Sight fishing Assistance

Mike HodgeMike Hodge Posts: 31 Deckhand
I've been struggling with spotting a fish from a kayak, putting the paddle/pole down, grabbing my rod and stopping the kayak all while keeping my eye on the fish to make an accurate presentation while standing. Cruising fish can be quite problematic. Been struggling with this for a while. There may be a solution in the works. Check this out.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=318297528249812&set=a.318255208254044.75086.245872615492304&type=1&theater

Replies

  • ShadowcastShadowcast Wimauma, FLPosts: 1,054 Officer
    That is an awesome little setup. I have had this issue in that past when kayak fishing with the fly rod. For me, if and when I go back to the kayak, the Freedom Hawk kayak gives fly anglers the best standing options with a fly rod out there...IMHO.
    Capt. Jon Bull
    @shadowcastflyfishing
    Sales Rep - Ankona Boats, Salt Marsh Skiffs, Tavernier Skiff Company
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Aside from the physical aids, such as that pictured, I believe kayakers are at a distinct disadvantage, due to their height off the water. You cant see the fish from a sufficient distance that allows you more time to make a presentation. It is hard enough for me in a skiff with a spinning rod!

    In my skiff (I shall be kayaking/fishing soon in Mexico) if I am wanting to fly fish but can't wade, I stake out. If you fish a flat often enough, you should have an idea of where fish will be. Potholes are a good example. I know where they are, but don't know that there will be fish in them, but assume there will be. So I stake out at a safe distance and start casting.

    Also with a kayak, you have the ability to go shallower than the fish usually want to go, so you want to concentrate on flats at very low tide where water depth will funnel the fish along more of a "route." Now you can stake out along that route and wait for the fish to come to you. Later in the tide they will be able to spread out more and this is when it gets more difficult.

    Usually, the skinnier the water, the spookier the fish will be. So be prepared to make a longer cast. Also, don't position yourself at the point where the fish enter the flat. It seems they are spookier when they first come up on a flat. Move back and give them time to "acclimate" and maybe get their minds on feeding, instead of being cautious. Another benefit is that being further back gives you more time, because the fish will many times show themselves, either by waking or tailing in the shallow water in front of you.

    Here's another tip for any who haven't thought of this: Always try to be more shallow than the depth that the fish are in and cast out to them. In the wild it is common for predators to herd their prey against shallower water, so that they can minimize that prey's escape options. So fish are wary of anything approaching from deeper water. Conversely, shallower water to the inside is not thought to hold larger predator species. Maybe the fish will think you are a harmless wading bird or something.
    .......Rick
  • Mike HodgeMike Hodge Posts: 31 Deckhand
    Permit Rat wrote: »
    Aside from the physical aids, such as that pictured, I believe kayakers are at a distinct disadvantage, due to their height off the water. You cant see the fish from a sufficient distance that allows you more time to make a presentation. It is hard enough for me in a skiff with a spinning rod!

    In my skiff (I shall be kayaking/fishing soon in Mexico) if I am wanting to fly fish but can't wade, I stake out. If you fish a flat often enough, you should have an idea of where fish will be. Potholes are a good example. I know where they are, but don't know that there will be fish in them, but assume there will be. So I stake out at a safe distance and start casting.

    Also with a kayak, you have the ability to go shallower than the fish usually want to go, so you want to concentrate on flats at very low tide where water depth will funnel the fish along more of a "route." Now you can stake out along that route and wait for the fish to come to you. Later in the tide they will be able to spread out more and this is when it gets more difficult.

    Usually, the skinnier the water, the spookier the fish will be. So be prepared to make a longer cast. Also, don't position yourself at the point where the fish enter the flat. It seems they are spookier when they first come up on a flat. Move back and give them time to "acclimate" and maybe get their minds on feeding, instead of being cautious. Another benefit is that being further back gives you more time, because the fish will many times show themselves, either by waking or tailing in the shallow water in front of you.

    Here's another tip for any who haven't thought of this: Always try to be more shallow than the depth that the fish are in and cast out to them. In the wild it is common for predators to herd their prey against shallower water, so that they can minimize that prey's escape options. So fish are wary of anything approaching from deeper water. Conversely, shallower water to the inside is not thought to hold larger predator species. Maybe the fish will think you are a harmless wading bird or something.

    I agree with a lot of what you're saying. I haven't fished a whole season yet here in Tampa, but in the summer, the tides are not usually skinny enough for me to have a good chance of sight fishing the flats consistently. I'd like to have a 0.5 low or even lower. Ideally, I'd like that in the a.m. before the winds pick up, but in the summer the fishable lower tides are in the late afternoon/evening when the p.m. showers kick in. In the winter, the water should be clearer and the tides skinnier, so I'll have a better shot at true sight fishing, even from a yak. For now, I try to make do with the conditions I'm dealt. I stand and pole as much as I can and try to hone my skills. ... Can't wait for fall/winter.
  • ShadowcastShadowcast Wimauma, FLPosts: 1,054 Officer
    Mike Hodge wrote: »
    Can't wait for fall/winter.

    I live for the time between that first negative low tide in November and mid-April for sight casting Tampa Bay on fly.
    Capt. Jon Bull
    @shadowcastflyfishing
    Sales Rep - Ankona Boats, Salt Marsh Skiffs, Tavernier Skiff Company
  • DowntownNashDowntownNash Posts: 182 Officer
    Just because you're in a kayak doesn't mean you have to cover fish-able water any faster than a wade fisherman. Slow down and you shouldn't have a problem.
    signature.png
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Just because you're in a kayak doesn't mean you have to cover fish-able water any faster than a wade fisherman. Slow down and you shouldn't have a problem.

    This is very true and IMO, whenever possible, kayakers should think of themselves as waders. As stated before, that is about the range of visibility you have....that of a wader IF you stand up in the boat.

    I plan on using my kayak only as a means of getting from point A to point B. Upon arrival, I'll be wading again....a much more stable position for fly casting, than trying to stand in a kayak.
    .......Rick
  • Mike HodgeMike Hodge Posts: 31 Deckhand
    Shadowcast wrote: »
    I live for the time between that first negative low tide in November and mid-April for sight casting Tampa Bay on fly.

    I just started fly fishing here in April/May. It didn't take long before I realized I was in the wrong season for sight fishing, at least in this area, from a yak. The only way I've been able to maintain my sanity is to consider what I'm doing now is practice/preparation for fall.
  • Mike HodgeMike Hodge Posts: 31 Deckhand
    Permit Rat wrote: »
    This is very true and IMO, whenever possible, kayakers should think of themselves as waders. As stated before, that is about the range of visibility you have....that of a wader IF you stand up in the boat.

    I plan on using my kayak only as a means of getting from point A to point B. Upon arrival, I'll be wading again....a much more stable position for fly casting, than trying to stand in a kayak.
    Interesting point. My struggle with this approach is that I lose visibility if I wade. In the ideal situation, I spot a fish from the yak while standing and then I get out and wade to make the approach, but this only works if the fish is laid-up/still. If they're cruising, the odds skyrocket in their favor, at least this time of year. I guess everything's a give and take.
  • ShadowcastShadowcast Wimauma, FLPosts: 1,054 Officer
    Mike Hodge wrote: »
    Interesting point. My struggle with this approach is that I lose visibility if I wade. In the ideal situation, I spot a fish from the yak while standing and then I get out and wade to make the approach, but this only works if the fish is laid-up/still. If they're cruising, the odds skyrocket in their favor, at least this time of year. I guess everything's a give and take.

    Here's another thing.....because like the Rat I used the kayak to get from point A to point B, then got out and waded.....when you wade you have a lower profile which means you can close the distance between you and the fish you are going after. The key is finding an area that is holding fish and then working the signs. Wading birds are huge for pointing out areas that could hold fish. Mullet and other bait are a sure sign that fish could be around. The key is a slow methodical approach. It's like stalking an elk on the ground with a bow. Eventually, the fish will give away their location (at the right point of the tide) either with a tail, a push, or a bust. Then it's on you to work the angles and slowly close the distance to give yourself a shot. It is not easy but very rewarding when it comes to fruition.
    Capt. Jon Bull
    @shadowcastflyfishing
    Sales Rep - Ankona Boats, Salt Marsh Skiffs, Tavernier Skiff Company
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    I replied to this thread, not as a kayaker, but as a solo angler. I also have never done much wading for redfish, I guess because I never had to. However, I have waded extensively for bonefish and permit in the Keys. This experience is where my wading tactics came from in my first post.

    Finally, I have never fished the Tampa Bay area, but I have spent a Summer (July-August) on Sanibel/Captiva, a little south of y'all. I had a skiff, but again, I was fishing alone. I fully understand how difficult it is to put down a pole/paddle.....pick up a rod...and then re-locate the fish again and hopefully be able to make a presentation. And I had a HUGE advantage in that I was on a poling platform and could see the individual fish a lot further than a kayaker/wader could. Surface disturbances and tails are different. Here I believe that if there is an advantage, that it goes to the kayaker/wader because they are lower to the surface.

    Fishing alone, during the month of July, I had 2 days where I caught in excess of 50 redfish for the day; about 300 reds for the month. Reflecting back on that experience, with respect to this thread, I feel safe to say that 10% or fewer of those fish were caught because of my height advantage of having a poling platform. As said before, I learned where the potholes were and then did not need a tower to find them. I also learned where the potholes in the shoreline mangroves were, and then did not need a tower to find them either.

    Both of those areas were sure things for many redfish. I filled in by blind casting to the mangroves, until the tide changed. Once that happened, there would be schools of hundreds of fish, all moving south on the outside edge of the flats. In glassy conditions, these fish were very spooky. I wish I could have waded, but the bottom was just too soft and deep. BUT..I learned their route and then could position my skiff along that route and just wait, sitting on the bow casting deck. So it can be done.

    I thought of another wading tip: If you are standing in a spot and you see fish coming, say 100 yds away, resist the urge to wade toward them. This is hard to do, I know. The only movement you should make while they are that far away, would be a lateral movement in order to facillitate a better intercept when the fish eventually arrive. Some of you might be amazed to know how much noise your feet make while walking/wading.....even on hard sand!


    I believe that fish "spook" in 2 stages. In the first stage, they have heard or seen you, and they are aware of your presence but they do not flush. They may stop feeding, but they will still continue to move in the normal manner. They may or may not eat. Many times, a bait/lure landing anywhere near them will flush them. And of course, the second stage is when they actually flush and run.
    In the end, if you want to get closer to the fish when they come up on a flat, wait until there are no fish coming, at least that you can see.
    .......Rick
  • Bill@NSB[email protected] Posts: 207 Deckhand
    I guess I have the luxury of fishing from both a yak and a skiff. I fish Mosquito Lagoon almost exclusively. I put the yak in the boat and carry it to areas usually only in low water levels or in the summer when the grass has grown up enough to show itself on the surface. From my experience, unless the fish are showing themselves, fishing from a yak is at a disadvantage compared to fishing from a skiff. My biggest problem with wading is our soft-bottom. I believe I send out more of a pressure wave trying to unstick myself from the bottom I invariably sink in.
    I good stake out system is definitely an advantage when fishing from a yak, especially with any kind of wind. But I sight-fish exclusively and don't spend much time blind-casting likely areas.
    I will say: in the summer, there's no water too skinny for a redfish and that's where a kayak excels.
  • Mike HodgeMike Hodge Posts: 31 Deckhand
    Bill: Thx for the info.
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