Choosing your launch point is arguably the single most important decision we have to make as kayak anglers. Your access each day effects your safety, efficiency and the overall success you have on the water, so picking the best spot every time is essential. Whether you are fishing the Great Lakes, tiny creeks, backcounty ponds, or the open ocean, choosing the right launch point can be the difference between an fun and successful outing and a miserable or possibly deadly one.
What To Watch Out For
It’s worth considering all the variables we have to deal with as kayak fisherman and all the opportunities and challenges that may come up. Factors such as wind, accessibility and logistics are all important factors that need to be considered once you have chosen that water body you are going to fish.
Wind: Wind is a kayak angler’s enemy! This is especially true when fishing larger bodies of water. The wind needs to be respected and is the most important factor to consider when launching in large lakes or the ocean. When planning an open water fishing trip, be sure to check wind and weather forecasts multiple times before launching. I personally use 2 different apps on my smartphone to make sure there are no major discrepancies. I even check the wind and weather as I am launching my kayak, and while I am out on the water. On big bodies of water, wind can whip up very quickly and it is always good to check for updates every few hours.
When playing the winds, pay attention to wind speed, direction and some of the natural features of the water body such as points, bays and islands. Points, bays, and islands are not only great places to fish, but they can act as shelters to block you from wind and waves. Launching protected bays or the leeward side of points and islands will give you wind protection and keep you safe and fishing more comfortably.
Another way to fish on days with heavier winds is to launch where there is an offshore wind. If you stay closer to the shore where the wind is coming from, the wind will not have the distance to gain speed and the waves will be more manageable. The heavier the offshore wind, the more important it is to stay closer to shore, but often times you can fish safely close to shore with a relatively heavy off shore wind.
Photo: Some put in spots will be prettier than others, but the good ones will be close to fish and away from obstacles. Credit: Barna Robinson
Accessibility: Accessibility is one of the many areas where kayak fisherman have the advantage over fisherman in larger boats. We can launch on almost and water body that we can get a vehicle close to, and we can fish shallow rivers and back pods or bays that are too shallow for a larger watercraft. Using tools such as Google Earth can be a huge help when scoping out or looking for new access points. Just be sure you don’t trespass on anyone’s property to launch your kayaks.
I definitely recommend getting a good kayak cart if you plan to access launch points away from the beaten path. There is nothing worse than being half way to some hard to access water and having your cart malfunction. Don’t cheap out on your kayak cart if you are planning to fish any water that is more than a few hundred meters from where you can park your vehicle. Fishing with a buddy who doesn’t mind doing a little hard work or getting dirty to access those hard to get to waters makes for a great adventure and can allow you to fish where few other can, or are willing to put in the effort to access.
Logistics: Logistics really comes into play when you are fishing rivers. Having a vehicle to get your kayaks to the launch point, as well as a vehicle to pick you up after floating many kilometers of river can be a challenge and a pain in the butt! Doing the proper shuttle before your adventure starts will make you a much happier angler when the day is done and you have a vehicle waiting at your take out. There is no better feeling after a tiring day on the water than having your vehicle and all its comforts sitting there waiting to get you home.
Photo: Learn to read the wind and weather to plan your launch point more strategically. Credit: Barna Robinson
How To Shuttle Like A Pro
To make sure there is a vehicle at your take out, there are a few shuttle options that can be used:
1: Get someone to drop you and your fishing partners off at the launch point, and pick you up at the pre-determined take out point. This is the best-case scenario and the easiest for the kayak angler.
2. Drive 2 separate vehicles. If only one of the vehicle is equipped to transport the kayaks, I suggest shuttling vehicles around before you trip so that at the end of the day, your kayak transporting vehicle is waiting at your take out location.
3. Arrange a shuttle from where you will leave your vehicle at the take out to where you are launching your kayaks. This shuttle could be a family, friend or even an Uber. When using this method, unload all of your kayaks and gear where you will launch your kayaks for the day. Have at least one person stay with the gear and get everything set up while the driver drives to the take out to park the vehicle. Have a friend, family member or taxi waiting for you at the take out and then drive you back to the launch point where your kayak and fishing partner will be waiting with your kayak and gear set up and ready to go.
Doing this river shuttles before you launch may seem like a pain in the butt in the morning while you are anxious to get out on the water, but you will be a much happier person at the end of the day when your vehicle or the person picking you up is at the take out waiting to take you home.
Photo: The right launch point can get you out of the wind and into the fish faster. Credit: Barna Robinson
Using these tips to help you choose your launch point will help make your kayak fishing experiences safer, more successful and more enjoyable overall. Remember to pay attention to wind and weather forecast when choosing your launch point and be ready with plan B and C if the conditions are not conducive to launching at your plan A launch point.
Barna Robinson is the guide and owner of BAER Fishing Adventures, to book a trip with Barna and his team of guides on Southern Ontario Lakes and rivers, check out his website, BaerFishingAdventures.com.