In recent years the phenomenon of Kayak fishing has hit Australia like a GT all over a roosta popper. Everywhere from the pristine, quiet alpine lakes of New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria to the open blue water around our coastlines, kayaks are becoming a viable option for almost every kind of fishing imaginable. Some are drawn to the sport to get fit while having a fish, others see it as an option that will open up waterways accessible only to boat fishermen without the prohibitive costs of actually owning a boat. Whatever their reason, fishers are joining the plastic kayak fishing flotilla in droves.
I bought my first fishing kayak a few years back and then got offered a job in Darwin, which as you can imagine brought my kayak bravery to a screaming halt. But last year I took some time off to drive around this great fishy country of ours and I made sure my new Hobie Adventure was strapped to the roof for my Australia adventure. One of my first destinations to spend a bit of time getting used to the new yak was Mallacoota, where I’d planned to target flathead and bream with the outside chance of a mulloway.
I launched on my first speculative mission on a cold drizzly afternoon from the campground and concentrated on flicking plastics around structure in the hope of stirring up a bream or two. At this point I was feeling a bit depressed about the lack of barra, jacks and threddies in these southern waterways, but loving the absence of the old snapping handbag…although I must admit I was still a bit edgy. It doesn’t matter where I am in Australia, I still look suspiciously at murky water and think to myself “hmm…that looks a bit crocy…”. Old habits die hard I guess.
I reckon I put about 200 hundred casts down in very likely areas, but all I managed was a barely legal flattie, so I pressed on. I ended up at the mouth of a small creek thinking that I’d just put few more casts in and then call it a successful day of kayak exercise. As I was retrieving my 3 inch pumpkinseed gulp I noticed that there was a bit of run happening in the corner of the creek mouth, and there was bait…big scared bait! So I upped the anti and tied on a 6inch gulp and peppered the area the bait was holding with casts. I worked my plastic really slowly letting it sink to the bottom, pause, then a couple of flicks up then repeat right up to the boat. On one of my pauses I felt something smash my plastic, but the hooks didn’t set. Then after another 10 casts or so my gulp got nailed and my reel started to scream. At the rate line was peeling off my 2-4kg outfit and the big headshakes I knew exactly what was going on. I was hooked up to an XO sized Jewie!
The terrain was a bit treacherous with snags everywhere so I really need to turn the fish into open water, but with the bream gear I was using this was going to be tough. I ended up paddling my kayak out to the mouth with the hope that I lead the big girl out with me, and to my shock, the fish played ball and moved out into the open water where we could continue a good clean fight. Then the fish passed me and suddenly I was the one being led, or a better description might be towed. My kayak is 5m, weighs about 30kg with all the gear in it, and I’m no small bloke, but still this fish managed to tow me like this for another 10 minutes. Finally when my spool was looking decidedly empty, the fish slowed down. I made up as much line as I could, but this was really hard work as this fish had some serious kgs on it. After what would have been a 30 minute stoush, I finally had colour coming up under the yak, and what a pretty colour it was. By the end we were both exhausted, a result of the light gear and long fight. I tried to swim her off but she was spent. So the next challenge was to get this 130cm 33lb Jewie into the kayak without capsizing, but after considerable effort I got her in and as you can see from the photo, I was one happy lad!
Two big thumbs up for kayak fishing!