Fresh Water Kayak fishing: by Brian Jacob

Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day!


Is there anything more relaxing than floating on glassy water, in the shade, with an icy beverage at your side?

Even better, you’ve got 2 different baits in the water and your plastics are being smashed by large mouths! This is the world of fresh water kayak fishing!


For some of us land locked lubbers, it’s not possible to launch through the surf and get our adrenalin pumping every weekend, even if we would love to. And even if hooking a 5kg snorbek seems a far cry from a 5kg cuda, fresh water kayak fishing does certainly have its attractions. In fact these two facets of kayak fishing, fresh and salt water, really compliment each other, like salt & pepper or peas & carrots! Many of the skills used are similar, and, most of the equipment used is exactly the same. The main difference for me, is that it’s a case of “Adrenalin vs. Relaxation”, and who does not love a bit of both?


A Fresh water kayak fisherman’s checklist:


For surviving:




PFD(personal floatation device)






For fishing:


Bogagrip(no one wants to grope a snorbek)



Bait – worms(nb), bread, mielies, chicken livers, platties etc.

Tackle box – spinners(nb), plastics, rapalas, bait tackle etc.




It’s a good idea to keep things simple, fishing wise, when starting out. But in saying this, things are very calm on flat water and even the novice can have a really intricate fishing plan.


The three main species that are targeted are: barbel, large mouth bass and a variety of kurper species. Barbel are the largest of these and grow up to 35kg in the Vaal, I’ve heard they get even bigger in the Orange River, up to 50kg, which as you can imagine, off a kayak, is practically impossible to land. The common thinking is that a barbel is a slow lazy fish, which could not be further from the truth, they are powerful and when realizing they are hooked scream for the nearest cover. My biggest barbell was 15kg on the Vaal River, and it towed me around for 20 min before he gave up, I was so happy I wanted to kiss that beautiful snorbek!


A bass can also be a magnificent fight with all its aerial antics, but certainly more difficult to hook. Only artlure will work on the bigger ones, with smaller ones taking worms occasionally. Most of my bass tend to come out trawling floating rapalas or spinners.


Catching kurpers may seem lame to some, but when you find them you can keep yourself busy for the rest of the day. On a trip to Roodeplaat at the end of 2008, we went on a kurper mission. After putting down a bag of maroque, we proceeded in catching 79 vlei kurpers in an hour and a half. They love an earthworm! Blue kurpers can get much larger, up to like 2 kgs, but tend to be much more difficult to catch, especially when spawning, they won’t take anything.


I have not caught a carp off my kayak yet, they normally take baits the have been lying in one spot for a long time, and so the “pap gooiers” have an advantage from the bank. I also still need a yellow fish as a species from my kayak.


It’s all about the camaraderie, exercise and just plain fun!

All fresh water fishing should be catch and release.

It’s an exciting undiscovered part of fishing, with a sense of pureness!

A series of monthly fresh water kayak fishing competitions has begun in the Gauteng province, and for anyone interested in getting into it visit for more information.