Kayak Coho… Reaching Past A Cast From Shore

 May 11th, 2015 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified May 11th, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Kayak Coho… Reaching Past A Cast From Shore
By: Justin Blanchar

As perpetual patterns and borderline rituals have been established in preparation for the weekend worrier planning for the week ahead.  While batteries can be recharged, rods relined and tackle reorganized, there are some variables that can crush time on the water. Some of the most devastating news to a busy weekend worrier angler can be a miss-calculated weather forecast. 

This is quite common during the spring of the year in the Midwest due to extremely unpredictable weather.  As a kayak angler, its extremely important for weather to cooperate if one chooses to chase them aggressive Coho’s off the shores of South Eastern Wisconsin. While many smaller motorized vessels are capable of handling 2-3 footers, conditions need to be awfully stable to make yak angler feel safe on the big pond.  Having the ability to fish just beyond the distance where shore anglers are not able to explore can give the kayak angler a sense of an upper edge.

In recent trip, plans fell into place textbook perfect.  Weather patterns stabilized and were predicted to last through the end of the week. By Friday, conditions were perfect.  The evening before, I secured my Hobie Outback to the roof of my vehicle and set the alarm to wake up early enough to allow plenty of time for travel to southeastern Wisconsin.

As a beginner kayak angler, I felt as though it’s extremely important to not only fish with another fellow kayak angler but somebody with a tremendous amount of experience. Rob
Wendal AKA “Great Lakes Kayak Angler” was just the guy to link up with. Rob religiously spends time on Lake Michigan chasing fish from his Kayak from Northern Illinois up to Milwaukee. I couldn’t think of anyone better to guide me onto some tasty spring Coho’s.

As I pulled up to my destination in the morning, I couldn’t help but to notice the sun barley illumining the horizon with the water appearing like “glass”.  A full mug of coffee in the belly, a breakfast sandwich down the hatch after a great night of sleep; I was starting to feel like I was in a dream. Rob and I carried our vessels towards the lake.  As soon as we were about to push off, a small salmon starting jumping within 20 feet of shore… Pretty hard not to take a few casts towards the splash!

As I attempted to adjust the mirage drive foot pedals, Rob was well on his way out trolling to our destination. Within 30 seconds of having his line in the water… Fish On… Rob hooked up with a perfect eater coho on a ½ oz  Tommy Harris orange tiger Echotail tipped off with a green Kalin’s grub tail.  The outlook for the trip was starting to look extremely promising.

The day before, Rob had limited out in a short time.  To make a long story short, the rest of our morning slowed down a bit with a few fish getting hooked up in a two-hour window.  According to Rob, the water temps had cooled off a few degrees from an overnight wind shift from the west. Water temps were holding around 46 degrees. In addition to cooler temps, the clarity of the water had improved from about a 5-6 foot visibility to a 10-12 foot visibility. 

Coho become a bit more skittish with clearer water making them somewhat difficult to commit into a strike. While other boats around us seemed to be struggling a bit, I overheard one group state that they finally hooked up while casting after shutting off their trolling motor giving evidential support the wary clear water concept. Working through water in stealth mode was going to be important for successfully landing fish for the day. The softness of a kayak gliding through water seemed like the perfect solution.  In addition to being stealthy, having the right equipment to make long “dive-bomb” casts was going to be an essential. Making a long casts started with having quality rod.  It just so happened that the day before I picked up a 6′ 6″ St. Croix Avid X spinning reel from Dick Smiths Bait & Tackle in Delafield, WI. I wanted to be armed with a slightly shorter rod with the thought process that landing a fish solo from a kayak would be less of a struggle. As a bonus, the Avid X was designed with a micro-guide platform allowing for smooth line flow on the cast allowing for maximum distance.

Fishing from a kayak often times limits the ability to get a full backswing due to the cockpit being in close quarters with other equipment such as fishing rods, landing nets, safety flags and rod holders. These obstacles can limit mobility depending which direction a cast is desired. A slightly heavier spoon style lure is ideal due to its ability to load the rod like a whip on a short back swing without much effort. The small thin weighted profile is extremely arrow dynamic allowing the lure to cut through the air whether it’s windy or calm.  Acme Tackle Company offers a couple solid options that I have been a longtime fan of for targeting all species of fish. The Kastmater and the Cleo are ideal for Lake Michigan. The ½ oz and ¾ oz

Echotail blade bait is also another good option as it creates a tremendous amount of ruckus with its tight intense wobble. The back of the hybrid Echotail blade bait has metal barbed tail resembling Christmas tree allowing soft plastic tails to be interchanged.

This unique option allows anglers to easily experiment with different colors options continually until the fish can be patterned. Another advantage in being armed with a selection of spoons and blades while kayak fishing is their ability to be utilized in multiple fishing techniques including being vertically jigged, trolled and casted.  Since space is limited in a kayak, the angler must be creative in choosing tackle that can be utilized no matter what t depth of water is being targeted.  Most spoons and blade baits are offered in a variety of weighted options offering the angler to pack many options in a small container. Plano tackle boxes offers an extensive variety boxes to choose from to suite your needs depending on space. 

The new Hobie Pro Angler has been designed to specifically fit the Plano 3640 in the floor compartment. In general, Rob recommends selecting lures that are orange in color when targeting spring Coho. Robs also recommend presenting crank baits such as a #7 Flicker Shad, and Brads Thin Fish.  Both of these can be found at Lake Michigan Angler where Rob is employed.  As water temps start to climb, Rob will also start kayak trolling with orange flashers and flies.

In conclusion, targeting spring Coho’s from a kayak for the first time was an extremely enjoyable experience. The convenience of not having to depend on a nearby boat launch to gain water access is a huge advantage when targeting fishing on Lake Michigan:  Boat launches can be long distance from anglers desire to fish. With many municipalities offering public lake access, Kayak anglers have an upper edge when desiring to target Coho beyond a cast from a shore.  For a delicious Coho recipe click onto the following link and watch as professional fisherman Captain Eric Haataja prepares his favorite family recipe.

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