Kayak Fishing With Your Children: No Greater Love

Johnny NS with huge redfish

Fishing with a kayak is an amazing experience. The only thing that makes it better is fishing with a kayak with your children. There is not much more thrilling than to see your kid catch a big fish from a kayak.

Simple Tips & Techniques for Fishing on Kayak

The best kayak fishing setup for fishing with your small children is to use a tandem boat, or a boat that can take two passengers. In 2013, I bought a Jackson Kayak Big Tuna. The boat was a little over 14′ long and weighed nearly 100 pounds. While the weight can make the kayak difficult to load and unload, its length and width also made it quite stable. This is a critical safety feature for a parent taking their small children out on the kayak.

To get an idea of the boat, check out the specifications for the legacy Big Tuna: this is the manufacturer’s description.

The Big Tuna is one of our largest capacity fishing kayaks, with the unique ability to paddle as a tandem or solo kayak, making it the perfect family model. Boasting more than thirty seating configurations, it is versatile for any number of activities – fishing, hunting, recreational exploration, etc. Seat can be reversed for unique ‘FaceTime seating’, helpful when fishing with young children. The Big Tuna is at home across a diverse variety of waterways including lakes, rivers, inshore saltwater and even offshore fishing. The unique Tuna Tank in the center of the Big Tuna can be used as dry storage or converted into a livewell for bait. Rod tip protectors and unique geometry on the deck make tucking rods away safely a snap, and the small day hatch on the bow is perfect for stowing snacks, keys, cameras and other small items. Comfortable Hi Lo Ergo Seat features the MOLLE system on the rear panel, allowing you to add any of our MOLLE accessories such as medical kits, water bottle holders and more. With a variety of positions available in both solo and tandem positions, you can adjust the trim of your boat as needed. Large rear tankwell offers access to in-hull storage, and the pad eyes on the stern are ready to accept a drag chain or anchor line. Two flush mount rod holders are great for trolling, and bungees on either side of the kayak make for easy paddle staging. Whether you’re guiding your child, a significant other, a client or a friend, the Big Tuna is an ideal way to introduce anyone to the beauty of kayak fishing.

Jackson Kayaks

2023 Model of Jackson Kayak Tandem Fishing Boat

At the time of writing this post, this Jackson Kayak Big Tuna has since been retired and replaced by a newer model. If you’re interested in a similar model from Jackson Kayak, check out the Jackson Kayak TakeTwo.

There are several amazing tandem fishing kayaks you might want to consider.

Tip 1: Where to sit in the fishing kayak?

You can steer a tandem kayak much like you steer a canoe. The passenger in the back of the boat can use the J-stroke technique (see this explainer video for more info) with their kayak paddle, to steer the boat like a rudder. For this reason, I put the kid in front & dad in back. This is not to say that Mom can’t take her son or daughter kayak fishing :-). Either parent works just fine! I would simply suggest putting the bigger, stronger paddler in the back of the boat.

For small children, the adult should anticipate doing most or perhaps ALL of the paddling.

Tip 2: How to orient kid passenger in the fishing kayak?

Face Forwards or Face Backwards? That is the question.

There really isn’t a wrong answer here. If the kid faces you, the conversation with your child about the beautiful world we live in can be the best part of the trip. If they are facing forward, they can see the beautiful world first hand. Either way works.

Kayaks are unstable. Even with small children, weight shifting around in the boat can cause rocking and swaying. It can also cause the boat to roll over. I recommend keeping everyone in the same position while moving. Don’t try to change positions with in the middle of a paddle or the boat tip over, and then you’re trying to reload the boat.

WARNING: If the boat rolls over, don’t panic. It’s important to remain calm in a situation like this. Get to the child first and collect your gear second.

When it’s time to fish, I recommend having the child face the adult. This means, they are likely facing backwards from the front of the boat. The main reason for this is two-fold.

  1. It makes it easier for the adult to help with equipment (fishing pole, bait, etc.)
  2. It helps prevent hook snags into skin

WARNING: Watch out for hooks while casting! A hook snag to anyone in the kayak can ruin a great day.

For more junior anglers, I’d recommend letting the adult do the casting until they are ready.

Tip 3: Don’t Forget The Life Jackets and other regulations!

While this may seem obvious, please take safety seriously. Nothing in this world is scarier to me than the thought of one of my children being seriously hurt. Nature can be beautiful & thrilling, but she can also be very dangerous. Please be safe when on the water.

Life jackets come in all colors and sizes!

There are different models of life jackets. Some are more comfortable than others. Be sure to consider flexibility to move and how it fits while the child is sitting. When we’re riding in between fishing spots or trail locations, the kayak should be worn. Check with the US Coast Guard or your local game and fishing commission for up to date regulations.

We live in Florida, where fisherman under the age of 16 do not require a fishing license. Be sure to check with your local state authority for the rules in your area as to what license you and your child will require if you are fishing from a kayak.

Tip 4: A Especially Don’t Forget The Snacks!!

I typically take some cold drinks on ice and a variety of dry snacks and fruit. I say variety, because sometimes the fishing is slow.Having a little variety of chips, cookies and fruit can provide a break in the monotony. It also nice to stop for a picnic on the shore if you access to shoreline waterfront.

A little bit of cracker to hold us over until lunch.

Tip 5: Games

A little plastic bag with Legos, cars or super hero figurines can also help keep your young passenger’s attention. I found, I didn’t need to take a lot of toys, but one or two often helped at times when it was hot or the fish weren’t biting.

On of our favorite past time has always been to find an island to explore. Having a shovel or bucket to make sand castles from is usually a hit. Another fun way to explore is with geocaching. This is a way to explore for “lost treasures” that other geocachers have left behind.

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