Kayak Fishing for Muskie: An Insane Passion

How To: Kayak Fishing
Kayak Fishing Muskie: An Insane Passion
Immediately your extra-heavy rod doubles over with every sharp dive to the bottom. Violent head-shakes and massive runs scream drag out of your spool as you get dragged across the water. Eye level with this angry fish, it jumps out of the water, mouth open and treble hooks swinging. Heart pounding you now have to find a way to one hand net this fish.

This is kayak fishing for muskie.

Weedbeds and rock shelves magnified by the water’s surface become apparent to you as you glide effortlessly and undetected by the world below. No hum of a motor breaks the bird’s call nor fish disturbance on the water. Only the soft rhythmic bump of your kayak pedals, the lapping of water against your hull, and the splash of your lure sinking after a long cast are signs of your presence.

Cast after cast you wear away on the 10 thousand needed to catch the meanest freshwater predator. You watch the gold reflection of your bucktail become brighter as you reel in.

In less than a second, you catch another golden reflection out of the corner of your eye. Mouth open, ready to inhale, a muskie violently hits your lure just feet from you, inches under the surface. The strike catches you off guard as you set the hook, adrenaline now on full throttle.

Immediately your extra-heavy rod doubles over with every sharp dive to the bottom. Violent head-shakes and massive runs scream drag out of your spool as you get dragged across the water. Eye level with this angry fish, it jumps out of the water, mouth open and treble hooks swinging. Heart pounding you now have to find a way to one hand net this fish.

This is kayak fishing for muskie.

Erin Howard
Instagram: @nebraskamuskiegirl
Whether it is the versatility, affordability, or the closeness with the water, there are many reasons why anglers choose kayak fishing. But, across the board, the benefits more than outweigh any limitations you have kayak fishing.

 The Challenge

For those choosing to chase muskie out of a kayak, myself included,  we’d be lying if we said the extra challenge was not a motivating factor.

While generally speaking, from a kayak it should take you not much longer to land a muskie from the time it is hooked to the time it hits the net, you have extra dimensions to take into account.

Firstly, you are being dragged. Your kayak is made to be efficient at gliding across the water. When a muskie takes your hook, you will be pulled forwards, backward, and in a circle. The most important thing is to be aware of where you are headed and to adjust your position, all without giving slack line.  This extra challenge is an absolute blast as you feel first hand what a muskie is capable of.

“This extra challenge is an absolute blast as you feel first hand what a muskie is capable of.”
Another thing to be aware of, for those of us with pedal-drive kayaks, is line tangling. A muskie will dive under your kayak and if you have pedals in the way, a tangled mess, a lost fish, and a broken heart generally ensue.

I fish out of a Hobie Revolution 13. Once I hook up, I instinctively push my pedals forward, making them flush against my hull and eliminating the chance my line could get caught.

Netting a fish of that size alone adds an even greater challenge. While some kayak anglers still opt for fish grips, I would not recommend this. The damage to a muskie’s jaw just simply isn’t worth it. A large net, preferably rubber coated, to save fins from shredding, but light enough to maneuver is key. I have a Frabill Conservation Series net that I chopped part of the handle off of to make sitting down and netting, easier.

Even with all of the challenges that present themselves with muskie fishing from a kayak, there is no greater reward. Every last fish landed means that much more, knowing what it took.

Photo Courtesy of Kaitlin Woodward
Instagram: Kaitlin_Woodward | Facebook: facebook.com/kaitlinwoodward1
Staying Physically Fit

For those of you who have fished for muskie, I am sure you understand what I mean when I say casting is physically demanding. This is even more so from a kayak depending on if you are sitting or standing. At the end of the day, you cannot drop your motor and load up. You have to pedal or paddle your way back, sometimes fighting waves, or extreme heat. Being in good physical shape really helps, and kayak fishing itself is a great way to stay active.

Between the last day of “safe” ice and open water, I find myself scouring lake maps, and stocking reports… on my couch. By the time I launch my kayak for the first time in spring for muskies, I feel the burn of taking a break.

But by the end of the season, ice forming along the edges of lakes, I feel toned, healthy, and strong.

 

Versatility & Maneuverability 

A kayak offers versatility that standard boats just simply don’t have. There is no water too skinny, and often it is these back streams or pockets behind dense reed-lines that muskie hold to.

A kayak can not only put you into some back nooks and crannies of shallow river systems or back bays, but also can put you on some untouched waters. It is some of these back-woods, no boat ramp lakes that hold some giant unpressured muskies.

On the note of pressured muskies, the ability to be stealthy can mean the difference of your net getting muskie slime on it, or going in the back of your truck dry. These pressured, conditioned and downright stubborn fish hear the hum of a trolling motor all day long. Chances are if they have been caught a time or two, hearing a boat will spook them.

A kayaks low profile in clear water is hugely beneficial. These spooky fish will not hear you coming, nor see a boat’s shadow to suspect that anything is awry, putting you at an advantage.

The Passion

Once you land your first muskie out of a kayak, there is no going back. Next to nothing competes with the satisfaction knowing you caught the fish of 10,000 casts in the most challenging way and that all your blood, sweat, and fishless days finally paid off.

Your body may ache, legs falling off from pedaling miles, shoulders like room-temperature jello from hucking large lures over your head and your nerves completely shot… but when it all comes together and a muskie is staring you down safely in your net, you know it was all worth it.

 

Tightlines future kayak muskie anglers!

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