Hobie Kayak River Fishing – A Monster Flathead on $5 Lure

A few weeks ago, Marcus Cutler bought a Hobie Kayak for fishing and he has hit the river every Sunday for the past 7 weekends. I love the idea of taking some kind of lightweight boat when we are in our RV and could not pass up the offer of an afternoon on the water, Kayak fishing for flathead.

Once we had unloaded the kayaks, prepped all our gear and set out onto the water. We first stopped on a quiet sandbank where Marcus gave me some much-appreciated instruction in the art of catching Flathead with soft-bodied fishing lures (the catch of the day was using a hard bodied lure but more on that later…).  Marcus explained that I needed to cast the lure into a small zone between the shallow water and the point where it drops off to deeper waters. He explained that fishermen call this area the food zone – which  I initially took to mean it’s where fisher-folk catch their dinner! Of course, it actually means the place where the flathead lies in wait for their food to come in on the tide.

Whenever I think about a fish eating, I always imagine those documentary images with the fish darting this way and that and expending a lot of energy.  All that darting about makes good TV  so that’s why you tend to see these kinds of pictures. The flathead likes to eat with the least amount of energy spent.  It sits with its head facing into the current during shifts in the tide and lies in ambush for a tasty morsel to come along.  The idea behind fishing in kayaks is that you can quietly move into position and cast out along the food zone to take advantage of the predatory nature of the flathead.

We set off upstream moving effortlessly through the calm and tranquil water with the tide gently pushing us from behind and initially I was rejoicing in the paddle kayak.  As we drifted into little coves between the mangroves, I  was quick to understand the big advantage of the Hobie pedal kayak over the traditional paddle kayak. Hands-free operation!

Apparently, there are a couple of schools of thought about where to present the bait to flathead when you are fishing. An ideal scenario ( at least one that makes sense to me) is to sit behind the fish, cast over their heads and then reel your lure towards the head of the fish.  In this scenario, the fish sees the bait coming towards him and begins to anticipate eating the lovely morsel. Loads of time to get the fish excited. Loads of time for the flathead to prepare to launch. The disadvantage to this approach in the real world is that ofttimes you will be drifting over the top of the very fish you’re hoping to entice with your lure and run the very real risk of spooking them.

The alternative approach is to sit upstream which keeps you casting into undisturbed waters,  but then you have the problem of approaching the flathead tail first. The lure passes right by the fish before it’s noticed and thus requires sufficient interest for the fish to move out of position and take expend energy.  If a flathead were human it would be a 10-year-old boy.  When I’m preparing food in the kitchen and my son is sitting nearby, he always pipes up with ‘can I have some’ but if I tell him to get it himself, he shrugs and says ‘ naaah I’m okay’.

If your technique is just right and the lure you’ve chosen for the day is particularly attractive to the fish, you can still bag a fish or two. But if your flathead is on his tablet playing Minecraft when your bait goes past…

It was then that I noticed Marcus was gently pulsing the Hobie pedal drive system with his feed to easily hold his position against the inbound tide while I drifted all over the place. The idea of using a kayak for fishing is not new but boy does that Hobie drive fit the task perfectly. More so, I realised that the new Hobie 180° Drive which allows you to pedal backwards would be even BETTER! Hmmmm.

‘Kayaks are so stealthy and simply perfect for a spot of soft plastic and hard shell lure fishing.

About an hour into our Kayak adventure, Marcus hit the jackpot. I was lucky enough to have my camera ready when a monster flathead pounced on a smaller fish hooked on a $5 hard bodied lure from Boating Camping Fishing (BCF) and I watched on with a high level of appreciation as my friend landed a 75cm MONSTER flathead on a puny 6-pound line. Wow. (the little ‘original’ flathead escaped in the process, talk about lucky!)

I was hugely impressed by the ‘hands-free’ operation of the Hobie Kayak pedal drive and can easily imagine buying a Hobie Sport or Revolution in the future (getting it past wife is possibly harder than imagining) but I digress. While I was out on the river, I discovered something that got me really excited and I am keen to put thought into action. Basically what happened was I decided to try paddling and fishing from the kayak from a standing position. It totally transformed the experience.  

Let me back up a bit and say I’m not a sitter. I have a stand-up desk at work, I love to walk and sitting for extended periods does not agree with me. When I stood up in the narrow beamed sea-going kayak I had borrowed for the day, it was a little tippy initially but I quickly got the knack of the whole thing and I LOVED it.

When I got home in the evening, I immediately started searching up Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUPs) and discovered Toby actually sells a stand-up paddleboard designed for fishing. It’s big, wide and stable and perfect for multifunction use and adventure.  I’ve already put a deposit down and I’ll let you know when I get it and let you know how it all works out.


About the author

Paddy McCann

Over the years, I’ve owned six motorhomes, two Caravans and three campervans so you could say I am a bit of an RV enthusiast. Chat with you soon in the comments area below. PaddyMac