It had to happen. Kayak fishing has come such a long way in a short time.
Now we have tournaments so that yak fishos can test their skills against each other, or just go along to have a good time.
The last 12 months have given rise to the Forster Fishing Carnival Kayak Competition, the KFT series held on the Gold Coast and biggest of all, the national ABT Kayak Series sponsored by Hobie.
The kayak tournament scene is still very new so egos are in check, everyone is learning and there is a lot of fun to had on and off the water.
It’s bringing a lot of guys together and has a real community spirit. If you’ve never tried a comp before don’t be nervous about joining in, you’ll learn a lot, make new friends and be back for the next one.
The ABT Kayak series that consists of 13 rounds across every state of Australia plus a grand final. You need to catch a maximum of three bream by lure or fly and keep them alive for the weigh in so they can be released later.
It’s sponsored by Hobie but all makes and models of sit on top kayaks are welcome. Anglers need to finish top 3 in any of the rounds or win a wild card to secure a finals berth.
Grand final competitors will be lent brand new factory supplied Hobie Pro Anglers for the event at a location yet to be announced.
The same gear used by powerboat tournament anglers is right for us too; you just need to keep the amount down.
For all bream kayak fishing tournaments two rods are enough and the ability to lay them down in the cockpit is important. There will lots of times that you will use the kayak’s stealth potential by sneaking under overhanging braches and under piers. Rod tips that stick up at the back are in real danger of getting broken sooner or later.
Like other tournament anglers I prefer 2-4kg rods that are 6-7’ foot in length, and as light and responsive as possible.
I keep a softer rod for fine lure casting with very light lines and something heavier and longer for casting over flats or muscling bad tempered fish out of structure.
I find a short butt length less than 8” is important, as they are easier to cast when sitting down. Don’t fall into the trap of buying short rods aimed at kayak anglers, they don’t cast well and are hopeless when trying to chase that big bream around your bow or stern
Buy the best gear you can afford for the job. Keep it lightweight and balanced.
Remember that you will be casting your setup over and over again during a 6-7hr session.
Use light fine braid on your reels, it casts long distances and doesn’t stretch so any nudge from an interested fish or sudden change in lure vibration due to weed hang up is communicated back to you. Braid can be temperamental and different brands often need to be matched to the right reels to perform well and not twist up into tangles.
Go to a tackle specialist and get advice for your setup, even then it may take a little trial and error until a good combination is settled on. If I’m trying something new I give it a good practice run before committing it to a tournament. Braid from 2-6lb is suitable and I judge it by choosing the smallest line diameter that casts and retrieves over and over without tangles.
Don’t worry about the strength rating, it’s nearly always tougher than rated and the real weaknesses will come from your knot tying and the leader material used.
For leader use one or two rod lengths of fluorocarbon joined to the braid by a double Uni knot. There are plenty of other good knots too but this one is as strong as it gets and I’m practiced enough to do it quickly and without mistake.
I carry leader mainly in 4lb and 6lb if needed for rough snag work. If fishing oyster leases go for at least 12lb as the shells are razor sharp and the fish in them well educated about snapping you off.
When the bream are disinterested it pays to go sneaky and try 3lb or 2lb leader, but only if your knots are good and the fish are in soft terrain like weed beds.
These lightweight lines come in handy little 50m spools that are easily kept in a pouch or pocket.
I use small Plano waterproof trays for my lures. It’s hard not to, but try and keep the number of lures to a minimum, as there are only so many you can carry in a kayak’s space, let alone cast within the time limit.
I have found waterproof fly cases invaluable for soft plastic jig heads. Tackle boxes tend to allow them to all mix up when tossed around but the fly box will keep the different sizes and weights separated and easy to grab.
You will need a live well for the ABT bream tournaments of around 25L capacity. Hobie has a fantastic one that plugs straight into the back of their kayaks or one can rigged up with a simple container or esky and an aerator.
There are a few other little accessories that can help you smoothly compete from you’re your kayak. I always keep a small single hand held paddle; something like a ping-pong bat is fine.
When your kayak drifts too close to a structure it can be used to gently paddle the yak back or around without having to pedal or paddle out and risk spooking fish. A good ruler is very handy to make sure your fish measure and can be weighed in at the finish.
The ABT guys sell great ones at the registration table that are right on the money, brag mats are often inaccurate and I have seen a few guys use them and have their bream rejected at the podium which can hurt.
The ABT kayak events are run extremely smoothly and there are plenty of prizes on offer. Don’t hold back coming to a tournament if you have little bream-on-lures experience, you will learn more at one comp than you could in a year of doing it on your own. See you at the next one!Reads: 4631