Fishing up a Sea Kayak

Design , Outfitting , Skegs , Rudders, Pumps , Sails , Modifications
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NorthSIKer
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KAYAK: Mirage 582, Kaskazi Skua
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Fishing up a Sea Kayak

Postby NorthSIKer » Fri May 05, 2017 12:22 pm

Below is a post I have put on on kayak fishing site KFDU (to explain the context of the audience not knowing sea kayaks). I figured it is worth repeating on here - many sea kayakers do fish occasionally from their boats plus some of the other mods may be helpful. Also, it may be useful for those considering acquiring a Mirage 582.

Plus this forum is way too quiet so even my crap content is better than nothing :lol:

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Many people fish from time to time from their sea kayaks but very few go to significant efforts to outfit sea kayaks for fishing. By ‘sea kayak’ I mean the line of sit-in seaworthy kayaks with designs derived from the traditional Inuit/ Eskimo kayaks.

Below is an overview of how my new Mirage 582 sea kayak has been outfitted for fishing. I fish most of the time when I am kayaking – quite often simply trolling as I paddle to where I am going but I also stop and fish actively on numerous occasions.

From pure fishability perspectives there are better kayaks than a sea kayak. Something like a Stealth or Kaskazi has more room, under deck rod storage (very useful for big surf launches), better fish storage and being much wider, greater primary stability. And some of the better fishing kayaks are quite capable at sea and no slouches in paddling speed.

So why a sea kayak? Sea kayaks as a craft excel at all-round versatility and dependability. Even compared to the best fishing kayaks the sea kayak is faster (more efficient to paddle long distances), more comfortable (and capable) in rough conditions and able to carry large volumes of gear in the sealed bulkheads (e.g. for a week long kayak camping trip). Surf launches (other than the rods and gear on deck) are no problem. Long distances, camping trips and occasionally taking on pretty rough water are a priority for my kayaking, so the fishing part, whilst important, is prioritised second to this. The primary stability is not there compared to a typical fishing kayak, however the Mirage 582 is in sea kayak terms a very stable kayak (broadly seen as very stable, lazy to paddle, lacking flair and dynamic range but undoubtedly efficient over distance and proven capable in all sea conditions). The key with stability in the sea kayak is that there is a learning curve, and you need to get to the point where rolling your hips to let waves flow under the boat (using the secondary stability) becomes second nature.

The boat does look pretty good on the roof racks :D .
On roof rack.jpg


Also something that entered my mind is the stereotypical sea kayaker (out-dated, grey-beard, fuddy-duddy’s) suits me slightly better than the stereotypical surf skier (midlife crisis, trying too hard, fitness types) or stereotypical recreational kayak fisher (ute-driving, cheap beer swilling, bogan types). Oh yes, and then there are the Stealth fishing ski big surf guys, the Bra Boys of kayak fishing :o . Now that I have equally offended all kayakers let’s move on!

My previous kayak is a Mirage 580 – almost identical to the 582. Both are 5.8m long and 55.5cm wide – I believe the hull is identical. Compare this with say the Stealth Profisha 575 (which most readers would be more farmiliar) at 5.75m long (though longer waterline due to the plumb bow) and 60.5cm wide. I stuck with the Mirage as it fits the bill for what I want (great long distance cruiser, stable as a rock for fishing, a known quantity and good prices). I had played around quite a bit with outfitting the 580 for fishing over the 9 years I had that boat (many ideas from the other kayak fishers) and so when it came to ordering the 582 I had a pretty good idea of the customisation I wanted to have done at the factory. Mirage were very helpful in working through my ideas (I doubt they get too many customers with so many requests!). I was in no rush to complete the boat and a few ideas went back and forth (no doubt confusing the poor staff at the workshop).

Anyway, enough babble - to the kayak from the factory:

1. Construction is carbon /Innegra. Innegra is a relatively new fibre – I believe it is in some ways similar to the spectra/dyneema fishing lines we nearly all use. Used in composite boats it is light, highly impact resistant and stable over time (unlike Kevlar). It has proven to balance out the very stiff and light carbon making it much tougher (some interesting videos online of trying to destroy carbon / Innegra samples). I still maintain there is not a great difference between carbon and fibreglass on the water (there is a fraction better responsiveness and acceleration with the greater stiffness) but the weight (or lack of) of the carbon boat off the water is nice. I chose a heavier (stronger) layup which means the boat is however by no means ultralight. Whilst recognising the carbon / Innegra choice was one of paying significantly more for a marginally better boat (than fibreglass) I wanted to try out a carbon boat and am glad I went that way.
Unlike my very subtle colour scheme on my previous boat I went with a gaudy semi-Swedish flag colour scheme – yellow hull, blue deck and clear coat carbon darts and cockpit. I think it looks pretty flash and the yellow should be nice and bright if the worst happens and a chopper is looking for me hanging on to the side of the upturned kayak. Yellow will show the scuffs more than white but I am ok with that.
1.jpg

2. Compared to the 580 the 582 adds:
a) The fluting on the deck (apparently to add some strength);
2a.jpg

b) Larger front hatch (25cm – used to be 20cm) to make loader camping gear easier;
2b.jpg

c) Kajak Sports Oval rear hatch instead of the old neoprene gasket with fibreglass lid. I prefer this new hatch – the neoprene is a bit fiddly and with a little age can get loose and leak a bit;
2c.jpg

d) The external seam line is much wider than the 580 and has a bulky, textured look (I presume from the fibreglass tape used). I presume this was done to increase the strength of the join and I personally find the more industrial look of this seam nicer looking than the thin join of my 580;
2d.jpg

e) The thigh braces on the 582 are moulded as one part with the cockpit rim and are of a different geometry to the old ones which were also factory fitted (I know as I compared my foam padding cut-outs between the two boats and also took some measurements). The new thigh braces extend back further to the seat. I have found these new braces superior to the old ones and being one with the rim they feel very solid.
2e.jpg

3. Now for the customised options I had the factory build into the boat and the additions I have made myself:

a) I had the electric bilge pump fitted which many sea kayakers request. This pumps out water from the cockpit should it be flooded. However the usual practice of the battery being in a dry bag in the day hatch was a problem. I put lots of tackle boxes and stuff in the day hatch and am regularly rummaging around in there on the water trying to locate a particular box of lures. A loose battery and wires would easily get tangled up and risk having the wires pulled. I asked about having the battery placed in the rear hatch -instead the factory came up with the solution of placed the battery in a sealed box bungeed tight against the bulkhead wall. This has worked well in practice (I tidied up the wires a bit more with some stick on hooks) and no snagged wires so far. I notice Mirage now offers this battery box solution as standard for the bilge pump (the photos on their website are from my kayak). The switch for the pump (located on the back deck just behind the cockpit) is coved by a bridge – this prevents it accidently being switched to on, e.g. by a fishing rod tether;
3a.jpg

3a2.jpg

3a3.jpg
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NorthSIKer
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Re: Fishing up a Sea Kayak

Postby NorthSIKer » Fri May 05, 2017 12:25 pm

b) I choose the ‘LD Plate’ for the rudder pedals – this is a larger foot plate that gives slightly better ability to brace and pump my legs against than the standard foot plate. Additional to this I have replaced the positioning bolts with stainless eye bolts (with the wing nuts this means I can undo easily by hand even if the bolts slip in the fibreglass). 20mm PVC pipe has been fitted over the fibreglass rail to make a more comfortable rest on the side of the foot. Also note on this image the black carbon inner layer of the hull and the white Innegra inner layer of the deck. Deck and hull have layers of both carbon and Innegra;
3b.jpg

c) I had the factory fit a pipe from the upper deck to the front bulkhead (the black pipe can be seen in the previous image). This is so I can route the fishfinder wires without any additional drilling or sealing. When it is time for a new fishfinder I can simply pull out the old wires and pull through the new ones. Around the wires I have sealed with a silicone wine bottle stopper – this might let through a couple of drops of water but is sealed enough (I can always seal it up fully with some silicone sealant);
3c.jpg

d) Fish finder transducer is sikaflexed to the flat bit of hull just in front of the front bulkhead wall. I run the fish finder on four rechargeable 18650 batteries (idea thanks to lost forum member Spanky :wink: ) which are in a sealed box also in the front bulkhead held in place with some bungees and the stick on hooks. I am not sure how long the new sounder will run on these batteries but it is at least a full day (10 hours);
3d.jpg

e) The all critical fishing rod holders. I had three fitted – I only take two rods but I like a centrally positioned holder for trolling lures with significant drag (I find in the side holders they disturb the tracking of the boat). The factory had a little uncertainly how to fit all three flush mounts due to the tight space under the deck but they managed it well in the end and I can easily reach all three on the water. I have added extenders made from alloy relay batons to lift the reels clear of the deck (I have very short butts on the kayak rods). These extenders can get pulled out on the water when removing a rod so I have a little bungee cord attached to an extra deck line to hold them in place;
3e.jpg

3e2.jpg

f) Fishing rods are tethered to a saddle I had fitted centrally on the back deck. I use a soft shackle to attach the tethers to the saddle – this way there are no hard clips dragging across the back deck and the dyneema shackle is super strong;
3f.jpg

g) Behind the fishing rods I have added some extra bungees to secure my spare paddle and also a tow rope / safety tether. If conditions are getting crazy on the open ocean I can attach the safety tether to the back of my PFD so that if I come out of the boat I am not separated from it. I can also deploy this on water as a tow rope to another kayak;
3g.jpg

h) Grip tape has been applied either side just behind the cockpit. I often put my hands here when getting out the kayak – generally this is just as the next wave hits and my hands slip off the nice shiny gel-coat. This is also where the hands go during the critical step of a cowboy re-entry. Simple little thing but really improves things getting out of the boat;
3h.jpg

i) Three hooks onto the deck bungee secure tethers to the GPS, lip grips, gaff and paddle. I am a fan of tethering your paddle and even more so for kayak fishers where we often have the hands off the paddle to bring in a fish;
3i.jpg
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NorthSIKer
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Re: Fishing up a Sea Kayak

Postby NorthSIKer » Fri May 05, 2017 12:28 pm

j) On my previous kayak I used Railblaza fittings to secure my GPS and fishfinder to the front deck. However I was after an even lower profile mount and ideally something that did not require permanent fixtures into the deck. This is what I came up with. It is fashioned from a gutter basket, block of closed cell foam and a half a tube of Sikaflex . This slips under the foredeck bungees and holds the fishfinder (with the aid of a couple of hooks and a hair band!) and GPS perfectly due to the grip of the foam. The foam block also works as a nice hook holder for a spare fly or dropshot rig that I might want to deploy at short notice. Second image shows the setup on deck, with the other bits and pieces (explained below);
3j.jpg

3j2.jpg

k) For fish storage an insulated fish bag is attached to the front deck using velcro tape. Not as good as the inbuilt fish storage on a Stealth or Kaskazi but I can still store a good feed. The bag attaches with Velcro wrap tape to the deck lines. Very niche idea but I would love to see a fish storage shute moulded into the front deck/ front bulkhead of a true sea kayak!;
3k.jpg

3k1.jpg

l) I had the rudder cables changed at the factory from the usual stainless cable to spectra (I did this after purchase on my previous kayak). Spectra is more fail proof but fractionally less responsive (has a tiny bit of stretch). I also had the rudder cables crossed over at the factory – I always meant to do this on my previous kayak but didn’t get to it. This means I push down on the left pedal to turn right. Anyone who has operated earthmoving equipment would be familiar with this skid steer arrangement. The reason to do this is that pushing down on the rudder pedals shifts your body weight in the kayak – with the rudder cables crossed over this movement is in agreement with turning the kayak. On the water certainly the crossed over rudder cables improve the dynamic performance of the boat – I am enjoying it more on the runners in particular. Yes, it took a little getting used to – funnily enough controlling the boat on waves etc. didn’t take long to adapt to but gentle tracking movements (trying to paddle a straight line) took a few trips for the brain to retrain. For the first few trips I would get into a steady forward cruise and find myself veering off gradually to the wrong side!
3l.jpg

3l2.jpg

m) Seat and thigh braces have been padded out with 3mm closed cell foam, glued on with marine Sikaflex. This is added mainly to add grip when using the bum and thighs to control the boat – not for padding as some may think. I admit it has ruined the look of the clear coat carbon seat but function before beauty! You will also see either side of the seat is the backup hand pump and my pizz bottle (essential relief on 30km ocean crossings 8-) )
3m.jpg

n) I haven’t added yet but I have a rod ruler sticker that will be added on the side of the kayak for measuring fish on the water about here. I had a similar sticker on my previous Mirage and it worked very well.
3n.jpg


So that is it – I doubt you will read about a similar set-up anywhere! Hopefully there are a few ideas to benefit others in whatever kayaks they paddle. So much of what I have added here I have learnt from reading others modifications on these forums so a chance to give back some ideas – some may even be worth considering for traditional fishing kayaks.

Lastly, one of my silly little videos showing the new set up in action recently. I guess this video shows one of the limitations of the sea kayak in that I wasn’t comfortable boating this fish on the day. However I do believe that most other fishing kayaks would have also struggled to boat this fish without a lethal gaff shot given its size and power (the strength of a GT has to be experienced to be understood), the sharp little waves and the risks involved being alone 10km offshore.

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Morgs1981
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Re: Fishing up a Sea Kayak

Postby Morgs1981 » Sun May 07, 2017 3:01 pm

Great write up & nice setup. It all seems very well thought out. I've recently bought a sea kayak & was interested in if anyone was fishing from them, This gives me some good idea. That GT sure took you for a ride!

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TIMAX
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Re: Fishing up a Sea Kayak

Postby TIMAX » Fri May 26, 2017 11:47 pm

I used to chase King fish with my 580. Raised some eyebrows from the sit on top kayak fishing guys. Great fun for sure.
I found i prefered my rod under the bungees infront of me with the tip held by the perimeter line at the bow. Interesting when you hook a big one!

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NorthSIKer
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Re: Fishing up a Sea Kayak

Postby NorthSIKer » Sat May 27, 2017 7:48 am

TIMAX wrote:I found i prefered my rod under the bungees infront of me with the tip held by the perimeter line at the bow.


Yeah - lots of people prefer the rod up front I understand. I certainly prefer it out the back and out of the way. One of the cool things of kayak fishing is a strike transmits through the whole boat - you can feel the lure getting crunched through your seat and thighs almost as if the boat is one with the fishing rod.

I get stuffing the rod under the front bungees but I can't visualise the tip held by the deck line as you describe it in a way that wouldn't cause issues when the fish strikes. Or did you more sort of rest the rod tip against the deck line near the bow (not under it)?


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