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Amazing kayak fishing catches from Labor Day through September can transform your summer into the most epic ever – and no matter whether you're slinging bugs for bass, or slayin' kings on saltwater, it all comes down to exploring quieter places and knowing where to look and throw line. The very best memories for the best summer ever start with a Vibe and some key kayaking and fishing tips.
Go Where Others Aren't – Smaller, Shaded Waters
Late summer is a very good time to visit places where many kayak anglers don’t usually go – smaller, shaded waters such as local streams and backwaters of larger lakes and rivers and protected areas of coastal salt waters.
From Labor Day weekend onwards is a great time for exploring smaller waters which can offer some great opportunities to utilize some expert kayak fishing tips, and it's even more crucial this time of year to be stealthy with an adjustable dihedral paddle blade as varying waters have had all summer to heat up.
For instance, across the South very big bass can be found for kayak anglers willing to work in weedy, thick cover areas. All along the coasts, kayak anglers can find great places in bays, bayous, and even smaller lakes.
September is a fantastic time to really take advantage of either a smaller, lighter, more nimble fishing kayak such as the 10-foot Yellowfin 100 since you can get to places "bass boats" can't, or unrivaled sight fishing from a pro-angler-caliber Shearwater 125 where the option of getting a full 16" higher above the water line to you can see the sea monsters way before they see, hear or feel you by adding the Summit Perch to the back of the seat.
For tips on how to "sight fish", you can check out this sweet video.
The main idea at this time of year no matter where a kayak angler chooses to go is to get out of the hot sun and to find places where fish take shelter from the heat, too. Anglers who hit small freshwater creeks and rivers with overhanging tree limbs can find some very good bass and panfish up in the shady areas that remain cooler all day. If the shaded water is fairly deep, then it’s a perfect setup for good late summer fishing.
Saltwater Late Summer – Structure Is Even More Important
A summer kayak fishing tip for saltwater anglers: look under docks and other structure that makes a shadow. Also, don’t neglect fishing under moored and anchored boats. Particularly good for late summer, after Labor Day kayak fishing are boats that stay moored for long periods of time. These boats provide good cover and shade for fish, and kayak anglers can approach and fish these boats from all sides in many cases, to increase you chances for hookups.
And of course, having a fishfinder always increases your odds, so here's a great video on how to install a fishfinder on your Vibe.
Redfish in particular love to hole up under docks in late summer where they can ambush shrimp and small crabs and pinfish without exposing themselves in sunny waters. Flounder will often take up position under docks which give both shade and protection.
Bait-wise, it’s hard to beat live bait, but shrimp are eaten up by pinfish and other bait-stealers very quickly this time of year. Try live bull minnows with just enough weight to take them to the bottom.
For live bait, it's 100% critical to keep them cold and fresh, so you need an insulated 20 quart cooler which will fit your kayak well.
Soft Lures Slay Fish In Late Summer
For kayak anglers, late summer is a fine time to throw soft plastic lures which can be slowly bumped along the bottom near cover and shade. Whether freshwater or saltwater, kayak anglers who choose to fish low and slow with jigs and unweighted soft plastics can find some great fish.
Pro tips: (1) Always have a couple of rods set up with different baits on rod holders so you can throw without having to waste time, and (2) make sure you always have your 3600 tackle boxes close at hand so you can make quick changes
To learn more about tackle management, here's another awesome video.
Time Of Day – Sunrise Or Before Is Best
Being on the water when the light is low and the sun is not beating down mercilessly is almost a necessity. Most kayak anglers who put in at earliest sunrise or even before that will catch a lot more fish than those who get on the water by nine or ten o’clock when the sun can already be fairly high and hot.
Watch For Surface Feeding In Morning – From A Distance
Kayak anglers, whether in fresh or salt water, will want to keep an eye for surface feeding fish early in the morning when temps are cooler – and a fave hat with a brim and a good pair of polarized sunglasses will increase your chances of seeing fish at a distance.
Late summer has fish much more jittery and easily spooked, so it's even more important to be sneaky and spot them from a distance, or know where you want to throw from a distance away. If you happen to already have a Shearwater 125, then a Summit Perch attached to the back of your Summit Seat and will allow you to stand or sit higher than any other kayak on the water, for ultimate sight fishing opportunities.
Spotted bass, white bass, and even stripers, can be encountered by freshwater kayak anglers in very early open water as they feed on schools of shad. Kayak anglers who find surface feeding bass can use a jig or lipless crankbait which can be cast a long way, to help stay with the feeding fish which often move quickly to follow the shad or other baitfish they are working.
In saltwater, mackerel, trout, and big redfish will often explode on pogies and other schooled up baitfish in early morning. The kayak allows anglers to move in much closer to these early morning feeding fish without spooking them.
Pro tip: A large topwater plug worked slowly along a lightline from a dock can produce some major blowups from big redfish and trout, and fighting a big fish at night on topwater lures is a whole lot of fun.
Night Fishing Is Fun In Late Summer – Freshwater & Saltwater
Fishing at night can be extremely good. Lighted docks and bridge structures can offer some of the best night fishing to be found anywhere, but for safety reasons, stay close to shores and it's important to have a flag on your kayak so you're more easily spotted.
Also, kayak anglers who go out late at night should be sure to have a light on the kayak which can be easily seen.
Late summer night fishing kayak anglers can encounter some of the most fantastic surface action imaginable. All species of bass feed heavily on top late at night, and in saltwater, specks and reds congregate under dock lights to explode on shrimp and other small food things.
Summer Kayak Fishing Tips – Coolers & Cautions
Kayak anglers in late summer – because it's harder to notice in late summer – need to make sure they have plenty of water or other drinks aboard and easily at hand and to have a 20 quart insulated cooler designed to specifically for your kayak (ie, fits your kayak rear storage well and isn't too heavy to make your kayak unstable & unsafe like standard coolers).
It’s easier in late summer to lose track of how far a kayak has been paddled, especially if the fish are biting, and a drink-less kayak angler can face a real problem. It’s important for a kayak angler to keep hydrated in late summer because it's even easier not to notice if the sun isn't beating down as hard as mid-summer.
Keep An Eye On Weather Late Summer – Be Prepared To Move Fast
And the final kayak fishing tip for the late summer = keep an eye on the weather, as late summer all across America can have unexpected weather systems pop up more suddenly, so it can be important to be able to get to shore quickly by using a kayak-fitted outboard motor such as Bixpy's J-2.
Kayak anglers don’t have much shelter when on the water, and those sudden pop-up thunderstorms which happen daily in various parts of the country – especially the Deep South and Gulf Coast – can be very dangerous for kayak anglers. When the first rumble of thunder is heard, start looking around for shelter and start heading for safety and shore.
However, one advantage kayak anglers have in weather over people with bigger boats is the ability to wait out a brief and light storm by carefully paddling the kayak under a bridge or dock structure. Always try and get to shore and off the water if you safely can, as quickly as you can, in case of lightning or weather which can get worse quickly.
Taking advantage of kayaking on and after Labor Day weekend can ensure you have the best memories to make this summer the most epic ever! Tight lines.