Kayak Fishing for Bass

Kayak Fishing for Bass with Nolan Minor

We caught up with ANGLR Expert, Nolan Minor, right after he finished up a day of kayak fishing for bass. He’s interested in helping YOU learn the ropes of kayak fishing for bass. If you enjoy the peace and quiet of bass fishing with a few friends, without the added hassle of a big bass boat to haul around, you’ve got to give it a try.

Getting off the bank really opens up a lot of opportunities, especially in a kayak. It doesn’t really need to be an expensive one either.

“It’s a really good way to get into the sport more, because it is challenging to be successful at bass fishing if all you’re able to do is bank fish,” he says.

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Kayaking Fishing for Bass: Gear and Tricks

Some people use shorter rods for kayak fishing, but Minor doesn’t. He grabs the same type of gear he uses on his bass boat, just less of it.

“I do tend to try to consolidate stuff. When I’m in a bass boat, I have a rod set up for every bait, to allow for ease of choice and utility. But when you’re in a kayak, you can’t have 15 rods, so I might pick four. I’ll use three or four different baits.”

You’ve got to simplify your tackle and gear. “I try to take as little gear as possible because it makes it easier if you’re not shuffling around with stuff on the boat. If I’ve never been somewhere before, I’ll take more stuff because I don’t know what I’ll need.” You definitely want to pack light and consolidate, because it makes life a lot easier in the small space of a kayak.

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There are certain presentations that are more challenging when fishing from a kayak. While you’re using the same baits, you do have to adjust your technique when power fishing. While you’re using moving baits like a spinnerbait or crankbait, the kayak will move towards it because of the drag of the bait in the water. “You have to learn how to account for that. You can almost use that bait as a trolling motor, allowing the pull of the bait to be your momentum,” he explains.

“It’s definitely a strange thing to get a feel for.”

Fishing a deep diving crankbait is almost impossible. “I’ve done it, but it’s really challenging because those baits pull so hard and there’s so much resistance there.” If you’re casting beyond a rock pile, by the time you retrieve your bait, you’re probably on top of the rock pile or even past it because of how hard that bait pulls.

Kayak Fishing for Bass: A Whole New Way to Fish Tournaments

Kayak bass tournaments are a whole separate sport when compared to bass tournaments in a boat. There are a few different organizations that offer the sport, one being Kayak Bass Fishing, (KBF). There are also a lot of state and regional level clubs that offer opportunities to compete. Kayak fishing tournaments are typically held on large lakes, which makes it difficult to quickly pick up and head someplace else.

The rules do allow anglers to load their kayak into their truck and head to a different spot, but it’s a huge difference from other bass tournaments. Kayak tournaments aren’t really something Minor plans to participate in. “As a tournament bass angler, participating in a kayak tournament is a big change for me.” He’ll stick to using the kayak as a great relaxation and escape tool.

ANGLR Expert, Dave Lefebre won $10,000 in a KBF kayak tournament on Lake Erie this past fall. There’s talk that 2019 will bring a professional kayak tour with substantial entry fees that will travel to lakes all over the country.

Some of the larger kayaks have little bait wells, but there’s no live well for keeping a fish. Kayak bass tournaments utilize a big ruler called a Hawg trough. It allows you to measure the fish, take a picture, and submit it for the tournament.

Kayak Fishing for Bass: Using Challenges to Your Advantage

On a windy day, the kayak will travel quite some distance, but when it’s not very windy, use that opportunity to be more thorough in your searching in an area, since you don’t have that freedom to crank up a motor and head somewhere else.

Since the kayak is built to easily move through the water, there are times when you need to alter how you’d normally do certain things. Take a hook-set, for instance. When you set the hook and as you’re fighting the fish, your kayak moves toward the fish, so you have to learn how to account for that.

“When I first started, I couldn’t figure out why I was losing so many fish. Sometimes you really do have to set the hook harder because your kayak moves with that pressure.”

Bass aren’t usually known for taking anyone for a ride, so getting pulled across a lake Scooby-Doo style shouldn’t be too high up your worry list. Minor has only ever really been taken for a ride once. “I caught my biggest fish ever on a kayak.” That was on Lake Anna back when he was in high school. “It was a 10-pound bass, and that one kind of took me around for a little bit because I caught it on a spinning rod, but that doesn’t usually happen.”

Learning to balance in a kayak isn’t usually that challenging, but sometimes you have to be careful. Minor has flipped his twice in his life. He recalls a time he was out drifting into a very small, narrow creek. He looked over his shoulder and found a spot he really wanted to cast to. He cast to that spot across his body.

“I got a bite immediately, and the way that I set the hook while I was standing since I cast behind me, I was in a really unstable position to try to set that hook, but I did it anyway.” Fortunately for him, this was the middle of summer, so being pitched out of his boat wasn’t that big of a deal.

Kayak Fishing for Bass is Worth a Shot!

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With kayak fishing, the number one rule is safety. Life jackets are important. They may save you when nothing else will. Let someone know when and where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Pack lightly to make your life much easier in your kayak.

It may be a good idea to not fish large bodies of water. Look for places that are off the map, off the grid. A large bass lake known for bass fishing may give you a tough time since you can’t really move around on the water very well. You’re pretty much stuck close to where you put in. “A big body of water is really overwhelming to fish from a kayak. Obviously, there are exceptions, but for anyone just getting into it, stick to smaller bodies of water like ponds, small lakes, and creeks. The smaller the better.”

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Nolan Minor


I am currently the president of the WVU fishing team, and spend a great deal of time traveling the country competing in collegiate bass tournaments. While that is what I put most of my effort into at the moment, I will fish for anything that has gills! In addition to bass, throughout the year I usually spend some time targeting trout, steelhead, walleye, crappie, catfish, and striper in freshwater. I make it to the coast about 3 weeks total out of the year, and target a large variety of fish there, anywhere from inshore backwaters to 30+miles offshore in the gulf stream. At the end of the day, I just love catching fish, and there certainly isn't one particular species or technique I could be satisfied with devoting 100% of my time and effort to.

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