by Dan Carns
We have a number of clients that come from outside Florida and want to learn how to fish the salty paradise we call home. Often, they have a ton of experience fishing fresh water lakes, rivers and ponds so the transition is really quite easy. We have a number of species that feed just like those fish back home, but until you’ve been shown where they post up, what they’ll eat, and when to chase them down, they can be hard to catch.
I can always tell if I have an experienced bass angler with me as they always light up at the thought of a top water bite! Snook and redfish are notorious shallow water hunters so chasing them around in two feet of water, up against a mangrove overhang or one of the thousands of oyster banks is a lot like fishing structures like treefalls, lily pads and riverbanks. The beauty of kayak fishing is that you have arrived quietly, unknown to the fish and they are not on guard as with the arrival of a power boat. Either top water or shallow water rigs or live bait will do, as the fish are going to see anything you present. Snook will crush a top water plug sometime before its barely hit the water, while at other times you see them rushing out from under cover. Redfish will also take top water plugs, as long as it’s not over three feet deep. Also, if you’re observant, you can see them pushing a big bulge of water behind your presentation making sure it’s something they want to eat as they are a little more patient and cautious than snook. Small, hard twitch baits are another effective method for targeting these predators, casting parallel to the shoreline while retrieving with a slight twitch and pause, followed by a steady short run. Larger fish will be staged off the edge and will come in for these, while smaller fish may be hiding completely in the bushes waiting to ambush anything passing by. By far, rubber baits rigged weedless are taking more fish from this scenario, as you can throw them deep into the overhang and slowly drag them over the roots, or in the case of oyster bars, toss it in shallow and drop into the trough that runs along the edge where the tide flows; remember that these fish are probably facing into the tide expecting baits to be coming at them, like a trout would expect in a stream so you can inadvertently spook a fish if you pull baits up from behind them.
While you may not expect this, trolling is a great way to catch fish from a kayak. I always drag a weedless rubber bait behind my kayak when targeting a trout flat, or a midwater running bait when I’m moving through deeper channels. It doesn’t matter where you’re from as you can always add what you know to what you can learn. It’s a Wild World- Get Out There! Fishman Dan