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Whangarei kayak fishing report - catch more fish more often
7:41PM 11th May 14

Kayak Fishing Trip report from Whangarei with Stephen Tapp & Jason Milne, written by Jason

Whenever I get a chance to join Stephen Tapp for a fish in Northland I am always excited at what the day might bring, adventure is a guarantee as is the opportunity to get among some reliable fishing under his guidance. This trip for both of us was a chance to take a day off work and collect a feed of snapper for family and friends. As always Stephen found fish and more importantly found the fish that were feeding, late autumn is not always productive at the time of day we were on his gps marks but Stephen always has a plan B, C & D.

(That feeling of excitment as you rig up talking about what the day will hold)  

Over the years I have taken knowledge from every trip up north with Stephen and applied it to my routine and kayak fishing trips. The result is that when I am looking to gather a feed of fish for the table I, by applying all I have learnt, I generally come home with fish. Through this trip report I will outline some of those important learnings that make all the difference to catching fish and not. The gear carried on this hunter gathering trip is the same gear I carry on the majority of my kayak fishing trips

(The information in Stephens Lowrance Elite 7 HDI sounder is an essential part of planning for a succesful trip)

Planning - 

whether your just popping out for a quick fish, targeting a trophy fish or fishing a competition, you need to first have a plan, just heading out and hoping for the best without doing some research will generally leave your chances up to luck. This planning will also be important in the selecting of what techniques you will be using and what tackle you take with you. Take the time to plan, as much as it’s great just being on the water, I am more satisfied when I can take home a feed for my family after spending that time on the water

(Jason checking the settings and tracking on the Lowrance Elite 5HDI is all set up ready for the day of hunting down snapper.. pictures like these captured on the Railblaza Camera Boom 600)

This trip Stephen had more than a dozen GPS marks on his Lowrance Elite 7HDI to choose from ranging from close inshore reefs to 5km offshore deeper reefs (my Elite 5HDI now has a few new marks too ;-) ). Knowing the weather forecast, tide movements and light we knew exactly where to start looking for fish and that well-presented baits offered the best chance. The result being once we tried a spot that had fish sign but no fish feeding we moved to another until we found fish feeding, rather than wasting time in an area the “might” produce a fish on the rod.

(Identify the target and watch them take your bait as it is deployed, this shot from Jason's Lowrance Elite 5 HDI)

Fishfinder –

Next to planning this is one of the more important tools to successful kayak fishing and really needs a complete blog dedicated to its importance, however I will keep this one brief and outline how I observe Stephen using his sounder to “hunt” the fish. Between GPS marks he is always watching the sounder to see if there is a target worth dropping a bait on, in the past I have seen him land big fish this way, spot a big arch drop a bait on it, hook up! Yes it’s really that easy when you have good electronics and understand them.

(be prepared to move on if the fish are not biting, keeping an eye on th esounder as you paddle may pic up targets on the way to and from your gps marks)

This session the sign between GPS marks was generally not worth stopping on and the fishing at the first few of his GPS marks was average. This is where you have to be prepared to move on if the area is not working, just because the fish are there does not guarantee they will be interested. It was not till we headed out wide to another GPS mark later in the session that we found reliable sign and landed a fish on every bait quickly reaching our 7 snapper quota each. Check out our range of Fishfinders HERE

The right kayak - 

Both Stephen & I fished from our Profish Reload kayaks in this session, these kayaks are set up in such a way that everything is in its place making fishing sessions comfortable and convenient. Most importantly we know the kayak has the ability to take us far offshore to find the fish and get us home again. Knowing your ability and that of the kayak should the conditions change are important aspects to a successful day fishing.

( The Profish tackle pod system really has been a break through in cockpit organisation for kayak anglers all around the world)

The right kayak also comes down to having one that is packed with practical options like adequate fish storage, accessible and large tackle storage, a cockpit that makes it easy to work from when playing and landing fish…the Profish range of kayaks tick all the boxes in this regard and have options to spare.

(ample storage for your catch, Stephens pickings from this session will be shared among grateful friends and family)

Anchor system -

Anchor running rig with Sea anchor to slow and control your drift when presenting baits to sign you have spotted on the sounder. Whilst Stephen did not use his sea anchor on this trip I used it to slow my drift when deploying baits on a target, I also like to use this system to control my kayaks position when drift fishing.

Comfort and safety –

Whilst not directly related to catching fish these next few tips will ensure you are comfortable, relaxed and safe on the water in every trip. One could argue that the more comfortable you are the better your judgment will be when targeting fish, whence you will catch when others are not.

Fish storage - 

To me this is high on the priority list, keep the fish cold and your experience at the table will be 2nd to none. This session I was using the Chill pod and had a bag of salt ice in it, Stephen had the insulated cover. Even though my ice had melted by the time we got back the salt water was still very cold which meant my fish were well preserved and tasted fantastic the next night.

(Bait and salt ice loaded into the Chill Pod when packing the car means when on location its ready to just drop it into the kayak)

(Even after a full 7hrs on the water the the slurry of salt water in the Chill Pod is very cold meaning the fish are in optimum condition for eating, I can tell you this really makes a difference to the eating experience, both Stephen and I get countless comments from family & freinds who cant beleive how much fresher the fish we share with them tastes)

Tackle storage –

when the fish are on the bite or you need to change tactics quickly having a tackle storage system like the Tackle pods becomes worth its weight in gold, everything you need is within easy reach. Both Stephen and I carried a range of options in our Tackle pods because sometime you need to change techniques to suit the occasion, if you can do it quickly with the least down time on fishing, the better your chances. In this session flasher rigs with whole pilchards worked a treat so there were few changes needed.

Feed the machine - 

good supply of food and water is very important to staying alert and fueled on your trips, the Reload has ample storage options giving the ability to separate food and water from your tackle and bait. I always take more food and water than I would normally consume in a day for the fact that I am burning up a lot of energy when paddling.

Communication & other safety

Both Stephen and I carry a handheld VHF, I also have my mobile in a dry bag in my PFD and Stephen has a 25wt radio in the kayak, you can never be too safe when it comes to communication. Spare paddle. We also both carry a spare 2pce paddle, this is of no inconvenience to carry and should one of us break a paddle when 5km offshore we will be very thankful not to have to tow one or other home.  Leashes are most essential, I think we have all experienced the pain of losing some gear overboard (usually more expensive gear) which could have been avoided by using an affordable leash

Below are some more images of key accessories that come with us on almost all trips and are all accessories you should have or at least be considering. I hope you find this advice of use.  if you want to discuss these topics and more, think about visiting the Viking Stand at the Hutchwhilco boat show (May 15-18). Stand # 582.

Leashes are most essential, I think we have all experienced the pain of losing some gear overboard (usually more expensive gear) which could have been avoided by using an affordable leash By yours HERE

 (carry a spare 2pce paddle, this is of no inconvenience to carry and should one of us break a paddle when 5km offshore we will be very thankful not to have to tow one or other home. Buy an affordable spare 2pce paddle HERE )

Railblaza mounting system and accessories.

The options with this system are endless and the best thing is it can be customized to suit your trip, swap accessories as you need to and add to your kit as you go, start with a few mounts which are very affordable then add key accessories… items we find useful regularly are Rod Holder II, Pro series Camera Booms, TracPort 350

Kayak trolley –

A must have when rigging your kayak up beside the car, simply load it on the trolley, rig up the kayak , then pull the kayak to the launch spot. The C-Tug fits in the front hatch of the Profish Reload which saves a walk back up to the car. Check out the C-Tug Trolley HERE