Baits, Lures, and Casting for Kayak Fishing:
I live in Kentucky. We don’t have salt water, and we have very few places to trout fish, so when I kayak fish, it’s usually for bass. There are plenty of bass lures out there and several types of live baits. Here are some of the ones that I have found work the best for kayak fishing.
In the last blog, I told you about keeping an essential tackle box with just what you needed in it. Lure’s hold a big advantage over live bait, because they save room and time. One of my favorite ways to target bass is topwater lures and frogs. This presentation is a blast out of a kayak. Kayaks let you get right into the heart of this cover. In thick slop, weeds will wrap around paddles limiting movement and making paddling more challenging than in open water, but the effort is worth it for the shot at a big bass. Once you get into the shallow stuff, a stealth approach is a must. Paddle slowly and glide in to avoid spooking the fish.
When casting topwaters, be prepared for strikes at anytime during the retrieve. It’s common for bass to hit a frog a few feet from the kayak, which happens much less often when I’m in my bass boat.
For frogging, I use a heavy-power baitcast outfit to help me reel the bass up and out of the thick cover. Sometimes dropping an anchor can prevent you from being pulled into the weeds when locked in a battle with a fish.
Spinnerbaits are always an excellent choice when bass fishing. What I like about the spinner is that due to its horizontal presentation, its perfectly suited for the low to the water seated position of kayakers. Another advantage to spinnerbaits is that they are a single hook lure. Whenever I can, I avoid treble hooks when kayak fishing, and if I do use them, I always try to net land fish. Sticking with a single hook helps reduce the chance of a boatside mishap with the kayak being so close to the water.
Softbaits catch a lot of largemouth, and there’s no reason you can’t fish them out of kayaks. In a light breeze, drifting in the kayak, soft worms and jigs are a deadly way to cover water and intercept active fish. You can also fan cast areas, which is good situation for swimbaits. When conditions are calm, casting wacky-rigged soft jerkbaits is deadly on bass out of any boat.
My secret on any lure or bait is a product called Liquid Mayhem. It is a fish attractant made with real baits and mixed into a gel that stays on your lure. A small tube is handy to take on your kayak and apply to lures and the fish love them.
Casting from a kayak can be somewhat challenging, as your movement in kayak is limited. Some suggest a shorter rod, as it is easier to carry on the boat as well as cast. While the short rod keeps all the action close to the kayak, it can be too short if a larger fish decides to run – as is often the case with most game fish. Unless your rod tip can be swung completely around the kayak, beyond bow and stern, a fish cutting right angle escape routes under your cockpit will take your rod with it. Swinging a complete circle around your kayak assures you of being able to keep control of your catch no matter where it runs, Practice side casting from your kayak, as it is the best method for jigging and casting near/under docks and brush close to the bank.
Test out a few lures and casting styles on your own to figure out what works best for you. Happy fishing!