In 1964, documentary filmmaker Bruce Brown took two young surfers and the whole world on a year-long journey to follow the summer sun and find tasty waves.

The result was the epic film, Endless Summer.

For the 2019 Destination Guide, Kayak Angler magazine is taking you on a year-round, around-the-continent fishing trip following warm water and tasty fish.

From fresh water to salt, offshore to inshore, coast to coast and in between, hit the hottest fishing spring, summer, fall and winter.

Everywhere from Oregon to Florida you can travel in pursuit of fishing in warm weather.

Start reading and planning your trip below.


Spring Kayak Fishing Destinations

1. Odell Lake, Oregon Freshwater Fishing

Photo: Dean Limb
Top of the world to the bottom of the lake. | Photo: Dean Limb
Plan Your Visit
Travel

Odell Lake is two hours through majestic mountain passes from Eugene, Oregon. The area is wild and isolated, with few choices for accommodations and food. Luckily, the choices are all good. In addition to fishing, the area is famous for skiing and other snow sports.

Accommodation

Stay at Odell Lake Lodge and Resort. The cabins are inexpensive and located close to prime fishing. Camping and other resorts are also available in the area.

Eat

Manley’s Tavern is the only place to eat. After a long, cold day on the water, stop in for a cheeseburger and beer. They only have eight things on the menu, but everything is tasty.

Plan

The lake is only three miles long and two miles wide. The only launch is at the north end of the lake. I arrive early and fish all day. Expect to cover a lot of water looking for fish and bait on the fish finder. Lake trout can be found in water from 10 to 200 feet. Get one bite and you’ll have to move on to find another school. Other lakes nearby also offer lake trout fishing.

Target: Lake trout

Tour Guide: Dean Limb, FeelFree pro staff

Season: March and April

Conditions: Blue bird days with wind speed less than 10 miles per hour.

Find the Fish: Use the fish finder to search a grid over major ledges and ridges for fish marks. Lake trout feed on kokanee and whitefish, so look for bait schools.

Tactic: When I mark fish on the fish finder, I drop a heavy jig or soft plastic 100 to 180 feet. I can watch the jig falling on my fish finder screen.

I bounce the lure 10 to 12 times and if I don’t get a bite, I move onto the next mark. Best lures are four-ounce P-line Laser Minnow or 100-gram Shimano Flat Fall jigs.

Kayak: Open-water kayak capable of handling two- to four-foot waves. Rig the kayak with a drift sock. I mount a YakAttack Zooka Tube on a RAM Mounts Ball in front of my seat so I can see when I get a bite.

Rod and Reels: Shimano Trevala rated at 80 grams, Penn Battle II reel spooled with 35-pound braided line and 15 feet of 15-pound fluorocarbon. The water is crystal clear, I can see bottom in 35 feet, so light leader is key to fooling the fish. Many anglers troll for lake trout, but I find vertical jigging most effective.

I out-fish guys who troll. I can see the fish on the fish finder swimming around the jig before I get one to bite. The best fishing is after the lake turns over, when the deep warm water moves to the surface. Ideal water temperature is under 50 degrees.

Gear: Dress warm and be prepared for changes in the weather.

Temperatures can drop below freezing; I often fish with ice in the rod guides. A drysuit is the safest way to combat cold water immersion.

2. Combahee River, South Carolina Saltwater Fishing

Photo: justin goethe
One of America’s last great places. | Photo: Justin Goethe
Plan Your Visit
Travel

Only an hour from Charleston, South Carolina, on Highway 17, the Combahee River is a throwback in time. The river winds through pristine marshes long ago abandoned by rice farmers. Bring everything you’ll need for a day on the water, the river is miles from civilization. In Beaufort, stop by Bay Street Outfitters; their knowledgeable staff has the right stuff.

Accommodation

Stay at the Holiday Inn in Beaufort with views of the water, plenty of parking for trailers and a quick drive to downtown Charleston.

Plan

Launch from Harriet Tubman Bridge boat landing and let the current carry you downstream towards St. Helena Sound. Time the tides to carry you towards the sea, then back to the put-in. Spring in the South Carolina Lowcountry is always a crapshoot. Daytime highs range from 60 to 80 degrees. You’ll need to pack shorts as well as long pants and a jacket. The area is known for its scenic marshes and untouched woodlands, making it One of America’s Last Great Places, according to The Nature Conservancy. The sights are breathtaking, but the sulfurous smell of rotting eggs lets you know you’ve arrived at the salt marsh. Don’t be disgusted, by the time you leave the smell will remind you of bent rods, screaming reels and amazing people.

Target: Red drum

Tour Guide: Justin Goethe

Conditions: South Carolina has huge eight- to nine-foot tides. Low tide concentrates fish around deep-water structure.

The best fishing is the last half of the falling tide and the first half of the rising water. During early spring, the water is still cool and clear. Bright sunny days offer the best chance to spot feeding redfish.

Find the Fish: Don’t stay in one place, cover the most water by casting at every piece of hard structure, such as downed trees, oyster rakes, stumps and seawalls.

When I catch a fish, I drop the anchor and make a few more casts in the area. Years ago, the river was used to irrigate thousands of acres of rice fields. The rice is gone but look for reds chasing bait in the irrigation ditches. I use four rigs when targeting redfish.

Nothing beats the real thing: the best bet is a live mudminnow on a Carolina rig with 1/4-ounce egg sinker, a swivel and 12 inches of 20-pound leader to a circle hook.

Another rod is rigged with a minnow on a circle hook 18 inches under a popping cork. DOA Shrimp also work under the popping cork.

Spoons and spinnerbaits are popular: a two-inch Johnson’s Silver Minnow spoon or 1/4-ounce Strike King spinnerbait move fast allowing me to work the most water. I also cast three-inch Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ and 1/8-ounce Redfish Eye jig.

Kayak: A pedal kayak lets me cover water and cast at the same time. I use a Native Watercraft Ultimate Propel for rock-solid standup fishing stability.

I’ve rigged the kayak with a five-pound Danforth anchor on an anchor trolley to stop the kayak in the soft, muddy bottom.

Rod and Reel: Seven-foot, medium-action, 2000-series Penn Battle reel spooled with 20-pound braid. I add 18 inches of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader.


Summer Kayak Fishing Destinations

1. Shelter Cove, California Saltwater Fishing

Photo: Eric Stockwell
When the fog lifts, views are spectacular. | Photo: Eric Stockwell
Plan Your Visit
Travel

Shelter Cove is four hours north of San Francisco. There is a small airport, but most people make the drive. Several local tackle shops stock all the bait and tackle for fishing the cove. Visit www.loletaeric.com to make arrangements for a guided fishing trip.

Accommodation

Stay at The Tides Inn. The view is beautiful and the managers are kayak anglers. (www.sheltercovetidesinn.com)

Plan

Shelter Cove is smack in the middle of the Lost Coast, with 50 miles of mostly undisturbed coastline, the longest on the U.S. West Coast. Huge mountains and dense forest drop into the Pacific Ocean. At 4,000 feet, Kings Peak, the highest first ridge off the coast in the continental U.S., is visible from the fishing grounds. King Range stretches 25 miles to the north. To the south, the New Lost Coast encompasses Sinkyone Wilderness State park with breathtaking forests, sea stacks, upland trails and rich history. Fishing starts at dawn each day; it’s best to get on the water early and beat afternoon winds. The launch faces southeast, so a south wind can be dicey. Conditions can change quickly on the ocean. Be prepared to bail if the reef becomes raspy.

Target: Chinook salmon

Tour Guide: Loleta Eric Stockwell, kayak fishing guide and host of Gimmie Shelter Kayak fishing Tournament.

Season: Best salmon fishing is June, July and August.

Conditions: Summer winds are primarily out of the north and northwest, causing an upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water along the coast. This is the basis of the food chain.

Water temperatures in the low 50s are best. This year, the cove was fishable most of the summer. Big swell or a south wind can make conditions impossible to paddle.

Find the Fish: Look for diving birds or bait balls on the fish finder. The cove has a great reef system where anchovies, herring, squid and baby rockfish hide in the rocks and kelp. Chinook salmon move onto the reef and get fat and lazy. If I don’t spot birds or bait on the fish finder, I slow troll a bait over the reef.

Tactic: Fishing out of a kayak has the advantage of trolling very slowly. Use a plug-cut herring or anchovy on a mooching slip rig. Remember,  use barbless hooks only when targeting salmon.

Attach the hooks to four feet of 25-pound monofilament leader tied to an eight-ounce banana sinker. Connect the banana sinker to the 40-pound monofilament mainline with a snap swivel. Drop the rig so it is just off the bottom and slowly troll across the reef.

Kayak: I use a Malibu X-Factor because it has plenty of fishing space, it’s super stable and tracks straight, perfect for my clients. Instead of keeping the rod in a rod holder, I lay it across my legs with the butt under one leg and the rod laying on the other leg. This way I can adjust the line and watch for a bite while paddling.

Rod and Reel: Medium-heavy, seven-foot conventional combo spooled with 40-pound monofilament.

Gear: When fishing in 50-degree water, always dress for immersion. Wear a full drysuit or a wetsuit with a PFD. I pack at least two VHF radios, GPS units and compasses. Always carry the biggest salmon net you can get.

2. Door County, Wisconsin Freshwater Fishing

Photo: bill schultz
Smallmouth and big smiles. | Photo: Bill Schultz
Plan Your Trip
Travel

Sturgeon Bay is 45 minutes from Green Bay and two-and-a-half hours from Milwaukee. Check out Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay for gear and information. Bay Shore Outfitters rents kayaks.

Accommodation

Many bed and breakfasts and vacation rental homes dot the Green Bay and Lake Michigan coasts. Budget anglers should stay at the Maritime Best Western in Sturgeon Bay.

Plan

Door County is considered the number one tourist destination of the Midwest. Bassmaster magazine calls the area the top place to catch big smallmouth bass. On the bay side of the peninsula, the coast is rocky with cliffs and bluffs. On the lake side, open water expands for miles with sandy beaches and grassy shoreline. Park off the road on any dead end leading to the lake. It seems every community has a boat launch, too. The water is crystal clear. Be sure to visit natural wonders at Cave Point County Park and Washington Island. When you’re hungry, don’t miss the fish boil; potatoes and veggies cooked in a pot of water on the fire. When the soup boils, they add white fish and the water runs over and explodes like fireworks. Many restaurants offer this local dish.

Target: Smallmouth bass

Tour Guide: Bill Schultz, a Jackson Kayak pro staff, has released over 22,000 smallmouth bass
since 1994.

Season: Smallmouth season begins in late May and runs through early November.

Conditions: Expect to fish open water in wind and waves. Flat calm is the worst condition. A light wind ruffles the water surface and keeps fish from spotting me. The water is very clear so the fish will spook if they see an angler.

The best spring days feature water temperature between 50 to 70 degrees, and partly sunny skies  with fish holding four to 10 feet deep.

Find the Fish: Smallmouth will stage shallow in the early summer, move deeper, from eight to 40 feet, during the height of the season and return to shallower water in late summer and fall.

The bottom is covered with bowling-ball-sized rocks. Look for areas where the bottom rises. To find smaller fish, stay close to shore and work docks and breakwaters.

Tactic: Keep it simple. My go-to presentation is the Ned rig with Z-Man ShroomZ 1/15-ounce jig and Finesse TRD or TRD TubeZ. The best color is Green Pumpkin Goby, but chartreuse and black are effective, too. The TRD TubeZ works best in areas where sand and rocks aren’t covered in slime.

Let the jig hit bottom then give it a twitch and let it pause. Let the jig drift slowly in the current or retrieve just off the bottom to trigger bites. Or, swim a 1/6- to 1/8-ounce Kalin’s Lunker Grub deep.

Kayak: To cover open water, I choose a longer, narrower kayak like Jackson Kayak’s Kraken 15.5. The water is clear, so I don’t worry about stand-up fishing. I don’t target bass on beds because I think it’s bad for the fish.

I follow the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple Schultz. Rigging is minimal, I bring a fish gripper, hand scale and net. A fish finder helps locate structure and measure water temperature.

Rod and Reel: To fish the Ned rig, choose a six-foot, 10-inch MLXF St. Croix Legend X rod matched to a Shimano Stradic 2500 spinning reel. Spinning reels work better for lighter lures because the line comes off the spool without resistance. The light lure takes light 10-pound braided line. Ahead of the lure, attach four-feet of 10-pound fluorocarbon.


Fall Kayak Fishing Destinations

1. Boston, Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing

Photo: Eric Harrison
New England fall colors include stripes. | Photo: Eric Harrison
Plan Your Visit
Travel

If you drive, be prepared for traffic. Eastern Massachusetts is known for its traffic, both Boston rush hour and Cape Cod weekend gridlock. Despite the traffic, traveling by car allows you to hit the best spots from Cape Cod to Gloucester. Check out local guide Mike Baker at Kayak Fish New England. To rent a kayak, stop in Little Harbor Boathouse in Marblehead. It’s in the middle of prime striper territory.

Accommodation

Look for a hotel with waterfront access as launch spots in Boston are hard to find. Cape Anne Motor Inn (www.capeannemotorinn.com) is on the water in Gloucester.

Plan

The area boasts many places to visit. cape Cod and South Boston offer white, sandy beaches. Gloucester and North Boston are known for their rugged shoreline. Every inch of the Massachusetts coast hosts great striped bass fishing. Most of the coast is rocky cliffs. Looking for sandy bottom dotted by rock piles. Go on a milk run, casting to every rock pile until you find fish. At night, stripped bass will school in shallow water along the beach. During the day, take the family to the shore, or visit the city to take in the history. Then fish all night. Beaches and waterfront areas will be packed with people, parking and launches are limited during the day. At night it is much easier to find parking buy pay close attention to local parking rules. Many beach areas are off limits at night. Launch at sunset and fish until you get tired. Try to focus action around the tide change.

Target: Striped bass

Tour Guide: Eric Harrison, Hobie Kayaks Top Gun, seasoned tournament winner.

Season: May to October. Peak season for big fish is from June to mid-September.

Conditions: Best fishing is at night when bigger fish move in shallow to feed. Boston has tide changes up to 13 feet. A higher tide, during a full moon, will increase the current and bring in the biggest striped bass. Best bite is around slack tide when the smaller fish aren’t feeding as aggressively allowing me to get the bait to a bigger fish.

Find the Fish: Target areas where current meets structure such as jetties, rock piles, boulder fields and even rip lines. Striper will change location during the tide.

Map out the structure with a fish finder and GPS to predict their feeding patterns. Many times, striped bass are finnicky. I may mark them on the fish finder but not get any bites. I’ll continue to work the school until I find what the fish want to eat.

Tactic: Big striped bass require big soft plastics. Hogy plastics between seven and 14 inches will score trophy striper. When big linesiders are in the area, I’ll go with 13- and 14-inch soft plastics. I employ a top and bottom approach. To cover the top of the water column, I use an unweighted 14-inch Hogy. To reach bottom, I rig a 13-inch Hogy on a half- to one-ounce jig head. Some nights, I get a bite while trolling from one school to another.

Other times, I work with a partner to search the beachfront for fish swirling on the surface. When I find the fish trolling, I stop and make a few casts in the same area. Usually a moderate retrieve will score.

When the fish are finnicky, I’ll slow down or speed up the retrieve in hopes of tempting the fish. One night, I had to let the lure lie on the bottom to get a bite. I would move the lure very slowly then pause the retrieve for several seconds. The fish would only eat on the pause.

Kayak: Hobie’s Mirage Revolution 16 is fast to cut through the current and cover the most water. I will often pedal seven to 10 miles each night.

Rod and Reel: Rod rated for one to five ounces. Fill the reel with 50-pound braided line and attach an 18-inch leader of 50-pound monofilament.

Gear: Night fishing requires a higher level of safety. Even in the summer, the water will be around 50 degrees. To stay warm and dry all night, I wear Kokatat’s Tempest paddling pants and matching drytop. The top and pants mate together for a water-resistant seal.

2. Lake Erie, Ohio Freshwater Fishing

Photo: Chris Lemessurier
Light-sensitive walleye are best fooled at dawn and dusk. | Photo: Chris Lemessurier
Plan Your Visit
Travel:

Huron, Ohio, on the southeast shore of Lake Erie is halfway between Cleveland and Toledo. Gear-up and launch at Cranberry Creek Marina. Check out Kayak Fish the Great Lakes Region on Facebook for latest fishing reports.

Accommodations:

Avery, Ohio, about 20 minutes away from the lake, hosts several hotel chains. Locally, there are cottage rentals.

Plan:

Launch in pre-dawn darkness and troll until you get a limit. Walleye fishing is best in low-light conditions. During the middle of the day, cast jigs for smallmouth bass.  As the sun sets, return to trolling for walleye. It’s easy to plan a Lake Erie walleye trip around the family. Cedar Point amusement park, Kalahari Water Park, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame are nearby.

Target: Walleye

Tour Guide: Chris LeMessurier,  Wilderness Systems pro staff, and fishing guide at Kayak Fish the Great Lakes.

Conditions: When fall sets in, walleye move within a half mile off shore, striking distance for a kayak angler. The water temperature drops below 50 degrees, causing minnows, shiners and shad to concentrate in water from six to 12 feet deep.

Find the Fish: The smell of clean water, the sound of bait splashing at the surface or the appearance of structure on your fish finder are signs conditions are right. I look for sparse, vertical weeds on my fish finder as I paddle.

Locating a submerged boulder pile or rock reef is even better. Mark structure with a waypoint on the GPS and troll past several times.

Tactic: Trolling from your kayak is the most efficient way to cover water and find fish on a big, open lake. It allows me to fish and look for clues at the same time. Troll a rod from each side of the kayak.

I like mid-range diving stickbaits; Storm Thunder Sticks, Reef Runners and Rapala Tail Dancers are some of my favorites. These lures are versatile and easy to use, attracting bass, northern pike, salmon and trout.

Kayak: A 12-to 14-foot open-water kayak with pedal drive keeps going through lake chop and wind. Wilderness Systems Radar 135 allows me to choose between pedaling or paddling with plenty of tackle storage and a rudder for trolling.

Rod and Reel: Seven-foot, medium-action conventional rod with a fast tip. By watching the light tip, I can see if the lure is fouled with weeds or if I have a bite.

Use a size 15 Daiwa Accu Depth level-wind reel with a line counter. Spool the reel with 30-pound test and add two feet of 10-pound fluorocarbon leader to the end. I use a snap swivel to attach the lure.

Gear: Install a RAM Mount Spline Post rod holder to gear tracks on each side of the cockpit. I adjust the rod holders so they are at my feet and I can keep an eye on the rod tips.


Winter Kayak Fishing Destinations

1. Pompano Beach, Florida Saltwater Fishing

Photo: Jorge Bustamante
Grab life by the bill. Photo: Jorge Bustamante
Plan Your Visit
Travel

The closest airport is in Fort Lauderdale. Hook up with Deep Blue Kayak Fishing Charters (www.deepbluekayak-fishing.com) or South Florida Kayak Guides (www.southfloridakayakguide.com) for a guided trip.

Accommodation

Stay at the Sands Resort or Marriott right on the beach.

Plan

Launch at 7 a.m. and fish until noon returning to shore before the afternoon breeze kicks up. Sailfish come close to shore, expect to paddle a couple miles as long as the current isn’t too strong. Winter conditions can change rapidly, never hesitate to head in at the first sign of wind. On blow days, visit the IGFA Hall of Fame. Check out world records and other achievements throughout sport-fishing history and learn about conservation efforts around the world. Then, go shopping and have dinner at Bass Pro Shop.

Target: Sailfish

Tour Guide: Joe Hector, host of Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournaments.

Season: January to April

Conditions: Sailfish like it rough. Best fishing is during a northwest blow before a cold front moves through. Expect two-to four-foot seas.

Find the Fish: Kayak anglers will find sailfish in 60 to 200 feet of water. When I catch my first sailfish, I make a note of the depth.

Expect more fish to hang out in the same area. Sails also stage over shipwrecks and along current breaks.

Tactic: Slow troll fast enough to keep the bait swimming. Be sure to watch the bait carefully, it should swim naturally without spinning or dragging on the surface.

Kayak: Travel fast and light. I use a Hobie Mirage Revolution 13 with Turbo Fins. The boat performs well in the surf, too. Keep rigging minimal in the winter chop. Bait will stay alive in a five-gallon bucket with an aerator.

Rod and Reel: Bring two six-foot medium-heavy
conventional rods with an Avet lx 6.0 reel. Spool with 30-pound braid and five feet of 50-pound mono.

Rig live pilchards and goggle eyes through the dorsal fin or nose on a 3/0 circle-hook.

Gear: A kayak will disappear between big ocean waves. Use an orange safety flag on a four-foot pole to stick out above the waves.

2. Caddo Lake, Texas Freshwater Fishing

kayak-fishing-wood-lake-texas
Hitting every tree stump and Cyprus knee would take 10 lifetimes. | Photo: Dustin Doskocil
Plan Your Visit
Travel

Caddo Lake is on the Texas and Louisiana state line, so you’ll need a fishing license from each state. Johnson’s Ranch Marina is the center of activity with gear and boat guides. Buy a lake map at the marina, it is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of trees.

Accommodation

Caddo Lake State Park has tent sites and clean facilities. Launch from the park. Primitive camping is allowed on designated locations around the lake.

Plan

The small, east Texas town is built on fishing. Boasting the largest cypress forest in the world, Caddo Lake is like no other place on earth. Trees grow out of the water. Get an early start and fish all day. The north part of the lake is covered in giant salvinia. We camped at designated sites. The area around Johnsons Ranch Marina features paddle trails making navigation easier. The lake shore at the Texas and Louisiana border is open with the cypress trees farther apart.

Target: Largemouth bass

Tour Guide: Dustin Doskocil, professional photographer

Season: Fall and winter

Conditions: Pick a nice day and go fishing. Temperatures can hit the mid-70s and the cypress trees block the wind.

Find the Fish: Fish every cypress knee and deep pool. The lake is no deeper than five feet. Narrow canals and channels cut through the trees, keep moving, keep casting.

Tactic: Creature baits and flipping jigs work well. Cast to each cypress knee from several different angles. Bounce the jig, let it sit or work it at a steady retrieve until you find what the bass want.

Use heavy, 50-pound braided line and a sturdy rod to force a stubborn bass out of the woods.

Kayak: A paddle kayak is best to navigate the cypress knees. A boat sitting high off the water provides the best view of the surroundings.

Take care, I cracked a hull getting unstuck. Rig the kayak with horizontal rod holders to clear low-hanging trees.

Rod and Reel: A medium-heavy conventional rod and sturdy baitcasting reel spooled with 50-pound braid.

Gear: I tie a spring clamp to one end of a 12-foot piece of paracord and a carabiner to the other end.

I attach the carabiner to my kayak and clip the clamp to a tree to hold the kayak in one place.

1 COMMENT

  1. You can fish throughout the year in Colorado. However, there are advantages and disadvantages of fishing in each season. Summer is a busy season for anglers and the best fishing spots in Colorado usually crowd with anglers during this season.

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