Friday, June 11, 2010

Use your anchor to increase your catch

Rules for kayak fishing aren’t etched in stone.

What you take as the gospel one day, just might go against your grain the next.

When I purchased my first kayak (more years ago than I like to remember!), I figured I would use it mostly to get to my favorite wading spots. Once there, I would anchor the kayak, get out and start fishing.

How wrong I was. I rarely wade. I found out the hard way that you’re more stealthy in the kayak than you are wading. So, I spend most of my time fishing from my kayak.

Anchoring is another area about which I’ve changed my mind over the years. Used to be, I carried an anchor but rarely used it. Only in extreme wind conditions did I lower the anchor overboard and fish.

But recently, I’ve been using the anchor quite a bit. And it’s paying off in good catches of hefty redfish and spotted seatrout.

I’ve realized that sight-fishing on a shallow flat is pretty tough – especially during periods of low light. And it’s during those low-light periods that redfish are most likely to cooperate.

With that in mind, I began anchoring and covering portions of the flat with long casts. For those of you who don’t subscribe to the “long-cast theory,” think again. While I agree that you catch most fish from 50 feet in, you stand a much better chance with redfish while blind-casting if you can put the fly out there 80 feet or more. The longer, the better.

I’ve also adjusted my anchor line a bit. Rather than put the anchor over and let out all the line, I put a half-hitch in the line at about the 3-foot mark. In most conditions, that’s sufficient enough to hold the kayak in place. And when it’s time to move, it’s a whole lot easier to retrieve the anchor. Additionally, if you want to move just a little closer, all you have to do is grab the line, lift the anchor slightly off the bottom and drift. When you want to stop, just let go.

An anchor trolley (bottom, right) is a valuable piece of equipment that should be a staple on every fishing kayak. Anchor trolleys are simple mechanisms that are easy to install and use. You can buy commercially made trolleys or make you own. While I opt for the former, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing a couple of pulleys, an O-ring and line and doing it yourself.

For those who may not know, an anchor trolley is a simple system made of pulleys and line that allows you to anchor at any point along your kayak. You can then anchor and your craft will face the direction you need to cast.

That’s what I’ve been doing at several spots in Sarasota Bay, and it’s paying off in good catches of redfish to 33 inches.

I’m convinced that I wouldn’t have as much success if I was drifting or standing and poling.

A key to this system is a very long cast. If you have trouble getting the fly out more than 50 feet, perhaps it’s time to seek the help of one of the club’s Certified Casting Instructors or Master Certified Casting Instructors.

If you are spin fishing, then you need to use a thin-diameter line. I recommend 8- or 10-pound Power Pro and a 7-foot rod.

No matter what your choice of weapon (fly or spin), use your anchor. Select a good-looking spot, quietly anchor and then cover the area thoroughly. Once done, move on until you find the fish.

There are all sorts of anchors for sale. The one that I find works best is a foam covered hand dumbbell that you can get at Wal-Mart. I used a 5-pounder.

HINT: The fish move onto the flat with the incoming tide and can be found around schools of mullet. Find the mullet and you’ll likely find the redfish.

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