Kayak And Canoe Fishing In The Northwest Region With Capt. Jeff Hagaman

August is just a great time to go kayak or canoe fishing in my region because we get these big tides where all the water drops out of the bays, making it hard for boaters to access the fish. That doesn’t stop those anglers fishing out of a kayak or canoe, because they can pull across the shallow areas and get to those deeper holes and areas of the creeks where all the fish are concentrated.

One of the nice features of extreme low tides it that it concentrates the fish. On the higher tides they can go anywhere, but when all the water falls out, they have to move into the nearest deeper water, and not just the gamefish, but the baitfish as well. That means everything is bunched up together and that’s just a great fish-producing scenario.

The fish get trapped in the potholes and the deeper sections of the creeks, leaving them easy targets for anglers fishing out of a kayak or canoe. The beach fishing is also good, mostly tight to the beach, with pompano, Spanish mackerel and permit (on the south end of the region).

If you don’t have a kayak or canoe of your own, there are some great places to rent them in just about every town in my region. They rent everything from sit on top and fishing kayaks to stand-up paddleboards set up for fishing. Fort DeSoto has some unique kayaking areas that limit boater access, as does Weedon Island Preserve.

Kayaks paddle better against the wind than canoes, so you want to keep that in mind when deciding where to fish and how far you’re willing to travel. Pay attention to the wind and weather at all times, because big storms blow in off the Gulf of Mexico on a regular basis, and you don’t want to get caught in open water or far from the put-in.

Most anglers fishing out of kayaks and canoes use light tackle, and because you’re sitting down you want to go with a 7- or 7 ½-foot rod to give you more casting distance. You also have the option of getting out of your kayak or canoe and wading. Make sure you bring along plenty of water or drinks and some food, because it’s going to be hot out there. There as specific kayak models made just for fishing, and many of these have spaces built into them for holding coolers, tackle bags, even bait buckets or live bait.

On the flats, soft plastic baits like a Bass Assassin Little Tapper or 4-inch shad in Copper Juice or Panhandle moon color with a 1/8-ounce jighead will catch just about everything from redfish and snook to seatrout and pompano. You can also tow along a bait bucket filled with live shrimp or small pilchards and do well casting them into the potholes. On the beaches, spoons, swimming plugs, live shrimp or crabs are the top baits.

Keep in mind that there are some big fish out there, and don’t throw a bait to a big rolling tarpon unless you’re willing to get pulled away from the area you’re fishing. Also, sooner or later you’re going to want to land that fish, so think about those things beforehand and you won’t have to deal with them last-minute.  


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Captain Tips