7 Fish Species to Target from a Kayak

striped bass oceanThe popularity of kayaks, in recent years, has grown tremendously. But what many people might not know is that they make excellent fishing platforms, and if you are into angling, it doesn’t get any better than hooking a good sized fish. So, for you anglers out there, we’ll give you a list of some of the best fish to go for out in a kayak.

Of course, this list is wholly subjective. You could essentially fish for anything. But hooking something like a tarpon or a shark could potentially be trouble, from fouling your line, destroying your kayak, or even towing you out to sea! So we’ll keep this list down to fishing in the coastal waters, and even at that, there will be no shortage of action.

Spotted Sea Trout

Just like their fresh water namesakes, the spotted sea trout is a good fighter and one of the tastiest fish to eat. Spawning occurs between April to October, and during these months, they can be found in deeper bays or the surrounding grass beds that line them.

Artificial baits that look like minnows work well, but real minnows or shrimp, suspended beneath a bobber, also catch fish.

Striped Bass

Sometimes called a “rockfish,” these fish are most active during the winter months off the coast. They are frequently found near shore, and live bait, like minnows, can be suspended or jigged off the bottom. Spoons or other artificial baits that resemble small fish work well too. They are very well regarded as food for the table.

Black Sea Bass

Jettys, piers, reefs and even shipwrecks are black sea bass habitats. With a light and flaky delicious meat, they are some of the best eating fish to go after. These fish are not picky eaters, and you’ll catch them on minnows, clam meat and even worms. This is a terrific summer and fall fish to target.


Often thought of as deep ocean fish, they frequently come into shore to feed. Cast outwards off of beaches into deep water with cut baits on jigging rigs, or for more action, use popping surface baits. Although when prepared properly, they can be eaten, but for many, this is a purely catch and release sport fish that is first rate to hook and play.

King Mackerel

If you want a wild kayak ride, hook into a king mackerel. These are fighting sport fish that are not well regarded for their taste, even if they are prepared right. Trolling is the best method for hooking into a king fish, and you can try dead ribbon fish or cigar minnows as bait. Target them in the summer and fall when they move inshore along beaches and near the mouths of rivers. Hook one and hang on!


For a great fight and a culinary delight, go for a cobia. They love warm water, so target them in spring and summer. Sight cast to a school using pilchard or a big bucktail. Check around beaches, bouys or other navigation markers.

Red Drum

The state saltwater fish of North Carolina is the Red Drum, or the redfish as it is also known. The best place to fish for them is in the shallows near the outer banks. You can actually see where they are because they have a tendency to forage the bottom for food, head down with their tail sticking out of the water. Use cut fish or shrimp and drag the bottom. Blackened redfish is considered a delicacy, and although these fish can go over 100 pounds, target the smaller ones for the best taste.

Guide to Crossing the Chesapeake Bay on a Kayak

chesapeake bay
Crossing the Chesapeake Bay in a kayak can be an adventure that’s perfect for a break from competitive fishing, and great for cooler fall weather when fewer boaters are around and the wildlife of the Bay is active. Crossing the Bay is not something to be undertaken lightly. It is recommended only for intermediate to advanced kayakers.

There are a number of factors that can make this trip hazardous, so be sure to plan adequately to get the most out of it, and above all be safe!

Plan Your Route

The first thing to figure out is your likely route. If you can, you should try to go with the tide, instead of against it, and have the wind at your back. Before you even think about undertaking a crossing, you should consider several different variables.

Check the Tides

As mentioned previously, tide is a key consideration because if the current is flowing the wrong way, it’s possible to be swept out to sea. Even if the tide is coming into the Bay, it can still be an issue because the cross-currents are powerful. Therefore, you should look at the tide times and consider crossing in the upper part of the Bay, rather than close to the mouth. Waves can be large, so be sure you have experience in handling a kayak in surf-like conditions.

Check the Wind

The wind is the second most important factor, and anything over 15-20 knots in the wrong direction should probably serve as a deal killer; ideally, you want a tailwind that will help you along, rather than a headwind that will fight your progress, so be sure to consult local weather information a day in advance to know if the wind and other conditions will favor you. Even if you feel confident about the weather, know that it can change rapidly, so you should be prepared for fluctuations from the forecast.

Other Craft

Something else to be aware of is that there may be other watercraft plying the Bay, not all of them helmed by sober sailors, so choosing a day that’s slightly cooler and a kayak that’s highly visible is a good idea. A radar reflector is good to have rigged, to make sure your small craft shows up on the radar of larger powered boats. Try to make sure you stay out of known shipping lanes as much as possible.

Visiting Islands

If you’re going to attempt this crossing, you should take care planning your route. Fortunately, there are several islands and land masses in the upper part of the Bay that make navigation and exploration a little easier and more rewarding if you want to stop at or start your crossing from any of them.

The Southern Bay islands of Smith Island and Tangier Island offer the sight of great blue herons from the Martin National Wildlife Refuge, as well as sea creatures such as oysters, herring, rockfish, bay anchovies and rare blue crabs.

On the small masses of land to the north of the Southern Bay islands, explorers have been known to find antique bottles, arrowheads and other Indian treasures from 400 years of fishing by the local Algonquin tribes and 17th-century colonial fishermen. Cherrystone and littleneck clams found there can make a delicious meal that requires little preparation. The larger islands in this region are privately owned, so if you want to camp on one of them, you’ll need to go with an approved outfitter (see this link for more information).

Start Early and Bring Emergency Supplies

Depending on your route, you may have to paddle more than 17 miles. It’s best to start early in the morning when less watercraft will be on the Bay.

It’s a good idea to bring some key supplies along for the trip. A waterproof VHF radio is a good thing to have, as you’ll likely get out of cellphone range, as are flares, a mirror, a personal flotation device (PFD) and a float plan you can leave with someone on land. If you can, try to have a friend with a powered boat on standby for potential emergencies.

DVDs to Watch

A good to DVD to watch if you’re planning this trip is “Kayak Kevin’s Chesapeake Bay Tour,” a documentary of Kevin Whitley’s trip across the Bay and along the surrounding coastline. Other kayakers who have documented the trip (you can Google them) include Josh Tart, Galen “Tug” Owen and Lee Williams.

10 Essential Kayak Fishing Websites

kayaking websitesYou love kayaks, we love kayaks, and there are a lot of people out there who love kayaks too! This has become one of the most popular sports around and it is growing exponentially every year. Why? The main reason is that it is FUN! The other main reason is that, manufacturing kayaks has gone through a revolution in the past decade.

Kayaks used to be hand-made in sections, but injection molding of plastics and fiberglass have brought the price of kayaking way down, turning an exotic sport into an every persons dream come true. It also means that with these lower prices, almost anyone can afford the chance to get in one and experience the thrill, the adventure and the serenity on the water that only a kayak can provide.

Kayaks are turning up everywhere, and here are the best kayak websites that you need to check out. Just click on the link below.


This is one of the premier kayaking sites that features stories and videos about kayaking adventures. You can share your stories in the forum, contribute to the blog and there is even a marketplace to buy or sell. This is the most complete kayak website around, and it’s as entertaining as it is informative.

REI Paddling

For information about all things paddling, including kayaks, you shouldn’t pass up this site. You can find out how to store your kayaks, make up a touring checklist and find out about exiting and entering a kayak, among others. They even have generic articles about the type of insect repellent to use, clothing, sunscreen and a host of other products that will make your kayaking trip enjoyable. If you want the skinny on outfitting a day trip, this is the place to go.

Discovery — Kayaking for Beginners

Of course, before you can go kayaking, you have to know how to do it. This is an excellent site that gives you a bit of history, tells you what the parts of a kayak are, explains paddles and what to expect when you are on the water. If you want to know what kayaking is all about before you get into it, this is the site to visit.

Kayak Buyers Guide

Hey, just because we love kayaks doesn’t mean we love them for the same reason. Here you’ll see the difference between sport kayaks, tournament ready fishing kayaks, racing kayaks, and even inflatable kayaks, among a bunch of others. Checking out this site lets you see all the different types that are made, and it will familiarize you with the many styles and designs that go with this sport. This is a “must see” for anyone that is interested.

Kayak Paddling

Once you get into a kayak, you have to know how to paddle it. This site gives you a step by step tutorial on exactly how to use a kayak paddle, how to use your body, and how to make every stroke count. Whether you are a hacker, a fisherman a racer or anything in between, if you don’t paddle a kayak the correct way, you won’t go as far or as fast with every stroke.

Sierra Trading Post

For any successful kayaking adventure, you need the right gear. Plus, it’s just fun to cruise around a website that has tons of kayak stuff anyway. To that end, you’ll find advice on such things as helmets, spray skirts, paddles, wet suits, gloves and a host of other things. Every adventure starts with knowing about the right gear, and you’ll find it all right here.

Smoky Mountains — Kayaking in North Carolina

Of course, in our neck of the woods, what would it be like if we didn’t have a kayaking website that talked about kayaking in North Carolina. From rivers to lakes and out in the ocean, you’ll be able to find out exactly where you want to go and where your next kayak adventure will take you. Because, after all, there is no better way to get out on the water, than in a kayak. And that’s what it’s all about!

5 Ocean Kayak Fishing Tips for Newbies

ocean kayak fishing tips

Kayaks are long steeped in Native American and Alaskan Native history and legend. These human powered boats are efficient, sleek and low to the water, which gives the paddler a unique perspective of the seas. Modern kayaks use modern construction materials to give a lightweight and sleek method of heading out onto the seas, lakes and rivers. Many have adopted these craft for the age old tradition of fishing. If you are using a kayak for fishing purposes be sure to take advantage of the following five tips to give a safe, streamlined and highly efficient way of landing your catch.

1) Balance

One of the biggest tips to take advantage of comes in the concept of balance with the kayak. Kayaks are built to roll and tip, which makes them easy to flip accidentally when fishing. When a large fish strikes when kayak fishing you need to have balance pre-thought out and prepared to prevent unwanted flips and wet-exits from the craft. To achieve the be sure to distribute wight equally on both side of the kayak. As you line out the rod, keep in mind that when the fish strikes, it is going to pull you necessitating the need to lean opposite the side of the strike to provide ample balance that prevents the flip.

2) Center of Gravity

One thing most fisher people will agree one is the need to be above the surface of the water and to achieve an angle with the rod that is at least 45-degrees to the water surface. This is not easily achieved in a kayak, especially in kayaks that are sealed. You need to learn how to use the rod at lower angles as the center of gravity in a kayak must be kept as low as possible.

3) Storage

One thing that needs to be addressed before you head out fishing is how or where you are going to store your catch. If fishing saltwater where there may be predators, slinging the fish along the side of the kayak in the water may not be a safe choice. Instead, figure out a dry storage in the kayak itself that is easy to reach and access. Small coolers make ideal fish storage areas for kayak fishing.

4) Bait Access

Like catch-storage, if you are using live bait, you need a method of strong and accessing it while kayaking and fishing. Use small coolers to store the live bait and store it between the legs in the cockpit. This allows you to reach it without disturbing the kayak. Prepare ahead of time and try a dry run to make sure the position works for your needs.

5) Landing the Fish

It may be easy for you to land a fish while you are standing on a dock, the shore or even in a different type of boat that allows you to stand, but the kayak is a different animal. You need to learn how to use body-english and leaning to help with the reeling and landing of the fish. Also, if you are going for large fish, simply dropping a net in to try and scoop the fish up into the kayak could lead to tipping. Learn how to use the natural cants to the kayak to lean and work the fish to the sides of the boat. Slowly bring it up onto the deck and then into the storage container.

Once you’ve mastered these  basics, you’re ready to get started with tournament kayak fishing, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have on the water, I promise you.

How to Get Started with Tournament Kayak Fishing

get started kayak fishing tournaments
There is kayaking and then there is kayak fishing. The one big difference being what type of kayak you will need to use. If you are serious about fishing and want to know how to get started with tournament kayak fishing, the first thing you’ll need is the proper kayak.

Choosing the Right Kayak

The “sit on top” kayak is almost the only one used by serious fishermen. If you are going to enter a lot of tournaments you are going to need one designed for fishing. A kayak that has the mirage drive system will allow you to move around hands-free. Anglers will find this incredibly efficient so that an anchor isn’t needed or the need to paddle around. Some things to take into consideration when choosing your kayak are:

  • Speed
  • Maneuverability
  • Weight of the kayak
  • Stability
  • Storage capacity
  • Safety
  • Method of propulsion
  • Seating options
  • Comfort
  • Color of the kayak (visibility reasons)
  • Mounting options
  • Price

The greatest thing about kayak fishing tournaments is they are not as expensive as motor boat tournaments. These no-motor tournaments are not about how fancy your equipment is, it’s about finding the fish and capturing them with a photograph in a set amount of time. The yak anglers are not out to be competitive fishermen, those who participate do so for the social aspects.

Choosing the Proper Equipment

Once you’ve chosen the proper kayak you will need the fishing equipment:

  • Paddles- every type of kayak needs to have a paddle. The store where you purchased your kayak should recommend the proper one for you.
  • Personal Flotation Device- Everyone in a kayak must have a flotation device.
  • Anchor (in case you need to anchor the kayak at some point) you will not need a heavy one.
  • Leash or rope to attach to essentials like; paddles, fishing rods and other gear.
  • First aid kit- these are not used my many, but the materials in these kits can come in extremely handy for a lot of situations.
  • VHF- these radios will keep you in communication with the Coast Guard and any passing ships if you are fishing in ocean waters.

These items are essentially for your safety. Items for fishing should be kept simple when you are first starting out.

  • A rod holder would be considered one of those essentials. They are normally mounted right on to the kayak behind the cockpit or in the front; whichever is going to be an easy reach for you.
  • A decent gps enabled fishfinder that is kept well protected from water.
  • Tackle and tools should be kept at a minimum and within close reach.
  • Bilge pump to bail out any excess water that may come aboard.
  • Throw rope or tow rope in case you run into any difficulties and need assistance back to shore.
  • Camera and measuring stick to photograph your fish and submit your entry for the contest. All fish caught will be released after you’ve laid them on a measuring stick and photographed them.

If you’ve chosen the right kayak and have the proper equipment you now need to locate a tournament to enter, learn how to register and find out what the details for the event will be so you can maximize your experience. A lot of people use social media to locate where they will be held in your area. You will also have to decide if you want to enter “to win it” or to just enjoy the event.

Further Reading:









Not too Late for 2015 Kayak Fishing Tournaments

1424396558As the year winds down, there are still plenty of opportunities for discovering fun kayak tournaments to fish in Virginia. To help make sure you get yourself out on the water before the real chill sets in, listed below are an array of kayak fishing tournaments to consider taking part in over the coming months. Whether you are a seasoned pro or an enthusiastic first-timer, these events should scratch that itch to get out in your kayak and do some serious fishing before the winter doldrums arrive.

TKAA’s 11th Annual “Fish for Charity” Kayak Fishing Tournament

On September 26th, the Tidewater Kayak Angler’s Association will host this year’s rendition of their annual charitable event at the Lake Wright Conference Center in Norfolk. With a hefty batch of sponsors, the “Fish for Charity” competition should be an ideal occasion for some top quality fishing. All sorts of folk come out to fish for a good cause, with proceeds being raised for the organizations Heroes on the Water and Project Healing Waters. Winners are chosen in different divisions based on the length of the species of fish caught (with no double-dipping). If you’re interested in taking part, be sure to register soon as the the $65 entrance fee jumps to $80 on September 14th.

Southern Blue Ridge Kayak Anglers’ Tournaments

Although their well-known and highly-regarded Yakattack Tournament has come and gone, the Southern Blue Ridge Kayak Anglers will still be hosting a few more events before the season’s end. The next will be held bright and early on September 26th at Snowden Rocky Row Run on the James River. Their final scheduled contest of the year will take place at Smith Mountain Lake on October 24th. Both events should provide a more relaxed setting for kayak fishing, yet still provide a healthy dose of competition for good measure.

Extreme Bass Anglerz 2015 Classic

On October 3rd and 4th, Extreme Bass Anglerz will hold their Classic at Smith Mountain Lake. Looking to end the year with a bang, this one should not be missed. Entry into the tournament requires membership with the Extreme Bass Anglerz, but with a variety of events throughout the year, joining may be well-worth your while. Prizes are modest, however the atmosphere is top-notch. If you’re in the market for a solid group to do your kayak fishing with, be sure to check out the Extreme Bass Anglerz Classic.

So there you have it: a few of the exciting chances to compete in some fun kayak tournaments around Virginia. For more info be sure to visit the provided links, or contact us here. Time is running out, be sure you do not miss these last few chances to get out on the water and reel in a big one!

The Perfect Kayak

The Perfect Kayak

Prospective kayak anglers have often approached me to ask what is the perfect boat out there. What they do not ask me, although I wish they would, is “Which kayak is best for what I intend to do?” Image Credit: Hobie Kayak Fishing/Flickr CC

More often than not, a prospective kayak angler falls for a particular kayak solely because of its aesthetic appeal or because it has a particular option to offer them, without giving any thought to the practical problems involved in kayaking, such as long distance paddling or moving through currents. Indeed, many buyers fail to realize that a particular boat may look beautiful when placed on the bed of a truck and still be unsuitable for its intended purpose.

An angler, told that such-and-such a boat is a fast one, may go ahead and purchase it, only to find that it lacks stability, which rules it out as a kayak for stand-up fishing. The cycle goes on until the angler either runs out of money or winds up selling all of his boats because he does not enjoy them.

This is exactly what I did — I settled on a boat that was decent at everything but excelled at nothing. Then it occurred to me: What I needed was several kayaks, each useful for a different purpose.

Yes, that’s right. I am here to tell you that unless you’re planning to fish in only one particular way, in only one kind of body of water, there is no perfect kayak for you. While there are multipurpose boats that are good in many arenas, the fact remains that a specialized boat will bring in more enjoyment for you, and with that enjoyment will come more time on the water — and, of course, more fish! I fish in areas with heavy current three miles from the shoreline at some times of the year; in areas miles from the launch site, with little or no current, where I have to stand; and in neighborhood ponds.

The first question that I ask of myself is: What do I want to do with this kayak? You need to be honest with yourself. If you’re bass fishing in a small pond, you won’t be needing the fastest kayak on the market; instead, what you should get is a short, stable boat in which you can stand and turn easily. I won’t go into detail about which kayak is best for which applications — many voices speak to that — but my suggestion is, always buy two kayaks built for what you want to do. Many will laugh at this idea until the time to go fishing actually comes. I’ll spend more time out there on the water enjoying myself and will most likely catch more fish because attitude makes all the difference. I cannot catch fish if I am struggling to maneuver my kayak.

If you can’t afford more than one kayak, look on the forums and take advantage of the angler who is moving on to another kayak only after using it a couple of times. Look on Craig’s List, at garage sales or even in kayak shops that have taken back a boat that they have just sold on a trade. I recently crossed the Chesapeake Bay on my kayak; I had a shorter one that could have made the trip, but I knew of another one that could fly with me sitting on top, so for a few months, I practiced on the shorter kayak. I purchased the new boat when I could afford it, and on the day I made my purchase, people asked me how I felt about it. I answered that I felt surprisingly good; I had the right tool for the job.


With water temperatures between 61 and 63°, I knew that I wanted to make my way to the island three miles offshore, but I had to wait until the winds died down. Last week, that didn’t happen, and although we did find some good trout, I love tog fishing much better. I was all alone, so I put my earbuds in and listened to some jamming music; this makes the long trip much more bearable when there’s no one else with whom to talk.

I hit the first spot at about 8, during the slack tide, but caught only oyster toadfish, after which I moved on. I finally found a set of pilings with a tog on each set. The first tautog of the day went 17. I had forgotten to bring my camera mount with me, and so the angles of some of the photos my look somewhat awkward. One thing that I also had to remember was that if I wanted to keep the fish I had caught, the limit was three, for sixteen minutes. I kept catching them, one piling on top of the other. This was kind of odd since I am used to finding several fish at some spots and none at others. Such just wasn’t the case today.

The fourth fish that I caught today has been tagged. I measured it — it was 16.75 inches long — and subsequently reported my catch to the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program. I leave the tags in so that the program can continue to track the fish as they mature.

While paddling, I stumbled upon a dead five-foot sturgeon, the first one that I had ever seen in the wild here in Virginia, so I was mildly surprised. Upon learning at the Virginia Aquarium that the state government is actually trying to increase its sturgeon population, I reported my find to the Virginia Department of Inland Game & Fisheries (DGIF), who asked me for some photos.

Overall, it was great just to get back out to the bridge tunnel complex. I concluded the day with six tautogs — a limit if I could keep them — plus two tagged fish and a small sheepshead. The cold-water fish are starting to come in, so get out there when the wind permits you — it’s worth it!

The gear that I used was a Shimano Trevala S paired with a Shimano Curado 300e and spooled with a 65-pound power pro. I used a drop with a 40-pound mono for the leader, pairing it with a 4-ounce sinker and a 4/0 Gamakatsu Octopus circle hook.


Recently, on a local message board, several members called others out, accusing them of being “elitist” on the grounds that several of the more experienced fishermen in the club had not publicly shared their “secret spots” on a public forum. The members were also upset that some of these people “chased” sponsorships. Another member pointed out that man had been concealing his fishing spots since prehistoric times.

I agree with him, and would like to add that fishermen who get sponsorships from companies don’t get paid to fish. They still buy the products, receiving discounts more often than not. The individual is responsible for producing photos, articles, videos and other content in exchange for his sponsorship.

The sponsored individuals also go out twelve months a year, even when they don’t want to, and fish hard even on sick days. It’s hard to explain how hard they push themselves. I’ve seen Kayak Kevin go fishing for weeks at a certain point in the tide, then rest for four hours just to go back or to, and so on for weeks, to get his trophy. In fact, it was weeks before he got his trophy, and he ended up catching more than anyone else that year. He was successful on account of the time and effort he put in, not because he considers himself better than anybody else.

I’ll tell you, right now there are many fishermen in the area who can catch more fish than I, but the almighty equalizer is that I push myself until I attain my goal. If that is “elitist,” then so be it!


I’d been out of town with the Marines, bidding my family goodbye, but I kept seeing trophy trout posted by my friends — Richie (hookline-sinker.net), Kevin (kayakkevin.com) and Billy (coastalkayakfishing.blogspot.com), to name just a few. Returning to the subject of “secret spots,” I don’t know where any of them caught his fish. I brought up the idea of reeling for tog at the island, but it ended up being trout week. As I waited, the winds picked up until I could no longer paddle the three miles for my quarry. I texted Kevin, and we decided to head out and scout for a couple of fall specks. I immediately began hooking spike specks, as did all the boaters around me. I anchored and began to catch spike. I just happened to have a fish with a blue back and a green belly. After a while, I thought I’d go see how my partner was getting along, but just then, out of the blue, I hooked into a 21-inch solid red, which I hooked up to a baby.

I pulled anchor and found Kevin having a good day by himself. We continued to fish off the flat and found some keepers, but released them all. I got a bite and drag ripped off as I set the hook — a sign that this was not another dink. The fish immediately rolled onto the top, and I yelled, “Oh $@^t, it’s a big one!” Kevin asked, “How big?”, and I yelled, “Maybe a citation!” After I tried to get the fish onto the boat, Kevin got impatient and yelled, “Leg it in, get it into the boga!” I did — and was I happy to share the cockpit of my Wilderness Systems Ride 135 with it! It wasn’t a citation, but a trophy trout in my book, at 23¼ inches. After we took some pictures of me and the fish, I let it swim off for the next lucky angler.

It was a great day. I hadn’t been out in months, and this was my welcome home present! If you want it badly enough, get out there and make an elite of yourself, you’re the only one who can do it! Tight lines, everyone!

NC Reds

I haven’t got much time to write a full report, but the skinny of it is that I got an invitation from North Carolina kayak-fishing legend Ryan Hunnicutt, who helped me get the nice 38-inch red that I’d caught on my trout set up — medium-action rod, 3000-series reel and 12-pound braid. The kicker is, he didn’t take me fishing; instead, he took me to school, catching four reds, 44 to 49 inches in length — not bad for just under three hours of fishing! I wish I had a chance to get back, but I have a ticket for a thirty-day, all-expenses-paid trip to the beautiful 29 Palms.

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