Learn how to equip your jet ski for a seamless fishing experience, including the best rigs, racks, and jet ski types!

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If you're passionate about the thrill of jet skiing and the tranquility of fishing, then jet ski fishing will be the perfect combination for you. Imagine zipping across the water on your jet ski, then casting a line into the water and reeling in a big catch. Sounds exciting, right?

Jet ski fishing is not only a fun and adventurous activity, but also a cost-effective and convenient alternative to boat fishing. But before you hop on your jet ski and cast your line, you should get familiar with the ins and outs of this unique sport. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to start jet ski fishing with confidence, including:

  • The basics of jet ski fishing
  • Necessary gear and accessories
  • How to prepare your jet ski for a fishing trip

So, whether you're a jet ski enthusiast, a fishing devotee, or simply someone who loves outdoor adventures, this guide is perfect for you. Let's dive into the world of jet ski fishing!

How to Get Started Jet Ski Fishing

First things first, you might need a reminder of what makes jet ski fishing so popular. 

What’s So Great About Jet Ski Fishing?

Personal watercraft (PWC) or jet ski fishing is an increasingly popular recreational activity, and for good reason. Let's take a look at some of the compelling reasons to give PWC fishing a try: 

  • Accessibility: With a jet ski, you can easily navigate to fishing spots that are hard to reach with larger boats. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for finding the best fishing locations.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to maintaining a full-sized fishing boat, a fishing jetski is significantly less expensive. It uses less fuel, requires less maintenance, and is cheaper to store and transport.
  • Versatility: Fishing PWC can be customized with a variety of gear and accessories to suit your needs. This means you can tailor your fishing experience exactly how you want it.
  • Convenience: With their relatively small size, jet skis are easy to launch and retrieve. This means less time getting in and out of the water and more time fishing.

It's worth noting that jet ski fishing does come with its challenges. However, with the right gear, accessories, and a bit of practice, you'll be reaping these benefits and more.

Professional Jet ski fishing set up with GPS and ample storage
Professional jet ski fishing set up with GPS, storage, and fish finder.  USGS

Choosing the Right Jet Ski

Jet ski fishing begins with selecting the right PWC. Before you rush out to buy one, consider:

  • Size and Stability: Opt for a jet ski with ample deck space and stability to accommodate your fishing gear.
  • Engine Power: Ensure your PWC has enough horsepower to handle offshore fishing if that's your goal.
  • Seating: Some jet skis offer multiple seating options, making it easier to bring a buddy along.
  • Budget: Determine your budget and explore options within that range. Do you need the bells and whistles of a specialized jetski for fishing, or could you spend less and have the same amount of fun?

New jet skis come with a ton of features and add-ons, so you can customize your fishing jet ski just the way you want it. Here are a few top-rated offshore fishing jet skis:

Jetski fishing

Essential Jet Ski Fishing Gear and Accessories

Before you jump headfirst into the water, you'll need to know how to create a nice jet ski fishing setup with gear and accessories. This isn't just your typical fishing trip, and therefore, the gear you'll need won't be typical either. 

Fishing Equipment

  • Fishing Rods and Reels: Choose durable, corrosion-resistant equipment suitable for saltwater or freshwater fishing, depending on which you’ll be doing more. Ensure your fishing rods are lightweight but strong, ideally made of graphite or composite materials. For reels, a spinning reel is often the best choice for jet ski fishing due to its versatility and ease of use.
  • Tackle Boxes and Storage: Organize your lures, hooks, and bait in waterproof tackle boxes. These will keep your gear easily accessible and protected from the elements. Consider tackle boxes that fit snugly into your jet ski storage compartments for convenience.
  • Bait and Lures: Research local bait options and stock up on lures that mimic the local fish. Be sure to have a variety of options on hand as different fish may be attracted to different lures. It’s also a good idea to have live bait when possible, as it can be more attractive to certain species. Make sure that your fishing jetski has a bait cooler to keep them fresh throughout your fishing trip.

Jet Ski Fishing Modifications

To transform your jet ski into a fishing machine, consider these modifications for building the perfect jet ski fishing rig:

  • Fishing Rod Holders: Install rod holders on your jet ski fishing setup to keep your rods secure while you navigate the waves. These non-negotiable jet ski accessories also free up your hands to handle your fish, take a drink, send a text, or take some pictures.
  • Fishfinder and GPS: Equip your jet ski fishing rig with a fishfinder and GPS for pinpointing the best fishing spots. GPS devices serve the dual purpose of pinpointing potential fishing spots and keeping you safe. They track your jet ski's location and guide you in maneuvering through water bodies. 
  • Storage Solutions: Create secure storage compartments for your fishing gear. Storage solutions include cooler racks, rod holders, and tackle boxes that can be securely mounted to your jet ski. Keep in mind that everything should be easily accessible and securely stowed to prevent loss overboard.
  • Cooler: Fishing on a jet ski means you'll be sitting still for most of your day, not catching the cool breeze that comes along with high-speed jet skiing. For most people, having cool drinks and snacks on hand is a no-brainer. You'll also need somewhere to keep your catches and bait cool.
  • Canopy or Umbrella: There's no shade in the middle of the ocean. Without any, you won't last very long out at sea. Investing in a canopy or umbrella on your fishing jetski will not only make your time more enjoyable but will save you from some serious sunburn.

Fishing Jet Ski
A Yamaha PWC fishing setup with a shelf, cooler, rod holders, and net.  Yamaha Wave Runners

Rigging Your Jet Ski for Fishing

You'll have to rig up your fishing jet ski because, unlike on a boat or on shore, there's no surface to easily put all of your equipment.

Installing Fishing Rod Holders
Properly installed fishing rod holders are essential. They keep your rods secure and allow you to focus on maneuvering your jet ski. Choose holders that can accommodate the size and weight of your rods. Also, make sure they are easy to access, yet out of the way of your line of sight and mobility on the jet ski.

Jet ski stabilizers, often referred to as jet ski sponsons or PWC (Personal Watercraft) stabilizer kits, are aftermarket accessories designed to improve the stability and handling of a jet ski. They can make it easier to fish on your jet ski and provide extra storage space in some cases.

Bracket Systems
Brackets or platforms are custom-made or designed to be compatible with specific jet ski models and are typically mounted on the rear or sides of the jet ski. These jet ski fishing platforms serve as a place to hold your fishing rods or other gear, ensuring that everything is secure and within easy reach while you're out on the water.

Rear Basket Systems
These simply attach to the back of your fishing jet ski, providing a tray and storage space for equipment, tools, and coolers. Choose a rack that is sturdy and rust-resistant to ensure durability. This accessory is a game-changer for jet ski fishing, offering convenience and efficiency. We've also heard of people using their extra seat rack as a DIY jet ski fishing rack - pretty thrifty.

jetski fishing setup

Safety on the Water

Understanding Your Jet Ski's Limitations

Jet skis are incredibly agile, but they have limitations. Respect these limits and be aware of your fishing personal watercraft’s capabilities. For fishing, you'll need a model powerful enough to handle the added weight of your gear and sturdy enough to provide stability when you're reeling in a catch. Also, consider the fuel tank's capacity; you don't want to run out of gas in the middle of a fishing trip!

Safe Handling of Fishing Equipment on a Moving Jet Ski
Practice casting and reeling in while stationary before attempting it on the water. Keep your equipment secure to prevent accidents. Remember, safety should always come first when jet ski fishing, or doing anything on the water.

Dealing with Emergencies and Rescues
Carry essential safety gear, including life jackets and communication devices, and know how to use them in emergencies. Also consider having a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle or air horn on your fishing personal watercraft, which can be used to alert others in case of distress.

Communicating with Other Watercraft
Stay aware of other boats and vessels in your vicinity. Use proper hand signals and navigation lights to communicate your intentions. The same rules go for operating any water vehicle. 

Fishing Etiquette and Regulations

Research and follow local fishing regulations, bag limits, and size restrictions to avoid legal troubles. This includes following catch-and-release laws and maintaining proper distance from other anglers and boaters to avoid crowding and conflicts.

Always respect the environment and navigate responsibly to protect aquatic ecosystems. Remember, the joy of jet ski fishing is not just about the catch, but also about enjoying the outdoors and preserving it for future generations.

  • The Florida Keys, Florida
    • Known for its diverse marine life and crystal-clear waters, the Florida Keys offer plenty of opportunities for jet ski fishing. You can target species like tarpon, snapper, and grouper, though, be mindful not to bite off anything bigger than you can chew. The Keys provide access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Check out our Florida Keys Boating Guide to plan your next trip.

  • The Outer Banks, North Carolina
    • The Outer Banks has a rich fishing heritage and offers plenty of jet ski fishing opportunities. You can fish in the Atlantic Ocean for species like king mackerel, flounder, and cobia, or explore the calmer waters of the sound for speckled trout and red drum. Explore on your own with a North Carolina jet ski rental and see for yourself what the coast has to offer.

  • San Diego, California
    • Out on the West Coast, San Diego is a popular jet ski fishing destination. You can chase after species such as yellowtail, calico bass, and bonito in the Pacific Ocean. San Diego's mild climate makes it a year-round fishing hotspot as well as a great whale-watching destination.

  • Great Barrier Reef, Australia:
    • For a truly unique jet ski fishing adventure, consider the Great Barrier Reef. This iconic destination offers opportunities to target a wide range of species, including coral trout, giant trevally, and Spanish mackerel. Check out our Australia Boating Guide to plan the perfect trip.

offshore fishing jet ski
The crystal clear waters of New Zealand are great for jet ski fishing — and jet skis in general.  Anastasia Yudin / Pexels

Key Takeaways

Fishing from a jet ski offers an exhilarating blend of adventure and angling, allowing you to access fishing spots that are difficult to reach by traditional means. With the right gear, accessories, and safety measures in place, you'll be well on your way to a smooth experience with the best fishing jet ski setup possible. So, why wait? Dive into the world of jet ski fishing and let the waves be your playground!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is jet ski fishing?
    • Jet ski fishing is the activity of using a personal watercraft, commonly known as a jet ski, to fish. This involves outfitting the jet ski with various fishing equipment, including rod holders, coolers, and fish finders, to provide a unique and agile fishing experience.

  • Why would someone choose jet ski fishing over traditional boat fishing?
    • Jet ski fishing offers several advantages: Greater maneuverability in tight spaces, lower operational and maintenance costs. the ability to access shallow or hard-to-reach areas, and a more intimate and adventurous fishing experience.

  • Is it safe to fish from a jet ski?
    • Yes, it's safe as long as certain precautions are taken. Ensure the jet ski is equipped with the right fishing accessories to prevent tipping or instability. Always wear a life jacket, avoid fishing in extreme weather conditions, and be wary of the surrounding waters and marine life.

  • How does one store their catch on a jet ski?
    • Most jet ski anglers use specially designed coolers or fish boxes that can be securely mounted to the back of the jet ski. These are not only used for storing fish but also for keeping drinks and food cold during the trip.

  • Can I use my regular jet ski for fishing or do I need a specialized model?
    • While there are jet skis specifically designed for fishing, any stable and reliable jet ski can be modified for the purpose. However, ensure the weight limits are not exceeded and all equipment is securely attached.

  • Can you fish off a waverunner?
    • Just like with other types of jet skis and PWCs, you can set up your Waverunner for fishing and enjoy angling from this watercraft. Depending on the model, you’ll most likely have to make some modifications to your fishing waverunner for extra storage and buoyancy.  

  • Can two people fish on a jet ski?
    • Two people can fish on a PWC, but it takes balance and communication. The last thing you want is to lose balance and fall off of your jetski fishing setup mid-reel.

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