Have a crack from a yak.
  |  First Published: April 2010

I suppose this is the million dollar question these days, especially for those of us who are perhaps a little unfit, unsure or nervous about the prospect of getting into a yak: Why use a kayak when you can use your boat?

I’ll admit it’s going to be hard to convince me that using a kayak or canoe in a waterway that I can get my boat into is the right move, but let’s put aside my prejudice in this regard and talk to a few yakkers about why they think yakking is becoming the preferred method for them to get on the water.

I’ve spoken to a few recently converted kayakers, people who I know regularly fish from a tricked up boat yet still manage to get into a yak for a fish. One that stood out for me was Jason Medcalf as his reasons for getting into a yak have developed, some might say matured, as he got more comfortable in his craft.

Jason Medcalf is well known amongst anglers in Queensland and tournament fishers down the east coast of Australia. He currently owns a Polycraft that is fitted with everything ever invented to make fishing easier, but recently Jason took to the water in a Malibu Stealth 14 kayak. I asked Jason why, and his answers echo those of others I have asked the same question.

“First and foremost my doctors basically told me to get fit so a kayak fills the exercise component of that. But once I had the yak on the water a few times I found a whole swag of other reasons that I hadn’t previously considered.

“The Malibu has allowed me to get back to basics with my fishing. I’ve found that without all the modern technologies the Polycraft sports I have reverted back to using my fish finding skill. This has been a real eye opener as I have found myself assessing snags, flats, channels and weed beds more closely rather than brushing over them.

“Continuing on with that theme is that my yak fishing has added thoroughness to my trips. Since taking on the yak I find I am fishing stretches of river harder and better, and results from stretches of river I’d normally quickly electric through have been surprising. I owe at least one 50cm plus jack to the yak’s demand that I slow down and smell the roses.

“Being close to the water also makes you feel like you are in the environment and not just using it. By this I mean I feel part of the whole ecosystem rather than a visitor. I feel like I am getting back to nature somewhat. Admittedly I am yakking in natural rivers and not canal estates or artificial lakes, but the sense of the environment is strong in a yak.

“And lastly I have found meeting the various challenges of fishing from a kayak invigorating for my fishing. I have had to relearn how to retrieve lures, as the rod angles and retrieve angles are completely different. For example fishing a small walk-the-dog lure is difficult until you upgrade your skill set. But once mastered it becomes an important learnt skill when you step back into a bigger boat. Everything from casting, fighting a fish, getting to a spot and landing a fish is different from my Malibu and I am really enjoying the challenges thrown up on every trip,” said Jason.

I’ve been kayaking and canoeing since I was a kid, and I am still not convinced that a yak provides a better platform or experience for me when fishing waters that my BlueFin can get into. Nevertheless, what I do like about kayaks and canoes is their ability to get me into gorge country cod, land-locked lakes and backwaters that my boat can not even dream of making. In fact there is a little headwater north of Bundaberg that just calls out yak to me every time I drive over it. I know there are jacks there ready for me and my lures, I just have to go yakking to get them!

I feel many of the same challenges as Jason has described above when yakking and agree that overcoming these challenges can be very rewarding. In fact I find any fish I catch from a yak to be above my expectations of enjoyment. Maybe there is a yakker in me after all?

So there you have it. Short and sweet and hopefully a small insight into why some successful and boat-based anglers have taken on yakking. If some of Jason’s thoughts mirror your own, then get out in a yak and give it a crack, you may be surprised just how much fun you have.

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