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Kayak fishing — a handful of handy accessories
  |  First Published: June 2015



With limited cockpit space in the kayak, I have spent the last couple of decades refining the gear that I carry with me. I now have a kit bag that I throw in the car and it contains the tools that make my fishing adventures safer, simpler and more enjoyable. After each trip these are rinsed, allowed to dry and then repacked for the next trip.

On the last couple of trips, I made note of a handful of accessories that I use most frequently, so that I could share these with you and briefly outline why they are included and how they are utilised in my kayak.

Propulsion and Positioning

Whether you paddle or pedal, there’s a handy paddle with a difference that is worth including. The Assault Hand Paddle, from US brand Backwater Paddles, is available in Australia and is a great option for propelling and positioning your kayak with stealth, while fighting a fish, positioning for a photo, or making adjustments to your kayak angle and drift.

Designed by Edward Halm, a retired US Naval Instructor, master naturalist and kayak eco-guide, this durable polypropylene hand paddle floats and features a foam grip, hook on the end for grabbing ropes, branches or other objects, and ‘teeth’ on 1 edge for pushing off from rocks, oysters, logs and other surfaces. It is available in green or hi-vis orange and doesn’t take up much room, sitting easily between your feet or beside you, within reach when required. www.mlte.com.au

Rigging

I have no idea how many pairs of braid scissors I have donated to the ocean floor or people fishing with me, but it’s quite a few. I know I should leash them, but it always seems excessive to put a bulky leash on an item that actually costs less than the leash itself! The solution is a cool retractable line snip that has the retractor built inside, the Boomerang Tool Snip.

These quality snips feature 420 stainless steel cutters that clean cut braid or mono up to 50lb test, a 36” retractable cord that returns the snip to their home position, and a squeeze design that allows easy one-handed operation even with wet or gloved hands. When not in use, slide it into ‘safe’ mode. I attach mine to the rod holder tab on my shirt, but you might choose to attach yours to your PFD, seat, backpack, or other location within easy reach. www.ttlures.com.au

Landing AND Handling Fish

When it comes to landing and handling fish, the first thing you need is a short-handled net. I use 1 with a decent sized opening as I often target flathead which can grow quite large. Nets with a rubber mesh or other scale safe mesh are the preferred option as they do minimal damage to the fish’s slime coating. Select a floating net, add an accessory float or leash your net, otherwise it’s guaranteed if you lose it the next hookup will be a PB and you’ll be wishing there was a net on board.

Lip grips make handling fish a breeze and safer for both you and the catch. I have fished with loads of anglers over the years, using many different lip grips, and half of them are rubbish. They lock too hard or soft, fish kick and the teeth twist open, and they end up with a spiky flathead in their lap or lost back over the side. The other common scenario is that they have seized up since they were last used.

I have had an original BogaGrip for about 6 years now and it is as good as day 1. There are 3 models, rated at 15lb, 30lb and 60lb, and they have a rotating head that makes fish handling easier, and a built-in scale for those working on weight. The bulk of my fishing is freshwater, river and estuary, so I run the 15lb model, which is more compact than many of the bulky, clunky copies that have flooded the market.

A quick rinse when you get home will see it lasting a lifetime. The initial outlay of a couple of hundred bucks may hurt, but is worth every cent when years later your grips are reliable, function perfectly, look slick, and are a pleasure to use. The BogaGrip also has a lifetime warranty. Leash them on! www.strikebacktackle.com.au

Measuring Fish

Whether it’s to keep track of your PB fish, score some bragging rights, check if a fish is legal to take home for a feed, or just for your own interest, a fish measure will be found in most anglers’ kits. For years I carried a roll up Brag Mat in the kayak, now preferring to carry a Swivels Original Fish Measure.

A roll up Brag Mat can be awkward to handle and use, especially if the wind is blowing. Swivels Original Fish Measure, on the other hand, is similar to a builder’s tape measure, allowing it to pack extremely small. It’s lightweight, inexpensive, and you buy the model to suit your region, which includes legal sizes for common species marked along the measure.

I land the fish and then simply pull out a bit more tape than I think I require and slide the locking switch to keep it open. I am now able to handle the fish with 1 hand and measure single handed, or hold the fish on the measure with 1 hand and take a photo with the other. If fishing in saltwater, make sure you give the measure a rinse when you get home. I extend the measure fully, give it a rinse, leave it extended in the shed while it dries, and then flick the switch so that it automatically retracts ready to store for next time. www.swivelsoriginal.com

Fish Storage

If you are going to keep a fish or 2 for a feed, it’s important to respect your catch. For years I have strapped an Evakool icebox to my kayak to take a feed out, and maybe bring a feed home. Evakool offer a massive range of iceboxes, including a few of around 20-26l capacity, that fit perfectly in the rear well of most of the popular kayak brands. The advantages of an icebox over a cooler or soft cooler include superior refrigeration grade insulation, insulation in the lid, and they are also more durable.

I drop 2 large ice bricks in a large Ziploc bag and lay them flat to cover the bottom of the icebox, throw in a spare bottle of water and my lunch in another Ziploc bag, and I’m ready to go. A couple of eating size flathead or a pan-size snapper or 2 will comfortably fit, keeping them cool and in good condition for later. When you get home you can unload, rinse the icebox, remove the fish-slime-free ice bricks from the bag, give them a rinse and throw them back in the freezer for next time. This is an inexpensive and effective way of keeping your lunch, drink and catch cool and in optimum condition. www.evakool.com.au

Wrap Up

That’s a high 5 handful of accessories that improve my experience when fishing from the ’yak when it comes to propulsion and positioning, rigging and also landing, handling, measuring and storing fish. This would be a great list for those looking for gift ideas for the kayak angler in their family, or a shopping list of the good gear for someone getting into kayak fishing.

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