When it comes to the quiet approach in shallow bays, kayaks are hard to beat. Jason Walker looks at the techniques that can give the kayak angler the upper hand.
What if you could sneak up on your prey without being detected and position yourself to present a bait or lure to the fish without giving away your position?
It is possible and it can be done from a kayak.
Benefits of size
Kayaks are by designed as small craft. You fish sitting down so they don’t need a huge cockpit for walking around, don’t have an engine to either mount and have no fuel storage requirements.
This means you can sneak into small spaces between rocks and access shallow water but most of all, it means you cast a small shadow due to the tiny profile of the kayak so you have less chance of spooking fish.
Keep the nose down
Another thing that will spook fish is noise.
A plastic kayak moving through the water is very quiet and due to the low freeboard it will have hardly any hull slap from the waves.
That allows you to silently glide through the water as you approach your fishing spot.
You are the motor and propel the kayak along with a paddle, which can create a splash - and noise - if you flail them around. With a little practice and you will lose the splash allowing you to sneak up on your prey.
Another advantage of the kayak’s low profile is that you aren’t pushed around by the wind anywhere near as much as you would be in a larger boat.
You can use this to great advantage, as you will hardly ever need to use a fixed anchor in a kayak thus allowing you to silently drift around while fishing.
In the wash
Wash fishing is very effective but there are some very important safety points to take into consideration when wash fishing in a kayak.
Sit off the wash and spend a little time observing the direction of the swell.
You want to approach the wash so you are fishing perpendicular to the swell and not with it directly behind you. If the swell is directly behind your kayak, you run the danger of it picking you up and pushing you into the rocks – not a good place to be!
Spend some time looking at the wash on the rocks, judging the timing, seeing where it breaks, and what rocks are exposed when the swell pulls back.
This will give you an understanding of where you want to cast your bait and where it will fall.
Safety on your yak
Make sure you keep your paddle handy at all times. If you can keep it laid across your lap you can quickly drop the paddle in the water and do a few back stokes to get you out of trouble.
DO NOT use your sea anchor when wash fishing. A chute in the water will make it almost impossible to make a quick escape. It could even get picked up by the swell and pull you in.
Before you paddle straight into that secluded bay to hook that big moocher, pull up your kayak outside the bay and sit there for a few minutes.
Study the environment looking for what else could give you the edge. Look to see where the sun is for shadows, which way the wind is blowing, and if there is any current flowing through the bay.
What you don’t want is to be casting your lure or softbait into the area where you shadow is being cast, as there is a good chance that you have already spooked the fish.
Try to approach the bay with the sun in your face.
Judging the wind
Sitting outside the bay will quickly give you an idea of which direction the wind will blow you around once you head in.
Now is a good time to make the call as to whether you need to use a drogue to slow down your drift or not.
There’s nothing worse than setting yourself up and then finding that you just drifted through the whole bay in seconds rather than minutes and all your advantages are lost.
The ideal situation is to set yourself up so you are slowly drifting through the bay with the wind at your back.
You can then cast ahead getting the bait to the bottom before you drift over the top of it.
The ideal situation for current is the same as the wind as you want wherever possible to be drifting with the current entering the bay behind you.
It’s going to be a very special day when all of these come together at the same time but if you try and get as many happening at the same time as possible it can only give you an advantage.
Easy Auckland kayak spots
Narrowneck is your gateway to fishing the Rangitoto Channel. Only a few hundred metres off the beach you’ll find yourself by the channel markers.
Position yourself for a drift along the channel edge (using the markers as your guide) and you’ll soon find a feed of snapper. Be cautious in the summer as it’s prime spot for boaties and it’s also a busy shipping channel so be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Slightly further north along the bays you’ll find Castor Bay, a great example of how you can be in suburbia, but right on the doorstep of some great fishing.
Heading out from the beach, go out past the breakwater and hang a left, staying about 200-300 metres from the beach.
Line yourself up with the large wooden steps that go up the cliff face and you should see a weedline that holds some good fish through the spring and summer.
Right at the northern end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula you’ll find this secluded bay giving you access to some very good fishing grounds, and for the really keen paddlers, access to fish Tiritiri Island.
If you head straight out from the boat ramp keep to the right-hand side. Go past the point and keep heading straight out another 200-300m. You should start to see fish holding on the bottom.
You can head to Wellington Rock, or head to the end of the peninsula and fish along the Tiri Channel – look for the drop-off and fish along the edge.
This is an amazing place to head in your kayak. The view you get as you drive in explains it all. It’s a DOC campground and reserve with no boat ramp but it has an easy launch off the beach into a large sheltered bay.
You have several options, staying in the bay you can head across to the other side and fish along the shoreline, or, for the more adventurous, head out of the bay and left around to the back of Saddle Island.
Look for the drop-off and you should find some fish sitting on the sand.
This bay fishes really well in the lead up to Christmas and it’s a great launching spot to the two islands in the bay, or over to Kawau Island if paddling is your thing.
You’ll find fish sitting on the sand all throughout the bay as close as a few hundred metres off the beach.