Kicking butt from a kayak

Jamie Harris
Some ten years ago I decided to purchase my first kayak. I really wanted a boat at the time, but couldn't afford one so I went for the next best thing. At the time I already owned and was using a float tube and whilst it was great for a lot of fishing scenarios it still limited me by the amount of water I could cover. And usually the more water you can cover the more fish you may find and be able to fish to. In a kayak or canoe you can slip along quietly at a reasonable pace from spot to spot with surprisingly little effort.
The first areas I fished were easily accessible estuaries along the NW coast. My favorites being the Inglis, Cam, Emu, and Blythe rivers. These relatively small and sheltered waters were a great place to start and get a hang of the kayak. I usually fish these estuaries by following the rising tide up the river, fishing to resident and sea run trout. I'm still trying to bag a trophy fish but I have caught my fair share of nice trout with my best topping the 6lb mark. These are fish that could not have been targeted by fishing from the bank or even a boat. Most of my success comes by paddling right up a river to the first weir where fish can gather especially when white bait are moving up with the tide. I cast lures towards the weir and the banks and fish all the way back down the river with the falling tide, concentrating on rock bars and snags. These are areas where fish can lie in ambush and wait for prey to swim past.
Lures I like using are mainly smaller diving minnows such as River-2-Sea baitfish profiles that trout can't say no to, Rapala Countdown 5s and Countdown 7s in brown trout colors and the faithful standby Strikepro Pygmies and Galaxia IIs in natural colors. Your local tackle stores should stock these lures but if not, my favourite store, Bigfin Sportsfishing in East Devonport has one of the best selections I've seen. I try to concentrate my efforts from September to November when the whitebait are in force, however good resident fish can be taken all year round. Just be sure to check where the Inland Fisheries boundaries are during the closed season.
In recent times I have begun to fish some of the west coast lakes such as MacIntosh, Roseberry and Plimsoll. These waters are under-fished and whilst not holding huge numbers of fish like nearby Lake Burbury the average size is outstanding. I have seen fish in Lake MacIntosh porpoise just metres from my kayak and they were easily over 5kg. It really gets the heart pumping let me tell you! The fish I catch in these lakes always have large galaxia in the stomachs and since joining the soft plastics revolution a few years back you would be hard pressed to find a lure that imitates a baitfish better. I like using Squidgy fish in 65mm to 100mm in Neon and Gary Glitter colors and Firebait longtail minnows in natural rigged with jigheads from 1-3gms. Fished slow and deep they are irresistible to a big fish.
Lake Plimsoll has been the most challenging and whilst I have caught brook trout here from the bank I have yet to land one from my "yak. On the sea fishing front just pick a calm day and you find it no problems catching a feed of whiting and flathead not to mention blackback salmon. Some of the best fun I've had with my pants on is being towed around in my kayak by 2-3 kilo salmon at the mouth of the Forth river a few years ago. You'll often see people in boats trying to get close to surface feeding salmon to only have the fish go down upon hearing the outboard, but not with a kayak, you can paddle right up to them in stealth mode and cast at them to your hearts content. Fishing this way the salmon will quite often stay on the surface for a long time. The same can be said for sneaking up to rising trout, nice and quiet with a low profile its surprising how close you can get. The kayak also lets you sneak around drowned timber and through weed etc.
Other places I have yet to visit with the kayak but that would definitely be worthwhile would be the Derwent River with its big bream, rivers up the east coast like the Swan or Scamander or Georges Bay at St Helens with its abundance of species. We are so lucky in Tassie to have such awesome back drops and I've only recently learned to stop and smell the roses and take it all in. Catching fish is just a bonus.
There are plenty of good kayaks and canoes on the market today some of which are purpose built for fishing with rod holders, electric motor mounts etc. they are made from strong plastics which are virtually unbreakable. They are also as light as a feather and last a lifetime. Some quality brands are Perception, Dagger, Old Town, and the new Hobie to name a few. They range in price from $600 to $2000+.
The more serious Hobie has been specifically designed for the serious fisherman with foot pedals that propel the boat forward which allows both hands to continue fishing.
So if you're a keen angler and can't afford a boat or want to fish skinny water and have a whole new range of options open up to you, throw a kayak on your roof racks and get out there. Don't forget like all boating here in Tas, watch the weather, ALWAYS wear a quality PFD and I'd even recommend a personal EPIRB.

Safe Kayaking, Jamie Harris
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