A GUIDE TO KAYAK FISHING

These days, fishing and kayaks go hand in hand. They’re affordable, easy to use, a cinch to transport and not to mention, they’re the ultimate stealth craft for catching shy and spooky fish. Personally, I also find you also have a much greater appreciation of your surroundings and the environment when you’re quietly bobbing at water level in a kayak. Having said that, there’s still no doubt that blasting across the water at 40 miles per hour in an outboard powered fishing boat is great fun - but for those who need a little Zen from time to time, jumping aboard a kayak is the way to go. So today, I’ll run you through some of the basics of kayak fishing - from safety to technique, a few small tips go a long way if you’re new to the game.

 

SAFETY:

First things first, lets talk safety. You might think kayaking is essentially foolproof, but you’d be surprised how many people get caught off guard with lack of preparation, equipment and know how. Before you even consider going out on a kayak, check the weather. The wind cannot only be a pain in the backside when you’re trying to fish, but it can also be extremely dangerous if a big front comes belting through and you’re a couple of kilometres out to sea. That brings me to my next point: lifejackets (PFDs). According to NSW Maritime, “canoes and kayaks are classified as vessels and must comply with NSW marine legislation”. This means if you’re paddling more than 100 metres from shore, you must wear a PFD. No matter what the rules are in your state, it’s always a good idea to wear a PFD when on the water – especially in a small, slow vessel like a kayak.

 

Wearing a PFD is a no-brainer when you're fishing in a kayak. 

 

Ask any hardcore kayak fisherman about safety at sea and you’re bound to hear them say, “Mate, you’ve got to dress to swim and rig to flip”. Basically this means that you should dress as if you could go swimming, i.e. no jeans and wooly jumpers. “Rig to flip” refers to setting up your kayak so that if you do flip over, everything is secure. So fishing rods/paddles should have lanyards, loose gear is secured in hatches or strapped down and electronics are in floating waterproof cases or dry bags.

 

"Dress to swim and rig to flip."

 

 

TECHNIQUE:

The most important part of kayak fishing, is choosing the right launching area. By that I mean you want to find a location that’s relatively central to the area you’re going to be fishing. There’s no point slogging it out for hours, just to get to the bait grounds. In some situations this may be your only option, but do a little research and try to find public access closer to the spot you’re fishing. Remember, you don’t need a boat ramp for a kayak, head off the beaten track and potentially save yourself a long, tiring trip. However, kayaks do travel at a great speed for trolling. This being the case, you should always drag a couple of lures behind your kayak when underway or moving between spots - hard-bodied diving lures and vibes are the go.

 

  

You don't have to launch at a boat ramp with a kayak (left). You can happily stand and fish in some of the larger kayaks (right).

 

 

Once you’re fishing, there are a couple of important things to remember. Firstly, don’t fish with extreme drag settings when the rod is in the holder. If you do catch a fish you run the risk of loosing your rod overboard or not being able to get it out of the holder (as you’ll quite possibly be at full stretch with only one free hand). Secondly, when it comes to securing your catch, keep a rods length of line between you and the fish (i.e. never reel the fish all the way to the rod tip). Having this extra line out means you can either swing the fish straight into the boat or net it with ease. This is important no matter what boat you’re in, but more so in a potentially unstable kayak.

 

Danny holds up two jumbo calamari squid that fell victim to the stealthy approach of a kayak

 

 

Is there a fish you want me to attempt to catch? A location I should fish? A photographic challenge? You tell me. Either email fishfingers18@yahoo.com or leave a comment below.

 

Until next week.

 

Jack Murphy

 

 

© JackMurphy Fishing and Photography

 

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