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Kayak Bass Fishing 101: Techniques and Strategies for a Successful Catch

When talk among anglers turns to bass fishing, it likely will focus on large bass fishing boats racing to favored fishing spots. But there’s another way to enjoy bass fishing. Kayak bass fishing is a serene approach that can get you to some great fishing spots that the big boats can’t access.

Read on for some techniques and strategies for kayak bass fishing that will leave you eager to try it for yourself.

kayak bass fishing

Choosing the Right Kayak for Bass Fishing

There are lots of ways to go bass fishing, from inflatable pontoon boats to jon boats to the above-mentioned purpose-built bass boats.

But kayak bass fishing offers a truly special approach, giving you access to ponds, rivers, and backwaters either not accessible or off-limits to other bass fishing boats.

Even if you’ve been kayak bass fishing for a while and think you’ve mastered it, you might want to consider upgrading to a newer kayak to potentially boost your chances of hauling in some fish.

Read on for some advice on choosing the best option for your kayak bass fishing adventures.

Sit-On-Top vs Sit-in Kayaks

The biggest choice you’ll make for kayak bass fishing is the type of kayak you’ll use. The two major choices are sit-in kayaks with a covered deck under which you’ll sit or a sit-on-top kayak, where you’re sitting atop the entire kayak.

We’ll also take a brief look at inflatable kayaks in this post and a quick look at pedal-equipped kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks generally are the best choice for kayak bass fishing. they’re easier to get onto and off of than sit-in kayaks. They’re also likely to be more stable, and you’ll sit higher than in a sit-in kayak for better views of your fishing spot.

Also, with a little practice, you’ll be able to stand up in your sit-on-top kayak, a decided advantage for both casting your line and reeling in your catch. Additionally, the range of motion you’re allowed in a sit-on-top kayak will make reaching your fishing gear and other supplies easier.

There are, however, a couple of downsides to sit-on-top kayaks. For example, you’re more likely to get wet in a sit-on-top kayak, which can be a real problem when fishing in cold weather.

Sit-on-top kayaks are also heavier than comparably sized sit-in kayaks, making it difficult to get your kayak to the water.

More on Sit-in Kayaks for Bass Fishing

While sit-on-top kayaks do have some advantages over sit-in models for kayak bass fishing, sit-in kayaks can be a perfectly reasonable choice.

For example, sit-in kayaks move more efficiently through the water, a clear advantage if you try your luck in multiple places.

Also, sit-in kayaks typically come equipped with a spray skirt that fits over the seating compartment, meaning that you’ll stay dry while fishing. And finally, sit-in kayaks have covered compartments to protect your fishing gear, although they typically won’t be accessible except on land.

kayak bass fishing

Inflatable Kayaks for Bass Fishing

If storage space is at a premium in your home or your vehicle, an inflatable kayak might be a good choice for your kayak bass fishing.

Inflatable kayaks typically will have an open construction, giving them some of the characteristics of sit-on-top kayaks. However, you may not be able to stand in an inflatable kayak. Finally, you should be prepared for inflatable kayaks to move more slowly through the water than hard-shelled kayaks.

Pedal Kayaks for Bass Fishing

A variation of the sit-on-top kayak is the pedal kayak. Outfitted with pedals that either move a propeller or a pair of fins for movement, pedal kayaks can free both of your hands to handle your fishing rod.

Of course, a pedal-equipped bass fishing kayak will be more expensive and will have ongoing maintenance requirements for continued reliable operation.

Other Features for Kayak Bass Fishing

As you consider the purchase of a kayak for bass fishing, there are a number of features for which you’ll want to look. For instance, a kayak equipped with rod holders can help free your hands for maneuvering a paddle kayak.

Seats are also a popular feature for kayak bass fishing. Look for seats where you can adjust the height or recline or remove the seat entirely to make it easier to stand.

You’ll also want to learn about storage options for kayak bass fishing. Many kayaks are equipped with enclosed storage areas for items that must be kept dry and/or with mesh nets for additional storage.

Loading Bass Fishing Gear in Your Kayak

Because you’ll have limited space in your kayak, you’ll need to plan carefully with regard to the fishing gear you’ll take with you. Read on for some advice on packing your kayak for bass fishing.

Fishing Rods

It goes without saying that having multiple rods, each rigged for a different type of fishing, with different actions (degrees of flexing) and different lures, likely will increase your odds while kayak bass fishing.

But taking more than a couple of rods can make it difficult to reel in and land a fish and also makes it difficult to access other pieces of gear. There’s no rule for the number of fishing rods to take kayak bass fishing, but you’ll obviously be limited by the space available.

Tackle Box

Next to your rod, your tackle box will be the most important bit of gear to take on your kayak bass fishing trip adventure. Your tackle box should include a minimal selection of topwater baits, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, and plastic baits.

In addition, you’ll want to have a spool of fishing line in case the line you’re using becomes hopelessly tangled or otherwise lost.

Your kayak bass fishing tackle box also should include a pair of pliers for removing hooks from your catch, gloves for securely handling the bass as you bring them in, and a rag to wipe your hands to keep fish fluids off your gear.

kayak bass fishing

Where to Fish From Your Kayak

Whether you’re on a lake, pond, river, or stream, there are specific places you should go to have the best shot at catching bass.

Lakes and Ponds

When you’re fishing kayak bass on ponds or lakes, the first place you’ll want to cast your line is along the shoreline, particularly late in the day during hot weather and midday during winter and spring.

And because bass love cover, other great places to cast your line while kayak bass fishing includes near rocks, logs, docks, stumps, and brush piles. Also, if you run across sunken boats or other submerged vehicles, that’s another great place to cast your line.

Rivers and Streams

You’ll likely find bass undercover on rivers and streams like lakes and ponds. In addition, you’ll likely have good luck with kayak bass fishing in areas where the river or stream enters a curve, carving out deeper water.

Another good place to search for bass while kayak bass fishing is along ledges where the bottom deepens quickly. Back eddies where the current direction changes also are likely spots to try while kayak bass fishing.

How to Cast From Your Kayak While Bass Fishing

The side-arm cast is the casting technique you’ll use most often in kayak bass fishing. For the side-arm cast, you’ll move your rod sideways, below your shoulder, giving your line a low trajectory to your target spot.

This casting technique can be useful in getting your line under overhanging tree limbs, a prime area for reeling in the bass.

Another tip for successful casting in kayak bass fishing is to keep the front of your kayak facing the direction in which you are casting.

Maneuvering Your Kayak While Bass Fishing

The key to successfully maneuvering your kayak, particularly if you’re new to kayak bass fishing, is to practice paddling and positioning your kayak before you go after the bass in your favorite fishing spot.

You’ll need to learn how to paddle quietly to avoid disturbing fish, and you’ll also need to learn how to paddle with minimal effort so that you’ll be ready for the exertion of actually landing a bass in your kayak.

It’s also important to know how to steer your kayak with one hand since you’ll likely need to maneuver it, at least to some degree, while you’re landing a bass.

One way to steer your kayak while leaving one hand free for reeling in a fish is to simply stick your paddle in the water at an angle. The paddle will serve as a rudder for turning, and the sharper the angle in the water, the wider your turn will be.

kayak bass fishing

Tips for Landing Bass From Your Kayak

While you’ll be tempted to land a bass quickly, a key to successful kayak bass fishing is to let your bass tire itself before reeling it in. You can tell your bass is tired when you see it rolling on its side and feel it offering less resistance.

Once that happens, guide the bass to the side of your kayak and lift it out of the water. For smaller bass, you can simply grab the whole fish, bring it aboard your kayak and remove the hook.

With larger bass, you’ll need to “lip” the fish, placing your thumb into its mouth and pinching its lower jaw. If you don’t want to risk being bitten, use a fish-gripping tool.

Wrapping up Kayak Bass Fishing 101

Now that you’ve read about techniques and strategies for successful kayak bass fishing, you should get out on the water and try your luck.

Hopefully, you won’t have to wait too long for that day. In the meantime, take a look at the other fishing posts at Life in Minnesota to learn more about fishing for bass and also about fishing for walleye, and crappie, as well as ice fishing.