If I had to count the number of decisions an angler makes on any given day, it would boggle one’s mind. But we make some of those impulsively while others are calculated quite carefully. Think about it; what body of water, where to launch, how do you want to fish an area, what baits to bring, what rods to rig up, retrieve speed, and on and on and on. That’s just on a fun day on the water. All of a sudden competition fires up a whole new set of questions that a kayak angler must answers in order to have success.
The importance of sound decision making is that much more important in a kayak. We can’t cover as much water so our first decision where to fish is of utmost importance. I typically select an area of water that can be easily fished within the day. I want a spot with options. For instance, on Lake St. Clair….it’s a huge lake and smallmouth roam. Where the fish are one day may not be where they’re found the next. I want to look for an area with sand, gravel, rock, weeds, flats, that include both deep and shallow water. It sounds like an impossible requirement but with some studying, there are areas that meet this criteria. Do your homework, first and have an idea of what the fish are doing. It pays off. You may be able to catch a couple fish blindly casting and drifting but put the odds in your favor and come ups with a game plan.
Your time on the water is valuable no matter what kind of kayak angler you area. It’s always a toss-up between patience and trying something else. You always want to give yourself enough time and stick to a certain area and tactic before switching things up if you don’t get bit. This is where modern electronics shine because if you’re marking fish and you’re confident they’re your target species, 20-30 minutes without a bite will tell you to change things up or find active fish. That’s all I give myself in any given area with any given bait if I’m marking fish. During that timeframe I’m trying different things like speeding up my retrieve, slowing down, pausing, changing the cadence of jerks, etc. I don’t go crazy with changing colors of baits unless conditions change drastically or the clarity of water in an area changes. Especially if I’m fishing a bait for a reaction strike instead of casting to feeding fish.
No matter what your game plan is, you have to be aware of the changes around you. I don’t know how many times in the past and it still happens now where I get so caught up in what I’m doing, I miss a change in the wind direction or a subtle front moving through. The slightest change can make a huge difference. Fish will move under you and if you aren’t prepared to follow and to adapt, you won’t be as efficient as possible.
- Use information (weather, time of year, time of day, water level, water clarity) to make an educated guess as to what the fish are doing and where they might be.
- Take a look at the areas on a chart where you think fish will be. Look for other possible areas adjacent.
- Use the right tool for the job. Don’t chuck a crankbait into grass mats…it doesn’t work well.
- Pay attention while on the water. If there are fish there and you aren’t getting bit, try something else.
- Never stop asking yourself questions. Why did I get bit? Why didn’t I get bit? How was the bait attacked? Where was the fish positioned? What depth?
If you do these these, you’ll become a more proficient angler which means more fish in the boat. Do your homework and spend your time on the water catching fish. You’ll be glad you did.