Kayak: Safe Yakking Practices - The Fisherman

Kayak: Safe Yakking Practices

Always make safety a top priority when going kayak fishing.

Basic safety precautions to take before kayaking this season.

Kayak fishing is a rewarding and enjoyable activity that combines the thrill of fishing off a small tactical craft. However, being on the water in a small vessel like a kayak presents unique challenges and safety risks. Adhering to safety guidelines is essential to ensure a fun and accident-free experience. Here’s what you need to know about kayak fishing safety.

Yak & Critical Safety Gear

The first step to safe kayak fishing is selecting the right kayak. Fishing kayaks are designed to be stable and durable, allowing anglers to fish in various water conditions. Look for kayaks with wide beams as they offer better stability, which is crucial when casting and reeling in fish. Additionally, consider kayaks with dedicated fishing features such as rod holders, gear tracks, and ample storage for fishing gear and personal safety equipment. You can fish out of anything but I’ve come to learn that using something that’s designed to be fished out of makes the task much easier.

Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) is perhaps the most important safety precaution in kayak fishing. Always wear a PFD while on the water, regardless of your swimming abilities. Modern fishing kayaks often come with seats that accommodate the bulk of a PFD without sacrificing comfort. Choose a PFD that fits well and is specifically designed for paddling to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your trip.

Proper equipment is vital for both safety and success in kayak fishing. This includes a well-maintained kayak, a PFD, a whistle or other sound-producing device for signaling, and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions. Additionally, bring navigational tools like a compass or GPS, especially if you’re fishing in large bodies of water or areas. It’s also advisable to carry a waterproof bag with emergency supplies such as water, snacks, a first-aid kit, and a mobile phone in a waterproof case.

Be Prepared

Before heading out, it’s crucial to check the local weather and water conditions. Kayak fishing should be avoided in rough water conditions, high winds, or during severe weather warnings. Use reliable sources to get accurate weather updates and understand how wind, waves, and tides can affect your fishing spot. If the weather seems unpredictable, it’s wise to postpone your trip.

Knowing how to handle a capsizing situation is critical. Practice self-rescue techniques in safe, shallow waters before venturing into deeper areas. Familiarize yourself with different re-entry methods, such as the paddle float re-entry or the scramble technique. Regular practice ensures that you can efficiently get back into your kayak if you fall out, minimizing the risk of getting hurt or drowning. And don’t forget about freezing during the colder months.

Visibility can be a concern, especially in foggy conditions or when it is dark. Use bright colors for your kayak, PFD, and clothing. You can also install a flag or light on your kayak to increase visibility. This is particularly important in areas frequented by larger vessels where you need to be seen from a distance.

Best Laid Plans

Understanding and practicing proper paddling and fishing techniques can prevent accidents and injuries. Paddle using good form to avoid fatigue and strain injuries. When fishing, be mindful of where you cast, especially when using hooks and lures. Avoid overhead casting if possible, and be cautious of the wind direction to prevent hooks from coming back towards you.

Always inform someone of your fishing plan, including where you are going and how long you expect to be out. It’s advisable to fish with a buddy whenever possible. If fishing alone, consider carrying a VHF radio or a personal locator beacon to ensure you can call for help in case of an emergency.

Spending long hours on the water can lead to dehydration and sunburn. Drink plenty of water, and use sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

By following these safety tips, kayak fishing can be a safe and enjoyable activity. Always prioritize safety over convenience, and do not hesitate to postpone your trip if conditions are not favorable. With the right preparation and respect for the environment, kayak fishing can offer wonderful experiences and better catch rates.

Remember, The Fishermen Magazine’s Coastal Kayak Clash is taking place again this year and it’s not too late to get in on it! Visit www.thefisherman.com/category/coastal-kay-clash for more information.



Surf: Hooks & Splits & When & Why

The when and why behind cut hooks and split rings.


Inshore: Chilling Out

How to keep your catch in prime condition on a small boat.


Freshwater: Laying The Lumber

If a tree falls in a desolate forest stream, does the screaming drag make a sound?