A little bit of wind is a good thing

Never again, kayaker seems to be saying to himself, as cold front winds shriek across a lake in Fort Pierce.

Let’s get this straight. We’re talking about a breeze here, not a full gale with 3-foot whitecaps and fishing lines whistling in the wind. A nice, polite 3- to 10-mph breeze can be a trip-maker for kayak anglers.

First, slow-trolling from a kayak, whether using live bait or artificials, is a superproductive way to find and catch fish. Using a breeze to provide the movement for trolling is perhaps the most energy efficient—and quietest—kind of boat movement known.

A couple of breeze-fishing techniques work well. Most basic is to simply let the breeze take us where it wants us to go. We paddle upwind of our desired fishing spot and let the breeze move us downwind. Anyone can do this in any kind of kayak. We can cast and retrieve or slow-troll riding the breeze like this. When we drift past the fish, we paddle back upwind and drift back through the hot area again.

Just enough wind to ripple the surface, move the kayak and get the fish biting. Perfect.

However, sometimes we don’t want to ride directly downwind. Sometimes we want to follow the twists and turns of a channel in a coastal creek, for instance. For those of us who have kayaks with pedal drive and rudder, we need to understand that with our kayak, we also have a sailboat. Put the flippers or propeller unit down and in place—that’s a centerboard. The rudder is already there for steering. Sit up straight and tall—we’re the mast and sail. By using the standard equipment that comes with pedal kayaks, we can use a breeze to move us with a good amount of directional choice. We don’t have to run straight downwind.

It is quite possible to “sail” a kayak across the breeze in opposite directions so that an angler can follow the deeper water of a creek channel to keep a bait in the strike zone. If the kayak just drifts with the wind, it will be out of the channel in a few seconds, and any fishing success will plummet.

Now, using the breeze to move a fishing kayak is not nearly as efficient as sailing a real sailboat. There’s no way we can tack into the wind like a sloop can. However, when we figure that we can sail across the breeze in both directions as well as drift downwind, we can cover almost 180 degrees of the compass effectively as we fish.

And this type of kayak movement is stealthy. There’s not even the slight sound of flippers or propellers moving through the water.

This “kayak sailing” has proven to be very effective when fishing clear, lowwater creeks and flats where the fish are spooky. FS

First Published Florida Sportsman Magazine April 2017

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