Traveling Kayak Fisherman E-mail
Thursday, 22 April 2010 04:23

As I prepare for an upcoming kayak fishing trip and make some last minute decisions. I have to decide on what items are going to be needed and what items are just going to be along for the ride.  To help me I think back to some other kayak fishing adventures I have been lucky enough to experience and use some of this info to come up with a plan that will maximize the gear I’m bringing.  Hopefully this will keep me from paying any extra baggage charges.

Whether you are planning a trip where your focus is on kayak fishing or you’re just hoping to sneak away from your spouse and kids for a quick foray on a resort kayak you have to consider taking some gear to make the experience more enjoyable.

Nice bonefish caught on flat with kayaks

Unless you are traveling with an inflatable kayak you will be stuck using the kayaks that your destination has and that is pretty much it.  Even though they might not be rigged and tweaked like your yak at home, you can, with some planning make them very fishable.  Of course, there is a difference to how to approach this based on the purpose of your trip.  If you are traveling to a destination and will be there primarily to kayak fish, then you will want to take gear you need to make your fishing productive. If you are just doing a trip with the hope of maybe renting a kayak and getting out for few hours, you’re better off simplifying but still taking a few key items to make time on the water more comfortable. Here are some ideas and considerations for making a kayak fishing trip more productive.

Seats: Whether you’re renting a kayak from a shop, using the resorts kayak or some other means, you will find that if there is a seat on the kayak.  Usually it’ll be pretty basic. The easiest way to make sure you fish in comfort is to bring your own seat – this maybe a hassle to pack in your luggage but trust me it can make all the difference on the water. One time while in Costa Rica I found a kayak to rent but it had no seat at all and even though I had some amazing fishing paddling out to the shrimp boats, the day would have much more enjoyable if the kayak had any seat. Another alternative to bringing a full seat would be to just pack a seat cushion - an inflatable cushion is easy to pack and if you are going to be using a kayak with any basic seat it will help a lot.

gts fishing seat

Tip: You will find many resorts use the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 tandem kayak; this is a tandem kayak but can easily be converted into a single by using the center seat setup that’s incorporated into the kayak.  It is not the fastest kayak but for short paddles it’ll do the trick just fine. It has lots of room to lay down rods or take along plenty of gear. Of course it works great for 2 paddlers and we’ve used it for sight fishing with the front person standing while the other navigates.

Standing with Ocean Kayak Malibu 2

Paddles: Most paddles that are part of a kayak rental or a resorts fleet will be pretty basic and in some cases unusable. I once had to fix a paddle with a piece of wood and some duck tape in order to use a rental kayak in Costa Rica. Another time the paddle was just a chute of bamboo with some round pieces of plywood on each end. With air travel these days, addition baggage restriction and extra charges it’s not easy to make a paddle part of your luggage but there are a couple options here. There are some 4-piece paddles on the market that will fit nicely in your bag and if your trip is going to involve lots of paddling time it is something to think about.  An alternative is to get a paddle bag and bring it as part of your carry on luggage.

Rod Holders: You might be lucky and the kayak you’re going to use will have a rod holder but there is a chance it won’t.  If this is the case you can still fish by just laying the rod between your legs but trolling will be a bit more complicated. Some kayaks have larger scupper holes in the tank well area and you can stick the rod in there for trolling and it works pretty well.  If you do so I suggest tethering the outfit with a leash. A better option would be to take a seat along that has built in rod holders.  This one item will take care of your seat and rod holder.

PFD’s: This can be a real headache to travel with, as it will take up at lot of room.  You can bet the PFD’s offered at the resort or where you are renting a kayak will be pretty basic but if that’s all you have - you will have to use it. I have been using a Stearns Inflatable Fishing Vest for a couple years now and it packs easily and doubles as storage because of it’s large pocket. sterns-vest

Transport: If you are planning on doing some exploration and you want to take a kayak to a different location, you will have to pack some items to help you transport the yak on a vehicle.  If renting a vehicle, you should inquire about a car or SUV with luggage racks as this will make fastening a kayak mush easier. Packing a couple buckle or ratchet straps will make this task much easier, also 20’ of some strong ¼” cord will be a big help. On one trip I rented a kayak and then hired a taxi to transport it to a prime fishing location a couple miles away.  He just threw it on his roof, tied it off with no pads or anything and off we went.

Getting ready to explore island

You might also consider bringing a car top carrier kit, which uses pads and integrated straps to act as rack for any vehicle.

Tip:  Learning to tie a truckers knot in rope will be a big help in tying down a kayak.

Miscellaneous Items: There are a few things I always pack when I do a trip and anticipate doing some kayaking. I always take along a large dry bag in which I can toss extra clothes and other gear I need to keep dry. There are also some safety items I always have; a whistle, small compass and a signal mirror. Remember, you are in unfamiliar waters and in some places that might not have a lot of boat traffic so be very careful when venturing out too far.

An anchor could be very important if you plan on using your kayak to access flats and then wade fish. For most instances on flats a 1½ lbs. anchor will do the track but be sure to keep a watchful eye on your kayak to make sure it holds before you wade off to far.

Tip: If you don’t have an anchor and you want to wade fish a flat, you can usually drive the paddle into the bottom enough to hold, and then just use your paddle leash (another must have item travel item) to tie the kayak to the bow or stern.

Any fishing trip you go on you should have a good pair of pliers that can also cut line. Anywhere you fish you can encounter some nasty toothy critters and having a lip gripper tool will make life much easier when dealing with them on the kayak. Toothy Machaca caught off the Nic Border

Rod and Reels: Fishing rods can be a very complicated item to travel with; rod tubes are usually regarded as oversized items and can incur extra charges. I have an assortment of Temple Fork travel rods of 3 and 4 piece that has served me very well over the years. I even have couple of them I like so much I use them even when not traveling. 3-piece 7’ rod breaks down to 28” and can easily fit in most bags. As far are reels just make sure that it is in good working order, the last thing you want is something to fail you at the worst possible time.

Final Thoughts: Exploring new waters with a kayak can be exciting and rewarding with some planning and a bit of an adventurous spirit.  With a little work you can usually find fish. Before you go try to find nautical charts for the area you’ll be fishing.  Google Earth is a good place to start once you know your destination and will give you an overview of what’s there.   I have experienced excellent fishing using the hotels kayak in the area near the facility.

Even if an upcoming vacation is not slated for fishing, you should research the options and check out the area to see if you can take your kayak fishing skills and put them to work in a far away location. Have Fun!

 

 

 

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