YAK fishing is definitely on the up and up. Like many boat fishos, I’d never stopped for a detailed analysis of what fantastic fishing platforms the new generation of purpose built kayaks can be until I met gun Kiwi kayak fisherman Rob Fort, on a recent trip to the Coromandel Peninsula on NZ’s North Island.
Rob has long used sea kayaks as his secret weapon to stalk NZ’s stud snapper and kings. He also a retail kayak business as well as guided kayak-fishing trips.
The water around the Coramandel’s many inshore islands and bays is a perfect playground for keen kayak fishermen.
Rob organised a kayak for me and we hit the Coramandel for a few hours. Rob uses the Ocean Kayak 4.5 Prowler Elite. The Prowler Elite is fitted with a pedal operated flip-up rudder system and has a beam of 0.71m, which makes it very stable. The kayak’s modest water line length makes it easy to paddle and sustain quite a good pace over long distances – even for an unfit newcomer like me – making it well suited for offshore and open bay work. I found the Prowler very easy to adapt to and felt comfortable paddling and fishing at all times. There was around 10 knots of wind on the exposed parts of islands during our trip as well as a couple of knots of tide in places that helped to build a nice little chop. The ‘yak paddled easily into the chop and required a definite relaxed roll of the upper body to compensate for the wave action when paddling across it.
The fit-out on Rob’s kayaks really blew me away; there was nothing that didn’t need to be there and it was all extremely functional. Rob’s kayak was fitted with a waterproof VHF radio and a GPS chartplotter/sounder combo with in-built antenna.
Rod storage is taken care of by a quality three-way Scotty rod holder that’s mounted forward of the sounder/GPS unit. A sea anchor/grapnel system mounted at the front and rear of the kayak on a pulley system is a very practical addition.
All rods on board are fitted with spliced Spectra lanyards and quick release clips that attach to the rod via a brass ring fastened with a cable tie – simple yet very effective. Any items on board not connected to a safety leash have a small foam float attached to prevent losses if they go over the side. Rob also has a white protective cover over the rear fish storage area on his kayaks to keep captured fish out of the sun. There’s also prevision on board to secure other items such as small tackle boxes.
On the water
After years spent chasing fish on lures out of boats, it was amazing at how close I could drift in to a piece of structure and still get bites without spooking fish.
During our trip we landed plenty of snapper to around three kilograms, which even at that size had them starting to pull the kayak around. I was giggling like a little kid as we made our way around some postcard scenic country and picked fish off in most likely looking areas. I had a fantastic introduction to kayak fishing thanks to Rob’s expertise. It’s something I could see myself getting into quite easily on my home waters of Tuggerah Lake on the NSW Central Coast.
As much as I like chasing whiting and flathead, I reckon it’s pretty special when you can catch a feed of quality snapper while getting a bit of exercise. If you’re keen to do a kayaking trip in New Zealand check out Rob Fort’s website at www.kayakadventures.co.nz For more information on Ocean Kayak range visit www.bla.com.au.
By Captain Mark Phillips