We’ve all seen the comedic battle in movies and TV shows: the fisherman hooks the legendary monstrous fish he’s been chasing all movie and the ensuing tug-o-war pulls the poor angler all over the place before he finally snags his triumphant catch and basks in the glory. While a big fish is extremely unlikely to give you that degree of trouble, you can still be caught off guard and find yourself in a bit of a tight spot, especially when you’re fishing from the comfort of your kayak. But fear not! The key to winning, like any other battle, lies in preparation! Whether you have a paddle-only or pedal-propelled kayak, these tips will help you be prepared for any big fish battle and come out the victor!
KNOW THE RISKS
If you run blindly into battle without knowing what you’re up against, you’re most likely going to lose. Same goes for kayak fishing. You have to know the possible risks or dangers of when you get a big fish. Some of these include:
- A hooked big fish will most likely head back to its snag
- The big guy will probably have the power to tow your fishing kayak
- He’ll be very quick
PROPERLY EQUIP YOUR KAYAK
Make sure you pack accordingly. Always make sure you have your PFD (Personal Flotation Device), and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring a secure tether as well. Also, consider your end goal: are you going to take a few pictures and then release the fish? Or is he going to be dinner? If you’re planning on eating him, then you should make sure that you have a safe way to humanely dispatch him. Loose tools floating on-board your kayak are not advisable. Also, you should make sure that you either have a suitable icebox on board or, if not and the fish needs to be tethered, that you have a suitable way to fend off any predators your prize may attract.
If you plan to catch-and-release, then that falls into the next category.
SET THE STAGE
One of the most crucial steps to start with is to plan your “battlefield:” look for your exits. Where do you want the battle to shift to once you’ve snagged the beast? Where are you going to have the most operating room? If you’re planning to catch-and-release after a few celebratory pictures, you’d also want to set the location of the catch accordingly: trying to lift heavy, thrashing fish in deep waters could easily capsize your fishing kayak and create loads of problems.
Your fishing kayak’s positioning is of crucial importance here. You wanna keep your kayak at an angle perpendicular to that of the fish; it’s gonna have an easier time towing you along if your nose is pointed in the direction the fish is headed. But if you keep yourself perpendicular, the fish has to haul your kayak with the entire length of the hull acting as drag.
STAY IN CONTROL
Once you’ve snagged a big one, the key is to maintain control. While a pedal-propelled kayak has some obvious advantages at this phase, you still have plenty of power in a paddle-only kayak, and here’s where the fish gets to unwittingly aid you in battle! Firstly, if you have a rudder, set it at full lock to steer toward your exit route. Next, you’re going to guide the fish to where you want it to go. Pull your rod tip around so it’s pointing in the desired direction. As you pull against the fish, your kayak will start swinging around towards it, which will entice the fish to head in the direction of least resistance. At this stage, DO NOT let your line go slack! Keep it wound to maintain tension!
Once the fish kindly escorts you to your desired destination, you can pull your rod tip around the side and twist your waist in the opposite direction; this will swing the bow around so that it’s once again perpendicular to its path. Now, you should have the upper hand and be in the perfect position to win your battle!
If the fish has led you to another disadvantageous spot, repeat the above steps until you’ve got him right where you want him!
Using these tips and prepping in advance should give you everything you need to hook the big one without capsizing your fishing kayak. For tips on good times to go kayak fishing, check out some of our other blogs! And check out our blog on Sit-On-Top vs Sit-Inside Kayaks to see which kayak would be best for you to help you snag the big one!