by Russ Jones
Fishing from a kayak presents the angler with many challenges, fishing for large pike and musky from a kayak is nothing short of an adventure! One of the most important challenges that needs to be overcome in any craft but especially in a kayak is bait presentation, trolling is one very effective method of presenting bait. Aside from allowing the angler a break from casting big lures on heavy tackle, it also allows for more water coverage and ultimately more boated fish. The same holds true for kayak fishing but without the assistance of a motor, reaching and maintaining the optimum speeds for the best presentation can be physically impossible (especially from some of the wider sit-on-top style of kayaks that have become popular amongst anglers). There are two ways to overcome this, one is to add a motor but this isn’t the best solution for the purist like myself and will certainly disqualify you from entering any of the human-powered only kayak fishing tournaments that have started popping up in recent years. The second solution is to use baits that perform well while being trolled at slower speeds. I have found that most large musky lures generally need to be trolled at speeds of at least 4mph up to 8mph or even faster to get the best action out of them. These lures simply can’t be trolled effectively by kayak, they can be casted but they can’t be trolled because a reasonable and sustainable paddling speed is somewhere in the 2mph range depending on the kayak and the paddler. What I have found is that the Believer does have good action at this speed and therefore can be trolled effectively under paddle power, great news for all of the trophy kayak musky hunters out there!
There are as many different ways to rig the average kayak for fishing as there are kayak models to choose from…LOTS! How you decide to rig is ultimately what will determine how you will troll a Believer for musky and pike. Below I have highlighted 3 different ways I accomplish this task and some advantages/disadvantages of each.
1. Through the legs method. I call it this because it involves putting the handle of your rod over one knee and under the other. It is important that your rod is pointing slightly forward so that it doesn’t interfere with a normal paddle stroke. It should also be noted that this method works better in a sit-on-kayak (SOK) as opposed to a sit-in-kayak (SIK). In a SIK the walls of the cockpit will be too high and will get in the way. This is my preferred style for trolling because it provides me with a very positive feel of the lure’s action. I can feel if the lure catches some weed or debris and can fix the problem before wasting time and energy paddling around an ineffective lure, I can also feel a strike instantly. I also like how close the rod is to my hands and how quickly I can grab my rod and set the hook. The only real downfall to this method is that the added drag (from the lure) on one side will mean that you will have to compensate and paddle double time with one arm but this isn’t a big deal once you have conditioned yourself for this sport.
2. On the Triple Mount. Scotty makes a wonderful product called the triple mount, it creates the ideal dashboard for the kayak angler. I use mine for my depth finder, my GPS (when needed) and a rod holder. It is important to use the centre mount for your rod when trolling for big fish so that the force of a pulling fish is not amplified by the leverage that would be created by trolling from one of the side mounts and so that the drag caused by the lure is minimized. Of course you don`t need a triple mount, just a single rod holder will accomplish the same result and can be attached to the same base as the triple mount. This method is nice because your paddle strokes are completely unimpeded and is also well suited for the angler trolling from a SIK. Depending on how far ahead the rod holder is mounted, this is sometimes a bit of a reach and for the short-armed paddler might not be the best option.
3. Behind the Seat. This method requires rod holders to be mounted behind the seat. Some people use flush-mounted rod holders, I prefer the non-flush mounted but they both work well. The main advantage is that you will experience less one-sided drag from the lure and therefore could probably paddle at slightly faster speeds. The downfall is that the rod is behind you but as long as your reel has a clicker on it you will be able to hear the fish hit and grab the rod pretty quickly. I also prefer my rod tip closer to the water than this will allow but this is more a result of me usually fishing a little deeper. It is very important that if you troll this way that you use a rod leash to tether everything to the rod holder, this will prevent a fish from snatching your gear! It is probably a good idea to use rod leashes at all times anyways.
So now you know what lure works the best for trolling musky and pike from a kayak and how to do it. Now go get some Believers®, get yourself into a kayak and experience some the most exciting fishing there is!