I have been fishing from a kayak for about 5 years now. I started with traditional sit on top kayaks, but am currently using the Native Ultimate hybrid canoe/kayak. A majority of my kayak fishing is inshore saltwater pursuing the big three, but I do some freshwater fishing as well.
What type of equipment do you normally use? Rod, Reel, Line, Leader.
I fish with 3 spinning rods. All three are spooled with green 10 lb Power Pro. Each reel is capable of holding a bit more than 100 yards of braid with a few wraps of 8lb mono as backing on the base of the spool. My choice for leader is 15-30 lb Seaguar fluorocarbon. Almost exclusively, I attach the leader to the line with a uni-to-uni knot, and the leader to the hook using a
7’ Medium Light TFO Gary Loomis Signature Series paired with a Quantum Cabo 20. Although TFO considers this rod to be fast action, it has the most moderate action of any of my rods. I use this rod mostly for throwing spoons, but will also pair it with soft plastics if I am not planning on using an erratic retrieve. I will also use this rod to soak cut bait on occasion.
In the past, I had been unhappy with Quantum reels. This reel however has been a workhorse, and given me no problems. Although a bit heavier than my other reels, it’s smooth and powerful drag continues to impress me.
7’ Star Plasma paired with a Shimano Stradic 2500. This is my oldest, and most favorite rod. This rod is fast action with medium power. I use this as a plug rod. It throws and works top water, and suspending twitch baits very well. I will also throw plastics with this rod if I am using ¼ oz of weight or more. Any less, and I lose casting distance, feel, and control of the bait.
The Stradics have been my favorite reel since I was a kid, and continue to be so. The 2500 is light enough for me to work lures all day without fatigue, and hold plenty of line for the fish I typically target. The drag is reliable, and easy to maintain with minimal care required.
7’1” GLoomis BSR852 GLX paired with a Shimano Stradic 2500. This rod is giving the Plasma a run for its money as my favorite spinning rod. It is the fastest rod in the lineup, and is meant for throwing lightly, and unweighted soft plastics. This rod can cast a jerkbait forever, but also has a lot of backbone for fighting the bigger fish we encounter. With this rod, I typically use soft plastics on 1/16 and 1/8 oz weedless hooks, and up to 1/8 oz jigheads. Although it was designed to throw soft plastics, I have no issues throwing spoons and plugs with it as well. It is an excellent all purpose rod.
What was your biggest fish caught? What did you catch it on and how did you use that lure?
The biggest fish I caught was a 29.75” red. I caught it during the Erik Bell Memorial tournament in UTB. I was fishing a shoreline in Rocky Creek using a weedless rigged Gold Dart. I was casting the dart onto the shoreline, and bounced it along the bottom all the way back to the boat. This particular fish hit right on the shoreline, almost immediately after the Dart landed.
What type of area do you look for when targeting that species?
When targeting redfish, I primarily look for grass flats with scattered sand holes. My preference for water depth is between 1.5 and 2.5 ft. If the grass flats are devoid of activity (Mullet, Baitfish), I will also target them around oyster bars and mangrove islands that channel water flow through some type of ambush point.
What lures did you use for the Dynamic Duo?
I used a Heddon white Super Spook Jr. with 30 lb leader, and an Exude Gold Dart rigged on a 1/16 oz Owner Twist Lock hook with 20 lb leader. I caught the snook and trout on the topwater plug, and the redfish on the Gold Dart.What lure did you use for the My Lure is Better than Your Lure?
I used a DOA Arkansas Glow CAL 4” jerkbait rigged on a 1/8 oz Owner Twist Lock Hook with 30 lb leader.
How did you rig the Gold Dart?
I rigged the Gold Dart on a 1/8 oz owner Twist Lock hook with 30 lb leader.
What lure / lures did you use for The Tackle Box?
To catch the redfish I turned in, I used a DOA Arkansas Glow CAL 4” jerkbait rigged on a ¼ oz DOA CAL Jig Head with 20 lb leader. I used an Exude Gold Dart rigged on a 1/16 oz Owner Twist Lock hook with 20 lb leader to catch the trout.
When targeting the Big Three, Snook, Redfish and Trout, what type of area do you look for during the following seasons:
In the winter time, I tend to use smaller and darker baits than during other times of the year. The reason is that the fish’s primary diet during those colder months is shrimp and crabs. Since these animals are typically bottom dwelling and slow, my presentation of the bait is usually very slow during this time of year making sure to maintain contact with the bottom.
For redfish and trout, I look for areas with dark bottom (typically mud), deeper areas during the morning and shallow flats in the afternoon. When the water gets colder, the fish will look for areas where the water is the warmest. Mud, and other dark bottom absorbs and holds the sun’s heat better than a sand bottom will (concrete also holds heat well, so don’t pass up a west facing seawall). Deeper water also holds heat better than shallow water. So, in the mornings, deeper areas will be warmer than shallower areas. In the afternoon, after the water on shallow flats has time to heat up, the fish will move out there to bask in the sunlight.
I will also fish in the rivers that dump into the bays that we fish. Redfish, snook and trout will all move up into the rivers and creeks where dark bottom and deep pockets help to protect them from the cold. It is sometimes unbelievable to me how far up a river these fish will travel.
During the spring, I stay out on the flats, and in the passes between the outer flats and the back country. This is a time when the fish are moving from the back bays and rivers out towards the beaches and deeper water where the bait congregates en masse. This is one of my favorite times of year to fish unweighted plastics, and topwater plugs. Fish feed aggressively during these time, and surface, and near surface strikes are the most exciting in my opinion.
During this time, the baits I use switch from crustaceans mainly to include baitfish profiles as well. They mimic the sardines, pinfish, glass minnows and finger mullet that are found in the area during that time. Preferred water depth varies, but tide movement is almost always key.
Summer time fishing can be very tough. It can get too hot even for the fish, and sometimes has fish feeling lethargic. Like spring, I like to fish topwaters and plastics. The forage is mainly baitfish during that time. On lower and mid tides, the flats and drop-offs are a good place to look. When the tide gets higher in the summer, the fish move under the mangroves to shade themselves from the harsh sun. Accurate casts as far as possible under the mangroves are often the only times I get any activity. Because of the heat, I typically fish early mornings, late evenings and nights during the summer. Some of the best fishing is at night when the water is able to cool off a bit, and fish don’t have to hide from the sun. Summer time full moons are an especially good time to get out after these fish. Again, preferred water depth varies, but tidal flow is important.
For me, fall fishing is a mix of spring and winter. Early on, plugs and soft plastic baitfish will be most effective on flats and passes. Fish are moving back and are eating a lot to bulk up for the winter. As they start to move back into the creeks, rivers and back bays, the bait is simultaneously making their way offshore. As the bait thins out, my lure selection get back to the small, dark crustacean patterns of wintertime. As fall goes on, the water depth becomes more important, and the 1.5-1.5 ft. depth is preferred.
If you could give one tip for using artificial lures, what would it be?
Experiment with the action of your bait, and pay attention to what it is doing when you are successful. Whenever I get a new bait that I want to try, I immediately head for a swimming pool. I play around with the lure, and watch how it reacts to different speeds, twitches, and weights (if applicable). When you are successful with a certain retrieve, make note of it, and repeat it. How your bait was acting when a fish hit is very valuable information. Apply that knowledge in similar situations.
About the Author: Bill Howard is a Pro Staff Member at Yakangler.com, as well as Malibu Kayaks. He is also on the Columbia Sportswear Pro Team. Bill is an avid photographer and writer, contributing to numerous websites and publications in the Tampa Bay area.
In 2008 he completed a 17 day, 129 mile trip around Tampa Bay raising nearly $4000 dollars for the American Heart Association. He is also a board member for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Hero's on the Water.