Trying to land a fish in a kayak is a challenge for even the most skilled kayaker or angler. Landing a large fish without a net can increase the challenge to the point it is dangerous.
As a general rule, every angler fishing in a kayak should use a fishing net because it is safer, landing a fish is easier, and fishing nets are easier on the fish than trying to land them strictly by hand. Additionally, trying to land a fish without a net increases the risk of capsizing the kayak.
Including a fishing net on every kayaking trip does not guarantee the fishing trip will be successful. It does, however, increase the chances of success. Here is why every angler in a kayak should treat a fishing net as indispensable as they do their fishing reel, pole, or tackle.
A Fishing Net Makes Life Easier
Fishing while kayaking brings an entirely new dimension to both kayaking and fishing. Landing a fish while managing a kayak is challenging for even the most talented angler. Likewise, a skilled kayaker learning to maneuver and use a fishing pole must learn an entirely new set of skills. Add a fish desperate to escape and that test escalates quite dramatically.
One way to make fishing in a kayak less of a challenge is to include a fishing net on every fishing trip. A net provides stability and is a very effective tool that can:
- Keep the angler and kayak upright
- Help land fish of just about any size
- Provide a stabilizer in rough water
Fishing in a kayak without a fishing net puts those points in jeopardy. Most importantly, fishing without a fishing net in a kayak can create a dangerous situation.
It Is a Lot to Pay Attention To
For example, when maneuvering in a kayak with no fishing equipment, you must pay attention to the current, waves, other craft on the water, wind, weather, your skillset, and other environmental conditions.
Add to that a fishing pole and tackle, plus a tackle box, and the challenge becomes more acute.
The fishing kayaker must pay attention to:
- Their lure or bait and any associated hooks
- Casting their lure or bait
- Keeping the kayak in a safe zone in terms of navigation
- The conditions of all those challenges that every kayaker faces (weather, other boats, waves, etc.)
- Their fishing equipment
- Their fishing strategy
Any tool that can make those tasks easier or safer is a welcome addition, especially if the angler hooks a large fish or if the conditions on the water are deteriorating.
A Net Makes Kayaking Safer
A fish on the end of a line means the kayaking fisher must work to land the fish, keep the kayak stable and not lose any equipment or capsize. If the fish is large or puts up a spirited fight, the angler can get themselves in trouble if they neglect their kayaking for the sake of landing a fish.
Landing a fish is the most critical part of angling besides enticing a fish to bite. A net makes landing a fish easier.
A Net Helps Land Difficult Fish
Most fish are manageable and may not even need a net to bring in. Some fish, however, are a handful in the best of conditions because of their size, strength, and even teeth. A kayak only makes that task more difficult.
Being able to employ a net means you do not have to lean over the edge of the kayak or try and use your hands to work the kayak and hold the fish. Even if you use the net to secure the fish, your job as a kayaker becomes easier.
Fishing Nets are Better for the Fish
Trying to wrangle larger or ornery fish over the side of a kayak, keep the kayak safe and get the hook out of the fish’s mouth can put a beating on the fish. They get yanked, banged, jerked, and scrunched, particularly if the weather is bad.
A net helps provide a safe harbor for the fish. The fishing net material is softer. A more stable platform prevents the fish from banking against the side of the kayak, rocks, tree trunks, etc.
Nets Improve Landing Odds
Not only does a fishing net make things easier in terms of getting the fish to the point of landing it, but it also makes it less likely the fish will be lost at the last second. Every angler knows the most critical time in fishing besides setting the hook is landing the fish.
Almost every fish spooks at least once and goes on a run when it gets near a boat or the shore. Because most fish have good eyesight, it is fair to suppose that the fish sees what is coming and panics. When it panics it can go on long runs, jump or search out cover to hide in.
Every second when landing a fish is critical. Miscalculate even a little and your trophy gets to swim back to safety. A net helps reduce the chances of losing a fish, especially in those last critical feet close to the kayak.
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Managing a net, fishing equipment, and a paddle is a challenge for anyone. This is particularly true if the water conditions are challenging, or the fish is a handful. A net can be used as a paddle, prod, stabilizer, even as a tool to hook onto a branch or dock.
In a pinch, it can even be used as a pole to help maneuver through shallow water or as a deflecting tool if the current or wind push the kayak into an unsafe situation. For instance, if the current pushes the kayaks into the proximity of shallow rocks or rapids, a net can be used to push the kayak back out of harm’s way.
If you fish from a kayak, you should always have a net with you, no matter if you never need to use it. A net provides stability in an environment that is not. Make sure you have a fishing net every time you go out kayaking and there is a chance you will end up fishing.
Updated: January 10, 2022