By John Williams
You’ll often hear guides and tournament anglers talking about “covering water.” They will tell you things like, “He who covers the most water wins.” Trolling in a kayak is a great way to cover a tremendous amount of water (compared to drifting and casting) and is one of the best techniques for locating fish in larger bodies of water.
Trolling in a kayak can be effective in a variety of situations. This technique can be extremely effective along the beachfront during the summer months, moving back and forth between the outer sandbars. Trolling is also a killer technique to use over areas of reef to locate the fish. In the marsh, you will often pick up a redfish or trout just tolling along the canal while paddling to your intended fishing spot.
The gear needed for trolling is simple. You can troll out of any kayak—however, the hands-free operation of the Hobie kayaks lend themselves perfectly to trolling. Simply kick your feet with one rod in your hand and one in your front rod holder. Use your preference of baitcaster or spinning rod. There are many lures that are effective for trolling. Many kayak anglers like to use soft plastics such as the Matrix Shad on a light (1/8 oz.) jighead. The light jighead keeps the lure from hanging on reef if your trolling pace slows. I prefer to troll with suspending lures such as the Mirrodine MR17 or Mirrolure Catch 2000. These never hang up on the reef and are great search baits.
While trolling you’ll want to try a couple of simple techniques to see what works best that day:
- Troll two different lures while you are trying to see what the fish will hit that day. I suggest trolling a soft plastic on one rod and a suspending hard bait on the other rod.
- Vary your speed and your angles. There are times where slowing down or speeding up a bit makes all the difference. Also—changing your angle in relation to the wind or tide can turn the bite on for you.
The setup in your kayak for days that you are trolling should include a buoy with a small anchor. When you get a hit on one of your lines, immediately drop the buoy overboard. Land the fish and then circle around upwind and carefully fish the spot marked by your buoy. Be sure to fan cast the area of the hit. Many times, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s not unusual to get a hit, drop a buoy and then anchor upwind and catch a dozen or more trout in that one spot.
Many anglers have taken to mother shipping kayaks out to their favorite reefs, then using the superior stealth and tolling capability of the kayak to catch more and bigger trout than they ever did fishing from their powerboats.
Trolling is a relaxing and fun way to fi sh out of a kayak. It’s also a great way to introduce beginners to the sport of kayak fishing because of the simplicity of the technique. The next time you’re headed out, look for an opportunity to drop a lure over the side of your kayak and let your paddling do the work for you!