Summertime Kayak Fishing

By: Randy Morrow

Summer truly is a fun time to go sight fishing on the flats here in the Lower Keys. The days are long, the glamour flats species of bonefish, permit, and tarpon are around in numbers, and winds are usually light which makes for easier paddling. But summer also has some challenges you won’t find during other times of the year.
The most obvious thing is the heat. Temps in the low 90s, high humidity, light breezes (or calm conditions), and the blazing Florida sun can combine to make things uncomfortable in a slow moving, human-powered vessel like a kayak. Stripping down to your swimsuit is tempting. (I even knew one kayaker who paddled naked!) But these options aren’t a very good idea since you could easily end up nursing a nasty sunburn. The answer is proper tropical weight clothing. High tech, quick drying, moisture wicking fishing clothes are easy to find and worth the money, turning a miserable, sweaty, sticky day into a pleasant one. Go for long pants and long sleeves and remember your hat and face mask. Gloves are also nice to protect the back of your hands. Some opt for less clothing, preferring to use sunscreen on any exposed skin. That works too, although in recent years I’ve chosen to keep sunscreen use to a minimum. I don’t want to slather chemicals on my skin day after day. But either way, protect yourself from getting too much sun and you’ll be able to fish longer and more comfortably.
Another thing I’ve been incorporating into my personal fishing trips is to take a short swim. A snorkel mask tossed into a hatch takes up very little space and can provide a nice mental break from the intense focus of looking for fish and cool you off as well.
Summertime fishing in the Keys also will put you in the vicinity of thunderstorms. Sometimes it’s simply an awesome light show in the distance. But other times it’s a direct threat to your well-being. Daily weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable. I strongly recommend getting good radar and lightning apps on your smartphone and using them. They’ll give you real time data for your specific location. The problem for kayakers is we can’t fire up a motor and outrun a squall like a powerboat. Which means you will eventually get stuck in a storm. The best course of action is to find a nook or cranny in a level-topped mangrove shoreline and wait it out. Pull down all of your rods and put away your paddle. Whatever else happens, DO NOT get caught out in open water during a lightning storm. There is a bright side to all this stormy business. It is usually a short-lived event, and after the squall passes, conditions often get flat calm for an hour or so. The rain cools the water ever so slightly, and the fish like it! Juvenile tarpon will start rolling, permit tails will start popping up, and the fishing can get as electric as the just-passed lightning storm, making the rain delay worthwhile.

— Randy Morrow, Kayak Fishing Guide | Phone/Text: 305.923.4643 | Email: