During Kens recent basic SOT course which he ran in Filey Bay, I was asked to give a short talk on basic planning for a trip on our local waters, & I promised to put some material on the site. This is aimed at beginners to the sport with little practical sea experienceÂ & as such should really be a starting point in the learning process. conditions like this are way beyond the remit of most newcomers on a SOT fishing Kayak but give some idea of what can be coped with in the right vessel with some training.
Good planning is a sure fire way to improve your Kayak fishing experience To say nothing of keeping you & your mates safe. With this article I am aiming to give the novice Kayak Angler a few ideas of whatâ€™s required to ensure a successful & safe day on the water.
first always rememberÂ the 6 Pâ€™s
Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
Newcomers will see some conflicting views expressed on the forum when it comes to safety, some see Kayak fishing as an extreme sport on a par with base jumping whilst others feel itâ€™s a relatively safe hobby which requires little knowledge or skill. My opinion is that itâ€™s the amount of preparation you put in that makes it safe or dangerous. Likewise many scorn those who venture out alone considering this unsafe, I am a regular lone kayaker. My view is that it raises the level of attention to detail & preparation thatâ€™s required as you are your own buddy, whereas two mates heading out together both relying on the other to keep them safe might be in twice as much trouble.
So what do you need to do to ensure a good day afloat ?
The right vesselÂ & equipment
Ok you dont have to have a Dorado, but dot they look smartÂ Â ?
Try to ensure you donâ€™t arrive at the launch site missing vital bits of equipment that got left in the garage, it happened to me a lot in the early days, I now have a typed check list taped to the inside of the garage door, saves the embarrassing situation of arriving on the beach without a paddle, It happens. Its very tempting when you leave safety gear at home to launch anyway, Murphy tells us that the first time you leave it at home is the time you need it.
This has been covered previously so I am assuming that all of you will be dressed for the conditions, prepared for immersion in a cold sea & skilled in self rescue, what I do think is essential is the capability to get assistance if required.
First on my list of essential equipment is a decent handheld VHF & the knowledge required to use it in an emergency, personally I would recommend going down the route of taking a short range radio course & getting a licence, however if you feel the expense is to great please make sure you know how & when to call a may day.
Flares should be carried, preferably a divers flare on the PFD as should you become separated from your kayak it might be the only means of summoning help, most of us carry a mobile phone in a waterproof bag, preferably with the coastguards number in the speed dial list, however they are notoriously unreliable at sea so it should not be your only means of communication.
Essential information to check before you leave home
We all have our favourite locations but before we just head of we need to check a few things, fortunately the internet has made this part easy for us although sometimes there is so much information that we can become confused
For weather forecast & expected sea state
Our area Whitby to Gibraltar Point, you can alwaysÂ phone Humber Coastguard on 01262672317 & they will be happy to give you the latest forecast & take a paddle plan from you.
Listen on channel 16 for regular updates, the weather will sometime change suddenly whilst your out
these are a few of my favourite websites, there are many more
http://magicseaweed.com for swell
http://www.xcweather.co.uk/GB/observations good Graphics & wind information
Do you know what it means, how much wind is too much ?
Force 2 â€“ 3 4 to 10 kts (5 â€“ 12mph)Â which is idealy what we are looking for to make a pleasant day fishing
Force 4 11 â€“ 16 kts is at the top end of what we can cope with for fishing although an offshore wind will provide a lea in certain locations close to shore
Force 5 17 â€“ 21kts is a strong breeze that will produce waves & spray, we should be back in the pub asap.
Anything above unless its offshore & you are tucked under a big cliff is survival mode
Be aware of your ability to cope, if in doubt donâ€™t launch, it often looks flatter from the car park at north landing than it actually is.
Study the charts & maps of our area & identify the amount of shelter you will get from certain winds, often a few degrees can make a big difference, Bempton can be very calm with a SW wind even when its blowing force 5 or more however if it veers to westerly hold onto your hat as it funnels down the Cliff side.
Tide times & data
Get yourself a pocket tide table from your local tackle shop or chandlers, often a freeby if you spend a few quid there. otherwise they can be found on plenty of websites including this
Easytide will give you a 7 day look ahead for any UK location including graphics
The first thing to be aware of with the tides is that they dont just come in & out, there is a tidal flow which can be very complicated especially in areas with lots of islands & headlands, fortunetly our localaty is fairly simple & the tides generally flow north on the Ebb, south on the flood with the tidal flow being a bit stronger on the flood. Also high or low water ashore will not necessarily be slack water in you fishing location. so some research is required.
The strength of the tide will increase over each 6 hour cycle peaking between 2 & 4 hours after slack then easing into the next slack
Also important is the range of the tide( difference between high & low water) the springs which are a result of the increased gravitational pull from the moon at new & full moons have a greater range & hence stronger flow.
This effect will be felt most in certain areas usually around headlands were some Local knowledge for most dangerous tidal conditions is required,Â be aware that the sea will often pick up quickly when the wind & tide are opposing.
Of course there is much more to be learned about tides, including the ability to read information from tidal diamonds on the admiralty charts & a tidal stream Atlas, however you can be safe in your own backyard with a minimum information. If like me you want to further your knowledge I would recommend this excellent little book.
Or even get yourself booked onto a day skippers course with your local RYA
Of course it make sense to use the tidal flow when planning a trip, think of it as a moving carpet & its much better to go the same way than against it. Most average paddlers in a p13 will go at about 2.5 kts on flat water so you can see how 1.5kts of tide will hinder or assist your trip,.
For example if I want a nice easy day at bempton, launch from north Landing on an ebbing tide, then back on the flood that way you will have up to 1.5 kt of tidal assistance, if going against it get as close to the shore as you safely can were you will get less resistance as there are numerous eddies close in just like a big river.
Headlands will have local anomalyâ€™s, I have picked out a few of our major marks with a brief rundown
Filey Brigg is an excellent fishing mark but should be treated with much respect due to the strong tide race, this is particularly dangerous on the ebb tide as the water sweaps around filey bay then is forced over the shallow brigg end, a bit of wind from the north will make this even worst, its best to plan your fishing on neap tides at LW slack & on the flood, even then a SE wind can soon make it nasty. notice the arrows indicating the direction & strenght of the tide
Flamborough NorthÂ Landing.
Generally a relatively safe location although the flood tide will carry you south off the head & in a swell some big breakers can form over the scaurs both sides of the bay, there is quite a bit of kayak fishing tackle on the bottom in this area
Flamborough SouthÂ Landing
The Ebb tide runs strongly out of the bay towards the head end, can be a very hard paddle back on a big tide.
A favourite haunt of some of the Forum regulars, a safe launch & bay but the area around Kettleness point has some treacherous surf at times, mostly when the flood tide which is running south hits the inside of the bay & turns east, if this is against a moderate swell from the sea some serious surf can appear from no where, ask Mike if you don’t believe me
I repeat this is a basic taster for planning but hopefully there are a few pointer for newcomers, I know most of the Kayak Anglers are more Angler than Kayakers but its still nice to have the knowledge & skill to manageÂ the sport safely.
A few useful sites to further training