For input on how to pick a kayak suitable for largemouth bass fishing, I turned to the Lafayette kayak guru John Williams, who with his wife Becky, owns Pack & Paddle in Lafayette.
He had some interesting insights.
No kayak maker specializes in making bass kayaks, but what makes a kayak effective for sight-fishing redfish also makes a kayak effective for bass fishing. For both species, stealth is a big deal, especially in the spring when bass are spawning in shallow water.
Kayaks allow bass fishermen to get behind pull-overs to fish waters that others can’t access. They also allow fishing in waters too shallow or too weedy for electric trolling motors to operate in.
Many kayaks make it easy for the angler to stand up. This allows better vision in some circumstances and also reduces fatigue. It is harder to get standing in a kayak than it is to stand up once erect, so older anglers may want to consider a stand-up bar that can be universally mounted on any kayak.
Think about the merits of a non-self-bailing kayak. They are lighter, but more importantly when fishing in lakes or reservoirs with stickups, such a staub lurking just below the water line can easily be run up into a self-bailing scupper hole, leaving the angler stranded.
“How do you get your kayak off the stickup in 15 feet of water,” he posed.
Williams suggested considering the possibility of purchasing a hybrid kayak — not a “sit inside” and not a “sit on top.” Discussing one’s options with a knowledgeable sales person at a specialty store is a better choice than speaking to a generalist at a big box store when considering what kayak to buy.
Also, a lot of bass people prefer foot-pedal kayaks, he noted. Pedaling increases a kayak’s range, which is important in places like Toledo Bend Reservoir. Pedaling rather than paddling also leaves both hands free to fish.
And in deep water where anchoring is difficult, a fisherman can use the pedals to keep his kayak in position, much like using a trolling motor.
Another useful option for bass fishing is an electronic fish finder that lets an angler see structure. There are ways, such as using a YakAttack CellBlok, to make them easy to mount in kayaks and also remove.