It’s been a while since I last contributed an article for the Hookpoint online magazine, in fact it was way back in the winter that I put pen to paper or as I should say, fingers to keyboard, when I wrote about catching squid from the rocks, rather than the popular and somewhat overcrowded piers and breakwaters, at night using artificial lights. Since then, a lot has changed for me on the fishing front, as I’ve grown the desire to really get stuck into kayak fishing.
Kayak fishing is without doubt something that, if you’d have said to me two years ago I’d be enjoying it as much as I am now, I’d of laughed and called you a liar. Over here in Jersey you won’t have to look far during the summer months until you come across another motorist with a kayak on their roof-rack heading for the beach. This seemed strange to me, as when I decided I was going to give it a go I searched various social media platforms and I could not find any active local kayak angling groups.
Eventually I stumbled across a blog run by a kayak angler in Cornwall called Liam Faisey. For someone like myself who’d not spent much time out on a kayak, be that inshore or offshore, and with only a couple of outings under my belt, Liam’s blog quickly became in my honest opinion the bible of kayak fishing!
There’s not one subject that you could think of when it comes to kayak fishing that Liam hasn’t covered in his blog. After spending a few evenings reading through this new found enlightening resource, it quickly became my go-to reading material for a quiet evening at home.
His blog is full of really useful information from kayak safety, kayak rigging, video tutorials to mini fishing videos and even written articles from his own angling experiences. Whether you’re a first timer or an experienced kayak angler his blog offers some great content.
Here’s the link to his blog : https://www.kayakfishing.blog
My new kayak arrived just before the Easter period, the Viking Profish reload. This model, at 4.5m long and a width of 75cm, offers a great fishing platform with the option of adding various attachments such as a fish finder, GoPro mounts, visibility kits and much much more.
One of the features that really sealed the deal for me was that it had a reloadable tackle pod, meaning the centre console was removable and was able to accommodate a large majority of my terminal tackle. Not only would this reduce the time it would take to load up the kayak it was also a big bonus for my organisational OCD that I’d acquired during my time in the military.
As luck would have it, during the first few weeks of owning my Profish Reload, the weather was dreadful which gave me more time to spend modifying it to my personal preferences.
My first couple of trips out on the kayak saw nothing but damn bad luck after losing two nice bass right alongside the kayak, just as I was about to net them. I was beginning to think that my kayak had come fully equipped with some sort of curse after losing a couple of half decent sized bass!
It seemed that during March, all that was readily available was the odd wrasse on the soft plastic lures and a few bass at first light on surface lures and shallow divers.
A few weeks later and with the weather starting to show promising signs of the start of summer, the nice settled weather on the radar had me planning to take on my first solo kayak session. I have to admit I was quite nervous at first but conditions for a beginner couldn’t have been any better.
The wind was almost non existent. There was next to nothing in the way of swell and I’d spent the last couple of weeks familiarising myself with all the necessary safety precautions.
The early evening before was well spent, gathering bait at low tide. A tub full of blow-lug and a container with a dozen or so razor clams and I was all set, all that was left to do was set the rods up ready for the morning.
I opted for a pair of ugly stick 8-12lb GX2’s fitted with a pair of my Abu 6500 loaded with 30lb braid and a 50lb leader. I kept things simple and just rigged up the rods on running ledger rigs with a 25lbs amnesia hook length to a Varivas Aberdeen 2/0.
I got out to a spot that I thought would be holding some fish during the settled conditions. Once in position, over the anchor went and that was it, I was now ready to start fishing. It took a while until I’d hooked my first fish of the day, a small bass of around 40cm and although the fishing seemed slow the best part of the tide was still to come.
However, it soon got to the last hour of my window of opportunity. With the conditions so settled, everything was eerily quiet, until all of a sudden, straight after the drop of a fresh bait and with barely any time to put the rod back in the holder, the reel was tearing off line! Tranquility had been well and truly broken!
I grabbed the rod and wound into the fish, which felt a much better size and felt like the one I’d been after. Some big head shakes and a really good tussle ensued on my light boat setup. The fish started kiting up and down the port side of the kayak, which was a relief as I had my net ready to hand on that side.
It wasn’t until I got it in the net that I realised how big it was. It looked a nice 6lbs+ and I was well chuffed with that! Whilst admiring the fish and trying to get a few pictures of it on my lap the other reel started screaming off!
It was a bit of a “what the heck am I going to do now” moment as I’ve got this 6lbs fish flapping around on my lap and I’m also engaged into another scrap with another good sized fish.
I’ve often seen bass of this size travel in pairs and to hook into one literally straight afterwards didn’t seem abnormal. This fish seemed as good as the first, if not better, taking line time and time again as it got closer to the kayak. I was expecting this fish to be perhaps slightly bigger but when it surfaced it looked to be only around 4lb-5lb.
With the other fish still sat on my lap in the net, I had a decision to make. Should I use the net, or grab the fish? I decided to grab the bass, it seemed like the wise option. I quickly grabbed its bottom jaw and flung it onto my lap!
With the GoPro’s luckily still rolling it made for some good footage for my first solo session and with the possibility of perhaps putting some kayak angling footage for my new YouTube kayak fishing channel.
After a bit of admiring and a few quick photos with the two bass it was time to head back in.
The following week, due to big winds and the swell increasing, the weather wasn’t offering any opportunity to get out on the water.
I’d attempted a few shore sessions for some mullet on the float gear with absolutely zero luck at all in the three trips I made out which was surprising as at the same time in the previous year they were really feeding well and making for some exciting pre-summer sport.
Eventually the weather cleared up and looking at my list of objectives for kayak fishing this year, attempting to beat the Jersey Boat record for gilthead bream seemed like an achievable target to aim for.
The record to beat was only 1lbs 3oz 13drm but, even just catching one on my kayak would have been a great start, and then I could focus on putting the time in to properly figure out my chosen spot. This would become part of the fun which I love the most about fishing.
Nothing beats figuring it out for yourself and going through a run of blanks, changing methods and tactics before striking gold.
The alarm was set with a first light wake up call giving me enough time to get to the location and get the kayak rigged.
The same setups used in the previous bass session came along for the trip with pretty much the same in the way of bait too but with just a little bit more just in case.
With the weather being excellent, and the sea like a sheet of glass, I ventured out to a different location slightly further round the bay which offered 360° full of features should I swing round whilst at anchor in the tide, meaning there was always a feature to aim for.
Whilst I was still waiting for my fishfinder to arrive in the post I was relying on my Navionics app which was crucial for getting anchored in the right position. Once at anchor the baits went out, one rod baited with a clam and blow lug combo and the other on a bunch of lug.
Twenty minutes or so went by and the tide was really racing through, a lot of weed was making things difficult and often getting caught in my lines down tide which meant regularly reeling in to clear the weed from the line.
Whilst clearing weed from one of my lines, the other rod that was still fishing arched right over in the rod holder and the reel was screaming off!
The drag was set quite tight and the fish just wasn’t stopping. By the time I managed to put the other rod in the holder and hit into the arched over rod it was too late and the fish had dropped the bait.
I presume it was a decent sized bass. Bass tend to pick up the bait and move off with it before actually swallowing. The razor clam bait was still in pristine condition which is what made me think it was a bass. I tipped off the razor bait with a couple of lug and lobbed it back out again.
An hour or so went by and the tide had started to slacken off. The weed wasn’t as much of an issue either, which helped keep the baits fishing properly. Shortly after the tide settled, the first fish of the morning came aboard. A small bass of around 40cm, which if it had been an extra 40cm long it might have made up for the one that got away beforehand!
Once again, with about an hour left to spare out on the water the fish turned on the feed. After a few missed bites I’d hooked into something slightly better. It was fighting really hard and giving off lots of head shakes, it didn’t feel heavy which was strange as this thing was giving a real good account of itself.
Again with the GoPro still rolling I was waiting in anticipation as to what would surface at the bow of the kayak. It was a huge feeling of achievement when I saw that lovely gold bar across its forehead and getting it into the net was a great relief.
The hook came out easily but there was just one issue. I’d forgotten my keep net bag at home which really annoyed me and as most of my fishing buddies know I like to be well organised. It would have to remain in the net for the time being, hung over the side with the net in one of the rear rod holders. I wasn’t staying much longer anyway so that would have done fine if it hadn’t of been for a similar situation as the previous session.
The other rod arched right over and I’d hooked into what felt like a similar sized gilthead! These fish were beginning to become like buses!
Whilst manoeuvring the rod with one hand, I managed to just about fling the other fish in my rear storage basket freeing up the net to land the next fish. Up it came, another gilthead! This one looked a bit better then the previous one.
I was overjoyed and wasn’t expecting one after the other, I’d of happily settled for one even at a size much smaller then the record fish. Once ashore I organised an official weigh in with my local angling club, the jersey specimen hunters.
The final outcome was that the two gilthead bream were club records and both exceeded the Jersey boat record.
They were not huge giltheads in comparison to our current shore record, or to the average sized gilthead being caught by anglers on the neighbouring island of Guernsey.
However, with a weight of 1lbs 7oz 8drm & 1lbs 8oz it still felt a great achievement to succeed in overcoming a record held from years ago. I don’t think for one second it will last as long as the 1lbs 3oz 13drm record and I fully intend on trying to better my 1lbs 8oz PB from a kayak.
Does this mean the curse of the kayak could be over… I hope so!