The joy of fishing from a pedal kayak by Pat Haughton

In my early kayaking days I used a traditional sit on kayak, the Tarpon 14. I was already a mad keen rock hopping bass lure angler and I found this new fishing platform opened up hugely exciting fishing potential that I couldn’t previously reach.

New Horizons However, I soon learnt that the traditional sit on kayaks have a number of drawbacks for the lure fishing angler. Many of the most productive marks were associated with strong currents, tidal races and rocks. This created a problem. How do you cast and keep yourself in position at the same time? The hot spots were very localised and often by the time you landed a fish the tide/race would have carried you 2-400 meters away from the ‘mark’. Often playing the fish would also ‘drag’ you over the mark and spoil the fishing. Another problem was your ability to troll a lure effectively. The key to fishing is to find your fish. I will always study the charts to see where the fish are likely to be holding. Often they will move to very localised patches were the food is. To find them you can just drift and cast, but a faster method of location is to cover great areas by trolling a lure. Once you have found the fish often there are many more in that area that you can now cast to. The problem with trolling from a traditional sit on kayak is that your rod is in a holder whilst you paddle and so your lure isn’t fishing very effectively. To induce a fish to strike it is much better to work your lure as you are going along. Additionally when you are holding your rod you can feel the lure working and whether you have any weed attached. I will write more about this in another blog. So when the peddle powered, hands free, Hobie fishing kayaks were first introduced from America to the UK around 2005 I was very excited about their lure fishing potential and snapped one up. Over the next 10 years I fished hard for the bass. Very hard. I enjoyed brilliant sport and explored many hundred maybe thousands of miles of coastline often on my own or with an increasing ‘fleet’ of friends. (The success on the Hobie compared to other kayaks meant that all of my fishing buddies moved across to their use. The combined fleet now numbers 17 Hobies!) Soft baits were deadly when worked behind the boat but my favourite method was to use the popper. The popper gives you that wonderful gut wrenching thrill as the bass attacks it on the surface. It is a particularly effective method of fishing when you have the advantage of access to the best and most remote marks and the silent stealth of the Hobie. Up until a couple of years ago, I just lure fished. However, for the last couple of years I decided to branch out a bit and try other methods of fishing. My favourite Hobie hull was the Hobie Sport kayak. It is so versatile, stable and manoeuvrable. I can reach everything in the boat front and back.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring fishing for Smooth hounds in the Solent using hard crab is now a particular favourite of mine.

However, as you can see from the pictures, I was a tad big and heavy for the Sport and if I stayed at anchor for any length of time in rough conditions I would start to sink! At the start of 2017 I decided that I wanted to concentrate more on bottom fishing with baits. I convinced myself (and more importantly my wife) that I needed an upgrade if I was to sit safely at anchor for extended periods loaded down with tackle, bait etc. So I have upgraded to an all singing, bells and whistles Hobie Outback with the Vantage seat, a Hook fishfinder, turbofins and even a reverse gear! Was it worth it? Yes, yes, yes. I have enjoyed a fantastic fishing season learning how to bottom fish and experimenting with using the sonar to accurately lure fish at wide range of depths. The results have been brilliant and I will write about what I learnt in my next post.

My personal best black bream just shy of 4lbs……….

 

Trolling for bass by Pat Haughton

Pat Haughton

A buddy and occasional fisher, Sam Gaunt, once told me that his ‘luck’ when trolling a lure increased with the amount of line he let off his reel. I reflected that even though the Hobie Mirage Sport glides through the water with great stealth it will still be raising the alert and cautious instinct of the fish beneath. Fish, even predatory fish like bass, do not survive long in the food chain by not reacting to their instincts. The bigger the fish the cannier they become……

At distance it looks calm but up close you are in a washing machine of turbulence!

So what is the optimum length of line you need to pay out to troll most effectively? This has to be found by trial and error and will vary with the conditions. In wild, turbulent seas i.e. the race between the Needles off the Isle of White, you can fish effectively only 20m behind the boat. The fish feel safe in the turbulence. They are hunting the bait fish as they are funnelled through the gap. You don’t really want a lot of line out in treacherous waters like this as you risk getting snagged and if/when you hook a fish you don’t really want to be playing it at distance.

A typical trolled bass on a bright but not very calm day.

However, if you are trolling along the shoreline in relatively shallow water less than 4m the bass will be spooked and a much longer pay out of line is needed. Generally I will fish at least 60m away. Bright conditions It is often the case that bass are caught in the shore margins or shallow water at night, or at dawn and dusk. In the middle of the day, with bright conditions, they seek deeper water where they will chill out from their feeding or occasionally take up attack positions often behind an obstruction/reef. If you are equipped with a echo sounder and navigator you can target these marks and even on the brightest and calmest of day you will catch big bass. On calm, bright days you need to be fishing at least 100m behind your kayak to maximise your chances. At this distance you must be using braid to keep in good contact with your lure. The braid line will spook the weary big bass so you must also use a 15lb florocarbon trace. You will also need a rod with a moderate to fast action to set the hook at this distance. I have lost too many big fish using light rods with this long distance trolling method so I now use a powerful 9 foot Savagegear predator rod.

What lures to troll? The trouble with fishing is you tend to use the lures that work for you and not to experiment too much once you have found a winner! There is so much choice in the market. In the past I would swear by the Delta Scalliwag or Westender lures. I would cut their heads off and add difference weight lead heads to fish over different depths of water. Very shallow water and you need to be fishing as little as 5grams. If you are fishing over a deep reef I will fish a 65 grams lead head. Delta Scalliwags and Westenders are brilliant but over the last 3 years I have been converted to the Savagegear sandeels as I find that they come in a full range of sizes to suit the range of depths. The advantage of a softbait over a traditional plug is that the fish will often first hit or nip the bait and you can feel this using braid even at 100m as you are holding the rod. At that point if you sweep the rod back behind you to let the lure fall and it will invariably induce a take. With my new Hobie kayak with it’s Hook fishfinder and chart plotter I am able to target these deeper reefs marks with deadly accuracy. Fishing the 65 gram Savager gear lure 100m behind the boat using braid to keep in tight contact and 15lb florocarbon trace I can now catch big bass even on the brightest of days. How lucky we are to have all of this fantastic technology to play with….

Best bass this year of 8+lbs

 

The complete list of Kayak Fishing Competitions 2018

Here is the complete list now the kayak fishing competitions for 2018. You can find further details and links to the events in the calendar below:

KAYAK FISHING TOURNAMENTS 2018
Blue Anchor Cod Classic – 27 January
Hobie Predator Open – Holland – March tbc
Llangorse European Championship – 17 March
Poole Plaice Chase – 7 April
East Coast Kayak Challenge – Sweden – 4-6 May
Swanage Classic – 19 May
Northumberland Puffin Kayak Comp – 26 May
Esthwaite Grand Slam – 2-3 June
London International – 8-10 June
WPC Holland – 11-16 June
OK Classic Plymouth – 23 June
Pembrokeshire Lure Festival – 15-17 June
Runswick Bay – 30th June
Lake District Rover – 7-8 July
Oxwich Bay Kayak Fishing Event – 21 July
Pitsford Grand Slam – 4-5 August
WPC England Qualifier – Grafham – 18-19 August
Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet – 28-29 August
Christchurch Grand Slam – 8-9 September tbc
Hobie Fishing Euro’s – September tbc
Lyme Regis Species Hunt – September tbc
Ladram Bay Family Meet – 28 Sept
Lock Ken Grand Slam – October tbc
Liska Open – Sweden– 19-21 October
Poole Flounder Meet – December tbc

London International- CONFIRMED

We are very pleased to have the date confirmed for the London International June 8th, 9th 10th 2018.

Ian ‘Dizzyfish’ Harris is pleased to announce that the London International Kayak fishing festival is happening again this year on 8th, 9th and 10th June 2018 at the prestigious Wraysbury lakes complex. Places are going fast, so please enter now if you would like to be part of this special event.

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