Skip to content

How to Start Kayak Fishing in BC

Kyle and Crystal Borkes live in the coastal town of Ladysmith near the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. They grew up with fishing rods in their hands but it wasn’t until they tried kayak fishing three years ago that they really got excited about the sport. At the time they were in the market for a power boat but elected for two kayaks instead because the price was significantly cheaper and they don’t require fuel, insurance or maintenance. 

Now they kayak fish regularly through the Southern Gulf Islands, off Nanaimo and many other saltwater spots around Vancouver Island. They supplement their groceries for their four kids with fresh fish from the ocean and they document their experiences via their YouTube channel and social accounts. We reached out to ask if they had any advice for others who want to get into kayak fishing in British Columbia. This is what they had to say.

How long have the two of you been fishing? And how long from boats other than kayaks?

How long have the two of you been fishing? And how long from boats other than kayaks?

Crystal: We both grew up fishing, mostly lakes and rivers. Kyle had more experience than I did salmon fishing off-shore because his family is from Ucluelet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. When we were first dating, he took me out salmon fishing and I was instantly hooked! It’s quite the adrenaline rush, and a great sense of accomplishment knowing you just caught your dinner.

When did you start kayak fishing?

Crystal: We have been kayak fishing for three years now. We were originally in the market for a boat until one day we stumbled across a video on YouTube of a marlin being caught from a kayak! It gave us both goosebumps. We had no idea such things were possible from a kayak. We had experience kayaking so combining our love of that with our love of fishing seemed like the perfect idea. We made the decision to get out of the motorboat market and into the kayak market and eventually got two Old Town Sportsman PDL 120s. The pedal drive kayaks are a complete game changer when it comes to kayak fishing.

Wow, what were the cost savings from that decision?

Crystal: After looking at many different boats we knew we’d probably have to spend $25,000 minimum for a decent one that would suit our needs. Then there’s the gas, insurance, and regular maintenance that comes with owning any type of vehicle. 

Kyle: Kayak fishing is definitely a huge cost savings over owning a big boat. For us, we knew we wanted two things out of our fishing kayaks: they had to be pedal driven and had to be stable. We decided on two Old Town Sportsman PDL 120s as our fishing machines and we got them for around $3,000 each, a quarter of the cost of a boat. Granted, we can’t go as far offshore as a boat can, but living on Vancouver Island we are blessed with having world class fishing extremely close to shore.

Where do you like to kayak fish?

Kyle: At the moment we are strictly saltwater kayak anglers. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy fresh-water fishing as well, but the ocean is where we feel most at home. We don’t really have “home waters” that we fish all the time because we have a 14-foot enclosed cargo trailer and can put the kayaks in and travel all over Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

What do you like to catch?

Crystal: We are not into “catch and release” when it comes to kayak fishing. Every time we’re out on the water, we have every intention of keeping our catch and putting food on the table for our four children. That said, our favourite fish to target and cook is lingcod. They are such a mild tasting fish that can be used in such a variety of recipes. But nothing beats fighting a big Chinook salmon from a kayak. It really gets your blood pumping. They are delicious as well.

Is there a burgeoning community of kayak anglers on the island that you know about? 

Kyle: The kayak fishing community continues to grow rapidly on Vancouver Island, as well as across Canada. With the help of Facebook and other social media groups, it’s easy to plan meet-ups with like-minded anglers who enjoy this incredible sport. We started our social media accounts and YouTube channel to try and show people what is possible from a kayak, and to shed light on this sport that has forever changed our lives.

Any tips you could share with our readers?

  1. Kyle: Our biggest tip for new kayak anglers would be to always keep an eye on the weather and currents. They can change in the blink of an eye so we’re constantly monitoring the forecasts a few days before as well as while we’re out on the water.
  2.  Always wear a properly-fitted PFD no matter the conditions and let people know where you are, what time you are going to be off the water and stick to that time.
  3. Always carry some form of communication, whether it be a phone or VHF radio. Crystal and I use a tracking app if we go fishing solo, so we can see where the other is at all times. 
  4. Lastly, trust your gut. We’ve driven over an hour to go fish and took one look at the water and realized the forecast was wrong, turned around and headed home. We love fishing, we love pushing the limits of this sport, but no fish is worth getting hurt over. If it looks bad and you have a bad feeling, stay on shore. Being nervous on the water is a horrible feeling. Trust us, we’ve been there. 

You mentioned you have four kids. Are you getting them into kayak fishing too?

Crystal: Our four children, although fairly young, have shown a huge interest in kayak fishing. They have their own smaller kayaks, which they love. Probably in the next year or two we will start getting them into their own pedal-driven fishing kayaks. We’ll start them off slowly on lakes around Vancouver Island and then move them up to the ocean once we’re confident in their abilities. But yes we definitely see our kids joining us on our kayak fishing adventures in the near future. And we’re positive the first time they land a fish from a kayak, they’ll be hooked!

For more about the kayak fishing in British Columbia, visit

1 response to “How to Start Kayak Fishing in BC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Project Partners