More riggin’

Well, I had hoped to get out on Saturday afternoon for a spot of local mackerel fishing but it wasn’t to be…… a combination of domestic duties and more so the increasing strength of the wind put pay to any chance of getting out on the kayak. A shame as I had the kayak and kit all ready to go but there you have it … these things happen. Nevertheless, whilst all the kit was out I thought I’d take the opportunity to take a few more pictures for the blog of my kayak rigged up (in the garden assisted by my son Billy and less so by the dog who you’ll see if you look carefully enough!).

A recent addition you’ll see to the rigging is the dry box in my rear tank well. This is an adaptation of a cracking idea by Rob Appleby ( The Salterwateryakfisherman) where he uses the same water tight container to create a dry box which can be  converted to a live bait tank. I have unashamedly used Rob’s idea to create my dry box but without going as far as the live bait tank. Maybe something for the future but certainly thanks to Rob for sharing his idea for all to see. The big plus with the dry box is anything in their shouldn’t suffer from the affects of salt water and means less kit cleaning on your return…… that’s the thought process anyway!

As for fishing, it looks like next weekend if the weather permits.

Anyhow, here are some of the pictures of the rigging on my Trident as promised:

Firstly, here’s the new dry box in the main tankwell – it has a screw in lid which is attached to the inside of the box to avoid any potential mishap which might see it going overboard:

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Moving forward here’s the Trident’s RodPod. I’ve installed a further hatch to it for easy access for when you just want to grab a small item from inside the yak without un-strapping the whole of the RodPod hatch – I’ve found this very handy. Also you’ll see the GPS unit mounted at the front of the Pod attached to power lead running to a 12v battery situated inside the yak:

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In front of the GPS unit you can see the fishfinder with the Trident’s sonar shield – you may think the position of the GPS obscures your view of the fishfinder but it’s not an issue at all given your line of vision from your seated position:

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At the front of the kayak is the cross-lock hatch where I have the battery housed and is also where I stow away the C-Tug trolley when on the water:

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Here is the battery housing inside the front hatch of the kayak securely fastened inside a watertight container, inserted into a foam housing and held in place with heavy duty Velcro:

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Here is one of the adjustable rod holders I use – there is another mounted in a similar position on the opposite side of the kayak:

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The rudder is invaluable on the water and makes such a difference when the paddling gets a bit tougher:

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For night fishing the navigation light is there for safety and fishing purposes alike – again it’s wired into the 12v battery at the front of the kayak:

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And, finally here are a few of snaps of the kayak rigged out in all it’s glory:

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So, there you have it…… I just hope next time the yak is rigged up it’ll be to get on the water with her.

Until next time….

A better session….

Managed to get myself out on the water on Saturday morning for what proved to be a hectic little session. The venue was once again Lee-on-Solent launching from the Elmore slipway. I like to catch first light which mid-June means a very early start. The alarm was set for 3 a.m. and I was on the road, rigged and ready to fish by 4:15 a.m. just as the sun was coming up. Conditions were near on perfect…

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I fished in the same vicinity as my last trip off Browndown and to begin with the results were the same …… dogfish greedily taking any of the baits I was putting down there namely mackerel strips, squid and ragworm.

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So I switched bait to the limited crab I had and it brought an instant change in fortune with the more definitive bite of a smoothound – nothing huge, still a pup, but a hound nonetheless.

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Another followed shortly after much the same size. One thing about catching smoothound on the yak you really must make sure you have your kit tied down as even these smaller one’s go nuts when they’re on board and it would be easy to loose bait, tackle or worse overboard in the pandemonium of trying to get the hook out!

As I say, I only had limited crab so had to switch back to squid, ragworm and mackerel and inevitably the dogfish returned to readily take my offering. However, I then had the tell-tale bite of something different – fast knocks that were hard to connect with so I scaled down my hooks and that did the trick as I was in to some bream – none particularly big but they’re good sport nonetheless.

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These were my first bream of the year and very welcome they were too…… as was the next fish to land on my lap – a nice bass – only a couple of pound but a beautiful fish nonetheless taken a on a ragworm/squid cocktail. This one put up a great scrap before I was able to get it on board…

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Very satisfying but shortly after the tide changed and the bites dropped right off with weed becoming more of a problem. It was still lovely out there though……

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By 9:30 I decided to call it a day and pulled the rods in and began my paddle back but as I reached about half way point I noticed fish jumping on the surface…… mackerel! I didn’t have time to set the rod up with feathers but luckily I’d brought a hand line along loaded with a 6 hook hokkai rig for just such an eventuality. The minute I lobbed the line in I had one on, then another and another and another all just under the surface…… four in about 2 minutes before they moved on again.

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I paddled the rest of the way in very contented with my early morning session. Compared to the fishing a month ago when all I could muster was a couple of pups and a bucket of dogfish it was nice to add the bream, bass and mackerel to the bag – amazing what a difference a bit of warm weather can make.

Until next time……

Gettin’ rigged…..

Well, it’s been a while since my last blog and true to form it has been largely down to one of the ‘W’s mentioned in my last post…. Work. Saying that though although the weather has been dry it has been windy down here on the South Coast so probably limited opportunities to get out on the kayak anyway.

Anyhow, I digress…. This article is all about getting rigged for fishing on the kayak. As I mentioned in a previous article getting the kayak is not even half the story when it comes to kitting out. I haven’t totalled up what I’ve spent on kitting the yak out but I wouldn’t mind betting it’s over doubled the initial outlay for the kayak and the paddle.

For starters there’s safety kit…. I’m not going to give a huge list of what you should and could have – there are other forums and sites on the internet with a wealth of information far more extensive than I can list or am experienced enough to talk about. I reckon with a bit of common sense and talking to experienced yakkers most people will be able to get the basics right. So, what have I gone for? Well, a ‘lifejacket’ or in the yakking world a personal flotation device (PFD) for starters is a must. If you want to stay dry then a dry bag/suit is needed – I went for a two-piece number in the form of a bib and braces with a cag over the top which has served me well to date. However, in retrospect I do see the advantage of an all-in-one suit to reduce the risk of water getting in. In addition I’ve managed to accumulate wet suit boots, gloves, hats, flares, VHF radio, leashes, a towline, dive knife, leashes, a safety light, and a whistle …. all in the name of safety on the water!

Here’s Nobby and my good self in our kit ready to go……

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In terms of rigging the yak itself again I’m no expert and again would suggest you hunt out other sites on the internet where you will see no end of ideas on how to rig your yak and believe me there are infinite possibilities. Both Nobby and myself have been extremely fortunate in the early days of out kayak fishing to stumble upon an experienced yak fisherman, Rob Appleby, who has helped us get rigged up and provided much sound advise. Without wishing to embarrass him it really is worth taking a look at Rob’s blog for some cracking and sensible ideas for rigging out your kayak as well as reading through his experiences – it comes highly recommend. As for my trusty Trident I’ve added to it a couple of access hatches, one at the stern and one on the RodPod, an anchor trolley, and two rod tubes as permanent fixtures. In addition to this there is a removable 12v battery that powers a fishfinder, GPS unit and for night fishing a stern light. Other removable items include a seat, a dry box in the small tankwell behind the seat and then either a yak bag or a crate for the main tankwell. I’ve also got an anchor setup which attaches to the anchor trolley and a trolley to wheel the yak around.

Here’s some of my rigging bits…

The fishfinder

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Dry box in rear small tankwell

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The stern access hatch

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All this and I haven’t even mentioned the fishing kit for which you’ll need more leashes to keep it all on the yak! I’ll save that for another blog…. after I’ve got some fishing in.

The WWW effect ….

Now you might think I’m going to talk about kayak fishing resources on the internet here but I’m not. The ‘WWW’ effect to me are the three things that generally stop me fishing…… Work, Wife and Weather – and usually in that order but beware because if one of the ‘W’s doesn’t get you, you can be near as damned sure that one of the others will do their level best to scupper even your best laid of plans.

I’m not trying to stay in the good books here, well, maybe just a little, but the lesser of the three evil ‘W’s when it comes to my fishing time is the ‘Wife’. She’s a good sort and in the majority of cases I think she’s quite happy for me to disappear down the road with fishing and kayak kit almost falling out of the car. The problem is usually when the other two W’s are looking favourable and I have a plan hatched for the upcoming weekend and she mutters those fateful words …… “You have remembered we’re going up to my parents this weekend? It’s on the calendar.”…… Of course I hadn’t, I’m a man, how the hell was I to know or remember to look at the calendar when all I had been so focused on was fishing venue, what the tides were doing, what bait to use and the other two W’s?! It’s frustrating when this happens and sometimes you just have to take it on the chin, plus as I see it, there is a flip side that can be advantageous…… let me explain. The good thing about the ‘Wife’ is that of the the three W’s it’s the only one I find you can at least score some decent Brownie points with for future fishing expeditions. ‘Work’ is less flexible and with the ‘Weather’ you’re in the lap of the Gods or should I say the dodgy weather forecasters – more of them later. The key is to keep yourself in good credit with the ‘Wife’ by entertaining some of her plans, keeping ahead of jobs around the house and generally keeping her sweet. It’s no use lying to yourselves lads, even the most brazen of you yak fishers out there has to tow the line at some point in the proceedings. So, yes, the ‘Wife’ can be a hindrance but played correctly this is usually the easiest, and most likely, the only one you can manipulate!

This brings me to ‘Work’. I am employed on the typical nine to five treadmill that a lot of us find ourselves and I accept that ‘needs must’…… after all it pays for all the kit, bait, etc. I can shrug this off and even accept it when I’m sat in a mind numbingly dull project meeting about moving a couple of equally dull databases from one location to another that ‘Work’ is a necessity. It’s the little things with ‘Work’ that drive me mad – when things come off the rails and once again shoot my plans in the foot. A classic for me is ‘out of hours’ work and being in the exciting world of IT believe me it happens. Picture the scene…… it’s Tuesday evening, the ‘Weather’ forecast for Wednesday evening is set fair, the ‘Wife’ is sweet, so you get all your kit ready so the minute you get home after ‘Work’ on the Wednesday you can scoff your tea down, fuss the dog, kiss the ‘Wife’ and your out the door again. You go to work Wednesday, keep your head down all day and then half an hour before you’re due to leave it happens…… the phone rings and it’s your boss…

“Andy, the clients have found a problem in the XYZ database, can you have a look at it? Oh, it’s a showstopper and can you make sure it’s when all the users are out? They should all be out of the system by 6 o’clock this evening”

…… I never know whether to scream, laugh or cry. What can I do? It’s a necessary evil is this ‘W’ and I need my job to pay for my fishing in addition to other not so important things like a mortgage, food and bills. I find it so maddening and this is just an example of the many ‘Work’ related matters that frustrate the hell out of me. Each and every one of them has the affect of making me late or putting a sledgehammer through my meticulously laid plans.

Finally, we come to the ‘Weather’ and maybe more specifically it should be ‘Weather’ forecasters. The ‘Weather’ is the one thing you don’t have even the slightest influence over and can only plan for based on the information put out there by these so called ‘Weather’ forecasters whether it be on TV, radio or, more likely these days, internet weather channels. Particularly for kayak fishing the wind is all important – both the direction and the speed. Rain and cold you can cope with but the wind is the key. So, why is the ‘Weather’ so frustrating? I’ll tell you why…… again, picture the scene – there have been no murmurings from the ‘Wife’, you’ve escaped from ‘Work’ unscathed and the ‘Weather’ forecast when you checked an hour ago was perfectly do-able. The sun is out, you load your kit on and in the car, say your farewells, drive to your chosen venue, walk down to the shore…… and the sea is cresting with white horses with a nice swell to boot. What happened to the predicted 3 to 5 mph winds Mister ‘Weather’ Forecasterman – tell me that eh!? In my eyes it’s not a forecast at all it’s simply a ‘best guess’ a lot of the time but I suppose the job title of ‘Weather’ guesser doesn’t fit the bill even if it is a more accurate description! It’s not all the forecaster/guessers fault though. Sometimes when you get a combination of ‘Work’ and ‘Weather’ that can really leave you in shreds and it happens…… you’ve been hard at ‘Work’ all week and the ‘Weather’ has been a dream for kayaking, open the curtains Saturday morning and it’s blowing a hoolie with lashings of rain for extra measure to rub salt into your already smarting wound. You can feel almost fated with bad luck at times.

So there you have it – the three W’s that a majority of the time prevent me from getting out there on the yak and fishing. Whether it’s one of them or a subtle combination of two or all three of them believe you me they’re all out there to wreck your plans! Speaking of which I’d better get back to one of the W’s now…… ‘Work’…  and yes, the ‘Weather’ is perfect outside!

Until next time folks……

Decisions, decisions….

As I hinted in a previous post, once the seed was sewn on the idea of getting a kayak the thought process gained momentum pretty quickly and both Nobby and I began to explore the options. The obvious starting place was the internet to get some sort of idea of what was available on the market. There was quite a range of options out there for us wannabee yakkers but we decided at an early stage that it was the sit-on-top variety that we felt ticked the right boxes.

We looked at what some of the main manufacturers such as Wilderness, Ocean Kayak and Malibu had to offer and all had their merits but we kept coming back to the offerings from Ocean Kayak and in particular the Prowler range. We were looking for stability, manoeuvrability, hatch space and features and they seemed to tick the right boxes with good reviews on internet forums. Ultimately, there were three choices within our budgets that we whittled it down to:

  • The Prowler 13 Angler
  • The Prowler Trident 13 Angler
  • The Big Game Prowler

Nobby was keen on the Prowler 13 Angler while I was more in favour of either the Trident 13 or The Big Game. Both the Prowler and the Trident looked more streamline than the Big Game which seemed bulkier although more stable.

In the end, after a trip to The Family Adventure Store in Trowbridge we opted for the Trident which seemed to be in the middle of the Prowler 13 and The Big Game but with the advantage of features such as the RodPod and the Sonar Shield.

Within a week of our visit the orders were placed and we patiently waited then for 6 weeks until we got the call to say they had arrived. When we picked up the yaks it was just like Christmas as kids all over again! We even had the added bonus that they’d shipped them with rudders already fitted by mistake which was a real result.

Here they are all wrapped up and ready to go…

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… and here was my yellow piece of heaven unwrapped on the hall floor when I got it home!

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Now we had the yaks…  but that wasn’t half the story, we now needed kit to wear, safety kit, different fishing kit and not to mention modifications we’d undoubtedly want to make! It was now that the real fun and expense began! I warn any of you out there thinking of buying a kayak it is a huge addiction what with the tinkering and the accessorising!

Eighteen months on I am generally pleased with the decision to get the Trident but in retrospect I can see big benefits in the Big Game Prowler namely the stability it offers and I am not wholly convinced that the RodPod design on the Trident is as good as it could be. Maybe I’m being picky here though really as overall the Trident is a good kayak in my opinion.

A window of opportunity…

Ok, I know…. my last blog entry said I’d be talking about the kayak choices I explored before buying but as I warned you in my ‘Welcome’ spiel my blog could be a bit of a mish mash of articles and so it is! The reason being is a window of opportunity to get myself on the water presented itself on Monday and I grabbed it with both hands. It wasn’t a huge window but certainly enough time for me to make a trip to one of my local Solent haunts.

The venue I went to was Lee-on-Solent and to be more specific launching from the Elmore slipway at the southern end of the main promenade. It’s a good spot to launch with a quiet car park and a short distance to the shore.

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Launch site from the slipway

I was at the launch site at 5:30am and it was absolutely perfect conditions with no wind and the sea almost glass like – ideal for ‘yakking’.

The launch site is very shallow but approximately 300 metres out the seabed starts to drop off and deepens to roughly 6 to 7 metres. The mark I was heading to is just under a kilometre off shore where there are a couple of troughs in the seabed of around 11 metres in depth.

I’ve fished here a couple of times in the last month or so and have had limited success with an abundance of dogfish interspersed with a few smoothound pups which are now showing along this part of the coast. With only squid and mackerel as bait I wasn’t expecting anything other than these two species and neither let me down in this respect.

Soon enough I had my first bait down in idyllic conditions…

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And it wasn’t long before that first bait yielded the first fish of the day either in the form of a starry smoothound pup – no more than about the 3lb mark but a beautifully marked fish all the same. Even the pups put up a decent scrap so when the bigger one’s arrive soon it will be excellent sport on the kayak!

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Despite a couple more smaller smoothounds I’m afraid after that I was plagued with the inevitable dogfish that appear to be carpeting The Solent seabed at the moment. The greedy dogs were all too readily feasting on the mackerel and squid baits I was putting down. Here’s a couple of the offenders…

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After the tide turned even the dogfish bites slackened off to nothing and for a while I found myself just enjoying being on the water watching the world go by in peace and quiet.

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On The Solent you can see no end of different watercraft on the water from windsurfers to cruise liners but today, shattering my peace and quiet, were the army with all their kit on manoeuvres on a very noisy barge!

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This must have awoken the dogfish as well as not long after they were on the feed again and I finished off my bait with a few more. This time I thought I’d take the opportunity to picture one in the water… a small price to pay for their greedy antics!

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A pleasant morning on the water in the best conditions on The Solent I’ve experienced. I was back on dry land by 11:30am de-rigging and ready to head home… to work in the afternoon.

Until next time……

So, why a kayak?

It was about this time two years ago that my good pal Nobby and I were trudging back to our cars along the Dorset coast somewhere between Kimmeridge and Worbarrow Bay after a fruitless attempt for an early season bass. We tried to reason that maybe we were using the wrong tactics, the sea and weather conditions weren’t right and made countless other excuses for our poor early season form.

“I reckon we should get kayaks” were the words that Nobby blurted out.

“What?” I said.

“You know, fishing kayaks, I’ve seen a few of them around” he replied enthusiastically.

I pondered it for a few seconds and concluded,

“That’s actually not a bad shout my friend!”

And so it began… not immediately but make no mistake the seed had been sown and the beginnings of a plan were hatched. It was finally executed early in 2009.

It wasn’t that we weren’t enjoying our shore fishing it was just the catch rates were relatively modest plus we’d already found ourselves doing less and less traditional beach fishing with big rods, reels and a mountain of tackle and concentrating our efforts on light gear, lures and fishing on the move. Even this was hit and miss though and once the wheel was set in motion the idea of kayak fishing became increasingly appealing to get us to inshore waters inaccessible on foot and to allow us to fish in deeper water a little further out.

We toyed with the idea of getting a boat between us and even looked at a couple but neither of us was particularly blown away with what was on offer for our budget, nor did we really have the space at the time to keep it or the time to maintain it properly.

We both liked the idea of being able to throw a kayak on the roof of our cars and head off to wherever the will would take us…… little did we know then that with the combined cost of kitting out the yaks we could probably have bought a semi-decent boat and had change in our pockets but as is said “what’s done is done!”. However, even in retrospect I wouldn’t change that decision – I like the freedom you have with a kayak to take it virtually anywhere you please, launch from a beach and even get to those fishing spots you just couldn’t get to sensibly even with the smallest of boats.

Once we’d made up our minds it was an option we were committed too, the next stage was research and to explore the kayak options available to us on the market…… that will be the subject of my next post.