A while back, helping at the Fishing Tackle Unlimited booth during the Houston Fishing Show, it came up during conversation that TSFMag was looking for somebody to take over their monthly kayak column. Camille Null was kind enough to accompany me to their booth a couple aisles away and introduce me to the editor, Everett Johnson. We had a discussion of what the position entailed and, well, the rest is history. It seems like yesterday but in reality, the May 2018 issue will mark three years of me writing for the magazine. I remember my first article - Why I Kayak Fish - and at the time I figured it would be a simple topic to cover, much like the sport we love.
A lot has changed in the sport of kayak fishing since then. Not just the rapid evolution of the kayaks we fish from, but I have also noticed sweeping changes in fishing techniques since the first day I slid a kayak into the water.
My personal fishing habits have also changed greatly through the years. I have been fortunate to be able to also purchase a skiff, and it also gets used fairly often. And though the skiff has certain advantages, I still find time to take my Jackson Cuda to the marsh. My friends evidently see it differently as they often ask, “Now that you own a skiff, why are you still fishing from a kayak?”
The answer is really quite simple: Kayak fishing provides a unique opportunity and experience that cannot be duplicated.
Fishing from a kayak provides advantages that are just not available to boat fisherman. As anglers, we know that a kayak can access waters that boats can never get to. And, once we’re there, I honestly believe one of the greatest advantages is what I call being able to fish an area properly. By that I mean we routinely position our kayaks along a bank or shoreline and make casts parallel to it. Any fish cruising or feeding there is going to notice our lure. Whether they eat it is another question.
When fishing from a boat, the majority of your casts can only be made in a somewhat perpendicular fashion to the bank. So, which method is more likely to draw a strike – the one where the lure is pulled through the most target-rich zone during the full length of the retrieve, or the one that is quickly pulled away from that zone? It should be no surprise that I catch 2x to 3x more fish from my kayak than my boat.
Along with fishing an area properly, another great advantage of the kayak is the ability to navigate promising waters in stealthy fashion. Unless you have done it, it is impossible to explain the rush you get when vertically jigging a 30-inch redfish right beside the kayak!
Or a school of reds swimming toward you and passing directly underneath. I have had them bump into my kayak and even been splashed a couple of times.
And the ability to view the other creatures of the marsh thriving in their habitat. I have seen coyotes, pigs, gators, bobcats, otters and more. Every bit of nature is exciting to observe behaving naturally in their environment. I honestly believe I would not have been able to experience as much of this if not in my kayak.
Another great aspect of kayak fishing that keeps me coming back is the kayak community itself. I consider myself fortunate to have met and made the acquaintance of great people from Texas and others from across the country. Each of them has the same enthusiasm as the next when it comes to kayak fishing. Several have invited me for a visit and offered the chance to experience the fishing in their world. Reaching out later, they were kind enough to give me a place to sleep, feed me and put me on some fish. That kind of hospitality is nearly unheard of in some circles but common in the kayak community.
I also have made friends here locally. If not for kayak fishing, these associations between anglers would likely not have happened. I never thought that a fishing sport could connect people in this way. Hell, I met one of my best friends and tournament partner during a chance encounter at the boat ramp one morning. I hope to continue to make friends and meet new people in the kayak community.
As time keeps ticking away, none of us are getting any younger. To some I am old, but to most I am still young – even if I don’t always feel it. A majority of my physical activity comes from this sport and if it was not for that, I doubt I would be as healthy. I have paddled alongside people old enough to be my grandfather, and they kept up all day. Seeing this makes me a firm believer that if you want to live a long life, kayaking is a great way to keep you going!
The other part of it all is that kayaking creates an excellent way for me to get away from the daily headaches we must all put up with. Fishing is not my main job but it is always a great escape from the other realities. One of my favorite things about kayaking is that you are not going anywhere fast. You are forced to take it easy, observe your surroundings and just slow down. I look at it as a way to step off the hamster wheel and get out of the rat race for a day.
That being said, all these factors add up to reasons that keep me coming back. I have been kayaking ten years now and it has led to a life I only dreamed of. When I get on the water, I have learned to appreciate the little things; sunrises and sunsets, surrounded by nature, and people you enjoy sharing the outdoors with.I have said it before and I will continue to say it and live by it – catching fish is merely a bonus. Get on the water and enjoy life.