This blog is a guest post from our friends over at Outside Pursuits!
Whether you’re an experienced angler or trying your hand at fishing for the first time, there is always something new to learn. Fish are a major food source for billions of people around the world. Many communities are entirely dependent on fishing for their survival. So, unless you’ve been a commercial fisherman your whole life, there is always someone more experienced out there you can learn from.
Keeping yourself safe should be an important part of any fishing adventure. Whether you’re fishing in a kayak out at sea, in a boat on a lake, or from the shore, there are always steps you can take to protect yourself from harm.
At sea, on a river, or on a lake, a life jacket is essential. Though you may be an excellent swimmer, many deaths at sea occur because the victim suffered from cold shock or was injured preventing them from swimming. In many nations, it is a legal requirement to wear a life jacket on water. And if you care about your children’s safety, you should most certainly ensure that they are wearing a well-fitted life jacket when they step on any kind of boat.
Other pieces of equipment you should consider include a First Aid Kit, a GPS unit, a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), and a digital radio. Before setting out, you should make a fishing plan so that you can tell someone reliable where you are going and when you expect to return. This ensures that the relevant emergency services will be contacted should you fail to return. And lessons in how to operate your boat or how to safely paddle your kayak will help prevent you from making any rookie mistakes that endanger your safety.
It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before departing for your fishing adventure. Storms can be dangerous, particularly if you’re in a small vessel, and the weather can often change without warning.
Weather conditions are not only relevant to your safety but also to the quality of fishing. Some fish dislike warm water and dive down deep when it’s nice and sunny on the surface. Other fish may be attracted to sunlight, especially in shallow water. During storms with heavy rain, fish often refuse to take the bait. Generally, though, overcast skies are great for fishing.
Wherever you’re fishing around the world, you’ll probably require a fishing license. Depending on where you are, licenses may be sold online, in bait and tackle stores, in convenience stores, and in post offices. Fishing licenses are often sold as either a short-term license (between 1 day and 10 days) or as an annual license. Licenses are usually more expensive for non-residents.
In many fishing spots, there are regulations concerning what you can catch. In marine preserves, fishing may be completely banned. In many locations, you may only be allowed to catch and return. In conservation areas, live bait may be banned to prevent cross-contamination issues. It’s your responsibility to check with the relevant authority to ensure you’re not breaking any regulations.
A local expert fishing guide is the best person to ask about local regulations, the best fishing spots in the area, and the best baits and techniques to use while fishing. You can gain local knowledge and meet local experts by joining a local angling society.
Alternatively, you can arrange a fishing guide through an angling tour organizer or gain information in fishing spots using crowdsourced fishing apps like FishAngler or Fishbrain. Sometimes you can find informative videos on YouTube created by expert anglers who can tell you what to expect from a specific fishing spot.
Experienced anglers instinctively know where the best spots are to fish and where they should stand while fishing. This is because they have learned how to read the water.
Fish are creatures of habit who do what they do for good reasons. The more experience you gain, the more you will understand why fish gather in specific places. Again, a local fishing guide can teach you why the spots they take you to are good for fishing. The knowledge you gain from them can then be applied in other locations you visit as you attempt to locate good fishing spots for yourself.
For example, in fast running water, predatory fish will wait in locations prey moving with the flow must pass. In more gentle water, fish often hide in weeds, under submerged trees, or under rock outcrops. Kayaks are great for accessing locations where fish like to congregate that you can’t reach from a pier or the shore.
Fishing from a motorboat is a great way to access excellent fishing spots you can’t possibly reach from shore. However, there are some situations where a motorboat can get you there, but you can’t get close enough to the sweet spot where all the fish are hiding. This may be because of shallow water in the spot you want to fish or a submerged object, such as a shipwreck or reef, that it is dangerous to approach.
For that reason, it’s a great idea to carry a kayak in your boat. You can use a canoe or kayak to reach those elusive spots where fish gather to feet. A kayak also puts you inches away from the water, so you’re close to the action.
It’s important to choose the right kayak for your boat and the kind of fishing adventures you plan. If you’re fishing in really cold water, a sit-in kayak with a large cockpit will provide a dry and sheltered platform for fishing. In warm water conditions, a sit-on-top kayak provides better access to your fishing equipment and enables you to get in and out of your kayak easier. In open sea or large lakes, a kayak with an upswept bow and stern provides more “rocker” to help you cope with waves. But the most important consideration for a fishing kayak is that it should provide a stable platform for your fishing activities.