When the days are long and time frees itself, there are few places I would rather be than floating down a river on a kayak. With dozens of rivers across the prairies, one doesn’t have to go far to launch a kayak and get fishing.
Your body the motor, food and fluids the fuel, skill level and safety almost the only constraints (barring unseasonably high water levels). Often minimal effort is involved, except for the occasional portage or upstream paddle to repeat a drift and the mind is free to wander where it may. Meandering from point A to point B, fishing for anything and everything that will bite, is how I like to roll and I’ve found myself between two bridges on a few occasions, steadily catching fish yet always wondering how the bite was around the bend.
Fishing from a kayak can be as simple or complex as you make it, and while different situations may call for certain gear or necessities, once out on the water it is you, your vessel and whatever tackle may be needed for success in your pursuit. I prefer to paddle with a small group as more fish can be caught, patterns deciphered, sights seen and there is always safety in numbers. However the best part is usually multiple vehicles for transportation. Being able to park a vehicle at the end destination and avoiding a paddle upstream to where you started, allows for more ground covered and time to fish. Most rivers can be multi-species bonanzas and with an open mind and diverse tackle tray a solid day of action packed fishing is not too hard to come by.
The sun had just begun to crack the horizon and with a small crowd of anglers on the tiny patch of public shore access having little success, we launched our kayaks in pursuit of less pressured fish. Gliding along the water with ease, we barely had to paddle as the current took us downstream and around the first bend. A few hundred feet from where we launched, a current seam and back eddy were visible and we decided there was no better place to wet a line. No more than a few minutes had passed before we had all hooked into a fish and with that, steady action followed. Time passes however it may when out on the water and with a destination in mind it is always good to keep an eye on a watch. Hours can waste away when consistently catching fish and before one knows it there are countless kilometers to paddle before dark to complete a trek. We were keen to find out what the rest of our paddle would offer up and it wasn’t long before we were headed downstream to find out.
Each bend or stretch in the river presented new scenarios to test our angling prowess and rarely did one not give up at least a few fish eager to bite. From clipping our kayaks onto partially submerged trees and vertical jigging or casting, to a slow drift downstream with a float and a jig, there were fish around and biting like they hadn’t seen a meal in days. Fishers scurried amidst the rocks, pelicans and eagles soared in the distance and the occasional deer would key in to our presence while sneaking a drink from the shallows as we would come around a bend. It was the prairie at its finest and not a human in sight besides the three of us throughout the day. Bullheads and catfish were feasting in deeper pockets, goldeye could be found in the current’s edge and a few suckers were eager to bite while rooting around on a gravel flat. We even had a couple freshwater drum and walleye commit to some artificial lures while fishing near a small set of rapids. Steady multi-species action was what we sought and we were not disappointed.
After a few more bends in the river and one more set of navigable rapids, we found ourselves at the the bridge signalling the end of our more than eight kilometer paddle downstream. Eager to do it again and even moreso to explore a new stretch of river, and it wasn’t more than a few days before we were off on another paddle down a different prairie river with similar multi-species success.
Kayak fishing is what you make of it and can be as simple or high tech as you desire. For me safety and comfort are paramount. Once all the safety gear is covered it comes down to ease of access and maneuverability as things can get interesting fast when you have a larger fish tugging you around the lake or river. I’ve had a few different species give me and my set up a run for its money and that’s half the fun of it. Netting your fish can present its own set of challenges and an extendable net definitely aids in the process. I favour shorter yet sensitive two piece rods for most scenarios I fish, mainly because it is easier to net the fish, but with a bit of practice any rod can accomplish what the angler needs it to. Though fishing from a kayak might not be for everyone, it has allowed me to get away from the crowds, on to less pressured fish and a little more physical activity in the process.