You've likely noticed that there is a surge in kayak fishing.

You see them being pulled or carried down the highway. You see them at the boat ramps. And you'll likely see them in some of your favorite fishing spots - even offshore.

Kayaks are everywhere, and many factors are driving the exploding world of kayak fishing.

Of course, rising gas prices have made kayak fishing all that more attractive. Low costs, low maintenance and the solitude of powerless fishing attract more to the sport everyday, and there are even health benefits. Just explain to your significant other that you're really exercising - fishing is just an ancillary component!

Fishing by kayak is generally a solo undertaking. One of the rewarding factors is that anglers quickly learn to do everything for themselves. Paddling/pedaling, casting, catching and landing - there's no one else onboard to help. This sense of self-satisfaction is one of the key elements that make kayak fishing so challenging and so much fun.

My wife is not an avid fisherman; it has more to do with her not liking to get up early than it does with actual fishing. However, she enjoys fishing from a kayak, and that certainly has to do with the independence and bragging that comes from doing it all by herself. She has managed to land quite a few impressive fish in just a few outings.

She likes the ease and stability of pedaling our kayaks. Pedaling uses the larger leg muscles and requires no upper body strength and exertion. Properly fitted with a PFD, she's totally comfortable 'yak fishing both inshore and offshore.

Kayak fishermen run the gamut of those new to fishing to those seasoned anglers looking to add more challenge to their fishing pursuits. Kayak fishing easily fits all of those skill levels.

Be it freshwater, inshore saltwater or even offshore big-game fishing, kayak fishing is here to stay. There's a level of excitement that can't be found fishing from conventional power boats. The combination of manual power, the ability to access secluded waters and fishing right at the water's surface, all combine to add a thrill factor that hooks more kayak anglers everyday.

Choosing a brand and model of fishing kayak should not be done lightly. What's best for me and my preferred fishing area and techniques may not be right for you. Models are available to comfortably fit all sizes of anglers. The most-important thing is to actually try out as many models as possible before making a selection. Utilize kayak demo days offered by your local dealer and the wealth of on-line resources to help guide your decision. Kayak anglers will freely share information and tips to help you in making the proper purchase.

There is simply no one single kayak that is best for all applications. Decide how you will spend most of your 'yak fishing time and select a model that best suits those purposes. Most kayaks however will serve multiple uses. The 'yak you use for bass fishing will likely adapt for an occasional off-the-beach trip for king mackerel.

Paddle or peddle? This question is pondered daily among kayak fishing enthusiasts. Although paddling is the traditional means of propelling a kayak, some manufacturers offer pedal-drive propulsion. Pedaling allows anglers a virtually hands-free fishing experience, and it uses the larger leg muscles; many anglers find that they can pedal farther and longer than with a traditional paddle.

The argument over which is best will likely never be settled. Some prefer the "purist" traditional paddling methods, while others prefer the advantage pedaling brings to many angling situations. Of course, some 'yak anglers own several kayaks and maybe even both types. It all comes down to personal preference. Try both types to see which is best for you.

Most of the major manufacturers know that anglers want a kayak with fishing-specific features and designs. More and more dedicated fishing 'yaks are introduced each year. They are well-appointed with features designed with a fisherman's needs in mind. However, even a fishing-model kayak will likely not come with all of the things you want to make your fishing more successful and enjoyable. Keep this in mind when making your selection check for available options, and plan for future additions like electronics, extra rod holders, bait wells, etc.

No matter where you live, chances are there is a kayak fishing club near you. They offer a refreshing amount of information sharing generally not found in the boat-fishing world. Clubs are accommodating to newbies, and the knowledge gained is well worth any nominal club membership fee.

A fishing kayak is an investment that can serve you well for many years. Taking the time to do proper research before you make a purchase can help you get the right brand and model. Here at the Sportsman, we've sampled some of the most-popular new models to give you a baseline comparison to help narrow your choices. By all means, this is not an exclusive list of all available fishing kayaks and manufacturers. Some of the manufacturers listed here also have additional models that may better suit your particular needs.

If you are new to fishing, kayaking is an exciting and relatively inexpensive way to get started. If you are a seasoned fisherman, fishing from a kayak will take your fishing to a whole new level.