Saltwater Kayak Fishing: Prepare Well and Enjoy!

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Many of the tips you can follow to make your saltwater kayak fishing successful will be helpful to the experienced fisherman, just as they will help the newbies.

If you’ve used a kayak for fishing or outdoor recreation for any length of time, you’ll probably understand when someone calls you a Yaker.

So, with these two ideas in mind, you can make use of the following tips for saltwater kayak fishing success, whether you’re a so-called beginning yaker or a veteran of the sport.

The first thing you should remember, especially if you’re new to fishing from a kayak, is you’re not in a boat.

The second thing you should remember is that you’re going to be fishing in saltwater, which can introduce a whole new set of challenges, even for the experienced kayak fisherman.

So, pay close attention to the following tips from some of the veterans.

Saltwater Kayak Fishing Tips

1. Equipment

Save yourself some stress and time by purchasing a kayak designed for fishing. This equipment will have rod holders, gear attachment locations, and so on. Saltwater fishing will probably go more smoothly if you use a sit-on-top kayak, because they’re better for carrying gear. In addition, beginners will find this design is less expensive than a kayak you sit in. You should definitely try a kayak of the type you’re going to use, before making your first trip onto open water.

Is color important when purchasing your watercraft? Yes, because you want to have a color that makes you visible when on the sea. Most veterans will recommend yellow, orange, or red. It’s best to stay away from white and grey, which can be invisible in choppy water.

Let’s say you’ve chosen your kayak from the list of the top five fishing kayaks available. If you haven’t tried it out, don’t expect to go out on the saltwater fully loaded with fishing equipment and have the most enjoyable time of your life. Get used to your watercraft first, in calm, controlled conditions. If you’ve gone as far as making a trial run or two, you probably already have a paddle you like. But, when you’re starting out you may find the beginner’s paddle you bought to save money isn’t doing the job.

The first equipment tip has to do with the paddle. Don’t buy the cheapest one you can find. If you do, you’ll be struggling with moving about and will eventually get frustrated. A good paddle can be the difference between wearing yourself out or covering plenty of surface while you’re on the water. Get a good kayak but not necessarily the best one at first. However, you should look at a good paddle as a wise investment.

The key benefits are efficiency, with little or no wasted motion, and speed. You’re certainly not in a race when you go out to fish on saltwater, but you will move more quickly without fatigue if you have a quality paddle.

2. More Equipment

When you head out onto the water with a good kayak and a great paddle, you’re probably ready for some recreation. But, without the correct fishing gear you won’t go much beyond a leisurely, afternoon paddle. So, make sure you have the right gear for handling fish. Have a good pair of gloves. This is a must for every kayak fisherman. If you’re going to handle fish, you must protect your hands.

In addition, you have to consider what you’ll do if you catch a fish. How will you remove the lure and hook from the fish’s mouth? With a handy set of pliers, that’s how. If you get needle-nose pliers with a cutter at the base of the nose, you’ll also have what you need to cut line. If you use a common set of pliers, you’ll need a simple nail clipper to snip the line.

You should also invest in a stout net to haul those monsters in, and you should have a stringer to keep the fish that will be taken home. Coolers or live wells don’t seem to work very well with a kayak!!!

3. Safety First

It would be accurate to name this tip “even more equipment,” but this type of gear is meant to keep you safe and healthy during your saltwater fishing expedition. The size of your kayak and the available storage area will determine what you can carry, of course. But you should never be on the water with a life vest or personal flotation device. You’ve read about the importance of gloves, which are strongly suggested for handling fish and for other emergency situations.

You should also have a basic first aid kit so you can deal with cuts, scrapes, being finned, and so on. To make sure you don’t lose your valuable equipment, you should have a leash for your paddle, a whistle or some other item to attract attention when you’re in trouble. You might also want to carry a pocket knife to cut line that gets wrapped or for other emergencies. The best bit of advice here is: Don’t go out alone until you are experienced.

4. Planning and Information

If you have all the items already mentioned, from the kayak and paddle to the fish handling equipment, you’re ready to take to the saltwater, right? Well, maybe not just yet. You should have some type of plan for where you’ll be, where you will be headed, and when you’ll return. This information should be provided to someone at home or on shore, especially if you’re going alone!

In addition to the wisdom of letting someone know where you’ll be, and when you’ll return, it’s important for the kayak fisherman to have a fishing plan. This can be crucial when you’re trying to catch fish in open water. Veteran fishermen have a plan such as this, whether they fish on the water or from the shore. Taking a wild guess and hoping you’re right is no way to find success.

Take some time to read and/or listen to local and area fishing reports. Have some idea which baits and locations are best, so you don’t carry too much and don’t waste time catching no fish. If you don’t understand how this type of planning works, stroll out on a pier extending into the ocean and look closely at what the fishermen have with them. They know which fish are hitting, which are in the area, and which bait is most likely to bring them in.

5. Tides – More Planning and Information

Speaking of being prepared and knowing your conditions, you should always learn about the tides. You can use this information to improve your chances of fishing success. Veterans saltwater fishermen will know what time the tide turns, what the range is for the day you’ll be fishing, and so on. Use the tide tables for your area and plan your fishing trip accordingly. You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to head in and your trip gets help from the tide!

6. Health and Safety

An earlier tip about safety was primarily about equipment, but this one is about your personal health and protection. When you’re on the open water, you must provide protection from the UV rays of the sun. Don’t allow sunburn to ruin what could be a perfectly wonderful adventure. Wear a hat with a flat brim and take along sun-protection in the form of lotion or cream.

Other items that should be on your “health-and-safety” list are:

  • Supply of drinking water and/or Gatorade
  • Bug spray
  • Clothing, including shirt to protect your arms and pants to protect your legs
  • Rain gear – even the minimum, such as a poncho would be wise
  • Polarized sunglasses

One of the most important preparations you can make involves knowing what the weather might do while you’re out on the water. Get the local weather forecast before leaving home, always. You should also take a VHF radio unit so you can get information as you fish. It’s also a great idea to keep a small part of your attention on the weather, unless conditions are absolutely perfect. Don’t get so caught up in fishing that you put yourself at risk.

7. Take Care of Your Equipment

This might seem to be a “silly” tip to include, but nearly everyone is less careful of their equipment as times goes on. It’s tempting to believe you can handle your kayak, paddle, fishing gear, etc. with ease and give the process of loading and unloading no particular attention. But, you can keep your kayak in better shape, for a longer period of time, by using a trolley or some other piece of equipment to move your watercraft around on shore. This will prevent constant damage to the underside.

Always use the carrying points on your kayak when lifting and moving, and you should also use ratchet straps to secure the kayak to your vehicle. Don’t over-tighten those straps!

8. Storage

Several veterans of kayak fishing urge the beginner to start using a storage crate immediately and continue to use it on every outing. A plastic crate like those used for milk will be just fine, though you can probably purchase a container if you can’t locate a milk crate. It’s better not to have a storage box with solid sides. A milk crate will allow water to drain out, which is much more important than you can imagine (until it happens). In fact, you can actually purchase this type of storage crate from a kayak-supply source.


Rather than devote space to some ideas that aren’t tips so much as they’re suggestions, here are some of those additional “tips” you might use when engaged in saltwater kayak fishing.

If you want to take photos, make sure you have a waterproof camera and a mount that frees your hands. You might also want to strap on a push pole or stick to help you get out of tight situations. This might be of more use in freshwater ponds and lakes, but you may go after fish in shallow water and under some vegetation.

Fishing in saltwater from a kayak can be very enjoyable, but you must take all the precautions mentioned and be well prepared. In fact, correct safety precautions should always be at the top of your priority list. If you fish from your kayak on a consistent basis, something unusual will probably happen. Be sure you can get in touch with someone if you are delayed or stuck somewhere. Don’t get yourself into a situation requiring the coast guard to rescue you.

Veteran saltwater fishermen will always have a VHF radio (waterproof, hand-held) and will know all the details about using it. Remember, if you prepare well and make smart decisions, saltwater kayak fishing can be one of the most rewarding, and exciting, pastimes you’ll ever know.

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Sammy Garrard

I am the Founder and Chief Editor of and a prepper with over 15 years of experience. I’m excited to my knowledge and the things I learn while travelling in British Columbia, Canada where I live and around the world. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, Facebook!

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