Have kayak, will travel
Donít leave the paddle boat behind
King mackerel can be caught just outside of the second sandbar off the beaches of the Gulf Coast, as Marty Mood proved.
Some of the alluring aspects of kayak fishing are that it is relatively inexpensive and you have the ability to ply waters near one’s home area. Of course, we know that there really is no better place to fish than in Louisiana.
However, if you find you’re going to travel for fun, or even business, you should consider taking your ’yak with you.†
Kayaks are easy to transport, and can accompany you wherever you travel. If you can’t bring your kayak along, chances are you can locate a rental or even a loaner wherever your travels take you. You never know when you’ll have a little down time that would be perfect for a kayak fishing trip.
If you’re driving to your destination, your kayak on top of the vehicle will go wherever you go. Strap it and lock it, and it will be ready and waiting. If flying, look up a local shop or kayak club, and surely you will find availability of a kayak and perhaps even a fishing buddy to explore the local waters.
Do your scouting electronically. Google earth will give you a bird’s-ye view of marinas, launch spots and features of area waters. Local kayak Web forums and state game agencies are readily available on the Internet. Regularly, we see posts on LouisianaSportsman.com from out-of-state ’yakers looking for local fishing information. You can do the same for whatever state you may be traveling to.
These electronic resources will save you time and give you a head start in preparing to fish unfamiliar waters.
All the information you need regarding regulations, necessary gear and hot-spots are a few clicks away. You’ll be able to experience kayak fishing in a locale you might never visit again and, as in my case, some you will now return to regularly.†
A prime example is the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast. Thousands of Louisiana families travel to these beaches each summer. While Louisiana offers no significant offshore kayak fishing without the necessity of a mothership, over there you can paddle out a short distance from the beach and perhaps find a fish of a lifetime.
King and Spanish mackerel are regularly caught close enough to the beach to talk to the sunbathers. A little farther out, snapper, trigger, cobia and bonito are a regular occurrence. While not an everyday catch, blackfin tuna, tarpon, sailfish and even wahoo are caught regularly enough to make them real possibilities.
If staying on the beach, you can usually get in a few hours of fishing before the rest of the family even wakes up. Strip your kayak down and it will double as a great beach toy (and also help obtain “home office” approval to bring it along).†
Of course, you will have to pick your days. Launching from the beach can be tricky if the surf’s up. However, find a day with minimal surf and it’s game on.
Trolling is one of the easiest methods to hook up with some offshore beasts. A simple wire “stinger rig” hooked to a dead cigar minnow slow-towed 30 yards behind the yak will attract almost anything that swims. If you see active bait pods or birds working, heavy duty topwater baits or large spoons will usually draw a strike.
Much to the blissful ignorance of nearby swimmers, large sharks also prowl all along the beach. If you’re inexperienced handling these dangerous creatures, it’s best to enjoy the fight and then cut your line.
Bottom-fishing can be productive, but takes a little more effort and intel. The Gulf bottom is mostly featureless like the beach; dropping down willy-nilly will be like fishing in an empty aquarium. However, get on a good bottom spot and it will be hard not to catch something.
Any structure will attract and hold fish. Such structure can be anything from natural or man-made reefs, holes, sunken vessels, riprap, etc. While there are plenty of public “numbers” available, the lesser-known private spots are generally kept secret by the locals. Get a local map that includes GPS coordinates, and you can easily locate some productive spots.
It will take electronics to find these bottom-fishing hotspots. The GPS will get you near the area, but it will take a good bottom machine to pinpoint exactly where the structure is and where the fish are holding in relation to the structure. Send down a jig, live or dead bait and the possibilities are endless. Red snapper and other bottom dwellers are found as close as a half mile out and as shallow as 45 feet.
Certainly offshore is not your only option if traveling near the coast. Interior bays are more protected from the wind and offer the common saltwater species found here in Louisiana. Bring a small assortment of your favorite lures and check with local tackle shops to get some recommendations for popular local baits and hotspots in that particular area.
Nearly anywhere you travel will have areas where you can find freshwater fishing. Throw your ’yak in a local pond, lake or small river, and you can have a great travel-fishing experience. Locations to bass fish out of a kayak are virtually endless.†
Learn to travel light and there’s no reason to leave your kayak at home when heading out on the road. If you can’t take it along, rent one or make a new friend on a local ’yak fishing forum who may loan you one. You’ll get to explore new locations, meet new people and — most of all — chalk up new ’yak-fishing experiences.
Like I always say, “Have ’yak, will travel!”†
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Louisiana Sportsman is the information guide for Louisiana's most active hunters and fishermen.
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