Utilizing free resources can help game plan your fishing trip for success
Happy Sunday, SpaceFish…
So I want to switch gears a bit this week. Instead of detailing a particular place, I want to talk about game planning. One of the challenges of kayak fishing is covering ground, you can’t just zoom across a lake or the lagoon, or several miles up or down a river with the power of an outboard motor. Picking where to fish in my opinion is more important than choosing what or how to fish. So what factors go into deciding where to fish…?
Predicting Fish Locations
Well first you have to think from the perspective of the fish. What does a fish care about, or think about? “Think” may be a strong word, by no means are these creatures in possession of intellectual or analytical capabilities but they do have a genetic intuition that will control their behaviors. There are 3 things I like to consider when predicting fish behaviors, if I am thinking like a fish I ask myself 3 questions during the pre-fishing prep, as well as when I am on the water throughout the trip:
Where can I get food from?
Where can I hide from bigger predators?
Where can I be comfortable as far as temperature goes?
Satellite Maps/Boat Ramp Locators
So one of the free resources you will want to take advantage of is Google Maps. I spend a lot of time just looking at different places for fishing possibilities. This can definitely be a rabbit hole for an angler, but I also just love maps. Maybe it’s the history teacher in me, but I can spend an unhealthy amount of time studying maps for no other reason than to study the map. But when looking into a place for its prospective fishability, this is a great resource. Almost every time I am planning a trip things start and end on Google Maps, I will even look at Google Maps on my phone while I am out on the water if it is an area I am unfamiliar with.
The first thing I will locate is a launch spot, now on google this can be done by typing in “boat ramps near me” or typing in “kayak/canoe launch near me” there is also another great site, takemefishing.org, which shows all available boat ramps, and while it does offer satellite imagery, it is nowhere nearly as in-depth as Google Maps.
Going back to Google Maps, I will use this resource to look at topographical features that stand out. Docks, points, shorelines that could be flush with bait (food) depending on the direction of the wind, overhanging trees, lily pads, grass, emergent vegetation…whether I am inshore fishing or Bass fishing, I am going to use this site to look for target areas and start jotting them down on a list. BUT, before getting too in-depth on this stage of the game-plan, I have to look at the most important factor for that day of fishing, WIND!!!
Importance of Wind
So first off, as a kayak or any sort of paddle craft angler, wind can make or break a day of fishing. Too much wind and you will spend more time fighting the wind and the chop that you will spend more time positioning than fishing, not to mention potentially taking water on board with you. So if the forecast is heavy wind, you will want to find wind protected areas. The two species of fish I spend the most time targeting these days, Snook and Bass, prefer moving water. This is due to the need of oxygenated water in a warm tropical climate, but also because it flushes easy meals their way. These fish are ambush predators that like to hang out in structure, both for their protection as well as the ability to lurk and ambush. These fish are not roamers, they are actually kind of lazy, they prefer to lie in wait, and BAM take an easy meal. So finding your structures on satellite maps is part of the game plan, but the second part will be finding areas where water will be flushed through or around these structures. Here are two images of what I mean:
Now the free resource I use to get a read on the wind is WINDY. This site will give you current, up to the minute wind movements, as well as being able to show you wind direction for days in advance. I get an idea of where the wind will be coming from, as well as the degree to which it will be blowing, and how it will affect the movement of water in the area I am fishing.
Here on the Space Coast, if you are a kayak angler that likes to fish the following – Lakes, Brackish Rivers, the St. John’s River, the Indian River Lagoon, the Banana River Lagoon, Mosquito Lagoon, or any of the IRL’s tributaries like the Eau Gallie River or Crane Creek; wind will be everything. There is no tidal flow in the lagoon, and yes the St. John’s river flows north, but it flows with the urgency of molasses.
Another note about wind blown water; you will want to cast UP current and give your baits and presentations a natural with the flow retrieve. Snook especially will face UP current, and casting down current will more than likely cause the fish to spook rather than eat. Bass, Speckled Trout, Redfish, all of these fish will also be more likely to take a bait presentation that is being moved naturally with the flow of water, rather than against it.
Windy also has a great mobile app.
Finding Deeper Holes during the Coldest & Hottest Periods of the Year
Have you ever boiled water on a stove? Have you ever frozen a bottle of water? Have you ever noticed that the more liquid there is, the longer it takes for it to be affected by temperature? Never forget that while fishing! During the hotter times of the year, shade matters too! If I am a fish in July I either want to find water that is deeper, or shaded, or ideally both. If I am fish in January after or during a brutal cold front, then I am wanting to find an area I can be exposed to sunlight, or an area I can fin deeper (warmer) water. The resource I use to find depth contours is the Navionics App, make sure to click on the viewer tab, then select chart viewer to pull up depth charts on the water you are planning to fish.
Navionics is a great resource for finding depth contours.
Does Barometric Pressure Matter?
Yes, very much so actually. But most of the time, unless you are a full time fishing professional, you go fishing when you can, so it is what it is! But understanding what the barometric pressure will be, may help me to select the right lures and presentations of that day of fishing. The resource I use for this is barometricpressure.app.
So what is barometric pressure and why does it matter? I am not going to go into the science part of barometric pressure, I am just going to pose a few questions. Have you ever had a severe sinus headache? What about a migraine? When you had that awful headache would you have been more likely to go out hunting for food, or ordering a pizza? Well when the pressure is high, fish will feel like us when we have a migraine. Don’t forget that when choosing how to present to fish. My advice is to fish it low, and fish it slow. Put it where they are and give them an opportunity to take it at a slower pace. This is where fishing your shrimp lures inshore, bouncing off the bottom with soft plastics on a jig head, or dragging a ribbontail worm for Bass, or slowly fishing a Ned rig, or shaky head would be better than moving baits for Bass.
Drinking Water Through a Fire Hose
When I first started reading Spacefish years ago, I was really getting into fishing beyond just a mere hobby, and at times I felt like I was drinking through a fire hose, the expert knowledge written by the guides and charter captains was incredible, but I was not even in the same ballpark to feel like I could get it. My goal in writing this is to provide a blueprint for novice kayak anglers who are trying to get their passion going. There is nothing more discouraging than to go out, and feel like you’re just not even on the path to catching fish. I’ve been there, done that, and through doing my own research and trial and error, have found a blueprint that works for me when planning.
If you read my reports each week I hope this was helpful, if you ever want to talk fishing, ask me for any hard earned lessons, I love to talk fishing. Don’t hesitate to ask! By no means am I a guru or expert, but I do believe that I have a great method for finding fish in new waters, and maximizing bites while on the water. My email is email@example.com or you can follow me on Instagram at @spacefish_kayak_angler where I plan to post fishing content to complement my weekly reports.