Kayak fishing is a fantastic and exiting sport that is rapidly growing in popularity. The facility to be able to get out to sea not only improves your catch rate but also adds another dimension to your fishing. Viewing our beautiful Cornish coastline from sea to land is a pleasure.
For those of you just taking up this fantastic sport I have compiled my top five pieces of advice based on my own experiences and I hope you find them useful for your own kayak fishing.
Safety is paramount and I could not possibly have it anywhere else but number one. The sea is a big powerful beast that must be treated with respect. Before any trip always, check and double-check the weather forecast. Use more than one source and I can recommend the following:
Magic Seaweed – Gives wind and swell forecasts
Met Office – Inshore Waters Forecast
XC Weather – Average Wind Speeds and Gusts
Big Salty – Wind and Wave Forecast
You can never be 100% sure of the state of the sea until you arrive at launch site and there is no substitute for experience knowing the right conditions for the areas you fish.
Always fish in conditions that you are comfortable with (your comfort zone) and if you start to feel uncomfortable come in there is always another day. Fishing from a kayak is different to playing on a kayak.
If you intend to fish on your own, make sure you tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return.
Have some sort of communication with you ideally a Handheld VHF radio or at worst a mobile phone in a dry bag. It is important to have some way of contacting the emergency services in a distress situation. If you do not have a VHF radio, a mobile phone can be registered with the 112 emergency services, which will get you through quicker than 999 (see video). Another very good alternative is a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), which when activated in a distress situation, transmits your ID and GPS coordinates to the rescue services making it easier for them to find you.
In general, take safety seriously and have as much safety equipment on board as possible. My video Kayak Fishing Set Up has a section on safety equipment.
The right clothing can be linked with safety for example wearing a PFD (personal floatation device). A PFD provides a great deal of buoyancy should you find yourself in the water. However, apart from safety the right clothing can make the difference between a miserable trip and a comfortable trip. Staying as dry as possible is so important. Getting wet and cold can rapidly shorten a trip.
If you can afford it, purchase a dry suit. Dry suits can be worn all year round it just a matter of what you wear underneath. In the colder months, the layering system comes into effect. In the warmer months (if we ever get them), reduce what you wear under the suit. If you cannot afford a dry suit maybe dry pants and a cag is an alternative. The main thing is to stay dry and have some protection against the cold should you end up in the water.
Anchor Trolley and Anchor
Now I have done the boring bit I can talk about things that will aid your fishing.
Rather than always drift fishing an anchor system enables you to vary the types of fishing you do. Both drift fishing and fishing at anchor are productive ways of fishing however, sometimes it is great to be able to drop anchor and spend a relaxing day sitting back, with bait on the bottom waiting for a bite.
The following videos explain a bit more about anchor trolleys and anchoring a kayak at sea:
Kayak Fishing Set Up
Anchoring a Kayak at Sea
Kayak Fishing at Anchor – How to Deal with Wind over Tide
For drift fishing, I cannot recommend highly enough purchasing a drift chute. Apart from the fact a drift chute will slow down the drift, it will enable you to position the kayak keeping the bow or the stern into the wind using the anchor trolley. Without a drift chute, the kayak can drift too quickly and as soon as you stop paddling and start drifting, the kayak will turn sideways to the wind and swell, which can make it uncomfortable to fish.
The following show how to use a drift chute when drift fishing:
Using a Drift Chute when Drift Fishing from a Kayak
Drift Fishing with Bait
Fish Finder and GPS
A fish finder and a GPS with marine charts will greatly enhance your fishing experience. Although you do not need a fish finder to catch fish, it is great to be able to know the depth of the water, the structure of the seabed, whether it is sandy, muddy, weedy, rocky etc. Apart from that, fish finders do show fish that are suspended off the bottom and when lure fishing, you can drop your lure right in amongst the fish as a good fish finder will show the lure going down and working amongst fish.
A GPS with marine charts will enable the creation of waypoints to your fishing marks making it much easier to return to those marks with accuracy rather than playing a guessing game. Rough ground marks, wrecks, pools, gullies, and any mark that may attract fish can be logged as waypoints. New marks you stumble across on the fish finder whilst paddling can also be logged for future fishing.
Apart from fishing, a GPS is a great safety device to have onboard. Should the Cornish fog role in quickly and unexpectedly, you can navigate back to your launch site with ease. In addition, if you do need to call the emergency services, you can give them your GPS coordinates. A fish finder and a GPS is thoroughly recommended and a lot of fun.
Those are my top five pieces of advice and I hope you find then useful. Stay safe and have fun but please do not catch all of the fish, leave some for me!
Cornish Shore and Kayak Fisherman