You’re working your favorite striped bass area and although the weather is good, the action is slow. The fish aren’t biting, the ice in your cooler has melted, and your fishing buddies won’t stop knocking you for your poor choice in fishing area.
Two guys in kayaks glide by. Off the aft deck of each kayak lies a milk crate festooned with any number of saltwater fishing rods: spincast rod, baitcasting rod, boat rod. One guy has a fillet knife jammed into a block of closed-cell foam. These guys stop paddling a moment; drifting calmly, each jabs a worm onto a hook, pays about 20 yards of line, drops the rod-butt into a rod-holder, and begins trolling, his rod jutting forward over the foredeck like the proboscide schnoze of a mosquito.
You and your pals watch. These fellows work the tight structures of the nearby rocky shoreline like surveyors walking a property line, poking and probing into nooks, crannies, corners, pulling up striped bass, their rod tips bending over, their reels repeatedly singing that proud and self-important little squeal.
Truth is, come time for trolling for striped bass and other inshore pelagics, and getting some exercise at the same time, a kayak, and kayak fishing, are a good choice.
Kayak Is a Inexpensive Choice for Fishing
Coastal piscatorial types in pursuit of striped bass, largemouth bass, lake trout, bluefish, bonito, red drum, etc., might consider renting or buying and fitting out one of these small and maneuverable, reasonably seaworthy boats.
No longer so unusual, the once rarely seen fishing kayak is proving to be a good fishing boat: inexpensive, sea-worthy, easy to transport and with a robust used-boat resale market once you outgrow your first kayak.
Their effectiveness of a kayak for saltwater and freshwater fishing is due to a combination of seaworthiness, shallow draft, portability, small size. Seaworthy enough to handle chop and moderate winds, small enough to fit on the car roof or in the basement, easy to carry, the boats are versatile. In structured shallows, they can pick their way nimbly among stretches of shoreline where a three-horse tin skiff would sand barnacles with its strakeboards.
Kayaks are fast, silent boats, developed hundreds of years ago and yet popular as a worthy recreational outlet.
Yet there were (and still are) used to hunt down and lug or tow home walruses and seals by hunters above the Arctic Circle.
Easily paddled at the low speeds optimal for saltwater and freshwater fish trolling, kayaks are good inshore fishing boat: their draft is minuscule yet they are stable; they can be paddled with little effort at speeds good for slow trolling. Yet they can be ramped up to high speeds for fast trips home, especially if you choose a traditional sea kayak over the current crop of smaller, heavier, slower kayaks designed and built especially for kayak fishing.
Sea Kayak a Better Choice than the Sit-on-top Variety
Eschew the sit-on-top style kayak favored by most saltwater fishermen, and choose a sea kayak instead, and you can pack enough gear to camp out on an offshore to island for a month or more.
Best of all, kayaks can be poked, probed, and brought gliding smoothly into the tightest nook of along shore, to nose up to docks, pilings, stony rocky outcroppings, and into shallows or pools too tight to reach by motorized skiff or on foot from the shore. As easily moved sideways with simple draw strokes as paddled backwards or forwards, kayaks are highly maneuverable and need less than half a boat length to turn around.
Here are a few tips. With a forward deck rod-holder to keep the rod tip in front of you for strike viewing, your trolled line will remain out of the way so you can paddle and yet still hold your line at an appropriate trolling depth behind you. The advantage of trolling from these sea-going boats includes enjoying the view as you ghost along.
For the fisherman, paddling throughout the course of an afternoon can lead to productive trolling and a pleasant diversion if the fish aren’t responding; the kayaker, trolling from one spot to another for the afternoon, has diversion enough paddling the coastline.