A kayak angler cannot be proud. Sometimes, getting to the fish means flopping in the slop like an Arkansas hog. Don’t let mucking become a marathon of misery. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the gloop and keep you safe when you find yourself and your kayak in the mud.

How to Step Safety Into Mud

All fun aside, swamp mud can be dangerous. Not only can you get stuck, but the mud can hide sharp shells or even cause broken bones and torn muscles.

a heron stands in muddy water
We lack some of the heron’s advantages for standing in muddy water. | Photo: James Wheeler/Pexels

Before stepping onto uncertain ground, test firmness with the end of your paddle blade. Then, put a foot out and test some of your body weight. Gradually transfer weight from the kayak to the mud. Be sure to wear footwear that won’t get sucked off your foot.

[ Browse the widest selection of boats and gear in the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide ]

3 Easy Moves to Kayak Through Muck

The Fred Flinstone. | Photo: Jeff Herman

1 The Fred Flintstone

This maneuver starts with a healthy string of curse words. Then, kick your feet overboard on either side of the boat and kick along like a dog with worms. This works better if you skooch towards the bow, which is narrower so your feet get more purchase on the bottom. Your paddle can provide extra leverage to propel yourself forward.

The Shovel. | Photo: Jeff Herman

2 The Shovel

Part of the challenge to shallow-water kayak fishing is seeing how far you can go before you get dirty. In a few inches of water, you can shift your weight towards the bow to lift the heavier stern. Then, use the paddle to dig in the mud and push the kayak along. Be careful when using your paddle like a shovel; too much leverage can snap a paddle shaft.

The Peg-Legged Pirate. | Feature photo: Jeff Herman

3 The Peg-Legged Pirate

Kneel in the kayak and swing one leg over the side. Then push with your foot like propelling a scooter. If your foot gets stuck in the mud, lean forward and transfer the weight to your knee resting on the kayak while bringing the heel of your foot up through the hole. It’s dirty work, but you’ll love it.

Cover of the Spring 2016 issue of Kayak Angler MagazineThis article was first published in the Spring 2016 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

The Peg-Legged Pirate. | Feature photo: Jeff Herman



  1. Relating to the Fred Flintstone, the consistency of the mud makes a difference. In my mudflats on the Patuxent River in Maryland, I found that if I try to wade out, I sink about 18 inches with each step. BUT, if I quick step (jog) the mud is thick enough to allow me to stay on the mud surface and a few inches of water. This I can gently run to dry land.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here