Iowans getting hooked on float fishing



Fishing opportunities are plentiful in the state of Iowa. The challenge for anglers if often finding a way to get to those fish.


In the last five years, a new trend and market has emerged in float fishing, or more specifically, fishing from a kayak.


Dedicated sections of various types of fishing kayaks can be found at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Waterloo or the Scheels Superstore in Cedar Falls and the main level at CrawDaddy Outdoors in Waverly is dominated by kayak fishing boats and accessories.


“Kayaking in general has been increasing over the last 10-15 years,” said Darrin Siefken of CrawDaddy Outdoors. “Kayak fishing has definitely taken off in the last five to the point now there are at least two different kayak angling magazines that have emerged in the last two years.”


The emergence of float fishing, which includes canoes and tubes in addition to kayaks, has developed because there are fishable places that can’t be reached by motorboat or on foot because of private property. The fact is an angler needs a kayak, canoe or tube to reach those places.


Kayaks, however, are the go-to item for float anglers.


“There are a lot of canoes out there, but we don’t carry them anymore,” Siefken said. “We will order them, but it has gotten to a point where kayaks have really taken off. The kayak market is definitely the hottest thing going.”


Kayaks typically need only four or five inches of water to float and can navigate through shallow water areas.


“It really gives you the ability to go into smaller waters, go to places where you don’t need a motorboat or don’t want one,” Jim Tate of Scheels said. “Plus they are cheaper than a 12-15 V-boat and you don’t need a trailer. You can transport them on top of your vehicle or inside a truck. There are lots of benefits.”


Both Siefken and Tate say the variety and quality of fishing kayaks has exploded.


“We didn’t used to have the fishing models in stock but definitely had to get them into the mix as they got more popular,” Tate said.


As for what type fits which angler, Siefken said there are lot of things to think about.


“How are you going to fish from this thing?” Siefken said an angler should ask himself or herself when thinking about kayak fishing.


“The sit inside (models) you tend to stay a lot dryer. The sit on top (models) you are a lot more exposed to the elements, but you have a lot more freedom of movement with your legs and body.”


Models go from plain and basic to those that have multiple storage spaces, anchor trolleys and rod holders.


“They’ve been getting better and better, some of them have the whole nine yards,” Tate said.


Fishing from a kayak can present its challenges. Anglers typically won’t be able to take their normal big tackle boxes with them and have to rely on smaller tackle boxes. But some of the newer models do have compartments for minnow buckets, holders for nets and coolers.


One thing both Siefken and Tate say is you can go just about anywhere with a kayak to fish.


“They are all going to be very stable,” Siefken said. “These boats (sit on top) you can actually stand up in. I’ve been in some of the boats we carry, stood on one foot and jumped up and down and I can’t get it to tip over.


“You look at some of the magazine articles and guys are catching fish bigger than their boats. The transition of bigger and better has really happened in the last three or four years with boats becoming more and more stable.”


While kayaking is not that difficult to learn, both Siefken and Tate say some practice is needed.


“You definitely want to experiment, test your wings on a smaller lake or pond like George Wyth before going to like the Cedar River or a faster moving body of water,” Tate said. “You want to test your abilities, see how you move with your personal flotation device.”


Siefken says one of the best things about kayaks is you are in control of it yourself.


“It’s easier than a canoe,” Siefken said. “We can put young kids in kayaks on small ponds and they figure it out quickly. Sometimes canoes are a challenge in trying to get two people to communicate and figure out how to make it go.


“But you do want to test it out on a smaller body of water. Check out how you are going to cast, how you are going to land a fish and just in general get a feel for the boat.”

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