Getting Stealthy

By John Williams

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the great strengths of fishing from a kayak is that you can be astronomically stealthier than you can be from a powerboat. If you don’t think that being stealthy when fishing is that important, try putting your head underwater and tapping your kayak with a paddle or fishing rod. The goal of this article is to help you understand what types of things you should do to become deadly silent in your kayak and catch more fish.

For starters, you should begin to think about paddle noise. Obviously, avoid bumping the kayak while paddling. Also, when laying the paddle down to pick up your rod, you should work on putting it down quietly as well as adding some stealthing foam to the top rail of your kayak. You should learn to paddle without making that toilet flushing sound—especially in shallow water. Speaking of when in shallow water, I like to move the boat along by quietly placing the blade of my paddle against the bottom and pulling or pushing against that. This greatly minimizes these unnatural sounds and noises.

Learning to drift through the marsh as much as possible is a skill that will pay dividends for catching that big one. I try to place my kayak in a way to be able to drift with the wind or current without taking any paddle strokes at all. You will be amazed to see fish swim right under your kayak without even knowing you are there when you minimize your noise. I constantly see many anglers making this mistake; they will bump the boat while grabbing their stab pole or make a big splash noise while dropping their anchor. In shallow water, I prefer a Choupique style anchor system. This system has a separate front and rear anchor that can be operated from the seat of your kayak with quick release cleats. They can be totally silent while dropping them in the water. Be sure to use stealthing foam in the spot where the anchors contact the boat so that you can be silent while raising the anchor as well.

While you are fishing, start to think about the things that you pick up and put down on a regular basis like hard tackle boxes (I prefer soft tackle bags), pliers, fish grips, water bottles etc. At the same time, figure out where the best places to put these items would be. When you get home, cut some stealthing foam and adhere it to these places. This will allow you to pick up small items and lay them down without causing that bite-killing noise. It also helps to keep these items from sliding around in the boat.
Also, part of the thrill of kayak fishing is the ability to catch fish in very shallow water where even a flats boat cannot go. Your ability to be stealthy in these conditions will go a long way towards your success. If you focus on learning to paddle quietly, drift when possible, keep anchoring noise down and put stealth rubber on all places that your gear contacts the boat, you’ll be catching more fish than ever before! Happy New Year and happy angling!