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  • Fluke Fishing From the Kayak by Mike Jediny(Sifisto)

    Fluke Fishing From the Kayak By Mike Jediny
    As many take off on the usual trek to the party boat scene dreaming of their eight fish limit, a few decide to become their own captains; and take a much different path. Tired of fishing elbow to elbow, dealing with multiple tangles, and praying for a good drift that possibly may land you a keeper fluke. Iíve always said. ďItís all about the numbersĒ. Knowing math and understanding the law of averages puts one at a severe disadvantage fishing with a boatload of people. There simply are not enough fish for everyone, and thatís if all the fish are in a co-operating mood. Those days, for myself and a few other kayakers are old history. As a wise man once said not so long ago,ĒThink like a kayaker, not a boaterĒ.Those words of Jon Sheinís ring true, a pioneer in the sport of kayak fishing.

    Fluking out of a kayak is a sure way to put fish in the cooler, IF you obey certain rules. Most already know how to fluke fish standing upright, you have a 180 degree of working the rod .Being in a kayak the physics become much different working the rod at 90 degrees; sitting down and jigging. Before we get started here, letís start off with some basics before the launch.

    Necessary gear for successful fluking will include a large net with a shortened handle, mine is 22" across 3' deep with a 24" handle(a chop saw solved this). Sooner or later the realization of having the bigger net will come into play when that doormat fluke arises next to your yak, and that 16" net your friends told you to buy will not do squat. Consider the biggest fish you ever caught swimming back down laughing at you...buy a bigger net.

    A fish finder is a MUST on a kayak. Without one, your guessing; and simply wasting your time. Iím here to help you, so make the investment; your game will change forever once you start using one. Fishing rods will vary with individual tastes, more important is your drag setting. Set your drag at home correctly BEFORE going fishing, make sure itís set as so line goes out SLOWLY with pressure. If you donít do this, fighting a bigger fish will just pull the hook out of the fishes mouth with a drag set too high. This article is going to be different from the mundane, I can promise you. I wasnít quite worried about the water coming over and sinking the yak since I was in a sit on top, I was worried that enough water would come over and flip it.

    Tie all your rigs beforehand at home and test them for weak points. For the most part, 20# test will suffice, and avoid most tangles from jigging or a fast moving current.

    On the subject of modern technology, take the chance on braided lines; the outcome will surprise your tally at the end of the day. Be open-minded, advance to what will make you more successful at this. Do what you must, but a braided line will allow you to feel those sneaky flatties just mouthing the bait. It will feel like the slightest pull of your finger, or simply just a tad extra weight on the line. When this condition occurs , lower your rod tip to the water and lift sharp. The double hook will do itís intended job; and you brother will have a fluke on the other end. Although you must vary with fishing conditions, switching up techniques and rigs; the three hook rig is used by me 90% of the time. The other 10% is using bucktails. If you donít use them, please put the time in and learn; they simply catch fish ; and quite big ones too. Keep it simple, cast it out, let it sink to the bottom or almost; then reel in slowly. Sounds too easy, because it is. The U.S. Government doesnít put jigs/bucktails in the US military survival gear for nothing. These little gems produce fish. Maybe a little boring for most, but this method catches more fish than jigging the bucktail. A good friend had recommended trimming back the hair to 1.5" and attaching a Gulp shrimp; as so the fish ďtastesĒ his quarry. Just to warn you, fluke inhale these Gulp shrimp; so a set of needle nose pliers are a must. Once fished correctly, that rod of yours will be buried south and bouncing erratically. If youíre right handed pulling that fluke to the surface, that left hand had best be reaching over for the net; which should also be kept alone ...not next to a rod with hooks.

    A good supply of Gulp shrimp is simply a must, until something more magical comes along on the market. Once you try them, fish will be jumping into your kayak...no BS. My main bait to add to the bottom two hooks is a smelt, or spearing. Tipped on the rear stinger hook is a Uncle Josh #340 ripple rind (chartreuse is my favorite choice).One hook through the lips, the other through the tail. On the top hook which sits 12" above the double hook rig; add a gulp shrimp. The total length of this rig is 30" used in conjunction with a FF rig as seen in the photo. Yes, be careful of the hooks unhooking your catch. The main fact here is, you will be catching fish. Use common sense utilizing a multiple hook set-up, being careful is an understatement. As you know, or will soon surely know; these fluke are frisky as the Devil. Unhook the fluke in the net, then grab to measure or put in a cooler. Making friends on the water will ensure the sport and get you pictures taken with your catch ; Itís a universal kayaking thing. Keep your gear simple and accessible, no need for a tackle bag, and all that clutter. Go simple, hit hard; come back with fish.

    Alright, now that you have the right stuff(in my opinion), where do you go? The answer may be in reverse of what you may be thinking. Look for quiet water with a some depth, like a travel lane a boat would go through in the back creeks from where itís docked. Boaters would never belittle themselves to fish in front of where their boats are kept. Boaters would never fish in the same path that leads them out into the bay. You my friend ,will do just that. Think like a predator, and the fluke is as aggressive as they come. Look for spots baitfish will be hiding(under a boat to get out of the sun) ,or pushed into the current as the tides change. Deeper water is generally cooler, so target that as well. This is where you should be bouncing that sinker. To me all kayaks should have a safety flag, respecting our brother boaters whom need to see us. Respect gets respect, so please ; play nice with these guys. Remember, they are the ones that will come and rescue you come need be.

    All that laughing at the guy in the kayak stops when youíre hauling over keeper fluke most of the time. Especially when they are coming in skunked from the bay, and youíre almost limited out right in front of their boat slip!!! Besides the creeks and rivers, target the channels if you can make it out there. Be very careful of boats and shipping channels, stay out of their way and youíll be golden. The fishing techniques stay the same, but zig zag from in and out of the channel(IE: 8ft down to 20ft, back up to 8ft on the other side; jigging the entire way. Make your zag back across doing the same technique. As soon as you hit fish ,there will be a pocket of them. Stay with them, as they will be on the move in search of food(baitfish, grass shrimp ,crabs, etc). If you miss a fish, swing back around(try doing this in a party boat!!!), the fish will be more aggressive this time; so set that hook hard. Canít stress this enough, if you know you have a big fluke on ;set that hook two or three times. Itís much more difficult to penetrate the jaw on those larger flatties , donít learn the hard way...set that hook...and hard.

    If your drag was set correctly as mentioned earlier, that fish is yours. Take it slow, fight the fish; horsing it in will lead to losing it. Itís a private battle between you and the fluke, enjoy it. If you come across a pod of baitfish on your FF, target that spot; the fluke may be on them. You may read the baitfish, but the fluke will be smelling,hearing, and seeing them. Become the hunter, and you will reap the rewards. If you go into the game blind, the results will be grim. If you have a game plan, and thereís fish in the area; you will be coming home with fish. On the topic of jigging, practice at home bouncing that sinker 4 to 6 inches off the floor. It will surprise you how little that is. Once on the water, I use my PFD as a fulcrum; and see-saw the rod across my chest with my wrist and forearm. This will bring much less fatigue, and mastery of the technique. Remember, 4 to 6 inches bouncing that sinker is all youíre looking for. At times, alter the technique if thereís little to no action; sweep the rod 1 to 2 ft off the bottom. Youíll find switching up the technique will be like turning on a light switch for the bite. Imagine being a fluke looking up searching for his prey, presentation will be your key to success...that I promise you.

    Those that own mirage drive kayaks have an advantage over their paddler friends, that being power drifting. Youíre simply covering more ground in less time; fishing all the while. Itís math again at work, understanding the principals will dictate the outcome. Like in a party boat(hate saying those words), they have 25 or more lines in the water bouncing the bottom with a noisy engine running. You however are silent, and have all those fish to yourself. Take your time, and work the area over well. Check your bait often, and replace as necessary; remove any and all weeds. Fish going with the current when you can, itís more of a natural presentation. Get up current, and fish down it; jigging your entire drift. Not to say fish will not hit your bait working it up current, itís a un-natural presentation and the laws of average are against you. Make the effort to apply these principals and your kayak fishing numbers will climb. Thereís so much more to write about fluking, but these are the basics to get you started in a right direction for success. Itís not as hard as most think, break away from the pack; and become your own captain. The rewards will taste great. See you on the water!!!!

    ©Mike Jediny and the Kayak Fishing Association of NY
    (Mike, aka Sifisto is a well known kayak angler, hailing from NJ.)