One day a friend and I were planning to fish in an isolated creek that could only be accessed by launching from a neighbor’s dock. We dragged our boats down the dock and dropped them into the water, but then my buddy stood at the edge of the dock, looking nervously at his kayak. I could see it was time for a lesson on how to get into a fishing kayak from a dock.

Launching a Fishing Kayak is a Fine Balance

Launching from a dock is an exercise in weight distribution. Floating docks, a ladder launch or high tide places the paddler in a position to step off the dock and into the kayak. Properly shifting weight from a solid surface to the wobbly boat takes balance and timing.

3 Steps to Launch Your Fishing Kayak from a Dock

1 Put your best foot forward

If the boat is below the dock, sit or lay on the dock with both feet in the cockpit. If the boat is level with the dock, first step onto the far side of the kayak while holding onto the dock. Hold the kayak paddle vertically with your free hand. Prepare to transfer weight from terra firma to wavy gravy.

angler getting into his fishing kayak from the dock
Be careful, but you got this. | Feature Photo: Kevin Whitley

2 Hold on, steady does it

Continue to hold the dock with one hand. Use the paddle like a walking staff to steady the kayak and support your weight while transferring the dockside foot to the boat.

The boat will try to slide away from the dock. Use the dockside hand to keep the boat directly below your center of gravity.

angler getting into his fishing kayak from the dock
Easy now, don’t hesitate. | Photo: Kevin Whitley

3 Take a seat

Center weight over the keel. Continue to use the paddle to steady the kayak. At once, sit down and let go of the dock while dropping into the seat in a controlled fall. Make the move easier by clearing the deck and seat of gear and accessories. A buddy can assist by pulling parallel to your kayak and steadying the boat. The maneuver doesn’t have to be graceful as long as you stay dry.

angler demonstrates how to get into ais fishing kayak from a dock
You did it! | Photo: Kevin Whitley

This article was first published in the Spring 2019 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Be careful, but you got this. | Feature photo: Kevin Whitley



  1. This is similar to entry/exit from a transom on a motor boat to a kayak. Big difference is that the transom is bobbing up and down with any swell or hull activity. One way around that is to position an inflatable raft at end of transom, using it as a platform with a little give and sway to it to make the transition from boat/kayak to kayak/boat easier. This is more practical when there are several boats to be launched multiple times during the day. The raft is at the same level as the kayak and forms an easy access to the taller deck/dock/transom from which you are entering/exiting.


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