Merwin: The Joys of Kayak Fishing

So the trailered powerboat is staying in the yard this weekend because Mrs. Merwin and I will be using our kayaks. The larger local bass lakes where we'd ordinarily fish the bigger boat are just too crazy on these summer Saturdays--Jet-Skis, water skiers, and all the fast-cruising Bayliners make a little quiet fishing almost impossible. Fortunately, there are three backcountry bass ponds nearby that either have no-motor restrictions or just plain no boat ramp. Perfect kayak water, in other words.

Kayaking and kayak fishing have become a huge deal over the past few years, driven in part by the evolution of fairly inexpensive rotomolded-polyethylene boats. This year at the ICAST fishing-trade show, for example, the overall best-in-show winner was a Hobie Mirage Pro Angler kayak (pictured), an award that in past years has always gone to some more typical piece of new fishing tackle.

I happen to use a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 14 sit-on-top. My wife uses is sit-inside-style Necky Santa Cruz. Both fit easily in the back of my 4X4, ready to go to any pond anywhere. We've used them for backcountry camping in the Adirondacks (trout) and for cruising along the Maine coast (stripers). At one time when the kids were all still home, there were a half dozen kayaks stacked out by the barn. As the kids moved away, the kayaks sort of mysteriously disappeared along with them. I almost had to chain a couple to a tree so my wife and I could keep our own.

Lots of people have asked me how to get cheaply into kayaking. I think the best route is to target a kayak-rental place in the fall when the boating season is winding down. You should be able to find used-rental and demo boats at hundreds less than retail. What you'll also then find is some piece and quiet in your future fishing....