Ocean Kayak Fishing: How to Stay Safe, Secure, Mobile

By Andy Whitcomb

Jul 31, 2017

Kayak fishing in the ocean requires a versatile, stable craft that is safe, secure, and mobile. Here’s why.

Ocean kayak fishing requires a specific kind of craft. There are several types of kayaks such as “recreation,” “whitewater,” “ultra-light,” and “fishing.” Designs vary, depending on the type of water where it primarily will be used.  The ocean is big and intimidating. Here are some things to consider before going kayak fishing in the ocean:

1. Safe

A sea or ocean kayak needs to be able to remain stable, whatever the conditions of wind, current, and swells. This stability will help provide the much-needed confidence for ocean journeys.  You’ll also want a reliable personal flotation device, to stay visible with a flag and light, and review all the other safety tips.

2. Secure

For kayak fishing in the ocean, Ric Burnley, editor of Kayak Angler magazine and the Paddling Buyers Guide, spends almost his entire time ocean kayak fishing and heeds the advice of another noted kayak angler, Jim Sammons: “rig to flip.”   That’s right, assume the worst can happen and that the kayak rolls over.  You and the kayak will remain buoyant but you don’t want to lose all of your tackle. Take a minimum of ocean kayak accessories and secure everything with clips, bungee cords, and netting.  Ric’s kayak even has “a hatch large enough to hold my fishing rods in case I wipe out in the surf.”

3. Mobile

The best ocean kayaks are designed for efficient paddling to cover great distances and move through whatever the ocean conditions. Ric chose an ocean kayak that was “low and lean to cut through the water and duck the wind, rolls over waves, and I can still stand and fish, even in choppy seas.”   Some ocean fishing kayaks have peddle-type propulsion while others even have electric trolling motors so that you can focus on other aspects of the fishing trip.  

Before setting off on a big ocean kayak fishing trip, here's a quick kayak fishing tip.Gain some kayak experience on smaller, more forgiving water first.  Ocean kayaker, Neil Schulman compares ocean kayak fishing to alpine backpacking because of the need to be mobile, safe, and have stuff secure. And make sure your fishing license and boat registration is up-to-date before setting out on one of the ultimate fishing adventures!
Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.