When you think of fishing, what kind of boat comes to mind? Maybe it’s a small boat meant for one or two people. Maybe it’s a larger deep-sea fishing vessel, complete with nets, benches to clean your catch, and built-in holds to store fish for the ride back to shore.
But what if you’re fishing in a very small craft, like a kayak? The logistics of fishing are different in such a tiny boat.
To some, it might seem like too much trouble to fish in a boat that barely has enough room for one or two people, but many people enjoy it. Kayaks are extremely maneuverable boats that can make their way into hidden fishing spots that are inaccessible to larger crafts. There are even organized kayak fishing events, like the annual “Gimme Shelter” derby in Shelter Cove, California.
There are a few items that are usually essential to anyone out on the water in a kayak: water, food, and sunscreen, for example. For an angler, it’s just as important to have a place to hold a catch and keep it preserved until it’s back on dry land. In a small boat, this can get tricky. Enter the kayak fishing bag.
What’s a Kayak Bag?
A fish bag, or “kill bag” as it’s known to anglers, is a bag specially designed to store and preserve your catch while you’re out on the water in sun, wind, or rain.
Kayak fishing bags are made to fit in the triangular wells of kayaks for easy, out-of-the-way storage. They’re usually made of a weather-resistant material like canvas, and have a lining that allows for easy cleaning after you empty out the day’s haul.
How Kayak Bags Are Constructed
Some people use coolers or repurpose everyday items like umbrella bags into fish bags. Kayak fish bags, often referred to as dry bags or deck bags, are superior to your standard DIY solution in that they’re built specifically to handle fish.
When shopping for a bag, you want to take the following factors into consideration:
You want all of your kayak fishing gear to last, and your fish bag is no exception. Reliable Fishing Products’ kill bags are made with heavy-duty, vinyl-coated polyester, and are sewn with thread that’s resistant to mildew and ultraviolet light. That makes for a tough bag that can take an all-day beating from the sun and water without coming apart.
The best bags take the elements into account in every aspect of their construction. Well-designed waterproof kayak bags feature corrosion-resistant zippers that won’t rust and jam up after a day of salt spray or lake water, closed-cell foam that helps insulate the bag from heat, and UV-resistant fabrics.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Fish bags sometimes have a drain plug at the bottom to let out water from melted ice, or the liquid that accumulates from a stored catch. This also makes them very easy to clean at the end of your trip: just hose them out and wipe them down, letting the water drain through the plug. Some also have removable liners to keep slime from getting on the rest of the bag
Insulated fish bags keep your ice frozen for a longer period of time, so that your catch stays chilled without getting swamped in decay-inducing water. How much insulation you’ll get varies from bag to bag. Softer cooler bags usually cannot keep ice frozen for as long as those with a more rigid construction and additional foam insulation.
Both of Reliable’s kayak fish bags have zipper tops, removable liners, and have a more rigid construction than flexible cooler bags, allowing for more insulation, which keeps your fish safe longer.
Size and Shape
Space is limited in a kayak, and you need a bag that will fit. Some kayak cooler bags are made of flexible material to allow them to fit into small spaces, while others have a harder shell. They’ll usually have a zippered opening as well.
Reliable’s line of fishing bags uses a triangular design to help them fit into the small wells of your kayak. They have built-in straps and D-rings that you can use to secure them to the body of the kayak, should you choose to do that instead. Reliable’s bags can also fit in the bow or behind the seat of the kayak.
Why and When to Use a Kayak Fishing Bag
Kill bags are purpose-built to keep your catch fresh and uncontaminated, making them more reliable than repurposed items such as insulated bags or old coolers. Catches stored in kayak deck bags take longer to decay, which in turn allows you to stay out longer.
Kayak bags also last longer than repurposed containers not made for holding fish. Some of the fish you catch may have spines and sharp teeth that could easily tear through most repurposed bags.
Kayak fishing bags also eliminate the need to use “stringers,” which are pieces of fishing line or chain that trail the fish through the water behind your boat. Not only does this expose the fish to the water and elements, it can also attract attention from predators in the area, like alligators who may be looking for a meal.
With a kill bag, your fish are safely stowed inside the boat, in an insulated container that traps smell and slime until you can clean your catch on land. The last thing you want is to go to the trouble of hauling in a great catch, then have it spoil or get eaten by hungry wildlife following its scent.
Caring for Your Bag - And Your Catch
Anglers agree: for the tastiest fish and the least damage to your bag, it’s best to kill your catch before putting it on ice. If possible, clean it first to minimize the mess inside the bag so that nothing will be left inside but the meat you’re taking home to cook.
If you’re placing your catch inside the bag alive, try to restrain it to minimize damage from thrashing. One angling blog, the Florida Sportsman, recommends securing a kingfish’s mouth with duct tape so it can’t bite, and clipping a lionfish’s spines.
How to Clean a Kayak Fish Bag
We talked about how easy it is to clean a proper fish bag, but how exactly do you clean it? One of the simplest ways is to first rinse the inside with fresh water, then add a small amount of dish soap and vinegar. The soap will break down and lift any greasy mess left by the fish, while the vinegar is an effective, nontoxic way to eliminate bacteria.
Once you’ve added your soap and vinegar, close the bag and shake it to make sure the mixture coats the entire interior. Let it sit for a few minutes (five generally does the trick) so the vinegar can kill as much of the bacteria left by the fish as possible. In addition to its antibacterial properties, vinegar eliminates any smell your catch may have left in the bag.
Don’t overlook the zipper: make sure the mechanism is cleaned and lubricated. Kill bag zippers are usually made of corrosion-resistant metal, but giving the zipper a little extra attention will add years to its life. When you’ve cleaned the entire bag, leave it out to air-dry. Be sure to leave the bag open during drying, as mildew growth can occur if it’s left closed.
Now that you know what having a quality kayak fish cooler bag can do for you, head over to Reliable Fishing Products. Whatever you decide to use your kayak bag for, we’ll make sure you’ve got the right one to take with you on your adventures. We guarantee sturdy, weather-resistant construction and maximum insulation to make sure your catch stays fresh all day.