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How to Fish From a Kayak

Fishing from a kayak is great way to stay active and get up close with nature. There’s a unique angling challenge around each bend. Try these tips to get you started: 

Travel light 
Leave your packed tackle box at home. Bring only the basic tackle you need for the specific fish species you are trying to catch. 

Be confident 
Make sure you are confident paddling before you load your kayak with fishing gear. Learn the basic paddling strokes and how to rescue yourself if needed. Hands-on instruction and online paddling safety courses are available. 

Change up your fishing routine and pack up the kayak for a new adventure | Iowa DNR

Stay safe 
Check water levels before you go. Fish with a buddy and let someone know where you’re going. Wear a properly-fitted life jacket and bring along a basic first aid kit. Carry your cell phone in a water tight dry-bag for emergencies. 

Go with the flow 
If you’re on a lake with a light breeze or a current, start fishing the shoreline on its windward side and let it push you down the shoreline. 

Stay hydrated 
Bring along plenty of water to drink. Wear light, loose fitting clothing that dries quickly. Make sure you have a hat, good sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. 

Be cautious of your surroundings 
Stay well downstream of any low head dams. Use caution fishing around wood debris (strainers) on the outside bends of smaller fishing streams. Be careful paddling around obstructions - new snags, log jams, submersed logs and other debris. 

Get an appropriately sized anchor 
Major sporting goods retailers sell specialty kayak anchors that have a folding “claw” system for a better hold in current or winds. Look for an anchor that weighs about 10 pounds or less. Most kayaks move at the slightest breeze or even from your casting motion. An anchor is helpful when you want to lock in your position so you can continually cast into a school of fish or a piece of cover/structure.

Secure your gear 
Tie down your paddle, tackle box and other fishing necessities to avoid losing them. 

Use your strengths 
Kayaks are smaller, quieter, and more maneuverable than almost any other boat on the water.  Head deep into the flooded timber on a relatively new reservoir (e.g., Brushy Creek or Twelve Mile Creek Lake).  Get close to shore in areas where other boats have to rely on less accurate, long distance casting. 

Sign up for the weekly fishing report to find out what’s biting where. For more ideas and maps, visit our water trails pagesor our Iowa Fishing and Iowa Paddling boards on Pinterest.

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