12 Tips for Beginning Kayak Anglers

I originally compiled this tips list for kayak fishing several years ago. I’ve retooled it a bit and wanted to reintroduce it since we have approximately 500,000 more people fishing from kayaks since its initial release. As always, if you have something to add, drop us a comment and please share with your friends.

1. Learn to Paddle a Kayak

Sometimes staying on a spot is very important and nature will try to push you off of it. Whether it be current, wind or passersby, learning to maneuver your kayak well will add time fishing and reduce frustration. A proper paddle stroke will actually propel you at the same speed or faster than the “digger” who goes all out. Make sure to look up a local ACA paddling course. It will be money well spent.
tips for kayak fishing digger iaconelli
Ike in one of his first trips out as a kayak angler shows the “digger” form with way too much effort on brute power as opposed to form. Also, he doesn’t appear to be wearing a life jacket. And his paddle is rotated the wrong direction.

2. Wave at Other Kayak Fishermen

Some of us are social; some are not. A nod and a wave will usually suffice. If someone has time and/or wants to chat, they’ll give you an opener. If you don’t have time or don’t want to chat at that moment, be courteous, answer the opener and let them know you are heading up stream. It takes some practice but it is well worth it to let people know you’re not a tool.

3. Take a New Guy Kayak Fishing

Getting on the water by yourself can be scary, especially for a newbie. If you talk about kayak fishing as much as I do, you know who would be interested in going. Take them out and do it with the intention of being the “guide”. If your goal is to catch fish, you’re doing it wrong. The goal should be for THEM to catch fish. Help them with technique, stay close for questions and encourage them along the way.

4. Chill Out

Most of the time the person fishing where you were wanting to fish isn’t doing it because they are vindictive spot stealers. Most of the time they paddle by, think a spot looks fishy and decide to throw some bait at it. Maybe start with Rule #2. Very often I’ve seen kayak anglers invite another to join them and even tie up to them.

5. Kayak Karma

Believe me when I say there is such a thing as Kayak Karma. She is angry and vengeful. If you push people away from kayak fishing, she will get you. If you chew somebody’s tail for no good reason, she will get you. Be nice out there because Kayak Karma is not only vengeful but she is the sister of the Fishing Gods and she WILL tell on you. Kayak Karma hates an internet troll. Don’t be that guy.

6. Even the Entry Level Boats are Cool

Show some excitement when someone tells you about their new Pelican kayak they bought. They wanted to kayak fish and now they can. Be happy for them. Don’t tell them their investment is a piece of trash or too hard to paddle. We all start somewhere and not in the same place. Tell them “Welcome to the Addiction” or something along those lines.

stearns life jacket tips kayak fishing7. Keep Safe

First and foremost, wear your PFD. That’s not an electronic document, it’s your life jacket. It will save your life. Additionally, make sure you are always obeying state water safety laws but above and beyond that, don’t be stupid. Don’t try to race across an inlet with a power boat headed at you on plane. Be careful with wakes around bridge pilings. Have the proper lights and maybe even more than required if fishing at night. Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. There are many more but the bottom line is, Be Safe.

8. Teach

If someone has shown you how to do something, pass it on! In the medical field they have a mantra that I like a lot: “Watch One, Do One, Teach One.” This keeps the fountain of knowledge flowing to future generations of kayak anglers.

9. Be Helpful

If someone looks like they are struggling loading or unloading, if someone drops some gear on the way to launch or if someone is looking puzzled while staring at their kayak, ask if you can help. It’s pretty easy, most of the time they really appreciate the question, even if they decline help. I have had many a trip made easier by someone helping me put my kayak on my car.

10. Have Fun

This is supposed to be a fun sport. Don’t try to over think it. If you struggle, ask for help. If you find yourself not having fun, talk to someone about it. Take in the nature around you. Listen to the sounds that are so rarely heard in a power boat. Watch how close fish and birds will get to you. Take pictures! This is the best sport in the world. Make sure you enjoy it!

11. Boat Ramps are Not Campsites

If you are using a boat ramp to launch your kayak, have everything ready before you back down the ramp. And turn your lights off. Nobody likes a boat ramp camper taking 20 minutes to unload all their stuff and rigging up their kayak. (This also applies to other watercraft). Have a plan, have it together, get it off the truck or trailer and move it off the ramp so others can use the ramp to enjoy their day.

12. Give Space

When you are fishing, unless you have been invited to come closer, stay at a good distance. Nobody likes a potlicking vulture. If you ask to come closer or leap frog to a spot up the bank be prepared to hear “No” and be okay with it.
Those are my top 12 etiquette tips for kayak anglers. Hopefully they all make sense and you get where I am coming from. Let me know what else should be included on the list and share with your friends!
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Chris Payne

A lifelong Texan, Chris Payne has been an outdoor enthusiast his entire life and has spent the last 15 years fishing mainly from a kayak. He is known for his thorough and helpful reviews as well as how to articles for nearly everything kayak fishing related. If you have questions or comments, you can leave them on this post or email Chris at: paynefish@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “12 Tips for Beginning Kayak Anglers

  • June 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    I do like it when you said that kayaking is a fun sport, so it is best to not overthink it and enjoy the moment when a person is doing it. I will make sure that I share this with my sister because she is coming with me to go kayaking. Knowing her, she is the type who thinks and calculates everything. She needs to know that this time around, I will not tolerate her being worried about everything. Thanks!

  • June 25, 2018 at 4:32 am

    My wife wants to go on a kayaking trip with me, but she has never gone before. I really like how you mentioned that being organized and having the proper storage can make the day much more successful. Thank you for all the kayak fishing tips.

  • September 16, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Great article and all about, I found this information very helpful. Now, i am planning to take a trip there. And thanks a lot for sharing this..

  • October 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

    I like the tip you gave to stay safe while you are boating by always wearing a life jacket. My wife and I won a fishing trip, and we want to make sure that we know everything that we need to before we go. I will be sure to let my wife know that we need to get life jackets for our fishing trip, so we can stay safe.

  • January 20, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Wow! Such an awesome post.This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I am a regular reader of your Blog and I love every piece of information you share here. I know something about fishing kayaks..Fishing kayaks are essential for fishing. Without the suitable fishing kayaks, a professional fishing life is impossible. Therefore, choosing a fishing kayak is most important for an angler. Sometimes, fishers fail to choose the best kayaks due to their lack of experience.


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