Preparing properly for a day out on the water is one of the most important skills for a budding kayak fisher to develop. When you are on the water, planning a well-timed return keeps your driver happy and willing for the next trip out.
I speak from experience when I say that it’s unwise to assume they will be happy to wait in the car while you conduct that ‘one last cast’ routine…. sorry mum! This makes time management one of the most important things to become proficient at when you’re out paddling, and there are a surprising number of factors to take into consideration depending on where you’re fishing and what species you are targeting.
One of the most important aspects of kayak fishing is to prepare for the weather. Heat, wind, and current will greatly affect paddling speed and time over long distances. If you’ve managed to nut out your chosen target species, it can also streamline your chances of catching a few fish quickly. Simply checking the forecast online, which is usually accurate to within an hour or two, and select your fishing spots and species accordingly. It is a simple task that can make a difference to your success and your driver’s happiness.
Of all the things that can cause a late return, from current to exhaustion to a broken paddle, actually catching fish is by far the best excuse to placate the waiting parents. Bringing home a feed is great, but if you don’t want to kill the fish then you will need a few happy snaps before sending them on their way. I personally release all of my freshwater captures, so refining photography skills is critical. Great photos of your catch, especially when fishing solo, take time and are simplified with a good camera setup. Action cameras like those from Contour or GoPro will take great still images using a time lapse function if you get the settings and positioning on your kayak just right. This can be difficult to achieve though, so it pays to play around and find the perfect mounting position on your kayak. Just make sure you can reach the camera after you have it mounted!
Alternatively, one-handed shots with a phone or camera can turn up some great photos, but it’s riskier on your gear and the fish definitely have to play the game for this to work.
Keeping a fish or two for the table is also very rewarding, but it takes a bit more time and effort than turning them free. To ensure your catch is in top eating condition I recommend bleeding the fish while on the water. Be sure to paddle away if there are sharks in the area for obvious reasons! After they are bled then place them in a hatch with a damp towel on top to keep them cool until you are ashore. It is important to get them in an ice slurry as quickly as possible and if you can manage this in your kayak then this is preferred, otherwise have an ice slurry ready in an esky in the car. My other advice is once you have landed enough for the table and are about to start paddling back, then a quick phone call to your lift will lessen the processing and wait time, and keep everyone happy.
This is advertising. Click to see more
As experience grows your estimates of travel and catch times will become more refined. Until then, just to keep your ride sweet, estimate on the cautious side of things. That way it will be your time given up, not that of the person who is generously (and probably begrudgingly) enabling your participation in such a fantastic sport………. that is until you get your P Plates!