HOME Fishing Reels Fishing Rods Fishing Line Tools All Products Community About Support

Kayak Fishing Responsibility

By Kastking | 22 January 2018 | 0 Comments

Kayak fishing can be an enjoyable sport, or a nightmare waiting to happen. Follow these tips whether for cold weather fishing if you are paddling a tippy canoe, kayak, or any small craft.


Without a doubt if you are fishing anywhere in the northeast, you have noticed more and more kayaks out on the water.  A majority of them are fisherman who want more access than fishing from the surf can provide. A kayak can be used as a fishing machine, or just an occasional pleasure craft. The preference is the owner’s choice of how to use their boat. However in the last few years I have seen several poor choices from many kayakers. This article will discuss a few examples of “what not to do” and how to lead by example. There is a lot of complaining on web forums and on the water about jet skis tearing up fishing grounds, and the giant yachts being inconsiderate with their wakes. As a kayaker I feel for this argument as well, but we also have a responsibility that is essential for our own safety and reputation on the water.


The inspiration for this article comes from a recent experience in November 2014.  I was fishing near a high profile New York City bridge rock pile for blackfish (tautog). The area is for experienced kayak anglers as well as  boaters due to swift current, heavy commercial traffic, and being close to the ocean. I would not recommend it for anyone that is unexperienced and not comfortable in their boat.  A friend and I were jigging for tautog, and another kayak pulls up to us. The kayak was an off-the-shelf big box store retailer boat, but not sea worthy enough for the area. The angler was not properly dressed for the low 50 degree water temperatures and was dragging around an anchor. His anchor was hung up off the side of his kayak, which was about 10 yards from jagged rocks with swift rip currents. The rule that is strictly enforced by the United States Coast Guard is 25 yards from this area. I have mixed feelings about that rule, but that’s another topic. However, I know to be respectful to their authority. I politely informed him about the rule and that the Coast Guard might not be very “friendly” in addressing him. I also informed him that anchoring off the side was extremely dangerous. Ocean tanker throw five foot swells that could easily flip him on the side. He more or less ignored my advice. I shook my head in disbelief. Although I found out nothing bad happened to him, it was a recipe for disaster.  Many things were an easy catastrophe in this situation: dragging an anchor, the kayak, the way the person was dressed, and what looked like his inability to control the craft. As an ambassador to the sport, it was a disturbing situation and needs to be addressed.


Kayak fishing in cold weather calls for details in preparation dry suit

Kayak fishing in cold weather calls for details in preparation. A drysuit is the best insurance.


Every season like clockwork drowning from capsizing, rescues, hypothermia, and near misses are what we hear about from kayakers. It sounds like this sport is as dangerous as climbing Mount Everest. The majority of these incidents are so easily avoidable. A Coast Guard approved PFD* (Personal Floatation Device) and dressing appropriately are as basic as it gets. Cold water is downright dangerous, and a PFD will save your life. A waterproof case for your cell phone to make that rescue call if ever needed, and a VHF radio clipped to your PFD is the best life insurance ever.


 dry suit for kayak fishing

A typical dry suit for kayak fishing.



A dry suit is a standard term thrown around now. If you are serious about kayak angling for striped bass in particular, a dry suit is a better investment than any rod and reel combo. There are a good amount of choices on the market, from high end Gore-Tex to latex gasket based. They are designed for submersion. Not only will you be comfortable to fish in cold air, cold water, and rain, you will be safe. Alternatively ,you can wait until the water is warm enough of course to wear shorts or dry pants.



Waders are not ideal. Flipping while wearing them will make re-entering your kayak nearly impossible. Although flipping in Neoprene hip waders with booties and a dry top isn’t a case for drowning, swimming in them isn’t that easy.  Chest waders with boots are one of the worst things to wear.  Due to the design of just letting water “fill up,” they create weight that you cannot manage no matter what.  Combined with cold water, you are at a serious disadvantage. With a dry top and a belt, water entry will not be overwhelming at first, but swimming in them will be a challenge.  50 degree water trickling in will make you uncomfortable fast.  We commonly kayak fish 50 degree to 60 degree water in the northeast during the spring and fall.  When the waters atr those temperatures,  I’m always wearing my dry suit.


kayak fishing PFD holds cell phone

This Coast Guard approved PFD also has pockets to hold a cell phone in a waterproof case. Always wear one.



Stats from the PFD Manufacturers Association and the USCG are pretty much in agreement that hypothermia will settle within 1-2 hours (for an adult in good condition) from submersion in 50-60 degree water temps depending on your body type. The United States Search and Rescue Task Force wrote a brief article summarizing cold water submersion here:  http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm.


Anything less than 50 degrees and hypothermia can begin to settle in within half an hour.  As hypothermia settles in you will lose the majority of your body’s strength and ability to cognitively reason. There are many other factors that will determine your ability to react in cold water such as “cold shock” which is the initial submersion. If  your head is submerged at any point in time it will accelerate the rate that hypothermia settles in.



Things can be unpredictable at times with a kayak and you never know what might creep up. A mirage drive breaking for the Hobie anglers in many places is as much of a downright scary thought as having your engine fail while tuna fishing 100 miles offshore. Taking basic preventive measures and becoming familiar with bodies of water you are fishing before you fish are as basic as it gets.


kayak fishing drysuit

Author Elias Vaisberg wearing a dry suit. Air temps 42 degrees F. Those bumps on the horizon are jets on the runway at JFK airport in NY




During my kayak angling career I’ve witnessed about four or five flips by kayakers. Every time it was something that was seriously unsafe. It was either the craft itself, the amount of people on the boat, or the conditions for the angler in thekayak. I’m urging anyone on the water, if it looks unsafe on a kayak, there is a good chance it is seriously unsafe. Kayakers have a reputation to keep up. We don’t want to become labeled as the dangerous group on the water.  Losing access on the water is a big reality facing us in the northeast. Having multiple incidents a season certainly does not help our cause in the eyes of regulators.


*Editor’s Note – some instant inflation PFDs may have difficulty inflating in cold weather.


By  –  Elias Vaisberg


Elias Vaisberg is a highly experience kayak fisherman in Brooklyn, NY. He logs countless hours targeting anything that swims in Jamaica Bay and New York Harbor. He qualified for the Hobie International Challenge the past two years. He fishes on a 2011 Hobie Outback and is on the angler support staff at Team Eposeidon and sponsored by Hobie Kayak.





Eposeidon (www.eposeidon.com ) is an e-commerce company (Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc.) that brings a fresh, innovative approach to anglers by offering qualityfishing tackle products at the best prices and no cost, or low cost shipping. Eposeidon’s goal is to exceed expectations through outstanding customer service and superior product value to their customers. Eposeidon is continually expanding its product lines, which include KastKing™ fishing line, fishing reels, and fishing rods, MadBite fishing lures, Ecooda reels, and other fishing tackle products, to meet individual fishing equipment needs. Eposeidon is headquartered in Garden City, NY, USA and sells fishing tackle products globally. Eposeidon is the sole North American Distributor for Ecooda fishing reels.

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked. *
Name *
Email *
Security Code *