Now’s the time to trick it out
An unseasonably warm winter saw many kayak fishermen in Louisiana enjoying an extended season without the need to bundle up and venture out on cold, blustery days. However, winter is not over and we’re sure to see more of those days where you might catch fish, but it really isn’t comfortable to be out in a kayak.
With the approaching spring weather, savvy ‘yakers will make use of these less-desirable fishing days and get their kayaks “pimped-out” and ready for action. While many kayak manufacturers now offer “angler” edition kayaks with lots of fisherman-friendly features, there’s a few must-have items that will make your kayak fishing trips more enjoyable and successful.
One item to add that you will likely use on almost every trip is an anchor trolley. Kayaks confine you to the cockpit area, and it’s nearly impossible to reach the bow or stern of the kayak in order to tie off an anchor rope. Oftentimes, tying the rope to the middle of the kayak will place the kayak in an awkward position and make fishing a precise spot difficult.
An anchor trolley is a simple system of thin rope, a couple of pulleys or carabiners and a stainless steel ring. Mounted to the front and rear of the kayak, the trolley allows you to set your anchor point at any position along the kayak. This will allow you to face up- or down-current as conditions dictate and also change your position without pulling up the anchor. The ring also allows you to use a stake-out pole instead of an anchor with the same positional advantages.
A simple Google search for “anchor trolley” will land you several sources to purchase pre-made trolleys, and many YouTube videos show you how to make and rig your own.
Are you tired of having tackle and gear spread around your kayak? A tackle crate will get you organized and make it easy to transport and store your fishing lures and accessories. Square plastic crates similar to those commonly referred to as “milk crates” are readily available at office supply stores or can be purchased from specialty kayak suppliers.
Easily modified, many ‘yakers add additional rod holders and small eyebolts that they can use for attaching rod and gear leashes. The crates can hold several utility-type tackle trays along with hook outs, lip grips and all those other items you just have to bring along. A couple of bungee cords will help anchor the crate to the kayak and keep it in place.
While kayaking is generally referred to as a minimalist sport, many anglers are opting to add high-tech accessories more commonly found on powerboats. Fishfinders and GPS units are becoming more common, and major electronics manufacturers are designing products specifically for the kayak fishing market.
GPS units have internal antennas, and there are specially-made transducer mounting kits to place a transducer safely inside the hull of your kayak.
Whether hand-held or fixed-mounted, GPS units are compact and offer kayakers the ability to track and plan their fishing trips. Many units have built in maps and make finding your way easy. By plotting coordinates from internet maps such as Google Earth or Bing, kayakers can figure distance and tell if an area is within their paddling range. Of course, marking those secret spots with waypoints allows you to return there with pinpoint accuracy.
Many may think that a fishfinder is an unnecessary expense for a kayak. However, they are an invaluable tool for reading bottom terrain and finding structure such as oyster reefs, drop-offs and other features that are known to attract fish. With many kayakers venturing into offshore waters, fishfinders also help locate bait and optimum depths for targeting specific species.
To save space, those wishing to have a GPS and fishfinder can choose from a variety of combination units. There’s no need to lug a heavy battery to power your electronic devices. Small 12-volt batteries weigh only a couple pounds and can power these units for several trips before recharging. There are also packs that hold eight AA batteries capable of lasting for a full day’s trip and beyond.
Another popular kayak add-on is additional rod holders. While most ‘yaks come with a couple of built in rod holders, you will likely find that adding one or two more will offer the ability to put your rods in a more convenient spot and make better use of fishing techniques such as trolling.
There is a wide variety of rod holders available and many offer the ability to adjust the height, angle and direction of the rod. Having a rod holder in “just the right place” will make your ‘yak fishing experience more enjoyable.
When adding accessories to your kayak, it’s best to take some time to make sure it is exactly where you want and need it. All too often, an accessory is mounted in what SEEMS like a good location, only to find out LATER that it interferes with your paddle stroke or regularly interferes with your casting or other normal activity. One great tip that was passed on to me is to take a Sharpie marking pen with you. When you figure out exactly where that fishfinder or other accessory can best be mounted on your ‘yak, you can mark the exact spot.
“Real estate” on a kayak is at a premium. You have limited space and want to make the best use of any accessories. By adding a few aftermarket items, you’ll make your kayak a better fishing machine and your trips more successful. Take advantage of cold days off the water to get your ‘yak pimped-out and ready for the great spring fishing that is just around the corner.