April is the top month for the bass spawn in both Carolinas, and there is nothing like setting the hook on a sho’nuff bucketmouth from a small plastic boat. The beauty of kayak bass fishing is that it’s hard to find a body of freshwater in either Carolinas that doesn’t hold bass.
Likewise, it’s easy to find a way to drag a kayak off the back of your vehicle and, in no time at all, be casting to bass on a warm April day.
Sharing water with larger power boats presents a few challenges to kayak anglers. No. 1 is safety. Always wear your PFD and always have some way to signal other boats that you are on the water. Fortunately, the majority of kayak bass fishing in April is done in the backs of creeks and cuts, but on occasion, you still may be in open water crossing from one side to the next.
April means bedding fish, which also means sitting in your kayak is probably not the best fishing position. Propulsion while standing is an advanced skill. Some kayakers use one end of their paddle to scull, while others have acquired an SUP paddle for just this occasion.
Standing gives you a better angle looking for bedded bass as well as casting to them once they are spotted. Some paddleboat manufacturers provide elevated-seat positioning for better views, but it’s hard to beat the view from a standing position when looking for dark shapes silhouetted on a pea gravel or clay bottom.
Standing and flipping from a kayak is a lot of fun, as well as a productive way to catch big bass. If you are fortunate enough to have areas of grass mats to fish, a Texas-rigged worm or lizard using a pegged tungsten weight is a great way to punch through grass mats and get to the bass below.
When bass are aggressively defending a bedding area, it’s hard to find something they won’t hit. Buzzbaits and spinnerbaits provide some exciting action, especially when the strike is preceded by a waking bass charging from cover.
Trying to tempt a bass that’s already seen every bait from Tackle Warehouse tossed at it or into its bed is another story. Those fish have to be aggravated into biting, and sometimes you’re better off to remember the spot and try again in low-light conditions or make a long cast to that spot after the fish has settled back down.
Hate me if you want, but April is also a great time for some Florida-style shiner fishing if you are fishing for fun. Use dollar bill-sized shiners (6-inch minimum) and toss them in a hole in a grass flat or right at the mouth of that undercut bank in the far back of a cut; those are exciting prospects.
Ike likes plastic boats:
Bass pro Mike Iaconelli visited South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell in February to practice for the Bassmaster Classic in mid-March, and his Hobie Pro Angler kayak was atop his tow vehicle, but it’s not a marketing gimmick. “More and more big-name anglers are getting into kayak fishing,” he said. “This is my third year in a Hobie, and I take it with me everywhere I go. Kayak fishing for bass takes me back to the basics of bass fishing, even with all the accessories like depth finders and Power Poles, you’re still forced to get in there and figure it out. It takes me back to my youth when I fished from the bank or fished from a john boat.”