of people with trucks and boat trailers are trying to sort out who goes first, you can slip past the jumbled mess to the water and start your day of fishing.
4. Perfect for stealth fishing
Fish can be finicky. They are easily spooked and nothing turns off a bite quite like the roar of an internal, combustion engine ripping up the calm morning water. Even if you think your boat motor is quiet, remember, sound is more intense under water.
A kayak, on the other hand, can gracefully glide along with a barely noticeable wake and the gentle stirring of water from the paddle is only audible as a soft gurgle.
Why is this important? It means that you can slip into fishing spots without alerting or spooking the fish, making catching fish in high pressure areas more likely.
Some styles of trolling are even possible in a kayak. It takes a little practice and a rod holder is required to have both hands free to paddle, but it is very effective and very quiet.
5. Go where other boats cannot
One of the most satisfying parts about using a kayak is being able to fish in places where conventional motor boats can’t go. The draft (the depth a boat sits beneath the surface) of a kayak is mere inches, compared to one or two feet for a typical small boat with a motor.
Some of my best fishing spots are where a narrow channel, rocky area or sand bar separates the main body of water from an isolated cove or lagoon. Conventional boats risk running aground, yet the kayak slips smoothly over the obstacles. Anytime an obstacle is too shallow even for a kayak, just carry it across.
A kayak is also perfect for small ponds and isolated lakes that don’t have dedicated boat launches.
6. Quick clean up
If you have ever owned a motor boat, you are surely aware of the post-use work required to clean the boat and motor, especially after a day in salt water. Salt water is corrosive to boat motors and fresh water must be flushed through water cooled systems. The trailer should also be washed since it is usually submerged while launching and loading the boat.
You get to skip this part with a kayak. It is still a good idea to hose off the outside surfaces and paddle when done for the day. This is more to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic life than it is to prevent corrosion, which can still be an issue if you have external fasteners exposed to the water.
After hosing off the outside, you can vacuum or wipe out any sand or dirt that finds its way inside the kayak as you step in and out repeatedly during the day.
Cleaning a kayak is really that easy. It takes less than 30 minutes and you are ready for your next trip.
7. Great exercise
A kayak is powered by muscle. It does not take a great deal of effort to move through the water, but you must do the work to make it go. Where a motorized boat can skim across a large lake in a few minutes, a kayak will take time and energy. While this definitely sounds like a drawback, it will benefit your health in the long run.
Try using this physical activity calculator, from the American Council on Exercise, to see how many calories you can burn while paddling to your fishing spot across the lake.
If you love going fishing and are looking to drop a few pounds while getting your upper body toned, then kayak fishing is the way to go.
Hopefully, you are now convinced that a kayak is no slouch when it comes to serious angling capabilities. Even if you already own a motorized fishing boat, a kayak could be the perfect backup. When your motor is in the shop for repair or you just don’t want the hassle of a big boat, grab the kayak instead and go explore new fishing opportunities.
Want a bit more boat but still need portability? Then don’t miss reading our review of 7 portable boats that fit in a truck bed.