Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing areas of our sport. Following the lead of countries such as New Zealand, South Africa and the USA, where kayak fishing is a very popular pastime, Australians are fast warming to this great form of recreation.
Some users are keen kayakers wanting to do a little fishing, while others are fanatical fishers looking for a new challenge. With benefits of kayaking such as exercise, stealth and no on-water fuel costs, this sport is sure to quickly grow in popularity.
For me, kayaking offered a new challenge in the fishing arena. It’s kind of like starting over again with a clean slate. There are many new challenges, fishing situations and species to target. Kayaking opened a whole new can of worms, so to speak, and the added exercise is also a bonus.
Kayaks allow you to enter areas not accessible to many other trailer boats. The quietness and stealth are an added bonus for targeting most inshore and freshwater species. Launching from beaches is a good option for targeting schools of pelagic fish feeding in close, or for beeline access to other fishing areas. Don’t think that you can’t land quality fish from kayaks, as many large specimens have been landed over the years, even blue marlin.
Recently, after much research and deliberating, I decided to finally purchase a kayak. For me the best option was the Ocean Kayak Prowler 4.5m, which was purpose designed for serious fishing. This craft had many great features and came highly recommended by several keen ‘yakkers’. I had several options fitted to my new craft and also added a few of my own to make it a serious fishing machine.
On most kayaks a rudder is an optional extra, which some, especially on smaller kayaks, prefer not to have. On my craft, the rudder can be raised and lowered from the seated position via cords, which run along the sides. Once you have launched and paddled out, you can lower the rudder into the water by pulling on the cord. The rudder is then controlled via adjustable foot pedals.
Instead of changing the paddling stroke to turn the craft whilst under way, you can just continue paddling and then steer with the foot pedals. If you hook a larger fish that then tows the ‘yak, the foot pedals can be used to follow the fish more precisely and therefore avoid the situation of having the fish angled from the side of the craft, which may result in capsize if using heavy line and drag settings.
The anchoring kit for the Prowler is basically a clothesline type system. There’s a pulley on each end of the craft and a cord loop running through these. This loop has a short section of rope attached and a shackle on one end, onto which you attach the rope from your anchor. With a pulley system, it is easy to adjust your angle of pull on the anchor rope, which allows you to adjust the kayaks position and to face in any direction after anchoring. I purchased a small sand anchor, a reef pick, a foam float, 1m of galvanised chain and some shackles to easily set up a functional anchoring system. A Styrofoam float on the anchoring rope allows the anchor and rope to be quickly disconnected and left in the water without being lost if you have to go and chase a fish.
The Prowler 4.5 came fitted with two rod-holders, both in easy reach just behind the seat position. These are flush mounted and protrude into the hull but naturally they are fully sealed in the bottom of each holder to maintain the waterproof properties of the hull. In addition, I had another adjustable holder added just in front of the seated position so that I can see the tip of a rod while rolling. This is especially important when fishing the estuaries, creeks and impoundments with small minnow lures, which can easily be fouled by weed and other debris. If you can’t see the rod tip then you may troll for a considerable distance without knowing the lure was fouled and possibly skimming along the surface. At present I only have the one trolling rod holder at the front but may invest is a Scotty Triple Mount, which will allow up to three rods to be trolled from the forward position.
Having a sounder in the kayak was always a necessity for me. I was originally just going to opt for a budget-type, low pixel-count model that would basically tell me the depth and little else. Once I started researching, I found that there was not a lot of difference in price between a budget model and a quality mono sounder. Add a little bit more to this and I could even get a high quality colour sounder. Add a little more to this again and I could purchase a built in colour GPS. So what started as a basic sounder requirement soon ended up in my purchasing a Humminbird 383C colour GPS/Fishfinder unit.
Humminbird was always my natural choice as they are fully waterproof, have an easy disconnect swivel mount and are serviced locally. The 383C is a complete GPS-Sonar-Chartplotter with a brilliant 256 colour, high definition 320V x 240H display. It has dual-beam sonar with 20 degree and 60 degree beams plus temperature and GPS-speed readings.
It has a whole lot of other features too numerous to describe here, however one feature that impressed me was how easy it was to read the screen, even in the brightest sunlight. The transducer is flush-mounted into a recess in the bottom of the kayak and my 383C Humminbird is powered by a small motorcycle battery strapped to a plate inside the hull.
The Ocean Kayak Prowler 4.5 has been purpose built for fishing and has a large recessed area at the rear to allow you to carry plenty of gear and a small esky or to stow your catch. Recessed into the area between your legs, there is a small waterproof well with inspection port type lid into which you can store your wallet, keys, mobile phone, small camera or any other gear that you wouldn’t want to get wet or lose if you were to capsize.
The forward section of the Prowler has a large waterproof hatch that allows access to the inside of the hull where the sounder battery and tray is. There is also room to store plenty more gear although it can only be accessed whilst on land or by another yakker, as you cannot reach it safely from the seated position.
In the space between your legs there is a plate that holds a small Plano 3500 size waterproof box, which holds tackle that needs to be close at hand. I have subsequently purchased several more of these to hold other tackle and just take whichever ones I need for a particular trip. Forward of this plate the sounder is mounted on the standard Humminbird swivel mount.
There is a backrest/seat with the Prowler that is adjustable and makes it much easier on your back. I think I might have to invest in a marine cushion also as I still get a numb but after a few hours of paddling. The kayak is self-draining with holes moulded through the hull in several areas. A bung in the nose of the craft allows any water that may get into the hull to be drained once the craft is upside down on the roof rack or similar. There are carry handles on both sides at a position that sees perfect balance of an empty craft and allows one person to carry it. In addition, T-bar handles at each end of the craft allow for a two-person lift.
Next month I will outline some of the add-on accessories for the Ocean Kayak Prowler and also some of the fishing tools that I have purchased or modified for kayak fishing.Reads: 343