A Beginner's Guide to Kayak Fishing: Part 3

A Beginner's Guide to Kayak Fishing: Part 3

It’s a great feeling when a good plan comes together, and it’s made even better if there’s some great fishing thrown in! With kayak fishing, this equates to returning safely back to shore at the end of your day with a nice feed of seafood for the table, writes Rob Fort.

Preparation is key with any style of fishing. Kayak fishing is no different, and brings its own unique challenges to overcome. It is quite common for new entrants to overlook certain items necessary for kayak fishing and usually it’s not until something goes wrong that you realise what’s missing. The good news is that I’ve spent decades figuring out the unknowns and one thing I’ve learnt is that when it comes to kayak fishing, sometimes the simplest items can be the most important.

All set up and ready to launch with the rods placed up high away from possible water contact.

All set up and ready to launch with the rods placed up high away from possible water contact.

Rod holders

Most purpose-made fishing kayaks come with rod holders installed – usually flush-mounted versions that sit below the kayak’s deck. These are specific for kayak use and will usually be shorter in length than conventional versions to fit inside the limited space within the hull. These rod holders will also have no holes in the bottom of the tube and have a foam gasket that provides a watertight seal.

Externally mounted rod holders also have their place on a kayak and offer some advantages over the flush-mounted type. This type of rod holder uses a base-mount which allows the holder to be set up in a range of angles. The rod holder itself may also be able to have its angle further adjusted, allowing for multiple positions. Because these rod holders detach from their bases, they better suit roof rack transport where the kayak is placed upside down on top of the vehicle.

New systems, like those available from Railblaza, offer multiple rod holders mounted to a track. This creates a rod rack capable of carrying up to four rods with the whole system easily removed from its base mount. Another advantage is that reels are elevated higher with externally-mounted rod holders, which means less contact from water splashes. This makes them a much better option than the flush-mounted version, especially when moving between fishing areas.

If you are planning to install some rod holders it is best to consider their positions carefully, especially if they are the flush-mounted type as once the holes are made in the hull, there’s no going back unless you have a plastic welder. External holders are much more forgiving and usually only require small holes to be drilled unless the kayak has inserts designed to suit the base mount. Either way, fitting a couple of these mounts in different areas will provide options for rod holders to be moved around the ‘yak.

Externally mounted rod holders provide options to store rod and reel sets up around the cockpit area.

Externally mounted rod holders provide options to store rod and reel sets up around the cockpit area.

Kayak attachment points

While most popular brands of kayak come standard with fitted saddles for attachment, some types will require them to be fitted. Saddles provide a place to attach items to the kayak. Having attachment points positioned near the kayak angler’s seat will allow for easy access.

Leashes

There is a common saying within the kayak fishing community: ‘leash it or lose it’. There probably wouldn’t be a kayak angler that doesn’t have a story to tell about how they lost something overboard.

Rods are the most susceptible to being dislodged, especially when an angler is reaching for one stored behind their seat. Leashes secure important items such as fishing rods and are also a way of keeping your paddle attached to the kayak. All leashes designed for rods and paddles use the same basic principle with a cord loop at one end that attaches to the rod or paddle and a clip at the other for attachment to the kayak.

Leashes are made using braided cord and bungee cord with various styles available, including plaited and coil models. Some leashes have a swivel incorporated, or include an attachment clip with this feature, to prevent any twisting. In all cases, simplicity is the best option when it comes to leash selection, and while coil-type designs appear more compact, they can also hinder your movements because the coils need to be stretched. When using a leash, the only consideration is how you attach it to the rod. This is best done in such a way to prevent the leash from slipping off it. One way is to place it around the reel seat area. Lastly, make sure every rod and reel has its own leash, and that you have leashes for other items you want to attach to the kayak.

Keep those precious rod and reel sets attached to the kayak with leashes.

Keep those precious rod and reel sets attached to the kayak with leashes.

Storing the catch

If you are going to eat the seafood you catch, then it’s vital that your kayak provides a system that stores and chills it down, and protects it from the heat of the sun. Ice boxes, chillybins, insulated covers and bags are the main types available, and are usually set towards the stern of the kayak in the rear well. This area offers containment and at its simplest is just protected by an insulated cover. Although this is the cheapest option to convert a storage area, it is not the most efficient. A lack of insulation under the rear well within the kayak lets this option down, and even with the addition of ice packs, you will still have poor results on hot days.

My experience is that insulated bags provide the most efficient protection, especially when purpose-made to fit the kayak. They have the lowest profile and are lightweight with all-over insulation, unlike ice boxes made from plastic which have little or no insulation. Chilly bins can also be used, however, most are not designed to fit the kayak.

Because space is limited within the rear well area, the chilly bin that will be suitable can have a smaller profile and is much higher than an insulated bag. When loaded up with fish and other seafood, the chilly bin can change the kayak’s centre of gravity, making it unstable. Because of this, many kayak anglers prefer insulated bags, and at half the cost of the chilly bin or ice box, it’s a great option.

To cool the insulated storage system, ice packs contained inside a PVC bag work really well, especially if the fish lay directly on top of them. Your fish will arrive back on shore already chilled and ready for transfer to a chilly bin. This type of accessory can be used many times also which will save money in the long term. The end result is something you will appreciate when eating the seafood, which will not only taste better but also keep longer.

Insulated bags are the best option for storage of the catch on a kayak.

Insulated bags are the best option for storage of the catch on a kayak.

Transferring fish into the storage area

A fish threader is simple and relatively inexpensive, yet mostly overlooked by kayak anglers. This system provides a way of safely transferring fish into the rear storage area of the kayak and acts as a conveyer that the fish slide along. This accessory is extremely useful when trying to handle larger specimens and without one you run the risk of losing balance and tipping the kayak over.

The fish threader works by attaching a stainless needle to a clip alongside the seating area. The cord coming off this runs to the rear of the well where it is attached to another clip. The cord is long enough to hold plenty of fish which are attached by threading the needle through their mouth and out the gill plate. Pull the cord through the fish until it is taut, then grab hold of the fish’s tail and push it down the line into the containment area. When done correctly, you will not have any reason to shift or turnaround from the seating area, provided the fish can enter the storage area without obstruction.

Even though the kayak is almost set up and ready for fishing activities, it’s important to resist the temptation to head out and grab a feed of fish, as we still have even more important accessories and equipment to consider, which will feature in part four of this series.

   This article is reproduced with permission of   
New Zealand Fishing News

May 2020 - Rob Fort
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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