Sunday, 9 December 2012

Kayak Reef Fishing 08-12-12

I had been patiently waiting for a decent weather forecast that coincided with my availability since my last kayak-fishing trip on the 20th October and today, it finally arrived.

I love the sea but I also fear it and I am scrupulous when it comes to checking weather forecasts.  I usually check three forecasts, the Inshore Shipping Forecast, the XC Weather Forecast, and the Wind and Swell Forecast.  The forecast was a slight to moderate offshore wind with a swell of less than 2.0m decreasing as the day went on.  For the area I intended to fish this was ideal.

My plan was to drift fish over a reef that lies about half a mile out.  The reef is an oasis in an otherwise baron sandy desert.  At high water spring tides in lies in about 40ft of water.

An oasis in the middle of a sandy desert.

I fished this reef from May to August this year and caught Wrasse, Pollack, and Kelp Cod otherwise known as Kelpies or Red Cod.  Kelp Cod are Cod that take up residence on inshore reefs in the spring and summer months and take on redder colour that matches their surroundings.

Kelp Cod caught in the summer.

I was yet to fish this reef in the winter therefore, was not sure what to expect but I was hoping for Pollack and Cod.

You can check all the forecasts but you can never be 100% sure of the state of the sea until you arrive at the location and I am pleased to say on this occasion it looked good.

Conditions looked great.

My intention was to drift over the reef jigging lures on the bottom.  I set up rods with different lures for two reasons, one so that I can quickly change alternating between drifts, and two if I get snagged and lose the lure I already have another rod set up to quickly resume fishing.  I also set up a rod for trolling.  I use this rod when paddling back up tide/wind to reset the drift, which means I am always fishing. 

The lures I intended to use were Savage Sandeels, Savage Sandeel Slugs, and a 50g metal jig fitted with an assist hook to reduce snagging.  On that rig, I also position a Norwegian Gummi Makk about 50cm above the jig.  The method used is simple; the lure is lowered to the bottom, jigged a few times, reeled up a few turns, and lowered back down again.  Most times the fish (particularly Cod) take the lure on the drop just as it is about to hit the bottom.

Savage Sandeel Slug Savage Sandeel and Metal Jig with Gummi Makk

Once the gear had been loaded on the kayak, it was ready for the launch.

Ready to launch.

On the way out to the reef, the sea looked wonderful.


On arrival, I first worked out the direction of the drift, which is usually a combination of wind and tide.  I then positioned the kayak just of the reef and deployed the drift chute or drogue to slow down the drift and give more fishing time.

Drogue deployed.

The first drift produced the first fish a Ballan Wrasse.  You can always tell when it is a Wrasse.  You get the initial pull followed by a few shakes of the head, then a dive as it tries to get back down to the reef after which they tend to come quietly.  At first, you think it could be a Cod but the difference between the Cod and the Wrasse is that the Cod's head shaking or banging just keeps going!

Wrasse taken on a metal jig.

Subsequent drifts produced two more Wrasse.

No Cod or Pollack were caught which was a bit disappointing.  Wrasse are abundant mainly because there is not much of a market for them however, I believe some are being sent from Cornwall to sushi restaurants in London.  There are good eating and I do take a few each year.  They are filleted and the tough thick skin removed.  I then use them in fish stews or fish cakes.

Despite no Cod or Pollack, it was great to get back out on the kayak.  The weather was good and paddling back with the setting sun was a pleasure.  There is something about looking at the Cornish coastline from sea.

I am hoping to be able to get out again over the winter and maybe pick up some Cod and Pollack then.

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