The best kayak bass fishing tips come from a place of experience and sometimes a lack thereof. I’ve made many mistakes kayak fishing for bass, and I want to help you hurdle past those errors to a place of bass fishing bliss.
Fishing for bass in a kayak is fun and exciting because it allows you to get right down with the fish. My favorite part is that I can access areas of the water that I couldn’t reach in a boat. These “secret” areas house the best fishing for kayakers and anglers alike.
1. Choose The Right Kayak
The most important aspect of kayak fishing for bass is choosing the right kayak for the job. The type of kayak you choose will depend on where you’re fishing, what the water looks like, and what you plan to catch.
Keep in mind that your kayak translates into where you can go on the water. If you have a productive location in mind, keep that in mind even if this is your first time considering a kayak. The largemouth bass are hanging around in these places you can’t reach.
One of the reasons many people turn to bass fishing with a kayak is because of accessibility. Kayaks allow you to reach shallow water that you can’t on a boat, and if you’re anything like me, you love venturing off into places that look like you’ll end up stranded on top of a stump with a nice dent in the bottom of your boat.
Been there, done that plenty of times.
Pay attention to the width, length, and weight of your kayak if you’re shopping around. The weight is an important factor as well because you will have to take your kayak down off your vehicle (most likely), and if you are fishing alone, you’ll need something light enough to get it in and out of the water safely.
There are many inflatable kayaks out there as well. While these are lightweight and easy to transport, they’re a little riskier on the water, and you won’t want to play around in the muck and the mud as much.
2. Be Stealthy
Stealth is the name of the game with kayak bass fishing, and here’s why. There are so many things you can do to make noise and cause disturbances in the water since you’re so close to the fish.
Be careful not to swing your lure around and hit the side of the kayak, be gentle with your paddles if you’re trying to maneuver around with your lure in the water, and don’t move too much if you’re hot on the trail of an incoming bass. Even a slight scratch on the bottom of the kayak with your shoe will make enough noise to scare them away.
This reason is why most anglers have carpet or some type of fabric in their boat. The fabric acts as a dampener for noise so you can walk around the boat even when your lure is in the water.
Traction pads are a popular investment for kayak fishing because they’ll not only keep you from making as much noise, but they’re a nice safety feature to prevent slipping as well.
3. Always Have an Anchor
Your kayak is much lighter than most (if not all) boats, so you need a way to control the motion of your kayak and keep it in the same place when you’ve found somewhere you want to fish. This issue is not only important for finding bass, but it will help you stay safe and smart out there as well.
You need to anchor so you can secure your location, and you don’t have to keep paddling while you’re trying to catch a fish. Putting the paddles in the water will only create more disturbance, which will take away from the attention you’re trying to create with your lure and scare the fish away.
I recommend going with a pole anchor like the Power-Pole Micro Anchor. These types of anchors are small and easy to operate in shallow backwater and open water. They’re a bit expensive, so it’s certainly an investment, but it will help you spend more time focusing on catching bass and less time on keeping still.
4. Stay Organized
Organization is always important, and that’s also true when it comes to kayak fishing. A lot of the best kayaks come with plenty of easily accessible storage areas, tackle management sections, and even places to secure your fishing rod if you do need to paddle or do something while you’re fishing.
Storage and organization are often overlooked in kayak fishing, and people think they can go for any old kayak, and it’ll do the trick, but that’s not true. This reason is why I suggest going with a dedicated “fishing” kayak because they come with fishing-related features to help make your experience better, easier, and more organized.
5. Use Electronic Assistance
One essential piece of kayak bass fishing gear is a high-quality fish finder. You need a fish finder or at least an electronic depth tracker not only for finding fish but for safety. Knowing the depth allows you to make sure you can maneuver yourself into the areas you want to go and find the right areas to fish for bass.
During many times of the year, especially in the fall, before it gets cold, bass love hanging around in changes in the structure underneath the surface. This means you want to find drop-offs and ledges because that’s where you stand the best chance of finding a lot of bass.
The best fish finders will not only show you graphics of fish, but they’ll offer realistic images of what everything looks like underwater. This means you’ll be able to see any vegetation, rocks, stumps, changes in structure, and of course, fish underneath your kayak.
6. Pair up With the Right Lure
When it comes to choosing the best kayak bass fishing setup, there are a few things we need to consider:
- Where are we fishing?
- What time of year is it?
- What time of day is it?
- What’s the weather like?
- What fish are we targeting?
- What size fish are we targeting?
We could go on all day and break down every single minute detail, but I’ve done it before, and I have to stay on the top of kayak fishing tips!
Let’s start by talking about our location. We need to look at the water clarity and see if the bass will have an easy or hard time seeing our lures. If the water is murky or a heavy rainstorm passed through recently, you might want to go with something bright and reflective like a bass fishing spoon or something with a blade.
If you’re going with soft plastics, you need to choose a color that’s bright and visible even when the water is murky. Hold your lure under the water off the side of the kayak as far down as you can and see if you can still see it. If not, it’s not bright enough.
The time of year is a huge factor because it will determine where you fish, and location helps decide on the lure type. If it’s the spring/summer, bass are highly active and feeding towards the surface, so you’ll want to fish topwaters such as spinnerbaits or weedless frogs if you’re fishing in heavy cover.
The time of day is similar to the time of year, and you’ll want to keep in mind that bass are most active in the morning and around dusk. If you’re fishing those times, you can use the previous strategy, but if you happen to be on the water in the middle of the day, I would suggest going with something mid-range or “near-surface” like a crankbait or a jig.
7. Use the Right Rod and Reel
Now that you understand a little about choosing the right kayak bass fishing lures, we need to pair them up with the best rod and reel combo. Realistically, there are no right or wrong answers here, and it depends a lot on your personal preference.
You can use whatever you would normally use but factor in the size of the fish you’re targeting and the type of lures you’re using.
If you’re going finesse on lure size after small bass and panfish, you’ll want to go with an ultralight, fast action rod, and a high gear ratio because you need to feel every nibble, but you don’t have to worry about them snapping your line like a big fish.
8. Choose Your Paddle Wisely
Paddling is the double-edged sword of kayak fishing. It sounds like fun when you think about it until you get out there for a few hours and realize that you’re old and out of shape (sounds like me).
Make sure you choose a lightweight paddle that will hold up over time. I’ve always used sealed wood paddles, but they’re a bit heavier than I’d like. Manufacturers make paddles from composite, plastic, wood, and other materials, so you have your choice. Experiment and test them out to determine which one you like the best.
9. Bring Important Accessories
There are a few accessories that you would not want to catch yourself in a kayak angling situation without. Let’s take a look at some of them.
You need a net no matter what. You can’t lean over the side of your kayak as much as you can in a boat, so you’ll need a way to get the bass into the kayak without having to pull them up by your line and risk snapping it.
Make sure you purchase a high-quality net that isn’t too fibrous because it’s aggravating when you’re trying to pull the bass out of the net in close quarters while trying not to knock anything into the water.
Small Tackle Box
We all have that giant tackle box that stores everything, but we should have some smaller tackle containers as well for kayak bass fishing. When you’re in a kayak, you don’t need the 12 drawers, 15 side pockets, insulated, beer containing, suitcase of a tackle box. (or do you?)
You need to take only what you need and leave everything else in your vehicle. This will not only save you some space, but it’ll help keep you more organized.
I have a great story to explain why you need the best bass fishing shoes when you’re fishing from a kayak. I was on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania fishing for smallmouth and the currents were so fast that I couldn’t paddle, and my trolling motor wouldn’t even get me back up the river, so I had to move off to the side and pull my kayak up the river to the launch.
I ended up doing this in about two feet deep of mud. I was frustrated, angry, cold, wet, and muddy. You need to show up prepared for the worst, and that was a lesson I will never forget. You need a pair of fishing shoes or waders that are specifically designed for those types of situations.
10. Get Your Cast Down
I recommend sitting your kayak down in the grass, and if you have a pool, even better. You need to get used to casting from something that’s incredibly unsteady. You’re not going to tip over, but those first few casts will make you feel that way.
It’s also a little more difficult to get an accurate or long-distance cast from a kayak because you don’t have as much leverage as you would standing in a bass boat.
Lastly, you’re very close to the water, so you need to cast upwards more than usual otherwise, your lure will die out faster and always fall short of your target. Practicing this in your yard or in a pool will help you get it right.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tips: Summary
I hope these kayak bass fishing tips are useful and actionable for you. Many of us never experience the fun and excitement of simplistic fishing, and kayaking is a great way to immerse yourself in nature and gain access to areas of water that you would have otherwise avoided. This is where the big bass are hanging out.
Not only does this make bass fishing more fun, but it can make it more successful as well!