Kayak Fishing in the Holey Lands. Just about my favorite thing to do, currently.
When I first moved to South Florida in 2015, I was pretty intimidated by the Everglades. Back home in Western New York, there were not predators in the water outside of an occasional wayward jet skier. So you can imagine the thought of paddling with alligators, crocodiles, and water moccasins was interesting to say the least, and a little frightening.
Once I got in to the Holey Lands though, and started navigating the canals, I gained a lot of comfort. The gators are curious, but I’ve yet to see an aggressive one. I’ve paddled past dozens in the 3 to 6 foot range. They almost always start to swim away whenever you get within 60 yards of them or so. They keep an eye on you, but they keep their distance. That’s not to say YOU’LL never encounter an aggressive alligator, but I haven’t.
The time to be more careful is alligator breeding season. In South Florida, mating season begins in March and ends in June. At any point during those months, and several after, you could encounter a female with babies. Those you’ll want to steer clear of for sure. A good bet is to keep your fishing kayak well away from tall shore grasses or anywhere that looks like has seen gator activity. Slides and such.
That all said, let’s talk about the fishing in the Holey Lands.
Where are the Holey Lands?
The Holey Lands are in Palm Beach County, right off of the fisherman’s paradise of US Route 27.
The launch I use is the improved launch about 6 miles in.
Fish Species in the Holey Lands
The Holey Lands offers pretty standard South Florida Everglades canal fishing.
The primary target is largemouth bass, and there are plenty of 16 plus inchers around. Plenty. The biggest of caught personally is 18 inches, but if you google articles about fishing the Holey Lands, there are some guides that say there are ten pounders lurking here, in the lilies. And speaking of lilies... they are everywhere. When you first hit the water here, you almost will be overwhelmed in trying to decide where to throw your first Senko. The answer is honestly "right at the dock". There are big bass right at the launch, and they hit.
My favorite stretch to kayak fish for largemouth bass is around the second corner as you paddle back towards route 27. That stretch runs just north of the road and the power lines. There are incredible concentrations of lilies, and it's loaded with bass. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong anywhere in the area though.
I've spent all my time on this water chasing largemouth, but I've yet to turn up a peacock or a bullseye snakehead. In part this is because I've been throwing Senkos 90% of the time. Peacocks will ignore these for the most part (almost entirely), and they aren't the best snakehead bait either. I plan on spending more time pitching artificial frogs into the lilies in the near future.
Aside from peacocks and snakehead, oscars and bluegill inhabit these waters. One of these days, I'll go kayak fishing in the Holey Lands for bluegill with the fly rod. You can hear them sipping away in deep cover. That could make for an interesting experience.
Top Baits for Kayak Fishing in the Holey Lands
If you're planning on kayak fishing in the Holey Lands, you'll obviously need to be geared up appropriately. As a rule, there's nothing particularly special about this place for baits compared to the rest of the Everglades canals. Senkos, race worms, top water frogs and some stick baits will get the job done. If I go fly fishing out there soon, I'll do a separate piece on that, so we'll stick to bait-casting and spinning gear for now.
No surprise here. They flat out work on bass anywhere. This is pretty clear water for the most part, so I tend to go dark. Pumpkin, black, and purple for the win.
Top Water Frogs
Burn these suckers through the pads at high noon (or all day), and hang on tight....
Kayak Fishing in the Holey Lands - Conclusion
This is truly a magnificent place to launch a kayak and head out for a full day of fishing. As many times as I have gone, I haven't come close to exploring the entire area.
You will likely be alone out there, even if you see a few boat trailers at the launch. The bass boats and jon boats tend to head a little deeper into the canals, leaving a few miles of great bass water for you to fish.
One caveat is that there are people out there shooting. I used to hear it a lot more before the accidental killing of a fisherman last year. While I don't specifically know if any of the regulations for discharging firearms in the Holey Land has changed since then, I can say for sure that I have seen the FWC more frequently in my recent visits. Could just be a matter of deterrence. There IS an open hunting season there almost year round, so something to bear in mind. You can familiarize yourself with seasons and hunting activities in the Holey Land here.
Do you go kayak fishing in the Holey Lands? I'd love to hear from you. Drop a comment below and say hello!
Last modified: March 26, 2018