Kayaking is a great way to fish

A simple, yet very enjoyable outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by many is fishing for smallmouth bass in a kayak. Local waters such as the Juniata River and Penns Creek offer tremendous opportunities to get out and enjoy this quality fishing experience.

What makes a bass outing in a kayak simple is the list of only a few items needed before hitting the water. Most boats take a lot of work to have them running at optimal efficiency. Making sure the motor, gas, batteries, electronics, trailer and other items are ready to go can be quite the endeavor.

When using a kayak, all you need with you is a paddle, life jacket and whistle. They also can be easily hauled in the bed of a truck or on the roof of an SUV. Most anglers can carry their kayak so launching and loading also is normally easy.

Fishing out of a kayak allows you to go many places a boat cannot due to the low levels of water required to keep moving. In fact, kayaks are easily maneuvered through a few inches of water where boats would run aground.

Another advantage is being able to stop and go quickly. If you find a good hole, it is easy to bring your kayak to a stop and fish the hole by pulling up along structure. It is also very simple to paddle back upstream and float the same section a few times if fishing is productive. They do make special anchors for kayaks and float tubes, but I have never seen the need for one while fishing for smallies.

You also have the option to get out of the kayak most places. Whether you need to stretch or you found a good place to fish from your feet, within seconds you can be out of your vessel.

While I prefer to catch smallmouth bass, you can get after largemouths on lakes with ease in a kayak as well. The only downside is there is no current to get you from point A to point B. When motors are permitted, the paddling will obviously require some extra effort. However, when rowing is the only way to get around, such as at Faylor Lake in Snyder County, a kayak is actually easier to maneuver and requires less work than a john boat.

The list of fishing equipment required for a good day on the water for bass in a kayak is also short. The only things I take with me are a rod (or two) and a 4-by-8-inch plastic container of various lures that usually produce when fishing bass.

I prefer to use lures that float which keeps getting caught on the bottom to a minimum. Poppers, torpedoes, jitterbugs and frog lures all have helped me enjoy successful bass outings. I also keep several diving crankbaits that float until the retrieval is started. Crawfish patterns and black and golden minnows top my list of diver lures.

Most days I will throw out several different lures at the start of a float to find out which is working best with the conditions. Water temperature, sun light and other variables all affect which lures will land the most fish on a given day.

A rule of thumb that usually works is that the largest lures catch the larger bass. I have a friend who goes with me and he tosses out the biggest lure he can find. When the outing is over, he usually has the smallest total, but the biggest fish of the day.

If you want to catch as many smallies as possible, a smaller lure should keep the action constant with little, aggressive bass. Smaller lures also can help hook other fish such as rock bass and even trout.

If you would like to try something new and keep things simple, heading out on the water with a kayak and a few lures may be an experience worth pursuing. I am already looking forward to my first float trip of the summer.


Zach Knepp writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.