What’s the Best Boat?
The best kayak to take down to your local stream is one that you can access. If you’re choosing a kayak, test paddle some to see which are comfortable. Both sit-inside and sit-on-top kayaks can work in small stream situations. Smaller, shorter sit-inside boats have greater maneuverability and can keep you dryer with spray skirts. Mid-length recreational sit-inside kayaks are a great option for most reaches. Very short whitewater kayaks may not be the best choice for fishing. Of course, the obvious choice are kayaks that are designed for fishing. Fishing kayaks are equipped with rod holders, bait wells, and plenty of storage area.
Small Stream Kayak Safety
While fishing from a kayak can be a blast on small streams, safety should always be your number on concern. On small streams, capsizing your kayak is a very real possibility. Wear comfortable clothing, and always wear your life jacket while kayaking, and be ready to take the plunge when it happens. It’s not a bad idea to wear a helmet and paddling jacket to protect you from injury and hypothermia on the water as well. Prepare for your trip by checking the water level on the stream that you’re going to paddle. If you can, consult a local paddling shop to ask what the best water levels are for your destination area. A knowledgeable shop may also be able to give you pointers on the best sections to paddle and safe put in and take out points. While some streams can be paddled most of the time, some are only floatable after some rain. These streams, usually smaller ones, should be attempted only by more advanced paddlers. Flooding streams can be dangerous, bring in debris, alter channels and create strainers. Strainers are one of the biggest safety concerns on small streams. A strainer is any obstruction like a tree that allows water to pass through it but not objects such as a kayaker or boat. If you see a strainer blocking a stream that you are paddling, bring your boat to shore, get out and assess the best way to navigate around it. Often, this may involve portaging your boat around the strainer. Rapids, narrow chutes, bridges, and low-head dams are among other dangerous impediments on small streams. All should be given wide berth or portaged around as appropriate.
Where to Fish
In any given state, there are literally hundreds of small streams that offer great kayak fishing opportunities. Start by exploring familiar streams that are close to home. Choose your route by looking at the length of the stream that you would like to paddle. Then, find appropriate, safe locations to launch and retrieve your kayak. A small stream that is ten miles long should take about five hours to boat, depending on how often you pause to fish and relax. Small streams are a great way to start your kayak fishing experience.