To use an analogy put forth by Forrest Gump, Fly Rods and Kayaks go together like “peas and carrots.” If you love fly rod fishing, you will find that kayaks will enhance your enjoyment and success greatly.
As much as I enjoy trout fishing, warmer weather turns my thoughts to pursuing warm water fish species from my kayak. As the water warms and trout fishing success becomes more sporadic, the allure of warm water species increases. Bream beds, early morning bass splashing in the shallows and just the fun of being on the water makes it enjoyable.
Just as the rise of a trout to a dry fly can increase an angler’s heart rate, the intense vibration of a fly line cutting a zig-zag pattern in the water is hard to beat. A big “titty” bream can make a fly line sing. My late father-in-law defined a “titty” bream as one that a single hand could not span, requiring it to be held against the breast to remove the hook.
The advantages of using a kayak to pursue warm water fish species is manyfold.
- Better access to brushy shorelines
- No trailer required (Truck bed or car-top racks provide transport capabilities)
- Portability to more remote waters (this may be enhanced by the use of special wheeled carts to support one end of the craft)
- Low profile to improve stealth
- No engine required
- Ease of paddling
Accessories Required for Success and Safety
There are some recommendations for auxiliary equipment and safety. Double bladed paddles are preferable, eliminating the necessity of shifting the paddle from side to side. In order to make these easier to transport, many are available with take-down capabilities, reducing the length by half.
It is a requirement in South Carolina that all kayakers have PFD’s and a whistle on board. The personal floatation device is required in case of capsizing and a whistle is required due to the fact that it is more easily heard and less tiring than shouting.
Fishing Gear and Auxiliary Requirements
It is advisable to take a hard look at fishing gear and try to pare it down to a minimum. Fly boxes, rods and other gear should be selected with an eye toward space requirements. Also, any gear bags should have a waterproof or water repellent bottom, since there will likely be some water in the bottom of the kayak from entering and exiting the vessel.
Since it may be hot on the water, it is advisable to include a water bottle for hydration purposes. Also, it is recommended to use ®Ziploc bags to secure wallet and cell phone against possible wet conditions.
Techniques and Advantages
If you are right-handed, I would suggest paddling counter-clockwise around ponds or on larger impoundments, keeping the shoreline on your right. Of course, left-handed persons should move clockwise. Depending upon depth, place the kayak approximately 25-30 yards offshore. Casting diagonally toward the shoreline, the fly should be retrieved with jerky movements toward the kayak to within a few yards. Often, a fish will follow the fly for some distance before striking.
When casting, allow the fly to sit idle for a moment after the cast. The initial plop of the fly/lure may spook the fish, but it will return to investigate, and often strike on the first movement of the lure.
A good technique for attracting bass and bream is to use the popper-dropper method. A mid-size popper may be tied to the end of the leader. Then a wet fly or nymph may be tied to the bend of the popper’s hook on a tippet of 18”-20.” This technique offers the possibility of a bass or a large bream responding to the popper, or a bream reacting to the dropper. Sometimes, even a bass will take the dropper rather than the popper.
If you are after trophy bass, a larger popper may be the ticket. Also, a soft bait, like a rubber worm may be fished for bass. Another reference to my late father-in-law relates to our practice of fishing with fly rods and rubber worms for bass at dawn, and after an hour or so, changing to bream tactics. We rarely failed to take home a piscatorial bounty. To quote Jim Casada, these were “released to grease.”
Hunters as well as fishermen can take advantage of kayaks to access areas that would not be accessible by any other means. I have had great success with kayaks and canoes in accessing great spots for duck and deer hunting. Don’t overlook the benefits of these great tools for varied outdoor pursuits.