Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Sport Within a Sport Within a Sport...Kayak Fly Fishing

I had my first experience of fly fishing from a kayak last week in Luce Creek, off the Severn River and the Chesapeake Bay. I used my St. Croix 8 wt./G. Loomis Venture 7 reel combo. Although I didn't have any luck on the fly (due to the fact it was 50 degrees and I was wearing full clothing on a kayak probably too small for my body weight), needless to say, I didn't feel comfortable "rocking the boat" with my double hauls. So, I switched to my Shakespeare Ugly Stik bay rod and threw on a Bomber plug and ended up pulling in 16" and 16.5" Stripers. My first attempt (and only up to this point) wasn't the most successful but it did inspire me. Kayak fishing is among the most stealthy of ways to go about sneaking up on a fish so I had to learn more about being not only successful but a little more graceful as well. Upon arriving home, I decided to crack open a few of my magazines, books, and searched the interweb for some more information on fly fishing from a kayak. I know one of my magazines had an article in it about the subject but, since the wife and I just recently moved, I can't seem to find it...will update that later if new information is found or some important stuff is left out.

So, I'll start out with the obvious, kayak fly fishing is MOSTLY a saltwater deal. The guys and I in college did spend a lot of time floating the Breeches on tubes and even kayaks. I don't see why you couldn't do so (in a kayak) with your rod and a pack. Or even hop into a kayak at a nice bass pond to reach that section of reeds on the other side that night after night you hear bucketmouth-sized bass whomp on some frogs. Its all possible, but I'm going to focus primarily on the saltwater aspect.

While out on the water and even after the fact, I recognized my lack of preparation and proper equipment*. I think the most important piece of equipment you could have with you (other than the obvious...kayak, rod, reel, flies, polarized sunglasses) is a rod holder. Let me tell you, it is so hard to try and hold on to your rod while paddling or vise versa! So on that note, I'd also suggest investing in a paddle holder or even just simply making one. I'm a frugal person myself, ask my wife, I think it is very important to do your research before a purchase. I also have a lot of respect for people that do a simple Google search and find out a way to make something yourself. I'll add some posts about DIY (do it yourself) stuff in the future. As a matter of fact, heres a treat since its the giving season... When it comes to rod holders, they are much easier to purchase than make, and really, you can find a nice holder for a good price. Bass Pro has an awesome selection. They are easy to mount and really get the job done. Some other things you may want to bring with you include a net, cooler, and a compact pack (that also has room for all your necessities (flies, clippers, etc.). I honestly only had my phone, boaters license, life vest, rod, paddle, and pack with me...didn't think this through. Don't forget your life vest, I can't emphasize enough how important safety is, especially on a little floating boat that seems to have an inner goal of rocking you off. A lot of kayaks now have storage areas built into the hull, great for filling with ice to hold your fish and a few cold drinks. If catch and release is the name of your game, that storage area becomes even more handy and is great for packs, bags, and extra equipment. If you don't have a kayak holder, I've heard of people using milk crates or just plain tackle bags that can be strapped down with bungee cords (another necessity). Some other optional stuff, depending on your target species and geological location, include and are not limited to, a gaff, outriggers, duct tape, an anchor, sunblock, a hat, and a larger rod holder for more than one rod.

*Note: This section is written assuming you don't have one of the newer "angler" kayaks that come with all the bells and whistles...the one I dream of one day owning.

As for species, you really aren't limited here, check out Youtube, just search kayak fly fishing, there are dudes bringing in Blue Marlin...I envy them. Just make sure you have the right equipment for the species your after, the last thing you want to do is hook up on a 40" Striper and realize your net is in the back of your car.

When it comes to technique, you just need to learn the importance of balance. Casting from a kayak isn't extremely difficult but it is tough to learn. I tried practicing casting a few times while sitting (on stable land) before I went out which seemed to help me understand the mechanics better but then again, they really aren't too different since fly casting is mostly upper body. But you do need to understand the mechanics of how your motion will affect the balance of the kayak. Even more important is understanding that when you hook up on a fish, it will most likely pull your boat in whichever direction it decides to run, even if thats a sharp turn and run to your back right. Just make sure you maintain control and play the fish, don't let it play you. Another important thing to grasp is, the wind usually always wins, don't fight it, you'll just get tired. The last thing you need before hooking up on a big fish is to have your arms feeling like noodles. Positioning is key to technique as well, I like to position myself parallel with the bank or area I want to fish with the wind always at my back not only so I can drift down the area I'm focusing on but so my cast length can be helped out a bit too. This is where tides are important as well, knowing the tide can also tell you which way you will drift. Simply put, do your research before every outing, check tides, weather, and local fishing reports.

Hopefully this has been helpful to whomever decides to read it, feel free to add in your own comments, ideas, and opinions as well. I hope, as I learn more, that I can update or revisit this subject later on!

Tight Lines...Morgan