Dry storage box for the tank well

It’s been over a year since I designed and built my live well/dry box combo for the rear tank well of my kayak. To be honest I’ve only used it one so far as a live well, though that was expected.

When I originally purchased the container from R&L Pet Products in the UK I’d ordered a spare container in case of any disasters during the modification process. There were none, hence I’ve had a spare container kicking around the garage gathering dust. The original build box has performed superbly as a dry box so I decided to make a basic dry box for everyday duties. The concept was the same as the original, though any items pertaining to the live well were omitted. Build time was around two hours and the total cost around £30.

The photograph below shows the original live well combo on the left and the basic dry box on the right.


Obviously it’s a bit lighter than the original plus it’s quite ‘cleaner’ to look at, all in all it’s just the job. It allows the live well to remain on the shelf until required and as a result there’s no requirement to unpack the combo box in order to change its role from a dry box to a live well.

Below is a photo of the live well combo all plumbed in and ready to go.


Here’s the stripped down basic dry box version of the above…


Tying knots

There’s a large variety of knots to allow you to connect terminal tackle to your line, or to join lines together, etc. I learned to tie basic knots from a very young age and I’ve only had a 3-4 knots fail due to being incorrectly tied over the years, no doubt through carelessness. It’s worthwhile having several basic knots mastered to allow you to tackle the basics required whilst fishing.

Years ago you had to sit with a book with poorly animated sketches of how to tie various knots. It was often trial and error until you got the technique right. Below are a couple examples of early instructions, not the best.



There are a couple of good websites out there that provide some excellent animation to enabling you to quickly learn new knots.

My favourite sites are Netknots and Animated Knots by Grog, well worth checking out.

What do I take afloat ?

I’ve been asked on many occasions as to what gear do I take afloat with me. Well I’m certainly not a minimalist, I do tend to cater for the unexpected. Many of my trips are alone and for several hours at a time, the last thing I need is for a trip to be cut short due to the lack of having spare equipment to see me through the session.

My terminal tackle is fairly simple, a box of assorted lead weights plus a box of pre-tied traces which includes an assortments of line, hooks, beads, swivels, etc.


My ‘working’ box has a piece of chopping board bolted to the lid and is strapped to the kayak in between my legs. Here I keep a certain amount of bait, two knifes (one for filleting the other for crunching through crabs, etc), a hook stone, bait elastic, baiting needle plus the odd lead weight.


If I take frozen bait I’ll keep it separately in a collapsible cool bag or Marine Box with ice blocks, only removing bait a few minutes before it’s needed. Keeping it tightly wrapped in newspaper helps tremendously. That way whatever isn’t used is still frozen and can be returned to the freezer once back home. I also prefer to keep my bait as fresh as possible, defrosted bait can turn quite quickly in the warmer months becoming very poor in quality within a couple of hours.


The Flambeau Marine Box is the green box pictured in the kayak, the bag located behind is the Yakmate 3. It’s a good bag, though I now much prefer my dry box featured later in this article.

I also take an ‘emergency’ box that contains an assortment of first aid items which includes bandages, plasters, disinfectant, etc. There’s also batteries, , braid scissors, spare bulb, super glue, bungee cord & fittings, shock cord, small carbines, spare bait elastic, spare headlamp, tip lights, hand warmer sticks, ty-wraps, headache tablet, lighter, multi-tool, etc. There are also other minor items in there. All items that will allow me to continue fishing should I sustain a minor injury or an important item be lost or broken.

I almost always carry my dry box/livewell when afloat.  I don’t carry a huge amount in there, well at least that’s what I think Eye rolling smile. There’s a buoy leash, cyalumes, gloves/hat, ‘pee’ bottle, small Peli case for valuables, headlamp, scales, sunblock, mosquito spray, VISICarbon Pro light, fish bag, spare baiting needles/knife and the ‘emergency box’ as mentioned earlier. That leaves room for a flask of hot coffee and some food.


The only additional items that I take (bar rods, leashes, anchor and paddle) are the main battery, fish finder, GPS, drogue and an additional navigation light and anchor if deemed necessary.


To me it’s not a lot, after four years afloat it’s what I’ve worked out will be sufficient to allow me to have a successful fishing trip for several hours when operating well away from home.

New products from YakAttack

I recently reviewed the VISICarbon Pro kayak light and I really liked its high quality and innovation. I received an email from YakAttack last week with regards to some new and upcoming products.

Take a look at the video and check these products out, I really do like the look of the camera pole, it’s far more advanced that anything else that’s currently on the market.

Latest products due out soon from YakAttack

Kayak Fishing Radio

Check this link out!…

KayakFishingRadio.com is a gathering of kayak fishing enthusiasts from around the country, that support different kayak fishing forums and kayak fishing guides.


Video - Shark from a kayak

If you’ve not read my reports from Wales click here to catch up ---> Wales 2011

Here’s my latest video clip taken whilst fishing for small shark (Tope) in Wales. It’s over ten minutes long so you may wish to make a cuppa or crack open  a beer first!

Shark fishing from a kayak

Photo Album – Updated

I hadn’t noticed that my photo album hosted by Flickr had a 200 photograph limit, so I’ve opened a new account with Photobucket. I’ve commenced the task of uploading various photos from the past four years, it’s going to take some time.

I’ve created some basic categories which will hopefully make navigation much easier. The album can be accessed by clicking on the Photo Album picture on the left hand side of the blog, or the link ‘Photos’ located at the top. Once clicked on it should appear as shown below.


I’ll keep it regularly updated with new photos from fishing trips, projects, etc.

Welsh Tope – Day 3

Click here for Day 1 and Day 2 reports.

The crows were somewhat kinder to me on the third day, it was nearer six o’clock before the dawn chorus wrenched me from my deep sleep. I’d woken once or twice during the night due to high winds and sporadic showers buffeting and lashing into the tent… that’d be the predicted weather front moving through !

I crawled out from my tent at around 8am and the wind was blowing hard, it seemed that we’d be departing Wales earlier than planned. We headed down to the launch site and wandered over the dunes to view the sea. There were a few white horses, it was actually far better than I’d expected. That said, I wasn’t too happy due to the wind so we retired back to the car and fried up several bacon buns, that part of the day went down a treat.

Bizarrely enough, once breakfast was finished the wind had almost collapsed to a mere breeze. With raised spirits we rigged and headed out sometime around 11am. We were soon anchored and fishing, the weather was great and hopes were high.

However, the now increasing offshore breeze seemed to be having a detrimental effect on the fishing. There was a distinct lack of fish, in the first couple of hours I’d only registered a couple of knocks and one dropped Bullhuss. I then hooked into what at fist seemed like a snag, though with a firm pull it came free. There was quite some weight on the end of the line, though it was dead weight. I was thinking large piece of weed or rock, etc. I was quite surprised when a very large spider crab came to the surface. I’d picked one up a couple of years ago when fishing at Tywyn, though this one was quite the specimen!


Things were slow, very in fact. I spent most of the time horizontal managing a few moment of sleep here and there.


Sometime after midday the reel clicker sprung to life followed by me a second later. There were a few tugs on the bait followed by a long steady run, not a screamer but it kept going. I flicked the lever drag into gear and the rod bent over into what felt like a good sized with. The fish made a few good runs before settling deep under the kayak. It suddenly felt quite different as I pumped the fish towards the surface. When it appeared it was immediately obvious as to why it felt different, it was hooked close to the tail!. I reckon it might have spat the bait during the fight, catching its tail as it swam off. It’s certainly not the way you want to catch a fish, though it took my tope tally to four.

I managed a couple more Bullhuss during the remainder of the afternoon though it was extremely slow, rather disappointing to be honest.


We called it a day around 5pm and dragged the kayaks upstream towards the launch site for the final time. Once all de-rigged and packed away we started the 4½ hour journey back to Somerset. The Welsh roads are incredibly slow to drive along, the first 100 miles took 2½ hours, and that was with virtually no traffic whatsoever.

It’d been a busy three days. We clocked up over 20 hours on the water and I managed four Tope and over twenty Bullhuss. It would have been great to have caught more Tope, though it could have also been a lot worse. It’d be nice to manage another trip later this month, though it all depends on the weather and my powers of persuasion over my good wife!

Click here for video of the trip ----> Video

Welsh Tope – Day 2

For the Day 1 report click here

Day 2 commenced at around 0500 when the dozens of rooks in the trees overlooking the tents burst into cackling, what a racket!. I’d forgotten my pillow so a pair of rolled up jeans were making a very poor substitute. Though to be honest I was too tired to complain much and dozen off for another hour.. or two. Anyway, once up we picked up some sandwiches from the local shop and collected some frozen mackerel from Barry’s Tackle in Tywyn. Once again we were soon anchored up and fishing.


I think we were on the water around ten o’clock and fished the remainder of the flood, the tide finally turning around midday. Three or four other kayak anglers joined us and from what I could see, there was a steady stream of Bullhuss coming to the kayaks.



I’d kept one rod rigged with mackerel feathers, with the lower two baited, bouncing over the side of the kayak in the hope of collecting some fresh bait. The previous day saw me pick up two Dogfish, far from useful as bait. I’d heard that the mackerel were six miles offshore and that did indeed seem to be the case. I did eventually pick up a single mackerel which was promptly lip-hooked and sent to the depths. It swam around quite happily for 20-25 minutes and despite getting agitated at times it failed to produce the goods. At this point is was clearly embarrassed at its own lack of success and promptly died on me. I re-hooked it and sent it down for a decent sea burial. Well what it couldn’t manage in life it managed in death. Within moments of hitting the sea floor line was screaming off the reel. I gave it 4-5 seconds before flicking the lever drag into gear.. fish on!

It turned out to be the best fight I’ve had with a Tope to date with it making several runs before I came under control. Twice it came to the kayak though it was too green on both occasions and took off again. Third time lucky and it came onto the yak. It was a nice sized female hooked tightly in the scissors. After posing for a few photos it was released to fight another day.



The previous year I’d endured several dropped runs, in fact I had 5-6 runs back to back that I failed to hook into. Despite varying the ‘strike’ time the result was always the same. I say strike as I don’t strike into the fish, merely engage the lever drag and let them hook themselves. I’d read in a couple of older fishing books that tope, etc, will pick up a fish side of and swim for a while before pausing and turning the fish to swallow it.

With that in mind I changed the way I hooked my bait. Instead of hooking through the nose, I threaded the hook through the nose and hooked into the bait halfway down the back.


The theory being that I was far more likely to hook the fish if it was indeed holding the bait side on in its mouth. My last eight runs have resulted in eight hooked tope coming aboard the kayak, which for me is a greatly improved success rate.

I bought a large Bullhuss to the kayak and it was quite deeply hooked, though it was removable. I held it next to the kayak whilst I removed the hook. I the blink of an eye a near perfect mackerel appeared on the edge of the kayak. I actually gave it a double take as I hadn’t noticed the fish regurgitate it. There was a neat semicircle of teeth marks on either flank of the fish where it had been picked up side on. Clearly it had been then been flipped and swallowed whole!.


This did indeed seem to prove exactly what I’d read previously, thus the improved hook-up rate does seem directly linked to how I rig my bait. During the un-hooking process another whole fish was spewed onto the kayak, though this one was bright red and lacking any skin. The Bullhuss must have been around 10lb in weight and it has easily swallowed two large fish whole, quite impressive.

I managed a further two Tope as the afternoon progressed, nothing sizeable, perhaps 15-20lb, though good fun all the same. The Bullhuss just kept on coming and we fished on until around 7pm.


The paddle back in was uneventful, though with the tide around low water the kayaks had to be dragged back upstream to the launch point. It’s a little tiresome, there’s certainly a lot to be said for coming back in towards the top of the tide.

It’d been a good day for me with a total of three Tope and well over a dozen decent sized Bullhuss. The weather had held well throughout the day, though there was a weather front due to pass through the area anytime. With the second days fishing concluded we headed back to base camp and conjured up a large pot of chilli. Finishing the second bottle of cider coincided with the crows quieting down for the night, after nine hours on the water I was more than ready for my bed !

Fancy reading the Wales Day 3 report??, click here ------> Wales (Day 3)

Welsh Tope – A weekend at Tywyn (Day 1)


The weather has been rather crappy for the past 5-6 weeks and as a result I’ve not managed a single trip on the water. That’s been extremely frustrating to say the least, though I’ve managed to complete my kayak trailer during this time so it’s not all been bad news.

The weather was finally starting to improve with temperatures soaring into the low twenties. The forecast for the weekend was looking fairly decent wind wise, so plans were made to take a trip to Tywyn in Wales in the hope of hooking into some Tope. My fishing mate Jim joined me on Friday morning and my trailer was duly loaded up with kayaks and gear. The trip took us up through the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains before finally dropping down through the Cambrian Mountains down towards Tywyn.

Map picture

There are various areas to fish around the reef, some being more productive than others. It’s really a case of moving around to find some action, though as is often the case with fishing, it’s down to the luck of the draw !


After setting camp locally we headed down to the launch site where a handful of other kayak fisherman were returning from a fishing trip. According to the reports there were Tope on the reef, though the previous day had fished far better. We launched late afternoon and took the short paddle down the river to the beach itself. The weather was pretty good, a light north easterly blow with the associated chop on the water. It was a short paddle of just over half a mile to the same mark that I’d fished the previous year.


Bait was whole mackerel mounted on an 8/0 bronzed Mustad hook. The trace was made up of 3’ of 80lb nylon with 12” of 50lb nylon coated wire leading to the hook. A couple of swivels were positioned within the rig to prevent twisting damage to the rig. The tide wasn’t particularly strong over the reef and 3oz of lead was sufficient to hold bottom during the middle of the tide.

The tope weren’t playing at all as the afternoon turned into evening, though the Bullhuss were providing plenty of action. They’re quite unmistakeable when they take the bait, short steady runs of a metre or so, not the strong long runs of a Tope. It’s worth watching the bites carefully though as sometime a tope bite can start in the same manner before it finally tears away.

The Bullhuss were generally of a good size with many fish pushing into double figures. They often come alongside the kayak not hooked, just gripping the bait hard only to release it at the last moment. That’s not always such a bad thing as they tend to do their upmost to bite you once on the kayak!



The water was alive with jellyfish, some appeared to be as large as dustbins whilst other were as small as a thumbnail. There were literally hundred of what appeared to be small Portuguese  Men of War, though I was later informed that they are ‘By the Wind Sailors’. They were coming up through the scupper holes an floating around in the foot wells, I wasn’t in a hurry to find out if they were indeed stingers or not!


As the evening drew to a close I was fortunate enough to witness a truly stunning sunset. As sun touched the horizon the sea turned an inky black. The wind had eased off through the evening, though oddly the sea had lifted into a reasonably heady swell. The combination of the lighting and the sea state produced a memorable sunset.



Jim had missed a couple of Tope runs that evening, though despite the lack of the target species there’d been plenty of action throughout the session.. no complaints whatsoever. We returned around high water which made returning to the launch point a pleasure. No dragging the kayak up the river, this time it was a leisurely paddle up the flooded river and back to the launch site.

What with the long drive to Wales, followed up with several hours on the water, I was pretty exhausted. Back at the campsite a late meal was rustled up followed by a couple of drinks just for good measure!. Day one was completed, hopefully day two would see some tope come aboard the kayak.

Fancy reading the Day 2 report??.. click here ----> Wales (Day 2)