Fishing through the winter

Bar my first attempted fishing launch where I didn't actually get to wet a line, I'd yet to blank. The fish weren't large but they were plentiful. A multitude of whiting, pouting and dogfish where the mainstay of the catch with the odd scorpion fish and rockling thrown in for good measure.

After a good few trips I decided it was time for a evening trip. I was confident with the yak and my abilities, I had the required stern light and a quick phone call to the coastguard saw me launching into the evening... what a fabulous experience!!

1202 readytogo

The weather was perfect, a chilly winters evening... I couldn't wait to get out there!

1202 sunset
Fishing at night was something truly special, a very light onshore breeze created an eerie silence, the stern lamp a comforting glow around the yak.. this was living!!


Clocking up the trips

After a few trips I was starting to find my yak legs. I was confident with the capabilities and limitations of the yak, and even more importantly I was catching fish!

It takes a few trips to get into a workable routine, I found that a simple checklist was a necessity as it's potentially all to easy to leave a piece of kit at home that'd scupper my day out. Anchoring was now considered fairly well mastered and my paddle fitness was starting to improve in leaps and bounds.

The fishfinder was working as advertised, using it to locate wreck sites, etc aided with a handheld GPS was proving fairly easy to achieve. Being able to see what you're paddling over is great, though what I really wanted to know was what was around me, a map of the ocean floor was required. Though this would have to wait, partly due to cost, plus I didn't have the foggiest idea as to what would fit the bill.

The sensation of fishing out there alone, away from the shore, the peace and quiet was simply awesome. I didn't really know what to expect, but I certainly wasn't disappointed... what a brilliant experience!. I was launching as often as possible without tempting the arrival of divorce papers!!

A few final touches

Being in a yak is great, capsizing in your yak not so good... potentially very depressing if things aren't secured tightly, or on leashes to allow safe movement. Rod leashes and a paddle leash were purchased, the rear tankwell boxes were secured as was the bait box.

Where I tend to fish in the Solent area there's a decent tidal flow. Capsizing followed by a few seconds disorientation, could see you drifting away from the yak with little hope of swimming back, not a pleasing thought!. It's a question that's been asked before and the answer soon came my way in the form of a long board leash. I purchased a 9' ankle leash which is secured adjacent to the front hatch. Should I capsize I'm not going too far.

I don't do the cold !

If there's one thing that I cannot possibly stand whilst fishing it's being cold. The UK climate isn't exactly great so making sure I was well clothed was very high on the agenda, again, setting out for my maiden voyage could wait until I'd gathered a suitable wardrobe.

Top of the list was a decent drysuit, things that had come to light as being important were a front entry zip, a relief zip, neoprene neck seal and high visibility. Much head scratching later I purchased the Kokatat Super Nova drysuit from the US. A year down the line and it's been everything that I'd hoped for.
Full review here:

Ski pants and various thermal layers sorted out the warmth department with wetsuit boots and multiple wool socks putting the finishing touches to my basic clothing setup.

There was one more vitally important item and that was the PFD. I saw one that tickled my fancy in the US and seemed to be well recommended., it being the Stohlquist Fisherman PFD. It's turned out to be extremely comfy to wear in the yak and has excellent buoyancy.. no complaints whatsoever.
One last important item..... a wool hat!!

Maiden voyage

My first fishing trip took place sometime in November last year. It was the first time I'd actually paddled out with all my kit fitted so it was really an exercise it finding my way around the yak.

I spent quite some time deploying and recovering the anchor, from the bow and the stern. All went without a hitch, again hours of reading various articles paid off handsomely. I'd been somewhat keen the day I'd launched as the weather was far from ideal.. though I was keen, probably too keen!. I soon spotted some fellow yakkers and paddled out in their direction, the sea state worsened as I paddled closer. I should have turned back, but I didn't.

Dropping anchor I found myself in a 2-3' swell not feeling to comfortable. The decision was made to up anchor and recover to the shore, however during this time my anchor had dragged due to being incorrectly locked down and I ended up about a mile downwind & down tide of my launch area. About 45 minutes later, with a sweat on, I made it back to shore wandering what I'd got myself into!!...

However, after relaxing in a bath and reflecting on the outing I realised that despite my over eagerness I was onto something good with this yakfishing lark.

My next trip could not come soon enough, though I was going to wait for a flat calm day to repair my bruised ego!... oh, and I needed a longer paddle as the current item kept clattering on the sides.

Rigging my kayak

The first couple of weeks were spent carrying out capsize and re-entry drills. I'm not one for taking risks and I needed to be 100% confident of my abilities whilst learning the basics of what the yak was capable of, stability, turning, etc

Now that I was feeling confident I was positively itching to get out, though me being me I wasn't going to rack up my first fishing trip until I was as fully prepared as possible.

During the weeks of research prior to purchasing the yak I'd pretty much decided how I was going to rig it for fishing. The basic requirements were as follows.

  • Adjustable rod holders
  • Anchor trolley
  • Fishfinder
  • Battery
  • Stern Light
  • Tackle storage

Nothing was rushed here, there was much sitting in the yak, thought given to structural strengthening, access whilst fishing & recovering from a capsize. The result is what can be seen below.

1202 arrived 


The rod tubes were RAM items, the fishfinder a Humminbird 565, the seat a Crazy Creek 3 with the tackle and bait boxes being sourced from Imax & Solent Plastics.

Making a start

After taking an interest in kayak fishing I registered on several US forums. After several months of research, I'd gained a good grasp of the requirements, the theory, what was considered good & bad, etc. Despite bad memories of white water canoeing I decided to take the plunge and buy a fishing kayak, again this was after weeks and weeks of deliberation, reading reviews, canvassing for opinions, etc.

Ultimately I had some basic requirements when choosing my yak.
  • It had to be a tried and tested dedicated fishing yak
  • High stability was important
  • Plenty of room, for myself and for rigging.
  • Visible colour

The result of all this research was an orange Prowler Big Game. Not the lightest, nor the fastest, but it fulfilled all of my requirements.


The only extra item purchased at this time was a C-Tug trolley to aid moving the yak to my chosen launch area.