The kayak and softbait are so well suited to each other for a number of reasons. Firstly, a fishing kayak has the same likeness of a stealth fighter and moves through the water quietly without being detected by most fish life. Softbait fishing involves casting and retrieving non-scented/scented lure type bait which, when worked properly, imitates a wounded or sick baitfish. The obvious advantages are that you can move around quietly whilst hunting down your prey, with this style of fishing in mind. Presenting the softbaits into areas where fish are either feeding or resting up, without any detection, obviously has even more benefits in comparison to the sound of a running motor coming from a boat in a similar situation. Another benefit is, getting into places that the boat just can’t go, like in the shallows where kayaks can safely navigate.
During kayak fishing, it is wise to be vigilant when using natural baits. Any juices or scents from natural bait that leech out from your scupper holes can attract unwanted visitors, such as predators like sharks. This highlights another benefit of softbaits, as you have no mess or leeching juices from them and no smelly hands; you don’t have to pre-cut your baits before you go out. Berley can also be excluded if you know were to find the fish; this further eliminates any unnecessary risk of attention from unwanted predators. Kayaks require minimum amounts of tackle to be carried on board and the soft bait system allows for this. The rods and reels used are relatively small and light weight. Softbaits are available in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes that you can easily carry without taking up a lot of deck space. When compared to the amount of normal bait you would need in comparison the softbaits have huge benefits to the kayak fisherman. Lastly, you can take these away with you on any extended trip without having to worry about your bait going off. Softbait fishing, as mentioned previously, is an active form of fishing.
To be successful you must work the lure, and what you are trying to do is replicate a wounded bait fish; this in turn will bring out the predatory instinct of fish, resulting in some larger than normal hits. When it comes to finding your target there are a number of different types of terrain where you can fish. This can range from structure (pinnacles and reefs), to shallow calm waters, white water wash, deep drop-offs, current lines, mussel farms and pretty much anywhere that fish can be found. With the kayak you have a lot more stealth on the water, so use this to your advantage. The shallows are one such place that kayaks have a huge advantage over boats when softbait fishing, and quite often in the early morning and late evening large snapper will be resting up there.
As with softbait fishing from a boat, using your sea anchor (drogue) to slowly drift around areas while casting out your softbaits, also works well and will increase your catch rate. When softbait fishing from a kayak, always remember to keep track of how many fish you have in the back. This type of fishing is so successful from the stealthy kayak it is easy to get carried away. I personally have caught and released over fifty fish in one day while fishing this way. Take only what you need; put the rest back for another day and conserve for future generations. If you are interested in learning more about using softbaits from a kayak, then here’s a useful video clip we’ve produced that is on our You Tube channel. It features an 18lb snapper caught on a 4” softbait.