Urban ‘Yak Bass


Interested in bass fishing small urban creeks? Buying a kayak could be your answer to reaching otherwise inaccessible hot spots. By SCOTT THOMAS

INTERNET and GPS technology has opened up a lot of otherwise “secret” spots. While remote bass water still remains, it’s become harder to find and there are very few secluded or unfished areas left. The good news is many bass fishos know the biggest secret is that quality bass water can be found close to home in urban areas or near major coastal towns. And one of the best ways to reach and fish these close-to-home backwaters is from a kayak. The portability of a kayak, on and off the water, allows access to virtually any waterway, big and small. Not only does a kayak allow access to these areas, but the small size and stealthy characteristics of a kayak aid in fooling these lure shy fish.

Most river systems, even the larger rivers such as the Shoalhaven, Hawkesbury, Macleay and the Clarence, feature miles of skinny water away from the main boating areas. These inaccessible areas are only fishable from a kayak or canoe. Then there are the smaller lesser-known rivers snaking along the coast. Some of these creeks and rivers hold good numbers of large fish and aren’t too far from civilisation. Both Sydney and Brisbane have good kayak bass fishing very close to urban areas.

Choice of ‘yak
Small and light kayaks are best. A small kayak has the advantage of easy manoeuvrability in the skinnier creeks and allow easier access to tricky-to-reach areas.  Anything less than about 12 foot (3.6m) is what I consider small. But that all depends on your size and how much gear you intend to carry. It’s best trying before you buy. You won’t come across open stretches of rough water in your typical bass creek, so the larger and longer kayaks used for open water fishing aren’t so necessary.

Hobie’s Mirage Sport, Wilderness Systems’ Tarpon 100 and 120, Native Watercraft Ultimate models and a whole range of ’yaks from Ocean Kayaks are just a handful to choose from – and there’s plenty more on the market.

Weight, as already mentioned, is a big factor if you intend to carry your ’yak across rock bars or there’s a distance to travel between your car and the water. Again, it depends on the individual, but the total weight quickly stacks up once there’s some fishing gear added. A set of collapsible wheels is almost essential and come in different styles depending on the shape and type of your kayak. Once you reach the water, the wheels are easily removed and can be stowed in a hatch.

Bass fishos have the choice of “sit-on” or “sit-in” kayaks. Again, because you’re fishing sheltered water, a self-draining sit-on-top isn’t essential. However, many fishos still prefer the sit-on because there’s so much choice available in sit-on-top kayaks specifically designed for fishing. Some of the best have lure storage, rod holders, comfy seats, sounders and plenty of storage for excess fishing or camping gear.

’Yak tackle
Tackle companies have followed the trend in kayak fishing and there’s now a good selection of specialist kayak fishing gear available.

A typical bass outfit – an ultralight baitcaster or spin set-up with braid – is all you need. I’d opt for a shorter than average rod. While boat-based bass fishos tend to use rods up to 7ft, a rod something around six feet long is more than long enough for the ’yak. The shorter rod makes it much easier to land fish from the low seated position; makes untangling or rigging easier; and, importantly, is less likely to catch on overhanging foliage while paddling/pedalling. On that note, unless you intend to fish multiple days away from civilisation, don’t carry too many rods. Extra rods in rod holders have the habit of catching on trees, snags or reeds.

It’s best to select a small cross section of lures and stow them in a waterproof container or small tray box. There’s no point taking everything you own. Spinnerbaits, surface lures, hard-bodies and blades all work well on bass at different times. It’s worth experimenting with what works at your local spot and you’ll quickly learn what lures to take and what to leave at home.

Most sit-on-top kayaks feature a storage area directly behind the seat. This has enough space to hold a crate or tackle bag if you wish to take more gear.

On the Fly
Bass love flies. It must be the naturalistic appearance and soft landing characteristics of an artificial fly that bass can’t resist. The combination of a natural presentation and a stealthy kayak is a deadly combo on bass. Top shelf fly rod manufacturer Sage sells a specialist bass line-up of rods and lines. These are actually produced for the US bass market, but also lend themselves to our native bass, particularly from a kayak. The Bass series rods are shorter than average at around 8ft and are designed to quickly punch out a heavy wind resistant fly towards a likely snag – just like you would a lure. The short length rod will assist in landing fish and make untangling line easier. I’ve found using a weedless fly and punching it under a snag around heavy foliage is a very effective technique. Just let the fly remain motionless amongst the weed. If the bass doesn’t hit, pick it up and recast again. No time wasting unhooking weed from a lure on the retrieve.

On the water
A kayak, more than anything, is a way to escape heavily fished urban waters. While larger boats have their own set of advantages, there’s a lot of water they can’t reach. Likewise, while bass fishing on foot is fun it’s difficult to walk up and down many streams because of thick foliage or steep banks. Kayaks are relatively inexpensive, can be stored anywhere and are a great ingredient in successful bass fishing. 


Night Fishing
NIGHT fishing the more heavily fished waters around cities can be very productive. The same scenic summer swimming hole by day can be full of bass at night. Only a stupid bass would do anything but hide during daylight hours in these areas. Fishing at night isn’t easy at first. Obviously you’ll want a torch – a headlamp is best. Try and only use it when absolutely necessary. Instead, let your eyes adjust to the night conditions. It’s important to have your gear organised beforehand on the kayak so you know exactly where everything is – pliers for unhooking fish, scissors for cutting braid (or tangles) and your lures organised in a simple box within easy reach.Fact box


What To Take
Table tennis bat – these are great for quickly manoeuvring your ’yak instead of paddling or pedalling (leave the ping-pong balls at home).

Dry bag – throw your car keys, mobile phone and wallet in one of these and put in the kayak’s hatch, just in case.

Long pants – Sit-on-top kayaks leave your legs exposed to the sun. Wearing long pants (and long sleeved shirt) will save you reapplying excessive amounts of sunscreen while you should be fishing.

Life Jacket – Check the law in your state. Depending on where you live, a lifejacket  may be compulsory. If you’re fishing alone, it’s probably a good idea anyway.

Lights or torch – Again, check your local regulations on lights for your ’yak. It’s worth taking a headlamp for fishing after dusk and finding your launch spot.

Camera – Again, a dry bag will be useful here. You can never have enough dry bags.

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