Inveterate angler, aquatic biologist and author of Fish of the Elk River Chain of Lakes, Doug Fuller shares why and when he likes to cast a line from a kayak. “One reason is the easy factor. It’s so easy to throw a kayak in the truck, drive to a lake and launch. Also kayaks are small and limit the amount of stuff you can take, which keeps it simple. And my kayak is so maneuverable I can get into really shallow water, tight nooks and crannies close to shore. The biggest fish I’ve caught from a kayak was a 24-inch coaster brook trout off the shore of Lake Superior Provincial Park, in Ontario. It was a beautiful fish.”

Sweet Water for a Kayak Fisherman

  • Upper Chain in the Elk River system: Wind-sheltered, quiet, intimate. Lots o’ fish and multiple launch sites (Bellaire, Central Lake, Ellsworth).
  • Upper Reaches of Boardman River, including Brown Bridge Pond: The current keeps you alert, but the scenery and occasional nice brown trout make for a sublime day of fishing. Brown Bridge Pond offers a good launch site and quiet water. (Southeast of Traverse City.)
  • Otter Lake: A no-motors-allowed lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Nice smallmouth and bluegill. Carry your kayak to Lake Michigan, right nearby, if you feel more adventurous.

Good to Know

  • When placing fishing rod mounts, first paddle your boat while paying attention to your reach and range of motion. Then place mounts where your hands won’t smack them.–Sandy Graham, Owner of Backcountry Outfitters of Traverse City
  • Avoid wind because kayaks are light and can get pushed around. Pick calm days or protected waters.–Doug Fuller
  • Get a brush clamp for river fishing. Lightweight alternatives to anchors, brush clamps latch onto branches and hold you still in the current.–Doug Fuller
  • Buy two kayaks. It’s more fun with a friend and still cheaper than buying a motorboat, and there’s no gas cost.–Josh Baker, O

This article first appeared in the July 2008 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski