Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Psst … don’t tell anyone, but kayak fishing rules

On a Canadian houseboat trip, Tim Lesmeister portaged into some smaller lakes that were loaded with huge northern pike, walleyes and smallmouth bass.

My son laughed when I told him I was planning on wheeling a kayak down a bike trail a quarter mile to launch at a lake with no public access so I could fish for bass there. He thought it was too much work for a couple of fish.


I was also kidded when I brought a couple of kayaks up to Canada so I could hoist them onto the top of a houseboat we were taking out of Sioux Narrows. “Seems like a lot of work,” I heard repeatedly.


Yes, it takes real effort to fish some of the places where I’ll toss in a kayak and wet a line.


Recently I found a path through some mangroves in north Tampa Bay and launched into a labyrinth of waterways that weaved around and through Double Branch Bay. I spotted some manatees and caught some sheepshead, ladyfish, and redfish. And I had the spots all to myself. There were a few other kayakers and even a couple of stand-up paddle boarders who wandered past, but no other anglers.


I often have the fishing all to myself on many of my excursions. On that Canadian houseboat trip I was portaging into some smaller lakes loaded with huge northern pike, walleyes, and smallmouth bass. I hooked a pike in the 40-inch range on light tackle that fought me for a half hour making multiple runs each time I got him to the kayak. His head was so big I couldn’t get my hand around it to lift that fish out of the water to remove the lure, so I finally just grabbed the jig with my pliers, gave it as twist and popped it loose from its mouth.


Once while fishing the lagoon on Madeline Island in northern Wisconsin I hooked into a huge northern pike that ran a complete circle around the kayak before jumping over the center where I was sitting. It just cleared the kayak when it leaped from one side to the other.


On a kayak outing in a mountain lake on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska while fishing with the son of a friend, he had a rainbow trout take a half-dozen jumps before landing in the back of the kayak, spitting the hook and then posing for a picture with the young angler he released it.


Even on lakes with have ample public boat landings, I’ll still launch a kayak. These small, sleek watercraft, when outfitted with a sonar, are the ultimate fishing machine. Now I’m also incorporating a mini-underwater camera to my program, and on bodies of water where the visibility is adequate, I’ll discover bottom features that hold outstanding numbers of big fish.


It’s a whole new world out there for anglers who want to add some spice to their bland old days of hopping in the boat and drifting aimlessly while waiting for a bite. You’ll get some teasing from the anglers who just don’t get it, but you’re getting some incredible opportunities on the water that one can only obtain via kayak.

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