South Louisiana offers great duck hunting and saltwater fishing during the late fall and early winter. Many kayakers love pursuing both, but it’s often difficult to choose.
The good news — you don’t have to.
Blast and cast trips, popular with many commercial guides, can also be done with a kayak. You can make a duck hunt in the morning, and then switch gears to chase trout and reds in the afternoon.
Besides the simple fact of being twice as much fun, combining trips is generally more economical and a time saver.
The logistics are easily accomplished. Although evening duck hunting is allowed in many places, most hunters prefer morning hunts, where they find themselves set up well before dawn, waiting on sunrise and the early flights of ducks.
A lot of duck hunters also prefer morning hunts because it allows the ducks in their hunting areas to rest and feed unmolested during the evenings.
With less disturbance and hunting pressure, the ducks are apt to remain in the area.
Unlike during the summer, when fishermen prefer fishing early mornings to escape the heat of the day, there’s no need for early trips during the winter.
Besides, wintertime fishing generally gets better as the day’s sun warms the water temperature a few degrees and makes the fish more active.
This perfect synergy of early morning duck hunting and afternoon fishing bodes well for kayak fishermen and allows them to take advantage of prime times for both.
Be it a kayak, pirogue or canoe, paddle craft users can easily take in some great waterfowl hunting and fishing all in the same day.
Thankfully, fish and ducks inhabit a lot of the same areas, so combining trips to make a full day of pursuing both can easily be accomplished.
Kayaks make a great platform for both pursuits.
Shallow draft and stability allow for safe shooting and reaching shallow areas during winter’s low tides.
During the winter, trout move into the marsh and into their winter patterns. Redfish will also be in the same areas.
So when the shooting is over, shift gears and break out the rod and reel.
While most waters are open to the public for fishing, most duck-hunting takes place on privately owned land or leases or publicly accessible management areas. However, many wildlife management areas and federal refuges offer both waterfowl hunting and fishing opportunities.
Most of these public hunting areas do not allow permanent duck blinds and all hunting locations are first come, first served. Many kayakers have designed improvised boat blinds to keep them hidden from the ducks.
If not, pulling the kayak into the grass and covering it with some camouflage burlap makes a great low-profile hunting blind.
Some areas like the Pointe-aux Chenes WMA even have motor-free areas that are only open to those using paddle craft.
Plan your trip to bring as little gear as possible. There’s really no need for two sets of clothes. Duck hunting requires camouflage, but there’s no reason why you can’t wear the same clothes for fishing.
Just plan for the weather and dress in appropriate layers to account for the changes in temperature between the morning and evening.
If you’re planning a do-it-yourself combination trip, a reduction in what you normally take along on a single-pursuit outing is necessary. Your ’yak will get pretty crowded if you bring a full load of your usual items.
So plan to take only what’s absolutely necessary to have successful duck hunt and fishing trips.
No need for a full tackle box or arsenal of rods and reels. Leave all the extra stuff you usually take along “just-in-case” but more often than not, never use.
Pare down to a handful of your favorite lures and one rod and reel combo.
On the hunting side, consider bringing just a couple of decoys, doing without the robo-duck for a day and leaving other items home that are not necessary.
The goal is to bring only what you absolutely need to ensure a productive trip.
If you have a safe parking place or access to a camp, consider returning to your vehicle after the duck hunt, and locking your decoys and other hunting equipment inside to make more room in the yak for fishing. Likewise, you can leave your fishing gear in the vehicle while you’re making the morning duck hunt.
However, it’s never advisable to leave your guns where they might be susceptible to theft. If you have to keep your gun with you for the fishing part of the adventure, invest in a waterproof, floating gun case. Make sure to tie it off along the sides of the kayak to keep it from falling in.
Not all kayakers are both duck hunters and fishermen. However, for those that are, a blast and cast trip offers a new level of excitement that can be had by combining your trips. With just a little extra preparation and planning, you can shoot and catch the makings of a surf-and-sky dinner all in one exciting adventure.