My last kayak fishing session was about three weeks ago during a calm spell and I managed to catch plenty of early spring mackerel, but I have since been to the 2016 Swanage Classic – a great event, slightly hampered by bad weather this year, but great fun all the same.
My highlight of the past twelve months would be placing second out of over one hundred kayak anglers at the 2015 Swanage Classic competition. It was my first kayak fishing competition and I managed to catch seven different species of fish, which was enough to win me a shiny new fish finder and some other goodies!
My favourite place to fish is in the waters of West Cornwall, particularly in the Lands End area. Deep water is accessible fairly close to shore and this means all sorts of weird and wonderful fish can be caught in the area. The granite cliffs and golden sand beaches also make for a beautiful backdrop and there is often plenty of interesting marine wildlife in the area to see. The water is often lively and the tidal races around the headlands makes for interesting paddling conditions on the bigger tides. It is a great area to fish and paddle.
Porthcurno on a calm summers day. The water is crystal clear and turquoise blue, it really does look stunning. You have the steep granite cliffs as a backdrop broken only by stretches of clean golden sand beaches and the Minack Theatre set within the granite cliff itself. The fishing can also be really good on the right day. Deep water runs off the nearby headlands and a reasonably strong tidal race runs towards Lands End on an ebbing tide so it can be a difficult place to fish but all sorts of species can be caught and you never know what you might catch next. There are quite often dolphins and porpoises in the area and occasionally basking sharks and sunfish, which are always nice to see. It is a magical place to both paddle and fish so if you ever get the chance to visit then don’t hesitate!
Wrestilng a monster tope on board
Be efficient on the water. Chances are you have limited time on the water and it may be a few weeks before you can go again so it makes sense to maximise the time you actually spend fishing whilst on the kayak. Keep all there essentials such as scissors, spare lures, spare hooks etc close to hand – a PFD with pockets, such as the Kaikoura, makes this easy. You can also make things easier for yourself by tying spare rigs at home so that you have more time for fishing when on the water. There is no need to take all the gear and tackle you own as you’ll only use a few bits and bobs during a session so only take what you are really going to need for that session. There is also no need for complicated rigs so keep it simple. You’ll be surprised what you can catch on a set of mackerel feathers tipped off with some bait and bounced along the seabed. To give yourself the best chance of getting your bait or lure amongst the fish, take the time to research your local marks and study bathymetry maps that are often available online for free. Look for areas such as drop-offs, reefs or sandbanks as these are likely to be areas that hold fish. Before you know it your rod will be bending and there will be a smile on your face!
The sun! You can’t have a bad day on the water if the sun is shining :) A good forecast is definitely a motivator to get on the water!
Bananas – the superstitious amongst you will cringe but I’m positive they are good luck for the fishing.
Favourite fish, now that is a difficult question for someone who has studied marine biology, there are too many interesting fish! My favourite fish to catch from the kayak would probably be tope. These small sharks put up a great account for themselves on rod and line, and it can be quite interesting getting one onto the kayak to unhook and photograph before release. It is very exciting when you get a bite from one knowing that a shark is taking the bait!
Paddle more, paddle further, fish new marks and fish for new species that I’m yet to catch. I caught thirty-one saltwater fish species last year so it would be nice to beat that this year. Getting amongst the prizes in a few of the competitions would also be a bonus.