Living in a state that is surrounded by and covered with fresh water lakes, it’s no surprise that kayaking and fishing are two of the more popular pastimes around here. But have you tried combining them? Kayak fishing combines the best of both worlds, and here are four reasons why you should give it a try this summer.
1. Options to fit any budget or skill level
A fishing kayak is an affordable option for someone who doesn’t have the time, space or resources to keep a boat, or for someone who is just starting to explore the joy of fishing. Kayaks can be the bare minimum as a watercraft, or they can be upgraded and equipped with just about anything under the sun, depending on your needs. Accessories such as GPS, fish finders, LED lights, and shallow water anchors can help you reel in your next catch and have a good time. Most local sporting goods stores carry a range of kayaks, or the extra budget-conscious angler may opt for a used kayak, though it’s always best to have an expert inspect and test it before heading out.
Paddle kayaks are the most common, but pedal kayaks are becoming popular as well. Most kayaks have comfortable seating that will let you venture out anywhere from a couple hours to an all-day journey. Some anglers opt for standing bars so they have the extra stability to stand while fishing. The options are endless!
2. Kayak fishing is better for you (and the environment)
There are no engines on kayaks, so there are no emissions and very little noise, if any. The only way of getting around is by paddling, which gives your forearms a workout they’ve never seen before. You’ll also want to do your research before getting out there, because every spot change is going to take effort and paddling! Pick ahead, and choose wisely where you are going to fish that day.
Kayaks have limited storage space, so most anglers like to practice CPR rules (catch, photo, release). This may be a challenge to anglers that are accustomed to boat fishing, but once again, a little planning can go a long way when it comes to deciding between a trophy and dinner.
3. Better access to the best fishing spots
With a kayak you can go anywhere your heart desires! Kayaks can access just about any lake, canal, river or pond you want. You can also get much closer, sneaking up on fish in spots that no bass boat or pontoon could ever get you to. During pre-spawn or bed fishing, you can get right up on the fish and they won’t even know what hit them!
Kayaks are not just limited to small water; a lot of people are hitting bigger waterways like Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, and even the Great Lakes. Here a couple of options around the Mitten worth dipping in.
Lake St. Clair/ Detroit River
Metro Beach Metropark has a great launch site for not only boaters but kayakers as well. It is five dollars to get in the park, and the launch site is just a few feet from the parking lot. Once you’re in the water, you can go a thousand different ways out to Lake St. Clair (though beware of the big boats) or cruise around the Detroit River. You may just be able to show off your skills to the abundance of bass boats that fill the lake this time of the year!
The Cass Water River Trail in Vassar, just outside of Frankenmuth, offers a beautiful launch site, a tranquil kayak fishing spot… and some monster fish! Vassar local Dustin Mecham recommends you have your kayak full of frogs come mid-summer. He recalls a time I think most kayak anglers can relate to: “This brings me to the fish that never was, my white whale. I was throwing my last couple casts of the evening, I snagged on a log — a log I snagged more than once that day. This time though, the log pulled back, hard! He was glued to the bottom… until he wasn’t! Before my eyes, a toothy beast blasted out of the water, trying everything to shake the bait from his mouth. I was gaining the upper hand and starting to wonder how I was going to land him — my craft is a single-seat pontoon — but before I could come up with a game plan, he shook one last time, releasing the hook, and with that he retreated back to his log fortress.”
Take a drive through downtown St. Joseph to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can rent or launch your own kayak, and you can access Lake Michigan through the St. Joseph River. Depending on your speed and the current, your trip from launch to Lake Michigan should take you a couple of hours. Once you’ve reached the crystal waters of Lake Michigan, the possibilities are endless!
4. The kayak fishing community
The best part about kayak fishing is the community you’re now a part of! Aside from the people you’ll meet on the water, there are also plenty of groups on Facebook to help pass the time between trips. Check out Kayak Fish the Great Lakes (KFGL), Kayak Angler Tournament Series (KATs), Michigan Kayak Fishing, and others to meet more people who share a love for kayak fishing.
No matter who you meet, they’ll all tell you the number one thing to remember on the water: safety. Buying a bright colored paddle or flag for visibility, wearing a life jacket at all times, dressing appropriately for the weather and water temperature, and having a cell phone and dry bags with extra clothes are always good ideas in case you do tip in. A hawg trough (measuring device) and a hand held scale could also be helpful. Make sure everything is equipped with floats or bungeed down. It is not uncommon to lose a rod or a few pairs of pliers or even a phone in the small space you work out of.