Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Freshwater Kayak Fishing

By Dan Oko

There’s never been a better time to get into kayak fishing. Increasingly, anglers are discovering the joys — not to mention the cost-effectiveness — of trading a souped-up bass boat for a stable sit-on-top kayak. 

Whether the focus is lakes, rivers or smaller streams, kayaks provide excellent access to shallow structure and shoreline brush likely to hold feisty fish. Because kayaks are so versatile, they also make excellent craft to pursue deep-water quarry like stripers and crappie on reservoirs.

“Kayaking gives you freedom over the medium of water,” says Michael Banks, a retired dentist from Jacksonville, who landed a 13.6-pound largemouth bass on Purtis Creek a few years ago. “If I can catch a fish like that from a kayak, why do I need a bass boat?”

The growth of the Texas Paddling Trails program and new angler leases on private property are offering more opportunity for freshwater kayak fishing than ever before.


Where to Go

Purtis Creek State Park
Be like Mike, and chase largemouth bass on this no-wake East Texas reservoir with limited motorboat traffic.

Colorado River, Bastrop
Choose between the 14.3-mile Wilbarger Paddling Trail and the 6-mile El Camino Real Paddling Trail. Abundant game fish include Guadalupe bass, sunfish and largemouth bass.

West Fork, Trinity River
The beginner-friendly Bridgeport Falls Paddling Trail is a 5.8-mile up-and-back stretch of river about an hour west of Dallas-Fort Worth offering a chance to cast light tackle for a variety of fish, including carp, bass and crappie.

Upper Sabine River
Try the 12-mile Mineola Bigfoot Paddling Trail; camp overnight at the Mineola Nature Preserve.

Gear Up

Boat & paddle: Every kayak manufacturer produces at least one model especially designed for anglers (with pole mounts and ports for fish finders and other electronics). Many have a rudder to help steer. Hobie markets a kayak that uses a foot pedal-drive system so your hands are always free. Most kayaks sold in Texas are sit-on-top, which are stable and don’t overheat you in the summer sun. Models range in price from less than $600 to more than $2,000. Before you buy, rent a boat or attend one of the demo days at retailers.

Life jacket

Tethers: to protect your gear in case the kayak flips.

Small anchor: to hold the boat steady over a hole in a mild current.

Fishing gear

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Related stories

From Paddles to Pedals

Rigging a Fishing Kayak


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