fishing kayak in water at sunrise

Kayak Fishing For Beginners | Winning Tips For Your Trip

Kayak fishing has seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years, and the reasons for this explosion in popularity make sense.

So, lets’ take a look at the benefits of fishing from a kayak and tips to help you make the most of your time on the water.

Surge In Kayak Fishing Popularity

One of the main reasons for the surge in anglers fishing from a kayak is affordability.

While top-of-the-line fishing kayaks can cost several thousand dollars, they are still far more affordable than even a small bass boat or multi-species fishing boat.

kayak fishing at dawn

Fishing kayaks can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for top-of-the-line models.

Another reason for this newfound popularity is mobility and accessibility.

Kayaks can be hauled by small trailers, by securing them to the roof of a vehicle, or in the box of a pickup truck. Anglers also do not need a large space to store a kayak compared to larger fishing vessels.

Being light and highly mobile, coupled with the fact that kayaks can go into very shallow water, means that anglers can access waterways that might not be accessible to large boats or do not have public boat ramps.

Kayaks made for fishing are a far cry from traditional kayak designs that most people are familiar with. Most fishing kayaks are built with wider beams, equating to better stability, allowing one to fish while comfortably standing.



Adaptability And Customization

Modern fishing kayaks also allow for high levels of customization, which translates to adaptability. This allows anglers to change their kayak setup based on water body type and target species.

Fishing kayaks allow for mounting GPS fish finders; some even have mounting options for trolling motor setups and battery compartments.

man holding bass in kayak

Kayaks allow for multiple options to fit your fishing situation, including baitwells, rod holders, storage areas, trolling motor mounts, etc.

There are also shallow anchor options similar to those used on bass boats today, consisting of stakes, so that you can anchor your kayak in shallow water environments despite wind and current.

Fishing kayaks also come with small baitwell options, multiple rod holder options, and ample storage to house everything an angler needs.


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Kayak Fishing For Beginners | Tips and Tactics

Now that we have taken a look at the reasons for the surge in popularity among anglers let’s now take a look at some fishing tips and tactics so you can learn how to fish from a kayak!



Pick The Right Days To Fish

Kayaks are light and small, making things difficult on windy days or on bodies of water with heavy currents.

Wind can make fishing very inefficient when done from a kayak, and you will likely struggle to hold a position on fish-holding spots, along with the kayak rotating and making it difficult to maintain position.



High waves due to wind can also be a safety concern, along with making it difficult to do any precision casting.

Try to pick the days you plan to fish by closely monitoring the weather forecast. This will not only allow you to enjoy your time on the water as everything is easier, but it will also help prevent accidents from occurring while kayak fishing.



Lure Selection

Lure selection for kayak fishing should be simple, with highly effective lure choices that combine search baits and finesse baits.

striped bass in kayak

Bring your confidence lures with you on your kayak fishing trip. Focus on lures that will allow you to cover the body of water you are fishing quickly.

Lures like spinnerbaits, topwater, inline spinners, and crankbaits are great for covering water quickly. In addition, lures like jigs, soft plastics, and jerkbaits are great for picking apart an area after you make contact with fish using search baits.

Your storage space in a kayak is a fraction of what it is in a fishing boat, so bring only the essential lures and your confidence lures that you know will work in most fishing conditions.



Pick a Few Rods

Having only one rod might seem like a good idea due to your small vessel, but it’s actually the opposite of a good idea for a one major reason.

Fishing with one rod means you will be tying on different lures while developing a pattern or searching for fish, and tying lures on all the time is much more tedious in a kayak.



Instead of using only one fishing rod, bring 3 to 4 rods with you, and have each one rigged up with a different lure type, such as a topwater, jig, spinnerbait, and crankbait.

Having multiple rods rigged for different conditions will make your time on the water incredibly efficient and allow you to focus more on fishing than tying lures on your line or digging for gear.



How To Land A Fish From A Kayak

Landing fish is quite different when done in a kayak, and you can’t just lean over willy-nilly to grab a fish.

two men fishing from kayak

Being on the water is a great experience, but you probably don’t want to go IN the water when kayak fishing, so use these tips when landing fish from a kayak..

When attempting to land a fish, you should make sure you reel the fish closer to your rod tip than you normally would, with the length of line equivalent to your arm’s length if you intend to hand-land the fish.

For mid-sized fish species like bass, pike, and walleye, a short-handled net might be the best approach, and there are some great nets out there today that cater to kayak fishing enthusiasts out there.

For larger fish like muskies or saltwater species, things can get very interesting when attempting to land the fish, and if a net isn’t possible, consider using a tool like a Boga grip.



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You will also want to have all release tools needed, such as needlenose pliers, jaw spreaders, and hook cutters, within reach at all times to make the release of the fish quick and safe.



Safety First

When fishing from a kayak, a life preserver should be non-negotiable. Life preservers today are far from the bulky and uncomfortable life jackets of decades passed, so wearing one is a non-issue.

It would also be wise to let a friend of family member know where you plan a kayak fishing trip, and when you plan on getting home.

A First aid kit and signaling tool like a flare gun are also good ideas, mainly when fishing far from shore, or when saltwater fishing.

Keep your phone fully charged and in a waterproof case if you need to make an emergency call.


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Final Thoughts On Kayak Fishing For Beginners

Though it will take time to adapt, fishing from a kayak can be very rewarding, and it’s easy to see why many anglers are doing it either on a limited basis, or full-time.

With time on the water, you will find that it is far more productive than you might think and that the pros can definitely outweigh the cons.

bowfishing woman holding carp with bow

Bowfishing Tips: Before You Get Started and What You’ll Need

Let’s talk about some bowfishing tips that every bowfisher should know for this new-age of the “eOutdoors” (the term is a slight exaggeration, but hopefully it drives home the point).

Check out the bowfishing tips below as well as what you’ll need to get started bowfishing!

Bowfishing Tips

A big step in this growth process of bowfishing is gaining acceptance and coordination within the outdoor community before broadcasting to new audiences. To do this, we need to improve our reputation collectively.

man hold carp with bowfishing arrow stuck in it

Some farmers or local zoos may be interested in fish harvested while bowfishing. Never dump them in public areas of boat ramps.

These first two tips (“rules”) are dedicated to improving the reputation of the sport of bowfishing. And, if you’re new to the sport, these first two are especially important. But, even if you’re a seasoned bowfisher, a refresher is certainly always helpful.

Tip 1: Don’t dump fish in public areas or boat ramps.

Dumping fish in these areas gives bowfishers a bad reputation. Additionally, doesn’t help make the public water access points smell particularly inviting.

One alternative solution would be to find local farmers who may want to use the fish for fertilization purposes. Another option is to dump them on a large plot of personal private land where the smell would not bother anyone.

There are plenty of legal pitfalls when it comes to bowfishing, and you want to make sure all of your ducks in a row so no one is enjoying the sport illegally.

If you want to get really creative, look for a local organization that may be interested in taking on the fish. For example, some local zoos encourage bowfishers to donate excess fish to feed birds and other animals.

You could also eat the fish. But, if the sound of gar fish doesn’t exactly sound inviting to your taste buds, it’s good to know there are still options.

Tip 2: Know the laws in your area regarding species, bag limits and seasons

Be sure to call your local game warden, and they will (usually) be more than happy to let you know what the bowfishing laws are in your area before you have the chance to make a mistake.

If your game warden isn’t accessible, or the thought of doing so seems like too much of a hassle, there are tons of online resources you can find on the subject with a quick Google search.

The final tip relates to all bowfishers both old and new. This is one that was relevant years ago, but it is especially critical now.

Not only does it involve preserving a positive reputation for bowfishing in the outdoor community, but it involves setting a positive example for the rest of the world as well.



Tip 3: ALWAYS be mindful of your surroundings.

Guess what? With the rise of smart phones, everyone has a camera on them all hours of the day, and the internet loves to amplify bad choices.

We lecture kids on this topic quite a lot, but they are growing up in a social media-centric world and it’s just modern-day life. To be honest, adults need a refresher in this course just as badly as the younger generation does.

man bowfishing

Those who bowfish should always be sure to be courteous of other boaters and those who may live nearby.

All it takes is one video of someone doing something they’re not supposed to for public opinion to shift on an outdoor activity like bowfishing.

This tip has a second relevant component as well. Try to avoid fishing heavily populated areas (especially at night). And, if you must be near houses on a crowded lake, try to be conscious of where you are shining your lights.



The same can be said about music. By all means, play whatever you like until your heart is content, but be sure to turn it down for temporarily when you are near houses at night, or when passing another group of boaters.

These things are simple, common courtesy. And, as human beings, we should really try to bring more of this back into this divided world. Lead by example and don’t follow the norm, especially if it’s not the standard your parents raised you by.

What you need to get started bowfishing

Now that we have covered the “dos and don’ts” of bowfishing in this new age, let’s talk about what you need to get started.

If you’re already an avid bowfisher, you can probably skip this next section. But, if you aren’t already bowfishing on a boat surrounded by LED lights and a pricy bow, you may want to stick around.

One of the big concerns we hear with bowfishing is that it’s expensive to get into. However, this is not necessarily the case. Below is another three-step process for getting into the sport.

two guys bowfishing

You can get started by bowfishing from the banks of lakes and waterways in your area. But, should you decide to invest in a boat, you can start by searching Facebook or Craigslist.



Start Simple

Just like if you were going to start learning traditional fishing and wanted to start out simple… it’s no different with bowfishing.

First, all you really need to get started is a bow with a reel and string, an arrow or two, and some polarized sunglasses. This could be a compound bow or also a recurve.

Rather than investing in a boat right off the bat, you can “test the waters” by simply finding a bank to bowfish from.



Next stop: A boat

Secondly, once you and your buddies are comfortable with the sport of bowfishing and know it’s something that you will continue to enjoy, you can start the process of looking for a boat.

Obviously, boats can be expensive. But, you can keep things pretty cheap if you hunt for deals on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.



Once you have acquired a boat, all you will need is a trolling motor and some cheap LED lights you can buy off Amazon to put on your new boat (even if it’s used, it’s new to you, right?)

A quick search shows us you can get a two-pack of 40-Watt LED lights for around $40. Buy three of these, and you are all decked out and ready to go!





Share your content

The great thing about the evolution of technology is that you can get your start creating content with your smartphone.

You don’t have to start off with fancy cameras and GoPros. Just download some editing software onto your phone and start making movies about your life. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with this, then you can invest in some nicer equipment.

Here’s how you can spread the word about bowfishing: Create great bowfishing content and share it with the world!

If you make videos, we guarantee it will be worth the investment.

When we started 573 Outdoors, we sat at a kitchen table and realized that documenting our lives wouldn’t just be for other people. All of our biggest catches, failures, and unforgettable experiences in the outdoors could be for us to cherish forever as well.

It is something we can show our kids someday and say, “look how ridiculous we were.”



>> Check out hunting and fishing t-shirt designs

You can’t put a price tag on documenting memories with your best buddies.

You can still send in your favorite clips to different pages to promote (and we definitely love to see that content pour in), but it is important for you to start stitching together your own videos as well.

Our fans are who have built us up so rapidly, But, we feel like it would be selfish to suggest you should send all of your experiences only to us. We care more about the longevity of the sport of bowfishing than we do our own business.



The Future of Bowfishing

Today, you can flip on the Outdoor Channel and see all sorts of activities. From bass fishing to buck hunting, the new age of technology has done wonders for the outdoor community via television and online streaming.

girl holding bowfishing gar

Some of the critics of the sport of bowfishing think that it’s too barbaric.

More money and notoriety continue to flood these sports which when coupled with new-age platforms, allows content creators like LunkersTV, John B, Lojo Fishing, and many more to reach audiences one would have never thought possible until recently.



Education Via YouTube

In the early 2000s, most people were only going to discover hunting or fishing was if their family member or friend introduced them to it.

Now, you can type “fishing” into the YouTube search bar and learn all about traditional and lesser-known types of fishing from scratch within hours. This opens up an entirely new world of possibilities for kids who aren’t fortunate enough to grow up in the great outdoors.

While these are certainly exciting times in the outdoor industry, one outdoor sport has been slower to gain an online identity… bowfishing.

young kids shooting at archery target

Kids are starting younger than ever to learn the sport of archery, which positions the sport of bowfishing for future growth.

This is not to say that bowfishing content isn’t accessible, but the people who are primarily posting online content about it are hunters and bass fishermen who try to shake things up for their fans while enjoying the occasional bowfishing outing.

While technology has allowed many hunting and fishing content creators do a great job, the sport is really missing its own creators dedicated solely to bowfishing, just as there are many YouTubers, bloggers, and podcasters dedicated to bass fishing or deer hunting.

This could be due to stereotypes that often plague the sport, or simply because no one has taken that leap of faith yet into uncharted territory.



Why Bowfishing Will Thrive

So, let’s talk about why bowfishing has a bright future and why it should thrive online.

If you’ve heard about or seen videos of bowfishing, but aren’t familiar with the sport, you may be thinking “It’s far too barbaric to last; especially as society’s attitudes shift.”

However, bowfishing is better prepared to survive than it may seem at first glance. 



The younger audience is alive and well

Most of the pictures submitted to us are from kids who are still in high school or are recently graduated.

In addition, archery is one of the fastest growing high-school and college sports in the United States. So, although archery has been around for thousands of years, the younger generation is developing the skills needed to bowfish more than ever before. This bodes well for the future of a sport that relies on archery technique. Bowfishing is a much more daunting sport if you don’t have an archery and/or bowhunting background.



Bowfishing: Answering tough questions

“Okay, so we know people can do it, but it’s just so brutal. I mean, modern media can handle hooking some fish, but we are much more environmentally sensitive now, right?”

We are certainly more environmentally sensitive than in the past. But, that’s exactly why bowfishing can find acceptance.

Many of the fish we shoot are invasive species that pose a threat to the balance of the ecosystem. Even many of the other “non-invasive” targeted fish need some level of population control so that the “game fish” we all love to reel in can thrive.



Much like with deer hunting, bowfishing can serve as a means of maintaining balance in our waterways. Since bowfishing can be a powerful tool for conservation, there are not many restrictions in place currently pertaining to the number of fish one can shoot.

This is something we think people could get behind and support, or at least accept out of necessity.

“If bowfishing can grow with the times, and has a built-in future generation of capable participants, why can’t we just leave it be and hope this will be enough to carry the sport?”

In the early 2000s, bass fishing was doing well, but there was a pretty clear divide between recreational participants and its professionals.

Instead of being a passion that someone could pursue, it was deemed more of a hobby for country folk after a hard day at work or in school.

But, then YouTube came along, and before you know it, content creators emerged from the woodwork and took the sport by storm.

man holding carp with bowfishing arrows

One of the benefits of bowfishing is that it helps to control the populations of invasive species.

Many individuals from different walks of life took up the sport. (Remember what we said about archery being one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S? Well, bass fishing is right there as well, thanks to these YouTubers and many others in the sport).

In fact, the founder of our company got into bass fishing, not by watching professionals on TV, but by watching ordinary people take on the sport with a camera in their hands or on their heads.



Bowfishing growth just beginning

Sponsors have taken notice of this trend, and more attention is on the sport than ever before. Many of the tournaments can be watched on a live-feed, and before you know it, we are going to have a generation of kids that saw fishing for the first time on a phone screen.

Just like traditional fishing and hunting exposure has grown with the rise of social media, bowfishing will continue to grow as the outdoor community continues to be exposed to the sport.

But, regardless of how fast bowfishing may grow during this generation, we must be careful not to lose that peaceful connection with the outdoors that makes it so special in the 21st century.



The Path Forward

We started 573 Outdoors to celebrate our friendship, become a part of a fantastic community, and to start a revolution in the world of bowfishing. To do that, we can’t be the only ones out here. We want to create a lasting impact on the sport.

While we love amplifying other people’s content in conjunction with our own, we don’t want to be the only ones (or one of an elite few) shouting to the masses forever.



If we can get people on board with this and gain some traction, the money will arrive and be put into the sport, leading to more popularity and more eyes.

Maybe there can even be a Major League Bowfishing tour someday as there is with bassfishing. It all starts with this next group of content creators, and if we leave a good reputation and try to make a difference, we can leave this thing a heck of a lot better off than we found it, and our sport can grow for the better.

Now, who is ready to jump into the sport of bowfishing with us?

treaver woehr of 573 outdoors
Treaver Woehr is co-founder of 573 Outdoors. Follow on Instagram.