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ARTICLE - Kayak fishing 102 – fishing gear and practical fishing from a kayak


DerekD
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Hi Kayakers,

This topic is a little more subjective as what works for me may not suit your fishing style. While I’ll do fishing excursions to other Sydney waterways, in general my favourites are Sydney Harbour (East of the bridge), Pittwater and Middle Harbour. My preference is targeting the pelagics and especially the kings. I own a Hobie Revolution 13 with Fishfinder and that has had an impact on how I fish. For example if I see a school of fish feeding on the surface in the vicinity the use of the mirage drive keeps my hands free as I power towards the school. I can grab my rod and be ready to throw a lure when in range. When fighting a fish I can use the drive to move me away from structure to give me a better chance of landing the fish. I have mates with paddle kayaks and some of them have done way better than I have in the last year so don’t let the lack of peddle drive be a concern. As with most things in life, effort and fishing smarter yields better results – they were out on the water far more often than I was and they used our network to work out where the fish were biting and what was working.

The following are a collection of notes based on what has worked for me during over 10 years of fishing from a kayak. It is open to improvement as I have an aha moment or learn something new from others.

I am a person who probably brings too much on the water but I’d rather have it and not need it than need something and not have it with me. You will likely be far from your back up vehicle so you have to be clever in what you bring and you need to be adaptable enough to deal with changing conditions. Unless you have a pro angler (which is a small battleship) space is at a premium on a kayak. My kayak has several storage locations (middle hatch and large front hatch) so I use them to my advantage. Everything I am likely to need quickly is stored in small Plano boxes and dry bags in the middle hatch between my legs. I have a larger garbage bag with additional things I might need in a pinch in the front hatch. My pliers, fishing knife, lip grips, some cord, wet rag and a plastic bag are kept in the mesh side pockets.

First piece of advice on a kayak – lose the trebles wherever possible. You do not want to get a treble caught up in your skin while trying to unhook a madly jumping fish. Suitable large eye replacement hooks are strong enough and far more easy to remove safely from a fish. They are less likely to get tangled up in a landing net if you choose to use one.

Second piece of advice is to have things set up so it requires the minimum of effort to change out your set up depending on what circumstances dictate. For example, swivels with duolock clips allow me to quickly change from a metal slice to a hard body lure to a squid jig to a hook and sinker arrangement without a lot of re-tying. Another example, I keep a small collection of plastics, slices and squid jigs in the cup holder pocket so I can very quickly grab a spare or change out lure if required.

I have 4 go to outfits to choose from when heading out on the water. These are:

  1. A light outfit (2-4kg or 2-5kg). In my case this is usually the Daiwa Wicked Weasel (actually 2-6kg) with Sedona 2500 reel and 8lb braid. With the long butt this rod annoys me SP fishing shore based but is perfect for the kayak.
  2. A medium snapper type outfit (5-8kg). In my case it is either the Raider Snapper 762 or the ArrowZ AAS-270H (14-30lb) matched with a Shimano (Stradic or Sedona) 4000 reel and 15lb braid.
  3. A heavy outfit (50 or 80lb). In my case it is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik 5’6” blue water rated to 37kg line. It is matched with an older Spheros 14,000 reel for which I have a 50lb and an 80lb spool.
  4. A 9 weight 9 foot fly rod with intermediate (partially sinking)  line. I usually run a 20lb or 30lb leader on this rod.

Unfortunately I only have 3 rod holders so I’ll make a decision between the heavy outfit or fly rod depending on what part of the fishing season it is. The fly rod comes out when the schools of pelagics are around and are primarily focussed on the very small bait fish which an eye fly can replicate.

I have a Plano box which contains everything I might need for the light rod (swivels with clips, halco twistys, soft plastics, small poppers, jig heads, small hooks, sinkers, blades, squid jigs) and some things I might need for the medium rod (larger hooks and sinkers).

I have a second Plano box for the medium outfit (larger swivels with clips, hooks, sinkers, squid jigs and several types of hard body lures and some plastics such as Slapstix).

In the dry bag I ensure I have everything I need to replace/re-tie leaders or tippets while on the water. In my case, 8lb, 10lb, 20lb, 30lb, 60lb and 80lb leader, braid scissors and a cigarette lighter to finish off my FG knots. I also keep spare packets of soft plastics in the dry bag.

I bring a bucket. In particular I like the older Handy Pail in 11 litres which used to be found at Bunnings. It is a short squat bucket made of food grade plastic which has a lid. The larger diameter makes it easier to put slightly longer squid or fish (e.g., live yellowtail) in it. Being squat it is a bit more stable than taller buckets. The older ones had an all plastic handle. Filling it with water and changing out through the day allows me to keep my live bait alive (obviously) but it also stops my fresh caught squid strips from being cooked under the sun. Often the squid strips are in such good condition at the end of the day that I can ziplock and freeze them for a later session.

When I first head out I have a swivel and duolock clip and 10gram silver halco twisty sitting on the light rod. This gives me an excellent casting range and is very effective on the surface feeding pelagics when the bait fish are around. If I don’t see feeding schools then my first stop is usually one of my bait grounds for squid. The clip means I can easily switch from twisty to squid jig. When squidding from the kayak I am trying to cover ground. I’ll pick a line parallel to the shore but just outside the weed beds and cast as far as possible forwards. If outside weed beds I can let it hit the bottom. If I’m worried about snagging up then I work with a mental countdown to keep the jig above the weed beds. Short sharp aggressive flicks with pauses is usually very effective. When I hook up I am paranoid about getting inked so I have developed a technique on the Hobbie where I peddle forward and drag the squid parallel and alongside the kayak. I tap it several times for it to spurt out ink in a safe direction then carefully lift it into my bucket. The problem with this is that it often takes a bit of time and there are usually another 1 or 2 squid where you hooked up.  Sometimes I will have a second squid jig hanging from the snapper rod which is in the holder and then pick up a second squid that way. Once I have all the bait I need the squid jig gets changed out for the Twisty. During the day I might switch to a soft plastic of 3 inches as it allows me to work the water column. Small surface lures such as poppers or sugapens (one of the few lures I will leave the trebles on) can also be very effective on surface fish. Don’t be afraid to use a light rod on a kayak. In Sydney harbour, unless you are in the moorings or very close to the shore, there are very few snags on the bottom for the fish to bust you off on. As long as you keep your head and don’t rush you should be able to get most fish to the kayak. Note that when they see the kayak they will often startle and run – let them. Each run will get shorter and shorter. Time is usually on your side. For catching live bait I have a smaller version of the snapper swivel, sinker and hook rig shown further down below.

On my medium outfit I run 15lb with 30lb nylon leader and a heavier swivel and duolock clip suited for that line rating. When I head out I have the medium outfit in the rod holder and then usually run a shiny, deep diving skinny profile minnow type lure. For example, the Yo-Zuri Crystal minnow with the trebles changed to singles. If I’ve got to paddle to a destination anyway I may as well tow a lure. It doesn’t account for the majority of my fish but I have hooked up sufficient tailor, kings, bonito, etc to make it a money for nothing proposition. Have the drag set tight enough to set the hook but not too tight so as to result in problems at that first aggressive strike. You will have time to put down whatever you have in your hands and reach back to grab the rod. If I don’t hook anything on the way out then I might throw a bigger squid jig on this outfit when I get to my bait grounds. I get some good casting distance and am more likely to get my jig back if I snag up on weed. I have some pre-prepared rigs (see pictures below) consisting of a swivel 50lb line passed several times through a pretty heavy ball sinker to friction lock it into place and then there is another 80cm of line to a 5/0 or usually 6/0 Gamakatsu Octopus circle hook. Once I have sufficient squid I strip it into the bucket and then use a strip on this outfit. I hold this outfit forwards and outwards in my hands as I slowly cover ground.

The heavy outfit is set up with a poor man's downrigger (see pictures below) and nothing else. The leader on the heavy outfit is usually 80lbs regardless of the braid being 50lb or 80lb. I only have about 1m of leader. I have some heavy pendulum type snapper sinkers through which I pass the line. I then tie it to a swivel with an eye too large to pass through the snapper swivel. On the other end of this swivel I tie another 1m of leader and finish with a 6/0 or even 7/0 Gamakatsu octopus circle hook. This rod sits in the rear rod holder and slightly off to the side of the kayak. I usually put a squid head on this with the hook well exposed. Back the drag off to the point that there is light resistance. Enough to set the hook but not enough for you to get into trouble. About half my kings are usually caught off this rod. I drop it down till the sinker hits the bottom then bring it up several meters. I don’t want to feed the pickers. I want the fish big enough to take a large bait in a single bite.

On the fly rod I’ll use 20lb if I am fishing the eye flies or 30lb if I am fishing larger flies such as squid flies, clousers or gummy/chummy minnows. I only use about 1m of leader as I have found the pelagic when feeding don’t seem to be put off by a less than subtle presentation. I fish a very open style with the fly rod as I don’t want that fly anywhere near my body. I can strip line onto the hatch between my legs. I use roll casts to get the line back to the surface and then can start false casting. If you drag the line behind you when following schools you can inadvertently hook up. Dragging the line behind you also helps you load up the rod when you want to fire the fly line forwards.

I have a rod holder for each rod so depending on what goes off I can put the other rod in the rod holder and then work with the one with the fish on the end. Think about the rod length and how you fight the fish. If you have a heavy rod with heavy drag holding it out as far as you can perpendicular to the kayak gives the fish a nice lever to tip the kayak. Fish the rod tip close to the boat. My bream, snapper and fly rods are slightly longer but as they are lighter I am unlikely to get tipped. The added length means I can swing the rod tip over the bow when fighting the fish. The use of the heavy rod in the rod holder and snapper rod in my hand has been very effective in the past. My best so far was 20 kings in a working week. I often use the Fishfinder with this two rod arrangement. I pick a depth of say 10m and set my lines so the baits are maybe 4m off the bottom. I can then follow the shoreline while maintaining this depth to ensure my baits are in the sweet spot. If I see what looks like pickers (especially leatherjackets) I can pick up the pace to get clear of them and then slow down again.

So you have hooked your fish, fought your fish and it is time to land it. Depending on what the species is I might use the wet rag, comfort lift it with my hand or use the lip grips. If I plan to release it then the long nosed pliers give me a pretty good opportunity to unhook the fish safely without having to lift it out of the water. Some people use a net but I usually don’t like them on a kayak. It is another thing to carry and lose (unless you have a lanyard). When the fish is jumping around the hook can catch into the webbing making it even more of a challenge to release. There is a time and place for them. I think they would be excellent in estuaries with bream and small flathead. I find them a struggle with longer species such as kings. If you plan to keep it then you need to be sure it is legal. I don’t feel like lifting a bucking fish into the kayak. My solution has been to make several tags with a dymo label maker. Specifically, 0cm, 40cm, 65cm and 70cm. I have stuck them on with a tape measure. They are correct within a mm or two . Legal size for a bream is 25cm so hold it between the 40 and 65cm tags. Legal size for a snapper is 30cm. Hold it beteen the 40cm and 70cm tags. Flathead (usually 36cm) can be estimated between the 0cm and 40cm mark.  Legal king 65cm – got that one. Mulloway 70cm – got that one too.  These marks are all within easy reach on my dominant side. It is a very easy check to see legal versus undersized. I can bring out the tape measure if it is borderline. If I plan to keep it with a bit of care I can cut its throat while in water and then put it in the keeper bag or more often that handy plastic garbage bag in the side pockets. The fish then gets stowed in the larger front hatch.

The place where I launch from has a point which blocks the view down the harbour. When we head out as a group we will usually send one of the faster kayaks to look around this corner to see if the schools are there while the others head towards the bait-grounds. Why spend all morning chasing bait if the fish are already feeding and you have some Halco twistys with you. We usually have mobile phones handy and often separate at times. Whoever finds fish lets the others know.

Hope this has given you a few things to think about. Supporting photos below.

Plano box for light rod

SmallPlano.thumb.JPG.b15a3d9977cba08749f1876c2afe24dd.JPG

Plano box for medium rod

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Swivel and duolock clip

vmc-swivel-with-duolock-3526bk.jpg.1745db423da9904c6a9d261b26a4dccb.jpg

Yo-zuri crystal minnow

yo-zuri-crystal-minnow-deep-diver-r1134-yoz-0294-6.thumb.jpg.8352c35004c245739aab155b60616450.jpg

Rig for snapper rod

SnapperRig.thumb.JPG.77c5fa46482ced1009bc3460fca4c1c2.JPG

Rig for heavy rod

HeavyRig.thumb.JPG.b770c0c88338e3c15e3d6eb1ffb15c59.JPG

Edited by DerekD
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Thanks for taking the time to put this up. I learnt a lot.

I fish out of a revo 11 mainly in the fresh. Funnily enough I also have a  Wicked Weasel but its my medium rod for yellas etc.

I'm impressed you can tie an FG knot in a kayak while bobbing around in Sydney Harbour.

Thanks again

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  • mrsswordfisherman changed the title to ARTICLE - Kayak fishing 102 – fishing gear and practical fishing from a kayak

Hey mate, love the write up. I have learnt heaps of new things that i want to include in fishing from my yak.

Just wondering if you have a photo of your fishing setup? 

Thanks !

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, BigHorse said:

Hey mate, love the write up. I have learnt heaps of new things that i want to include in fishing from my yak.

Just wondering if you have a photo of your fishing setup? 

Thanks !

Not the full set-up but that is an excellent suggestion so I'll try and put something together over the next week. Anything in particular you are interested in?

Edited by DerekD
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Just now, DerekD said:

Not the full set-up but that is an excellent suggestions so I'll try and put something together over the next week. Anything in particular you are interested in?

No not really, Just starting to get into kayak fishing so just looking at some inspiration!

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Posted (edited)
On 7/31/2021 at 6:59 PM, Ganguddy Goodoo said:

I'm impressed you can tie an FG knot in a kayak while bobbing around in Sydney Harbour.

Hi G. G.,

Not quite as impressive as it sounds. While I have been able to tie the FG knot for years I didn't like using it partially because of the line wastage and then several of the methods of keeping tension were a pain and (in my opinion) not always practical.

One of the Fishraiders posted a link where a gentleman stopped and really thought about how the FG knot worked and then turned it on its head so he could tie it in his fingers without special tension. This one:

A couple of small refinements to suit me and then matched it up with Rizzuto finish. I have been able to tie it very easily since (even on moving boats). There are a few more videos out about this different method out there now:

Here is one including the Rizzuto finish:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RkqPKeYmNo

 

 

Edited by DerekD
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  • 1 month later...

For those looking for inspiration on how to set up your kayak, I ran into a fellow Fishraider at the Tunk's park boat ramp with his seriously decked out Hobie Outback and he was kind enough to let me take the following photos. Some of the equipment he has includes:

  • Electric motor
  • Side scan sonar
  • Go Pro
  • Extra rod holders
  • Built in wheels for easy launch and retrieval at the boat ramp
  • A small sail to help keep the boat pointed into the wind
  • Safety flag.

It makes mine feel like the baseline model.

20210901_170624-5000.thumb.jpg.5a9cce1149b3e0ee9b33b0743a074c69.jpg20210901_170806-5000.thumb.jpg.4ef7660e8c54930de1c2e181edbeaf4e.jpg20210901_170833-5000.thumb.jpg.096aaf6e77c20730d6070a022e1ac8f0.jpg

Edited by DerekD
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On 7/31/2021 at 6:59 PM, Ganguddy Goodoo said:

Thanks for taking the time to put this up. I learnt a lot.

I fish out of a revo 11 mainly in the fresh. Funnily enough I also have a  Wicked Weasel but its my medium rod for yellas etc.

I'm impressed you can tie an FG knot in a kayak while bobbing around in Sydney Harbour.

Thanks again

Looking at your user name I assume you fish for Murray Cod. Where? I fish the Murrumbidgee region. Cheers. bn

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On 9/14/2021 at 9:19 AM, big Neil said:

Looking at your user name I assume you fish for Murray Cod. Where? I fish the Murrumbidgee region. Cheers. bn

Hi bN

Yep I do a bit of native fishing in the Canberra Bidgee and nearby lakes. Unfortunately the river and Googs are out of my "LGA" so not much happening at the moment. Cod closed season anyway. Might hit Lake Burley Griffin when school holidays start to chase a few yellas. Only problem is it takes me so long to rig my kayak I won't have any time to actually fish given the restrictions on exercise.

Also hope to take my son on a road trip to the Riverina once ACT/NSW hits the magic 80%. COVID and the fires have put that one on hold for a while now.

For what it is worth I really enjoy reading your freshwater reports. Keep em coming.

Steve

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7 hours ago, Ganguddy Goodoo said:

Hi bN

Yep I do a bit of native fishing in the Canberra Bidgee and nearby lakes. Unfortunately the river and Googs are out of my "LGA" so not much happening at the moment. Cod closed season anyway. Might hit Lake Burley Griffin when school holidays start to chase a few yellas. Only problem is it takes me so long to rig my kayak I won't have any time to actually fish given the restrictions on exercise.

Also hope to take my son on a road trip to the Riverina once ACT/NSW hits the magic 80%. COVID and the fires have put that one on hold for a while now.

For what it is worth I really enjoy reading your freshwater reports. Keep em coming.

Steve

Thanks so much for replying Steve. I didn't know there were Yellas in Lake Burley Griffin...learn something every day. Great fun chasing native species in the Bidgee. Lot of weirs where I live so conditions change regularly and add to the challenges catching them presents. I have a daughter in Canberra (Fadden). Let me know if you are travelling here anytime, be good to catch up. Cheers, bn

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