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'YAK' FISHING - THE REAL TEST OF MAN AGAINST FISH!

As the temperatures slowly drop over the next month or two, it is much more likely for fitness to be included in your daily routine – minus that uncomfortable overheating feeling. The thing I hate about summer is the stifling heat and humidity - making me sweat more than when the wife was quite late walking up the aisle at our wedding (parking issue apparently)!

Some anglers feel like they are already getting a workout just by casting and retrieving, or winding up the winch to get the boat back on the trailer. So why don’t we take a leaf out of the Kayak Angler’s book and combine our passion for fishing with the skill of paddling to work up a big enough sweat so we can drink a few well deserved beers afterwards – 100% guilt free!

Kayaking has long been a mode of transport, used for hunting, fishing, surfing and it’s even an Olympic sport. Modern day sea-faring kayaks are molded from lightweight polyethylene and can be fitted out with just about anything that a boat can. If you are on a budget and buying a boat is beyond your reach –why not get a kayak. Unlike a boat – it can easily go on your roof-racks and you won’t even need to register it!

This week kayak angler extraordinaire, Bill (Billy-Bob) Watson shares some tips on the great sport of offshore ‘yak fishing’ at Noosa. Some of you may know Bill by reading his fishing reports for the Noosa area on www.fishingnoosa.com.au or have seen him filming fish catches for the Local Seven News at Davo’s Bait and Tackle. Bill and his kayak are also semi-permanent fixture in Laguna Bay, especially when the mackerel are on.

Bill began ‘yak fishing’ nine years ago in his hometown of Noosa and at the time he was in a serious minority group. Very few anglers were willing to venture offshore to chase the big fish. Like many kayaking anglers, Bill began trialing the sport in the local rivers and lakes in a standard kayak. However, his passion for seeking out Laguna Bay close reefs saw him upgrade to a sit-on-top style surf kayak.

Bill not only enjoys the fitness of kayaking but has clocked up many successful catches. And now Bill has taken his interest in kayak fishing one step further by designing fitted-out kayak models specific to inshore and offshore fishing, check out the details and photos atwww.fishingnoosa.com.au/kayaks.htm


For calm water work, Bill says the basic requirements for a good fishing 'yak' are; good primary and secondary stability, ample storage space and plenty of relatively flush upper deck area to mount accessories such as rod holders, landing nets, lip grippers and other specialised tackle.

“Ideally, a good offshore fishing kayak will reasonably quick under paddle but stable enough to allow you to drag a large fish on board.
ThePerception Swing Angler model that I use for reef work is 4m long and has a low profile on the water which means it is not badly affected by cross winds”.

Typically, with a quality touring paddle, it has a comfortable paddle/cruise speed of roughly 4 knots. A good troll speed is 2.5 to 3 knots so it can be quite a relaxing exercise routine.

The Swing has a front storage hatch with the capacity to take a 13kg mackerel or tuna. Anything above that size (biggest to date so far: 23kg) can be strapped into a specially designed 'fish cradle' which is mounted just before the front hatch entry. Smaller fish like snapper or school mackerel can be easily accommodated in the rear 'tank well'.

The Swing has a generous cockpit area and a comfortable foam seat and back rest which is important as I'm often on the water for four or five hours at a time.


How far does Bill go in his kayak? “I will, at times, paddle up to 7 or 8km from shore and am comfortable in doing this. As a precaution, though, I carry an EPIRB, day flares and wear a quality PFD at all times.
The depth of water I work in is between 20 metres and 35 metres and in my experience few reef fish (up to about 6 kg) present much of a challenge at this depth. Once they’re hooked, they can be played and brought on board.

When asked what the main advantages in fishing from a kayak, Bill replied: “You can use lighter tackle as the kayak can go with the fish when it first strikes and runs. This means it's almost impossible to get spooled out or busted off which is a common problem for many boat based anglers. My heaviest outfit is a 6kg-8kg rod paired with a Shimano Baitrunner 4500 reel loaded with 20lb braid”.

“I don’t bottom bash or burley up. All my kayak fishing is based around ‘paddle trolling’ so I’m on the move most of the time. I do it for the exercise so am always happy to clock up three or four hours of paddling. Catching a fish or two into the bargain is simply a bonus”.

Bill is an extraordinary angler and just hearing his story has made me aspire to one day take up the challenge of ‘yak’ fishing. For more info on Billybob's fishing kayaks, check out: www.fishingnoosa.com.au Or call him on: (07) 5474 0628. Next weeks article will look at estuary and close inshore kayak fishing in Maroochydore with local angler Paul Anderson.

LOCAL FISHING REPORT

Noosa: Try fishing around the dirty water in Laguna Bay for mackerel and tuna. Trevally in Woods Bay and around Munna bridge on the top of the tide. Flathead and whiting throughout the lower reaches. A few good bream along the Tewantin stretch.

Maroochy: The sand bags at the river mouth is where to go on high tide for most species.  Bream, cod and flathead have been caught at Yinni Street on high tide. Scattered catches of bream in the deeper holes and channels in the lower reachss.  A few mud crabs to 1kg in Eudlo Creek and Bli Bli reach.

Kawana: Whiting, flathead and bream in the lower reaches, best in the Sand Basin. Whiting, trevally and the odd jack above McKenzie’s Bridge. Mud crabs in Mountain Creek.

Caloundra:Trevally and flathead in Pelican Waters canals. Quality bream and small trevally from the Boardwalk and at the creek entrances.

 

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Luxury afloat: Billybob makes gaffing this tuna look easy in his well fitted-out Perception Swing kayak.

 

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Bill with a 19.5kg spanish mackerel from Laguna Bay.

 

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These snapper would have taken some work to land! Bill smiles from ear to ear with this prized catch.

 

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Pauline Tilgals fished Teewah beach before the strong wind hit and was rewarded with these big dart and whiting.

 

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