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Monday, 30 December 2013 05:53

Top 10 Kayak Fishing Destinations – 2013

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Mosquito Lagoon FL Mosquito Lagoon FL Photograph byTammy Wilson

Everyone has a favorite fishing hole – a go-to spot where the water is as familiar as your living room, and the fish are almost family. With that said, there are places I’ve heard of that I would love to add to my kayak angling bucket list. Spectacular scenery, perfect conditions, and of course plenty of fish all contribute to making a fishing hole into a “destination”.

Here are some of the best kayak fishing destinations from submissions to the 2013 Kayak Anglers Choice Awards. In no particular order:

Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania

kayak fishing the Susquehanna River Pennsylvania

Photograph provided by Juan Veruete

Running through 444 miles of central Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River presents kayak fishing opportunities for a wide range of interests and target species. While the smallmouth bass fishery is legendary and rainbow trout populate many areas, more and more anglers are targeting muskellunge – and big ones! Muskies are one of the most aggressive freshwater species, and 40”+ fish are frequent catches.

Link: http://www.visitcentralpa.org/


Devils River, Texas

Kayak Fishing Devils River Texas

Photograph by Brady Sullivan

Paddling and fishing Devils River is not for the faint of heart! The Devils River State Natural Area is a pristine, isolated area with few modern improvements. Everything is carry-in, carry-out – food, water, and other supplies are limited to what you can carry. From the Texas Parks and Wildlife website: “…a Devils River trip is highly strenuous and recommended ONLY for experienced paddlers equipped to spend at least three days in a remote area.” Fishing in this spring-fed river would be an experience, surrounded by true wild lands.

Link: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/


Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

kayak fishing Chesapeake Bay Virginia

Photograph by Rob Choi

With 4,500 square miles of water (bigger than Rhode Island) and 11,684 shoreline miles (including tributaries), the Chesapeake Bay estuary offers incredible kayak angling opportunities. The Bay is a tremendous striped bass fishery that also features tautog (“tog”), a hard-fighting structure dweller that can be found on wrecks, rock piles, and pilings. The three Bay areas (Upper, Middle, and Lower) provide kayak anglers the opportunity for an epic day, almost every day. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) crosses the Lower Bay and creates its own fishing environment where bull reds, tog, stripers and many other species congregate.

Link: http://mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/


Kona Coast, Hawaii

kayak fishing the kona coast hawaii

Photograph provided by Andy Cho

Kayak anglers who fish the Kona Cost of Hawaii’s Big Island take “big fish fishing” to an entirely different level. Steep bottoms put deep water close to shore, and thousand-pound monster fish give this area its nickname: Land of the Giants. In addition to the tuna, wahoo, albacore, grey snapper and other large gamefish, tiger sharks (some over 2,000lbs) inhabit the area. Do your homework, bring your two-speed reels and heavy tackle, and be ready for the sleigh ride of your life!

Link: http://www.gohawaii.com/


Lake Guntersville, Alabama

Kayak Fishing Lake Guntersville Alabama

Photograph by Chris Funk

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 75-mile-long Lake Guntersville is the largest lake in the state. Over 69,000 acres of water create the top “big bass” fishery in Alabama, according to a 2012 survey. The reservoir is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) impoundment system, so check for lake level and water release information before heading out to launch. Lake Guntersville State Park offers camping and launch sites, but as always, some of the more productive fishing can be found in less-traveled areas.

Link: http://www.outdooralabama.com/


Shelter Cove, California

kayak fishing Shelter Cove California

 Photograph by Jameson Redding

A small fishing village (that’s a hint) on the northern coast, Shelter Cove is considered by many to be one of California’s premier ocean fishing destinations. Albacore, ling and rock cod, halibut, salmon, and other tasty fish are all “possibles” for a day on the water. Shelter Cove hosts the Gimme Shelter tournament in May that draws participants from hundreds of miles away for a day of kayak fishing and fellowship. Cold water, “sneaker” waves, and rip currents add to the challenges, but proper preparation can lead to a great day on the Pacific Ocean.

Link: http://sheltercove-lostcoast.com/


Grand Isle, Louisiana

 kayak fishing grand island louisana

Photograph by Ben Roussel

The phrase “world class” is overused in tourism brochures and destination books – but in this case, it applies. Listed as the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana, Grand Isle is considered by many to be the premier redfish destination in the Gulf of Mexico’s angling holy land. YouTube is chock-full of videos of kayak anglers battling monster reds, or fields of waving tails in the shallow waters. Whether you call them red drum, marsh donkeys, spottail bass, or just “reds”, there are few better places to find big ones – and lots of them – than Grand Isle.

Link: http://www.grandisle.info/


Indian River Lagoon, Florida

kayak fishing mosquito lagoon florida

Photograph provided by Dee Kaminski

So much has been written about the Indian River Lagoon that it’s difficult to find new things to say. A coffee cup map stain centered on Melbourne, FL would encircle three premier southern saltwater kayak angling areas. The IRL includes the Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River, and Indian River, encompassing 156 mi (almost 40%!) of Florida’s east coast. Much of the Lagoon’s shallow water is included in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The estuary is home to huge bull red drum (redfish), gator speckled trout, tarpon, and other species both fun and challenging for kayak anglers. There are many places to camp and launch directly into this year-round fishery.

Link: http://www.indianriverlagoonbyway.com/


Fort Fisher, North Carolina

kayak fishing Fort Fisher North Carolina

Photograph by Chris Funk

The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is located on North Carolina’s southeastern coastal corner. The surrounding area offers saltwater Spartina grass marshes, creek and channel areas, backwaters, and beaches to paddle and fish. Red and black drum, speckled trout, and flounder are popular targets. Be aware of the tides, especially in the back country. Changing water levels can leave you stuck for several hours, unless you’re prepared for a long slog through mud and oyster bars. Launch at the Federal Point boat ramp, or check out the trails to access points behind Second Bay, Buzzards Bay, and the Basin.

Link: http://www.ncparks.gov/


Columbia River, Oregon / Washington

Kayak Fishing Columbia River Washington

Photograph provided by Oregon DNR

Even if you left the rods in the truck, the Columbia River would be worth a paddle. Just shy of 300,000 acres of water surrounded by incredible scenery in southern Washington and northern Oregon – what more could you ask for? If you’re inclined toward drag-smoking battles, consider the salmon and steelhead fishing during the annual migrations from the Pacific. Spring, summer, and fall runs of chinook, sockeye, coho, and steelhead make for exciting days of kayak angling followed by some excellent eating. Starting January 1, 2014, make sure you have the special Columbia River Basin endorsement in addition to your fishing license if you plan to target these species.

Link: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 09:53
Greg Becker

About the Author: Greg Becker relocated to the Tampa Bay, FL area from upstate NY, where for 20 years he spent his spare time as a licensed hunting and fishing guide. He now enjoys fishing in places you don’t need to drill through the water in winter. Greg writes for several outdoor companies and publications in the U.S. and abroad, and is a member of the Native Watercraft Pro Staff and Bull Bay Rods Professional Team. Greg enjoys getting his eleven-year-old son Robert out fishing in salt water from his kayak, and together they volunteer with the Tampa Bay Chapter of Heroes on the Water and Operation Helping Hand at the James A Haley VA Hospital.

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+2 # Irish Fly 2013-12-30 09:27
Awesome article - thanks for assembling & sharing!!!
# Kayakjak 2013-12-30 09:47
# Kayakjak 2014-01-01 18:57
Quoting Kayakjak:

I am in awe of the scenery and it would awesome to fish all of those places! Well written! :-)
# coastal_dan 2013-12-30 13:51
Great list! Makes for some great winter day dreaming and planning for the months to come.
# Coach joe 2013-12-31 03:11
Cool article... A great list!
# RSmith 2013-12-31 09:00
Mr Becker how many of those locations have you fished? I've only fished 1... :cry:
# BigFlyReel 2013-12-31 09:49
Two - IRL, and the Susquehanna, but I am aiming for more!
# Red Slayer 2013-12-31 10:49
How did The Glades or The Keys miss this list?
# FERAL ONE 2014-01-02 04:44
red, this was compiled from entries into the kayak anglers choice awards. heaven knows the glades and the keys are incredible places to fish, but this article give folks even more options to dream about !
+1 # Kayak Fish PA 2014-01-02 11:41
I've fished the Devil's River. Did a 4 day trip last spring. Incredible and remote but you need to be prepared, self sufficient and in decent shape. The fishing is great but you'll work for it. ;)
+2 # YakSushi 2014-01-03 08:44
Quoting Kayak Fish PA:
I've fished the Devil's River. Did a 4 day trip last spring. Incredible and remote but you need to be prepared, self sufficient and in decent shape. The fishing is great but you'll work for it. ;)

I want to fish the Devils River some day!
# Aggroman 2014-01-13 21:52
I'm glad this one made this list. What an awesome river. I fished it many times back when there was access that didn't require a 3 day trip. The Devils and the Pecos, hands down the best rivers in Texas,(IMO).
+2 # Riverrunner88 2014-01-06 19:03
really wanna fish the Susquehanna this year! great article
# Ron Edsall 2014-01-08 15:16
I used to fish the Susquehanna around the Binghamton area and had a lot of fun with the smallies on fly rod. I live now in Ocala, Fl and fish a lot in salt water with fly rod, but this will be my first year with kayak and looking forward to it

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