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How To Kayak Fishing For Catfish

kayak fishing for catfish

kayak fishing for catfish

Updated on 7/11/2024
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail ๐Ÿ‘‹ Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott

Kayak fishing for catfish can be a lot of fun! Assuming you have the appropriate clothing, protective gear, and rod and reel for the activity.

In recent years, kayak fishing for catfish has become increasingly popular. Many anglers are investing in kayaks to prepare for catfishing during the warmer months.

It is simple to rush through this process and walk out the door before ensuring you have all the necessary items. Paddling a kayak is one activity, but fishing from a kayak is an entirely different animal!

Kayak Catfishing

It takes a lot of practice and experience to fish from a kayak, so before you head out on the water, you should familiarize yourself with your kayak's ins and outs. Getting a hold of a catfish in a kayak calls for a unique skill set due to the fish's resistance to capture.

Pick The Right Kind Of Kayak For You!

Your success or failure in kayak fishing can be directly correlated to the type of kayak you use. When going fishing, it is essential to have a kayak with a sit-on-top design.

kayak catfish

kayak catfish

You need a space to move around freely while storing your tackle and bait. If you buy a sit-in kayak instead of a stand-up kayak, you will be limited in your mobility and space, and you won't have a lot of options to choose from.

For several years, fishing kayaks of the sit-on-top style have been a popular choice for anglers. Next, I would like to make a point: you do not have to purchase an explicitly fishing-designed kayak.

this is a test

There are a lot of different brands available, each of which sells its own "fishing kayak model." You don't need a kayak specifically labeled for fishing to go fishing, even though these models might have all the bells and whistles you're looking for.

There are a lot of different brands available, each of which sells its own "fishing kayak model." You don't need a kayak specifically labeled for fishing to go fishing, even though these models might have all the bells and whistles you're looking for

River Blue Cats

A broader and larger kayak that can support your gear and has plenty of storage space will serve you just fine. I made my Ocean Kayak into a fishing kayak, and the boat was ready to go as soon as I installed some rod holders and a fish finder.

Look around to find something that appeals to your taste. I highly recommend Ocean kayaks because their prices are affordable and can easily be converted into fishing kayaks.

You might consider getting a kayak with a pedal drive, as these are extremely useful for fishing. You won't need to use your hands, and moving around won't be a problem either. On the other hand, these are pretty pricey, and you must be very selective when selecting the brand you buy.

The traditional paddle kayaks work just fine for fishing, particularly for catfish. It would be best if you did not worry about keeping your hands free because it is highly likely that you will be anchoring up somewhere regardless, so there is no point in doing so.

There is a significant price difference between pedal-driven kayaks and paddle kayaks, so if you are starting, it is probably best to start with a paddle kayak.

Safety Equipment Tips

Catching Monster Catfish

Catching Monster Catfish

First and foremost, always put safety first! If you have to skimp on something, make it something other than the precautions you take to ensure your safety.

You should have an adequate amount of clothing, a whistle, an extra paddle, and a lifejacket as a bare minimum. It is also essential to bring a change of clothes with you so that if you get wet while paddling your kayak, you can put on some dry and warm clothing.

The lifejacket should not require an explanation. Make sure that it can support your weight, that it is not out of date, and that it fits you properly before you purchase it. If there is one thing you want to avoid at all costs, it is going swimming and then losing your life jacket.

If your paddle breaks, the backup paddle will come in very handy. Because it is possible, it is best to get ready for the worst-case scenario. If you don't have a paddle, you will be floating around in a life raft. Bring along an additional paddle.

If you need to signal for assistance or draw the attention of another boater, a whistle can come in very handy. If you are in danger of being run over by a boat or if you require assistance in any way, blowing your whistle will get you a long way.

Kayak catfish a Muddy River

It is of the utmost significance to dress appropriately. You will need to wear a wetsuit or something made of neoprene if you are fishing in temperatures below freezing. While fishing, you won't run the risk of getting hypothermia with this because it will help keep you warm.

Fishing in the winter can be done in very chilly conditions; therefore, proper preparation is essential. Another helpful piece of advice when fishing from a kayak is to be prepared to swim, and it is best to dress as though you are going to fall over to make this activity as risk-free as possible.

You have to be able to move around freely and find a way to get out of the predicament you're in. My mind immediately conjures up an image of a large anchor whenever I see someone dressed in jeans, a thick coat, and steel-toed boots.

Please do not put yourself in a dangerous situation by swimming while wearing clothing like that; it will be complicated. Neoprene pants, a lighter neoprene shirt, booties for my feet (and crocs), and my life jacket are the items I typically wear when I go whitewater rafting.

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How to Securely Fasten an Anchor

Because anchoring can be very difficult, you must ensure that you do it securely. Because kayaks are slightly more mobile than boats, it is possible to anchor them in somewhat more constrained areas.

Kayaking for fishing

Kayaking for fishing

Always do your best to keep an eye out for the tide's direction, as this will determine where you will anchor your boat.

When I am anchoring, I usually paddle upstream past the spot where I want to anchor, then toss my anchor and let myself drift downstream to where I want to be.

To properly account for the waves and the current drift, it is essential to leave a small amount of slack in the line. There are a few different approaches you can take when it comes to securing your anchor to your kayak.

Sometimes the front, sometimes the back, and sometimes even the side. The back is my top choice because the current helps keep you in line, and it is much simpler to fish directly in front.

Catching Monster Catfish From SHORE

If the water is relatively calm, you can anchor your kayak from the front, giving you access to both sides for fishing. The same holds for anchoring on the side, as you should only do so in relatively calm water.

You don't want to get swept off center or caught in a strong current, which could cause you to capsize.


When you get into a kayak, you might not have to make many adjustments to your rod and reel, but due to the limited space, you might want to use a shorter rod. Boat rods should be between 6-7 feet for optimal use.

kayak fishing

kayak fishing

When fish are already in the boat, this simplifies baiting up, casting, and handling them. Because catfish are known for their resilience, I suggest using rods with at least a medium-heavy action.

You're going to need some propulsion to bring these fish in. The reel you choose should be sufficiently torqued and compatible with the rod you intend to use.

To a lesser extent, you should be concerned about a reel's ability to cast a long distance and instead focus on finding one that offers a good line pickup.

The Abu Garcia 6500 and 7000 are two models that I find particularly appealing. These reels have excellent casting ability and are also a perfect choice for use on the boat. If you are looking for a high-quality spinning reel, I suggest the Okuma Avenger or the Okuma Coronado.

Multiple Giant Blue Catfish

These reels are available at affordable prices, and they perform exceptionally well when used with any fish.

The length of the fishing line you use is determined by the size of the catfish you are trying to catch. If you are only interested in catching smaller channel catfish, you probably only need a monofilament line with a 17-20 pound test.

It might be a good idea to beef up that line to a 25 or 30-pound test if you are going after large bluefish or flatheads. When it comes to braiding, I recommend using no less than a 50-pound test, but make sure to only use it in areas that aren't rocky.

It only takes one pointed rock to cut through the braid easily.

Locations Worth Paying Attention To

It is time to start looking for some spots now that you have finally managed to get yourself off the bank. When fishing, I have had the most success targeting deep holes, current breaks, channels, and the mouths of creeks or other rivers.

sea kayak fishing

sea kayak fishing

Kayaks are an excellent means of transportation for exploring otherwise inaccessible areas. When it comes to launching, you typically won't have to travel too far to find a suitable spot.

However, fishing for cats from a kayak is the same as fishing from any other vessel. Make your way around the area until you locate the fish. Remember that the further away from your vehicle you paddle, the further you need to swim back.

My day typically begins at the creek mouths, and after that, I make my way to the channel. I like to start early in the morning at the creek mouths. If I am unsuccessful there, I move on to the current breaks, and if all else fails, I go for the deep holes.

River Catfish

It is highly recommended always to have a plan A, B, C, and D, and you never want to be in a position where you are stuck and unsure of what to do.

With this in mind, become familiar with your waters. Carry out some preliminary research to ensure that you are familiar with the water's depths and the distances that separate the various locations.


If you are familiar with the body of water, you are fishing on, kayak fishing for catfish can be a lot of fun. The importance of safety cannot be overstated, and it must never be overlooked. Just give up and admit defeat if you are in a situation beyond your control.

Your life is not worth risking for it! Have a nice day, everyone, and reel in some catfish!

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can stay up to date on all of my fishing exploits and other outdoor adventures.