As a conservation minded kayak angler, I now release the vast majority of the keep able fish I catch. But sometimes I target a species that isn't being overfished nor in serious decline. Plus, there's always something special about harvesting food for yourself and/or your family (as long it's done responsibly).
For a while I just put the fish I caught on a stringer and tied it off to the side of the kayak. But on the long trips with strong current, the stringer full of keeper size fish became a drag, literally. The kayak was slowed down considerably when I was paddling or it was pulled by the current quicker than I'd like when I was trying to stay over certain structure. So I'd have to haul the stringer over the gunwale often to relieve the drag for a bit then put it back in the water. It was annoying and tiresome to say the least. Also, if you catch something you plan on keeping early in the trip that might mean you're going to drag that fish around for another 5-6 hours. I've done it. It sucked. For the shorter trips in places with less current, the stringer didn't bother me. Or if it was already very cold, I could just put the fish in the kayak hatch. But in the heat of the summer, you might as well be baking the fish if it wasn't in the water or on ice.
Kayak Kevin's buddy Lee Williams suggested the idea of a fish bag that we could put inside the yak and I started searching the internet. I met another guy out at the CBBT who was utilizing it and he like it a lot. So, I went ahead and tested out the Yak Catch Fish Bag in medium from HOOK1 for myself.
I like the crate organization system made by Precision Pak, so I figured this fish bag would be just as well thought out. I think for most kayaks, it would be easy to strap to the top with the attached clips. The guy I met out on the water put his inside the front hatch and just scooted forward to access it. If you have a kayak with a rod pod, you can access it easily through there.
There is a removable PVC liner bag for easy cleaning. The insulated bag is made with durable 600D polyester PU, lined with 300D PVC and fully padded with 2mm PE foam. Honestly, I have no idea what that means. I just copied that from their website. But what I can tell you is that a small bag of ice will last at least 5-6 hours in mid 80 degree temps. A little will melt, but the fish will definitely keep cold. I'm thinking of investing in several of the re-freezable gel packs as well. Also, you can keep frozen bottles of water in the bag to help keep things cool and as they thaw slowly, it will be refreshing.
For those that want to strap it to the top, there are bungee cords and other tool storage slots. Also there is a long centered waterproof zipper for easy access. Plus, it's got a carrying handle and shoulder strap so you can easily transport it from your vehicle to your kayak. There are two other sizes (small and large), but the medium fits inside the Ocean Kayak Trident 13 well. I can still stow my rods toward the rear of the kayak and there is still plenty of room for other things. During the Catching for Kids Tournament I was able to fit two 12" spadefish, two 15.5" togs and one 22.25" tog so the bag can definitely hold plenty of fish. I probably could have fit a flounder or two in there as well. I lost a lot of ice that day because it was extremely hot and we were out there for nearly 11hrs. But the fish were still cool when I got to shore.
Over all, I'm very happy with the product and anytime I plan on keeping fish in warm weather, I'm bringing it with me.
About the Author: Rob Choi is an avid kayak angler from the Chesapeake Bay area in Virginia and a Pro Staff Member at Yakangler.com. He has earned a reputation among the locals as the fish junkie with reckless abandon to logic, time, and societal norms in his pursuit for the "tug that is the drug". He shares his love of the sport through his blog www.angling-addict.com.