Kayak Fishing Ultimate Resource

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 00:00

Top 10 US Kayak Fishing Locations 2012

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Top 10 US Kayak Fishing Locations 2012 Photo credit: Bill Howard

Rather than tell you what YakAngler thinks are the top 10 kayak fishing locations for 2012, we felt it was better to ask the kayak fishing community. We let you decide the best kayak fishing locations for 2012. Last month, over 5,000 unique voters cast their nominations and votes for the best kayak fishing in the 2012 Kayak Anglers Choice Awards.

The nominations and voting were open worldwide, but we only received nominations for kayak fishing locations in the United States. So to be fair to the rest of the world, here are the results for the top 10 kayak fishing locations in the USA.

#10 - Flint River, Georgia

Kayak Fishing Flint River Georgia

Photo credit: Chris Funk

Western Georgia's Flint River gets its name from the flint stones found along the banks. Between its urban beginning and reservoir ending, the Flint’s watershed drains some 8,460 square miles. The 344 mile long river flows south from the upper Piedmont region south of Atlanta to the wetlands of the Gulf Coastal Plain in the southwestern corner of the state through the cities of Jonesboro, Thomaston, Montezuma, Marshallville, Cordele, Americus, Albany, and Bainbridge.

While shoal bass can be found anywhere on the upper Flint, the stretch between Gay and Thomaston offers the best habitat in the state for these fish. There is fine fishing to be found for other species of fish. The flat water sections contain good numbers of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, shell cracker, and both channel and flathead catfish.

For more information:

Georgia Flint River Basin Plan- (888-373-5947)

Georgia Kayak Fishing

#9 - Tampa Bay, Florida

Kayak Fishing Tampa Bay

Photo credit: Bill Howard

Tampa Bay is a large natural harbor along the Gulf of Mexico on the west central coast of Florida, comprising Hillsborough Bay, Old Tampa Bay, Middle Tampa Bay, and Lower Tampa Bay. Florida's largest open-water estuary, extending over 400 square miles, it boasts some of the best inshore fishing anywhere in the state. Freshwater sources of the bay are distributed among over a hundred small tributaries, with the Alafia, Manatee and Little Manatee, as well as the largest in the Hillsborough River dumping freshwater into the bay, where it mixes with the salt water of the Gulf or Mexico. These rivers also provide warm water havens for the inshore species during the colder winter months.

Tampa Bay’s shallow waters (average depth runs 12 feet), sea grass flats, mud flats and the mangrove dominated wetlands provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. More than 200 species of fish are found in the Bay, with snook, redfish and speckled trout making up the “Big Three” of inshore game fish. Along with those, tarpon, grouper and mangrove snapper are some of the seasonal fish that anglers pursue. Giant black drum can also be caught around the three major bridges that cross the upper parts of the bay. Ladyfish, jack crevalle, catfish, and many species of sharks are just some of the other fish that anglers can target.

Large portions of the South Eastern shoreline of the bay have been designated as idle only zones, and combined with numerous wetland restoration areas it’s a kayak fisherman’s dream.

For more information:

Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Paddle Fishing

#8 - Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville Florida

Photo credit: Justin Miles

The Jacksonville, FL offers kayak anglers diverse locations throughout over 68 miles of coastline and over 400 miles of freshwater and Intracoastal Waterway. Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in Jacksonville, home to the largest kayak fishing tournament in the world.

Jacksonville inshore fishery is what draws many kayak anglers to the city every year. The brackish waters of Jacksonville’s wetlands provide anglers with a multitude of species like redfish, speckled trout, black drum, and flounder year round. Kayak fishermen looking to target offshore species like kingfish, bull redfish, sharks, and cobia will find the fishing the hottest during the summer.

For more information:

Florida Fish and Wildlife North Central Region- (386-758-0525)

Jax Kayak Fishing

#7 - Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT), Virginia

Kayak Fishing CBBT

Photo credit: Rob Choi

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (also known as the CBBT) was once considered one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world. It is the largest bridge-tunnel complex in the world, which in a sense means it could be considered the largest man-made reef system in the world. Crossing over and under the open waters where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay, the 17.6 mile bridge-tunnel connects the Eastern Shore with southeast Virginia. With four man-made islands (one on each side of two tunnels), along with 5,189 pilings divided between north and south bound bridges, every species that migrates in and out of the massive Chesapeake Bay visits this amazing structure.

Most kayak anglers who venture out into open water typically work the first few miles up to the 1st island at the south end of the complex. Their targets include to red drum, black drum, striped bass, flounder, sheepshead, spadefish, tautog, triggerfish, and many others.

For more information:

Virginia Marine Resources Commission- (757-247-2292)

Kayak Kevin

#6 - Oregon Coast, Oregon

Oregon Coast

Photo credit: Tom Stanton

Thousands of tourists crowd Highway 101 in Oregon for one thing - the beauty of the Oregon Coast. You'll find it all, from sandy beaches to granite cliffs to tall dunes. Beaches along the Oregon Coast can vary in size from as little as a few hundred feel long to dozens of miles. Fortunately, all beaches in Oregon offer public access easement.

Stretching 363 miles from the Columbia River in the north to California in the south, the Oregon Coast offers a variety of fishing target species, including salmon, sturgeon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod, and more. If the surf looks too formidable to cross, the couple dozen rivers along the coast also offer excellent fishing for trout, salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon. Many estuaries and bays also offer excellent crabbing opportunities.

For more information:

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife- (503) 947-6000

Northwest kayak Anglers

#5 - Mosquito Lagoon, Florida

Kayak Fishing Mosquito Lagoon

Photo credit: Bill Howard

There are few places on earth with the diversity that the Mosquito Lagoon offers kayak fishermen. The Mosquito Lagoon is located on the East Coast of Florida, just north of the Kennedy Space Center. The very name "Mosquito Lagoon" is known the world over for its amazing redfish and speckled trout fishery. With the back drop of the NASA launch towers and Vehicle Assembly Building, and the countless numbers of other fish species, sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins calling its waters home, it truly is a magical place!

For kayak fishermen, the Mosquito Lagoon or "The Goon” offers a year-round chance to target redfish, speckled trout, tarpon, black drum and sometimes snook. With an average depth of about two feet and a series of bars, shoals, and islands, there are many places you can get a kayak that boat anglers just can't get to.

The Mosquito Lagoon is the rich with history that can still be seen along the shoreline, in the form of old home sites and fish camps. If you get a chance to come down to Central Florida, make the trip to the coast in Titusville to experience the wonder that is the Mosquito Lagoon!

For more information:

Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Space Coast Kayak Anglers

#4 - Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Photo credit: Bob Tremmel

Charleston, SC was founded by English colonists in 1680. The city is located in the Low Country, an area that is a geographic and cultural region located along South Carolina's coast from Pawley’s Island to the Savannah River. The region includes the South Carolina Barrier Sea Islands. Once an area known for its agricultural wealth, the Low Country today is renowned for its historic cities and communities, natural beauty, and unique cultural heritage.

The 2,876 miles of coastal shoreline are a fisherman’s paradise. All areas around Charleston will provide the kayak angler the opportunity for an inshore slam (redfish, speckled trout, and flounder). Most local kayak anglers concentrate on areas of the Upper Wando near Paradise Island, the Daniel Island shoreline that separates the Copper and Wando, or Grice Cove on Charleston Harbor.

Along with the kayaking opportunities for an Inshore Slam, the Charleston area provides opportunity for targeting large tailing redfish in the many marshes & grass flats at high tide. Copahee Sound, the flats of Plum Island, and the tidal flats around Long Island are good areas to find redfish.

While the speckled trout, redfish and flounder are the main targeted species, Charleston offers ladyfish, tarpon, black drum, croaker, whiting, black sea bass, sharks, sheepshead, amberjack, striper, cobia, bluefish, spanish mackerel, triple tail, and jack crevalle at different seasons.

For more information:

South Carolina DNR- (843)953-9312

SC Kayak Fishing

#3 - Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

Chesapeake Bay

Photo credit: Kayak Kevin

Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, and boasts an incredible fishery. Shared by Maryland and Virginia, the total shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries is over 11,680 miles and covers a vast 4,479 square miles. Over 150 streams and rivers dump into the bay, which has a drainage basin covering over 64,000 square miles including New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, and of course Maryland and Virginia.

Situated in the Mid-Atlantic region, Chesapeake Bay hosts an incredible number of species that migrate from both north and south. The list includes striped bass, bluefish, tautog, red drum, black drum, speckled trout, gray trout, flounder, sheepshead, spadefish, cobia, and even the mighty tarpon.

For more Information:

Virginia Marine Resources Commission- (757-247-2292)

Angling Addict

#2 - Ladybird Lake Texas

Lady Bird Lake Texas

Photo credit: Jesse Stillman

Lady Bird Lake (formally Town Lake) is the little sister of Lake Austin, separated by Tom Miller Dam on the west end of the lake. Impounded in 1960 by the creation of the Longhorn Dam on the east end, Lady Bird Lake encompasses a six mile stretch of the Colorado River that runs directly through downtown Austin, TX. The shore lines are lined with giant lay downs that make perfect ambush points for largemouth bass. There are also remnants of two older dams just beyond the Tom Miller Dam. Giant chunks of granite add to the diverse fishing structure.

Fishing on Lady Bird Lake can be challenging at times, but persistence is often rewarded with Texas-sized trophy bass. With recent drought conditions in Central Texas, the pass through flow of water has been minimized. This has allowed the average water temps to rise, which in turn allows thick mats of aquatic vegetation to flourish in the warmer waters. This has created a much healthier environment for all aquatic life.

Winter months are best for fishing, as the recreational traffic slows to a minimum. Since the City of Austin allows outboards by permit only and only a handful of permits are allocated, there is little to no large boat traffic. Kayak fishermen share the waters with mostly rowers this time of year, which can make for plenty of water to fish.

Summer months bring plenty of recreational traffic to the lake starting mid-morning and usually tailing off toward the evening. Bikini clad paddle boarders, families and tourists make up most of the mid-day traffic. Early mornings and evenings are the best times to hit the water to maximize fishing opportunities.

For more information:

Texas Parks and Wildlife- (800-792-1112)

Austin Kayak Fishing

#1 - Devils River, Texas

Kayak Fishing Devils River Texas

Photo credit: Brady Sullivan

The Devils River in Southwest Texas is a remote and rugged stretch of water. Most of the upper end of the 90-100 mile long river is not suitable for paddling. There the river runs low, slow, and often underground, if it runs at all. The most popular and accessible (a relative term) part to paddle is the southern half of the river, which runs about 40 miles until it empties into Lake Amistad.

Access to the Devils River is difficult, as much of the surrounding land is private property. However, pick up and drop off can be arranged through Devils River Outfitters in Del Rio. Texas Parks and Wildlife has also obtained land at a couple locations along the river that should soon be open for public access and camping. You do not want to camp, nor should you camp, on private land.

As you meander past the steep limestone cliffs with caves that were once Native American dwellings, the Devils River will present you with slow, deep pools of water followed by stretches of shallow, swift rapids. Class 2 and 3+ rapids are common along the river. Dolan Falls, the most photographed waterfall in Texas, should not be run except by highly experienced and skilled kayakers. The river is spring fed, and the depth generally increases as you make your way downstream. Many of the upper stretches will require you to drag your kayak downstream because the flow is often too shallow to paddle. The amount of recent rainfall will dictate the river level and how easy a trip will be.

The Devils River is an excellent fishery, providing great largemouth fishing and probably the best smallmouth fishing in the state. The typically crystal clear water is also home to a healthy catfish population. Remember to respect the rights of property owners along the river, and take care of the water and surrounding lands. The largest complaint from landowners is litter, so if you see trash, pick it up even if it is not yours.

For more information:

Devils River State Natural Area- (830-395-2133)

Devils River Outfitters- (830-395-2266)

Texas Kayak Fisherman


List of Contributors: Rob Choi, Isaac Miller, Darrell Olson, Charles Levi Jr., Ryan Herzog, Dan Campbell, Steve Garcia, and Pat Kellner.


Last modified on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 12:44
Mark Watanabe

Mark "YakSushi" Watanabe is the Co. Founder of YakAngler.com, "He built this site!". He considers himself a mediocre fisherman and an unexceptional writer. He's the devoted father of a ton of little sushis (Air Quotes) and everyday tech ninja.


-1 # yak_n_fish 2012-11-15 10:10
No love for the northern Gulf Coast? Home to the two largest river delta systems in the US (LA and AL) where a yak angler can catch inshore and freshwater species in the same areas on the same baits and then head off the beach for some toothy critters. Guess we should send in some more pretty pictures. ;-)
+1 # YakSushi 2012-11-15 10:23
Quoting yak_n_fish:
No love for the northern Gulf Coast? Home to the two largest river delta systems in the US (LA and AL) where a yak angler can catch inshore and freshwater species in the same areas on the same baits and then head off the beach for some toothy critters. Guess we should send in some more pretty pictures. ;-)

All nominations and votes for the best locations were received from over 5000 members of the kayak fishing community. All we did was tally the votes and make sure no one cheated. Maybe next year we will have more participation from the areas that folks feel were left out.
-2 # John cereck 2012-11-15 10:26
Obviously whoever wrote this article has never been to Montana! As for the #1 pick Devils River, can't see why! Difficult Access and having to drag my kayak would make this river a NO go. Have you ever been on the SMITH or MISSOURI rivers. Both are BLUE RIBBON TROUT fisheries and some of the best in the country. The SMITH is by limited permit kayaking and only a few permits are given out each year. The Smith has limestone cliffs, Native American dwellings with cliff paintings.
# YakSushi 2012-11-15 10:40
Quoting John cereck:
Obviously whoever wrote this article has never been to Montana! As for the #1 pick Devils River, can't see why! Difficult Access and having to drag my kayak would make this river a NO go. Have you ever been on the SMITH or MISSOURI rivers. Both are BLUE RIBBON TROUT fisheries and some of the best in the country. The SMITH is by limited permit kayaking and only a few permits are given out each year. The Smith has limestone cliffs, Native American dwellings with cliff paintings.

John thanks for your input but I guess you didn't read the first paragraph of the article...
# Alan Batson 2013-02-20 14:57
I used to be the Chef at Elk Canyon ranch on Smith River and Orvis guide back in '88
great place monster browns all day!
# Jimmy Armijo 2012-11-16 10:37
John, I do agree with you about the Smith and Missouri rivers, but kayak fishing is far from popular there. Most people prefer drift boats and rafts. Of all my friends that have floated the Smith, myself included, not a one has used a kayak to get down. I think that kayaks will grow in popularity up there, but it may be a slow process.
+1 # FishinChix 2012-11-15 11:05
It's funny how you never hear from people until they want to complain! I voted for a location and it didn't make the top 10 do you see me chastening the author? I think you guys did a great job, maybe instead of complaining these guys will nominate and vote next year!
-1 # Jo Leach 2012-11-15 12:01
Great blog! I had to share this on our fb: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Oregon-Coast-Camping/191964617606272
+3 # Saafrican 2012-11-15 14:51
So much fishing so little time . :sad:
Maybe I need a 4 day work week and a 3 day fishing week . :-*
Ye that will work ! :-)
# WildCat 2012-12-04 10:10
I need to get out to some of these locations, especially Devils River it looks amazing!
+1 # Dschouest 2013-02-03 16:08
Awwww, no Louisiana love? Lol jkjk
+1 # Alan Batson 2013-02-20 14:55
Cape Cod ??? Bluefin Tuna, Stripers & more!! Hell even Great whites!!
Barnstable Harbor....Great place for a boondoggle..??!
# doug bowman 2013-03-29 12:23
taking the fam to St Simons island in late June. have a 5 year old a 7 year old. any suggestions for a solid kayak i can use solo for various conditions/appl ications (mainly fishing around the carolinas, georgia, florida) but also safely with a kid in front?

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