Skinny-water Stealth Fishing
Skinny-water Stealth Fishing by Eli Braud
Ever fished with someone who took silence to another level? Who would look at you like they’d beat you up when you’d try to make conversation, or believed any little noise would scare the fish? Maybe you’re like that? I don’t know that I am, but I do believe that stealthiness on the water is important. I don’t know that a little conversation will scare fish, but I do believe that a paddle not being put down gently enough will.
Like some other species of fish, redfish are known for being easy to spook. The task of catching one becomes more difficult the shallower the water is. You can take many measures to insure that you’re not making any extra noise, but sometimes they seem to spook off anyway. I’m hoping to touch on a few of the different tactics that I’ve used in order to target and catch some of the most easily spooked fish on the Gulf Coast.
One thing that I’ve learned while in the kayak is that if something can move or become loose, somehow it will. This can sometimes create a thumping on the hull as loose items rock with the boat. A solution for this problem, quite popular already, is to add silencing foam strategically throughout the boat. Anywhere your paddle or rods make regular contact are also good places to stealth up! I have silencing foam added onto my Jackson Kayak “Cuda 14” on the rod-tip protector, rod stagers, and paddle-stagers. Silencing foam can be purchased in sheets from many kayak dealers. This would allow you to cut pieces to specifically fit your boat. If you’re the type of person who would prefer purchasing a complete kit of silencing foam pre-cut to your kayak’s specifications, some brands offer it as an add-on. Jackson Kayak has just starting selling deck pads for their kayaks through their online store. Another brand that does full kits for many kayaks, but is slightly more expensive, is Seadek. Seadek offers kits to fit Native, Hobie, Jackson, and Wilderness System fishing kayaks.
As a sight-fisherman, I spend a lot of time in my kayak standing up. While standing, I like to use my paddle as a poling device similar to what you’d see on a flats boat. However, when using your paddle in this way and you see a tailing redfish, you have to put down the paddle and pick up the right rod and quickly enough that you don’t lose sight of the fish. It sounds easier than it is!
In order to make this whole process a bit easier, I sometimes use a belt with a taco paddle clip on it. This allows me to be able to pop the paddle into the belt and then reach down for the rod quickly. Not only does this speed up the entire process, but you also don’t have to worry about how gently you’re putting the paddle down to keep it from making noise. This project is very much a DIY as there is no product made by any company at the current time. My local shop, Pack & Paddle, does sell a version of the design that is made locally and they are happy to ship anywhere.
Finally, maybe the easiest and trickiest fish scaring remedy that I have to mention:
Sometimes, no matter what I’m doing, the fish still are just too spooky for me to even just make a cast to. Sometimes they spook while I’m still trying to get close enough to make a cast. In situations like this, I’ll stop and evaluate my paddling. Am I causing a lot of commotion in the water while trying to push myself forward? A key thing to remember is that it doesn’t take much effort to move most kayaks forward, so if you’re exerting a lot of force into your paddle stroke and churning up a lot of water each time you paddle, that could be putting shallow water fish on high alert. If you find that this is happening to you, just slow down and gently move your paddle through the water. The solution is that simple!
Of course, we all have days when the fish won’t cooperate. On days like that we can scout, or just take in the beauty of the locations that kayak fishing can take us. However, I hope this article does help you catch more skinny-water spooky fish!
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