Everyone knows that fishing from a boat is superior to wade fishing. You can cover more water, get out farther, land more fish, and when your spouse calls to berate you for spending all your time fishing, there is no easy exit back to the car. Unfortunately, johnboats are cumbersome, canoes tend to tip over, and drift boats are impossibly expensive and require a trailer. The good news is that there’s another option that’s underutilized, accessible, affordable, and gaining popularity around the country: fishing from a kayak.
Photographer Chris Funk began kayak fishing as a means to limit the fishing costs mentioned above and is now a member of the Jackson Kayak fishing team. He spends 99 percent of his days on the Chattahoochee River, but he has fished all over the South, including the Gulf Coast and Mobile Bay Delta. For him, catching fish is just one advantage of fishing from a kayak.
“The older I get, the more therapeutic it is,” Funk said. “Just the drip of the water off the paddle is soothing. I can get to places no other vessel can get to. It’s just a true joy to put that little plastic boat on the water, paddle it wherever I want to go, and have a good day to myself or with friends.”
With major kayak companies like Jackson, Hobie, and Native manufacturing models specifically designed for fishing, accessibility is at an all-time high, and getting better. Funk breaks down the advantages of the fly fishing kayak into three simple categories: simplicity, shallows, and stealth.
Lightweight and streamlined, the kayak can get you where you want to go without any extra bells or whistles. Funk loves being able to grab a couple rods, a box of flies, and his paddle and hit the water without having to worry about trailers or gas. Because of the light weight, it is also easy to put into a river where another type of craft would have trouble. “The places that I launch in are my favorite spots. They have no launch so the boat has to be carried,” said Funk.
A kayak also rides high on the water, allowing a paddler to maneuver over rocks and access spots that others cannot. Kayaks also make minimal noise on the water and have virtually no wake, allowing you to sneak around without spooking fish.
“The kayak is so stealthy that I find I can get closer to my target,” Funk explains. “You’re not going to spook as many fish. I’ve had large bass get underneath my boat almost like I was a log instead of a vessel.”
If you want to break into kayak fly fishing, borrow a friend’s boat and head to a lake to get acquainted with the technique. Careful, you may get hooked.