Kayaks and Canoes Can Provide Easy Access to Bass Hideouts Throughout the State
A least 16 major rivers flow within or along the borders of Alabama. A multitude of creeks and smaller tributaries feed those rivers. Much of these headwaters of the river basins are inaccessible to motorized vessels. Yet, a plethora of fishing spots is available to those anglers with paddle power.
In recent years kayaks have become formidable tools for anglers to cast lures where few or none have cast any lures before. These lightweight, stable fishing machines provide a method to reach far back into virgin waters in search of bass and other game fish.
For the cost of a couple of top-end bait-casting rigs, an angler can enter the world of kayak fishing. Of course, there are high-end models, but for the most part, entry into the kayak-fishing world is in expensive and painless.
Kayaks can open up a whole new world to anglers. In addition, while fishing is the prime objective, wildlife viewing and exploring is an added bonus.
Advantages of Kayak Fishing
We have already mentioned a couple of the advantages of fishing from a kayak or canoe. Low entry-level cost is probably the most important. An angler can buy a basic, no-frills kayak for around $400 to $600. Throw in a personal floatation device and a paddle and all is needed is some water.
For kayak anglers that don’t want to paddle, Hobie offers kayaks with peddle power. The Mirage models come in 1- or 2-person kayaks with a unique peddle propulsion system. The peddles can be easily removed for transport from home to lake.
“This year we have introduced the Mirage Drive 180, a forward and reverse propulsion system will be available,” mentions Ingrid Niehaus, marketing representative for Hobie Kayaks. “The system is adjustable by a crank that fits any person from adult to child.”
Hobie offers several different models of fishing kayaks. These were designed specifically for anglers who want to fish from small creeks and lakes to saltwater destinations. Baitwells, dry storage, tackle holders and ice chests are standards on some models.
Along with low coast, kayaks are low maintenance too. Most kayak hulls are roto-molded with high impact plastic. The little boats are tough and very durable. If not abused, most kayaks will last for many years. Usually all that is required is a little soap and water periodically.
Another advantage of kayaks is their portability. Most models are lightweight and can be carried on the rooftop of an automobile. The ease of handling allows launching a kayak at the edge of any small creek or pond with no boat ramp needed.
“My kayak is 11 feet long, 28 inches wide and weighs only 40-pounds,” comments Michelle Pritchett of Munford, Ala. “I can put it in the water almost anywhere by myself. It has plenty of room for my rod and paddle.”
Most kayaks designed specifically for fishing have dry storage compartments. Some models have tackle storage locations in easy reach. Rod holders or at least slots of holders are a must for a fishing kayak.
Fishing From a Kayak
Kayaks are useful tools to make a stealthy approach to a secret bass-laden spot. Their low profile and easy maneuverability allows anglers of all ages to get back in fishy areas. When sitting in a kayak, anglers are close to the water, which makes skipping a lure under low hanging branches a snap.
Casting from a kayak is a little different than casting from a standard boat. Most anglers cast toward the bow instead of across the middle. This method allows for smoother casting with no rocking effect.
Anglers fishing from a kayak will want to keep their tackle to a minimum. One or two rods and a small tackle box is all that is required. Bass in the upper reaches of rivers and creeks are generally not too fussy when it comes to lure selection. A few basic lures and colors should suffice.
“A bass is a bass is a bass,” Tim Perkins of Heflin, Ala. comments. He won multiple national kayak fishing championships around the country. “Bass pretty much behave and react the same no matter what body of water they inhabit.”
Perkins mentions the same lures used in the northern part of the state will work in the smaller creeks and rivers in the southern parts. His top lure for catching bass from a kayak is a spinnerbait.
“I use a spinnerbait 70 percent of the time when fishing rivers,” Perkins advises. “I like sizes in the 1/4- to 3/8-ounce range, but sometimes I might move up to a 1/2-ounce lure depending on the river and conditions.”
His spinnerbait brand of choice is a Premier League lure. Perkins helped design this bait with bass pro Dalton Bobo. The lure has hidden weight and a smaller profile. A longer shank hook and 2-tone colored blades help enhance its catchability.
Since bass behave basically the same on downsized bodies of water, lure selection is relatively simple. We have mentioned spinnerbaits, but also crankbaits and small soft-plastic lures are top choices as well.
“In the spring, I will use a frog around grassy patches,” Pritchett advises. “I usually only take one rod along, but, I will change out lures if needed.”
Pritchett uses an Abu Garcia reel coupled to a Duckett rod. She spools on 10-pound-test fluorocarbon line. A Zoom Baby Brush Hog in root beer color is a top lure for Pritchett, along with a crawfish-colored crankbait. Generally, she will target rocks and stumps.
Kayak Fishing Locations
If the water is deep enough to hold a bass, it’s deep enough for kayak fishing. Many kayak anglers will venture to the upper reaches of rivers and creeks. On large reservoirs around the state, there are plenty of access points for kayaks wherever a bridge or causeway crosses a creek or backwater slough.
One favorite location for kayak anglers is the Elk River on Wheeler Lake. The Elk enters the Tennessee River on Wheeler about 10 miles above the dam. The upper end of the Elk offers plenty of bassin’ opportunities in places accessible to kayaks and canoes.
For anglers looking for a fight, the Coosa River watershed in the eastern section provides a multitude of places for spotted bass action. The headwaters of a river or large creek on any of the Coosa River chain of lakes are loaded with hard-fighting spotted bass.
“If the water is deep enough to hold a bass, it’s deep enough for kayak fishing.”
“Choccolocco Creek feeds into Logan Martin and is a great place to catch spotted bass,” Perkins mentions. “You can fish for miles without seeing a house or another kayaker.”
Another top spotted bass area for kayak anglers is along the Tallapoosa River near the eastern border of Alabama. The river headwaters stretch back into Georgia. Several creeks feed into Wedowee (R.L. Harris) and Martin lakes. Much of the upper reaches remains undeveloped.
Along the western border is the Tombigbee River. A multitude of creeks feed into this major waterway. Many fishing locales are remote and provide plenty of untapped action for bass. Look for water access points along county roads.
In the center portion of the state, the Alabama River Basin is fractured with fingers of creeks feeding the river. The Cahaba, Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers converge into the Alabama River as it makes its way to the head of Mobile Bay.
Anglers looking for a variety of fishing opportunities and species can launch their kayak around Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The area around the bay has acres and acres of waterways, sloughs, marshes and miles of rivers and creeks awaiting anglers.
“In the marshes, I’ll fish for speckled trout and redfish using shrimp with a weighted float,” mentions Shane Price of White Plains, Ala. “The falling tide around points are my main locations.”
Price said he prefers the moving water of the tide. When the water is still, he doesn’t catch as many fish. He mentions D.O.A. lures tipped with a small piece of shrimp for scent as a top lure. Price will maneuver his kayak on the downwind side of points and grassy areas to minimize the effects of the wind.
Also, in the Delta Region are the Bartram and Perdido Canoe Trails. The Bartram Trail was opened in 2003 for kayakers and canoeists. The State Lands Division maintains six day trails and six overnight trails. There are two land-based campsites and four floating platform camping areas along the trail.
On the Perdido Trail, kayak or canoe anglers can access the trail in the Perdido Wildlife Management Area in Baldwin County. Both trails require reservations for overnight camping.
Whether fishing a remote creek in the upper reaches of a reservoir or casting lures in the swamps and marshes, catching fish from a kayak always makes a great day outdoors.