9 Kayaking Fishing Safety Guidelines

Always follow safety rules and regulations when going fishing and that includes bringing someone else along on your adventure.

Kayaking Fishing

Kayak Fishing Safety

Here are nine kayaking fishing safety rules:


Changing weather conditions should never, ever be ignored. The two most violent storms are frontal conditions and thunderstorms.


Protect yourself from hypothermia. The waters and weather do not have to be significantly colder, just colder than your body temperature. If in these conditions for any length of time you could become hypothermic and then become disoriented. Plan on getting wet and therefore dress appropriately.


You know how difficult it can be to drive in heavy fog, it’s twice as bad on the water. You can get lost very easily and have the threat of a large boat hitting you. Stay away from larger waterways traveled by larger vessels. Stay in contact with the shoreline and have a GPS or compass with you at all times.


If a storm moves in and you hear a slight buzzing or vibration coming off your fishing rod, get off the water ASAP. This buzzing or vibration is caused by ions in the air that are highly charged meaning lightning could strike very quickly. While paddling to shore, make sure your rods are not in an upright position. Once on shore, get into shelter or a vehicle.


If the weather is extremely hot, you can become overheated or suffer from heat stroke very easily. Have plenty of water to drink on-board. If the sun is barreling down on you, make sure you have sunscreen with a decent SPF of 15 or more. The water reflects the sun in a much higher intensity which can cause serious sunburns. You might want to don a hat, sunglasses and other apparel should the sun become too much.


Winds will cause water to turn rough and leave you out of control or capsized. Kayaks can withstand some rough waters if operated by an experienced kayaker. Do not allow waves to hit you broadside, if hit broadside you can possibly turn over. Keep the bow or stern at an angle to the waves. Always wear your personal flotation device that should also have a whistle attached to it. Stay with your kayak even if you cannot get back on and above and beyond all else, do not panic.

If there is any chance that the weather is going to turn nasty, do not paddle in large areas of deep open water.

Dangerous animals

Use extra caution in paddling waters that might be home to a range of scary critters. Rarely a treat in day light, alligators can be present in many rivers, but are more of a concern in low-light or night times. If kayaking in rivers with low hanging limbs be careful with snakes (could fall into the boat). Don’t panic and attempt to clear the snake from the kayak as soon as possible. Certain snakes like a water moccasin will rarely attack humans, but will aggressively defend its territory if provoked.

Also, don’t antagonize sharks. Sharks aren’t likely to be seen on a kayaking fishing trip, but if noticed sit quietly until it moves on.

Fishing Hooks

Kayaking means being low in the water and this puts the angler much closer to fighting fish. Catching fish with barded trebled hooks or sharp teeth can cause a variety of issues. It helps to limit the use of treble hooks to minimize damage to the skin and take extra care when handling fish, especially those with spiny or sharp areas as well as sharp teeth.

List of safety gear

At minimum a kayak should be fitted out with safety gear including:

  • Bottled water
  • First-aid kit
  • Paddle leash
  • PFD (with whistle attached)
  • Safety belt (attaches to bow line)
  • Sunscreen
  • Visibility flag (raised)

And for the longer kayaking fishing trip, extra safety gear like an anchor, torch, VHF radio, GPS, compass, and flares might be practical additions.