Sea Fishing was always my favourite type of fishing, but over the last few years, with the rising price of fuel, dodgy weather and a 2.5 hour journey, I have started to fish the rivers close to my home in the Westcountry. After a slow start, I have recently experienced some incredible lure fishing, which has made me think again before taking the long drive to the sea.
I have been using light tackle, small soft plastics and crankbaits and fishing the bits of the river rarely (if ever) fished by anyone else. The results have been nothing short of spectactular, and I will share some of the experiences with you here.
I have been using the Maria crankbaits from Veals mail order for over a year now; and after a trip to Australia kayak fishing, I realised how devestating the method can be. I was pretty sure that the same style of fishing would work in the rivers over here.
I use 5kg braided main line (Varivas is great), a 3 foot flourocarbon rubbing leader of about 15lbs, and a 1 foot biting wire trace made from 5kg Nova silk wire. I use soft plastic paddle tail baitsfished on jig heads ranging from 2g to 10g.
We paddle up the river looking for likely spots. This is the key to fishing. You need to know what to look for. When you are fishing in the kayak, likely spots are usually the most in-accessible… fish soon learn to avoid the disturbance caused by bank anglers.
When fishing for pike, I look for weed beds running across the river. 9 times out of 10, if you find the weed beds, you will find the pike. Big chub love to hide under trees and in and around tree roots. Perch seem to love cuts in the bank where the current scours out a deep bit under vegetation.
All of these spots are difficult to fish with conventional tactics and tackle, but with a high risk strategy on the kayak, the results can be spectacular. You have to be willing to sacrifice some of your lures. The idea is to cast as close to these features as possible, on some trees, you even aim at the trunk itself, and bounce the lure off and down its side (a tactic called ‘flipping’). However good a caster you are, you will lose tackle. Fishing weedless will cut your losses, but you will also not hook as many fish, stick to the jigs and micro cranks and you will catch. Mornings and evenings are the best times for fishing the river in the summer. The water cools down, and the boat traffic disappears.
Pike are probably the most obliging fish to catch.
Once you find the location and the right colour of lure, you can catch alot of pike. I have found that very often multiple pike will inhabit the same weed bed.
I was always told that chub were not easy to catch, especially big ones, but I seem to have had some level of success on the kayak using lures to catch these fantastic fish. They seem to have a preference for the crank baits over soft plastics. I had one session where I caught 3 fish all over 4lbs.
A few days later I went back and caught another really big chub in the middle of the day (it was clear and hot). The fish clearly had not read the script.
Perch are my bogey fish. I can go out and catch loads, but they are nearly always small fish. This all changed one day, when my kayak fishing buddies Charlie and Steve found a spot inacessible to bank anglers. Charlie was drop shotting, and had a couple of nice perch. There was a chap in a house boat, not more than 50 yards away, who told us that he had caught nothing all day. He was none to impressed when first I caught a decent chub, then Charlie followed me with a nice perch. But when I added another nice perch, I think he would gladly have swapped his house boat and tackle for our kayaks !!!
So you are probably thinking “Yeah, we’ve seen and heard it all before”… well, just remember next time your sea fishing trip has been cancelled due to bad weather, that much of your light saltwater gear can also be used in fresh water. And with lure fishing you don’t need any bait. I have had some great days on the briney, but I am beginning to warm to this freshwater lark – and Veals sell loads of quality lure fishing kit, so why not give it a try ?