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Success at kayak fishing

Success at kayak fishing

Fishing is a popular activity on the Gold Coast. There are many ways to fish, but kayak fishing has gained some recognition as an exciting and fit way to catch your favourite fish. Byron Hoskins finds out more during his chat with a local angler Heath Roberts.

Are you looking to turn those donuts into regular tight lines every time you go for a flick? Are you frustrated with your regular spots not producing the goods? Are you seeking to lose that beer gut but want to exercise while you do something you love? Well you might want to keep reading as we sit down with a young local angler Heath Roberts, who has the know-how on improving your catch when using a kayak.

Heath is known to consistently strike a bend in his rod and to use his drag as a musical instrument, all before a day’s work at BCF. Heath made his first TV appearance in a kayak only a few months ago, showing Paul Burt the ropes on bass fishing at Clear Island Waters. If he’s giving local legends tips, then I think you should read closely to his insight on kayak fishing.

When did you start fishing in a kayak? 

I started fishing in a kayak about 5 years ago, when I realized how much water I could fish.

Why do you fish in a kayak? What are the benefits?

I fish from a kayak for many reasons. The first is that a lot of my fishing trips are spontaneous and relatively unplanned (in between work and Uni). The ability to just pop a kayak on the roof and go for a fish with no need to worry about fuel or registration appealed to me. The other major reason is the areas you can access with a kayak, small creeks and shallow waters, are often [inaccessible] by boat and almost always hold good numbers of fish as a result. When I fish offshore, the longer distances I cover also act as a form of fitness for me, so I get to fish and keep fit at the same time!

What kayak do you use on a regular basis?

I have two kayaks to suit my needs: an offshore kayak and a smaller inshore kayak. My offshore kayak is a Popes canoe fishing ski. It is a fiberglass vessel about 12 feet long and relatively narrow. The combination of this length and width allows for easy tracking in a straight line, which is what you want for covering water and catching waves. This kayak also has a rod locker hatch (which doubles as a fish hatch!) and a dry hatch so everything except my paddle and PFD lifejacket is stored safely in case I roll.

My inshore kayak is a Malibu Mini X and it is a rotor-molded plastic kayak about 9 feet long and fairly wide. A shorter, wider kayak is better for maneuverability and because it is made from heavy duty plastic, this kayak can take everything the creeks can throw at it. There is a dry hatch in the middle and two flush mounted rod holders at the back.

Offshore :

What species are you targeting and the time of the year, and under what conditions ?

My offshore season in a kayak usually starts around the end of November (right around the time mackerel should start showing up). My general rule of thumb is: find the bait then find the fish. The fishing ski is fitted with a Lowrance Elite 4HDI fish finder and GPS, and this allows me to fish locations where I have caught fish before, as well as see what’s happening beneath the kayak! If the mackerel are on the chew then it’s simply a case of spinning metal lures from 20grams to about 65grams around the schools of bait. If I am having a day where I can’t find any bait schools then towing a pilchard rigged up with a pink trailer skirt will almost always produce the goods.

Where do you fish?

Palm Beach reef, Mermaid reef and Gravel Patch are all easily accessible from a kayak (depending on your level of confidence!).

Advantages of the kayak?

I find the simplicity and easy launching of a kayak to be a huge plus for me for offshore fishing.

Fresh Water :

What species are you targeting and the time of the year, and under what conditions?

Kayak fishing for bass is easily one of my favorite past times. This occurs in the upper reaches of Gold Coast creeks during the summer months when the fish have finished their breeding cycle. Smaller 1000-2500 size spin reels and rods between 6 and 7 feet are ideal for flicking small lures accurately into cover. If you were fishing a new area of water for bass, then I would recommend throwing a spinner bait. These flashy, noisy and big profile lures make for excellent search baits as they can call hungry bass from a long way away.

Advantages of the kayak?

The biggest advantage for sitting in a kayak while bass fishing is your ability to fish every angle of a snag or over hang where the bass will be hiding, and this can be crucial on days where the fishing is tough.

Estuary : 

What species are you targeting and the time of the year, and under what conditions?

Estuary fishing is something I do on two occasions of the year, spring time flathead and mid-summer mangrove jacks. Flathead will spawn in the mouth of the estuaries during the start of spring and all it takes is a soft plastic placed on their nose to trigger a bite!

Mangrove jacks take a bit more work and patience from a kayak but they are very rewarding fish to catch! I will target them when the water in the creek is between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius. My “jack gear” is simply a 20lb bait caster outfit with 20lb braid and 30-60lb leader. Casting Zman 4” swimmerz in towards where you think a jack might live has been a success for me. These areas are generally somewhere the fish can sit and wait, just out of the current, for mullet, shrimp or any other baitfish to swim past, which make for an easy meal.

Advantage of the kayak?

The biggest reason why hooking a mangrove jack is so hard is the area you need to cover on some days. Fishing from a kayak allows you to fish a lot of ground in stealth, with accuracy and that is key when jack fishing!