Living in Southern California means we have excellent paddling weather throughout the year. Nevertheless, a brief search on Craigslist brings up a plethora of kayaks sold by owners no longer able to take the “winter chill” here in Southern California.
The beauty of kayak fishing is that you do not necessarily need the most expensive equipment to get started. While having a brand new Hobie Pro Angler 14 is terrific, there are lots of fishing opportunities off of your $300 Craigslist Kayak.
If you purchased one of these bargain bin kayaks, here is the additional equipment you'll need to start fishing:
A good PFD (Personal Floatation Device) is more than a means of keeping you afloat if trouble occurs on the water. A good jacket will be comfortable and not restrict you from paddling or accessing tackle. A quality PFD may also contain pockets which can provide you more space to store tools and essentials. NRS, MTI and Stohlquist manufacture high quality PFDs with pockets for storage.
Look here for a guide on selecting a PFD for kayak fishing.
If you plan on fishing after sunset, bringing a headlight or a flag light such as the YakAttack VisiCarbon Pro would be necessary. Using red and green lights is not advisable as boaters may think you are on a skiff.
Having 6 rod holders on your 11 ft kayak might give it a cool shrimp boat appearance, but may prove to be a pain when you’re out on the water. I suggest paddling with your kayak on the water first, then marking with a sharpie all the spots you think mounting a rod holder would be useful.
As a kayak fisherman, it is important to “rig to flip.” Trying to collect unattached gear after capsizing will be very frustrating. Rods should ideally be leashed even if they are in rod holders. If leashes seem too cumbersome, make sure your rods will float.
Anchors or drift chutes are an invaluable piece of equipment on days with even slight current and wind. An anchor allows you to stay in a good fishing spot without having to constantly re-position yourself with a paddle. If you are going to anchor in any sort of current, an ideal set up would be an anchor trolley to position the anchor/drift chute correctly. Trolleys also provide a means of quick releasing the anchor in case of trouble.
Get some from the back of your local super market. Milk crates are superior to Tupperware boxes because they do not collect water. Bungee this down in the dry well of your kayak and you have a great way to store lots of tackle and gear. Add some more rod holders by attaching PVC pipes or Scotty rod holders.