Today we will cover the basics of catching Calico Bass on your Hobie kayak.
First, Calico Bass can be finicky. This characteristic in itself makes catching them tricky. Understanding where Calico Bass live, feed and hide are only part of being successful in catching them. Catching this fish is not an exact science, but we’ll give you a better understanding of how Calico Bass live and to lead you in the direction to catch them. After you purchase your first Hobie kayak, there is no greater reward than to self-guide into open water and landing your first fish!
Bass love to hide in structure. By structure, I mean floating kelp, anchored kelp, boiler rocks, sea grass, etc. My advice to you is to look for obstruction in the water; whether it’s kelp or rocks and hopefully a little current in the mix as well. In this article we will only be focusing on the little guys. It gets more technical hunting for the bigger boys. We will cover this topic in a future installment.
In whatever structure pile you decide to fish, give yourself about a 20+ foot buffer. This is for a variety of reasons. Here are a few.
You want to give yourself plenty of room to cast toward your structure. Try fly-lining a live bait. A Google search or YouTube video will demonstrate this. Also, a simple dropper loop rig with bait will work as well if you’re into the whole bait-and-wait technique. I personally prefer to use plastic swimbaits and spinnerbaits. Also, if you’re not anchored, the current will eventually push you too close to the structure and it may scare away the fish. And, even worse, you might get stuck. Always keep that in mind.
If open water scares you or it’s just too rough, stay within your own personal boundaries. You’ll get increasingly comfortable as you get to know your Hobie kayak and how it reacts to rough and calm water. It won’t take long to figure out.
Calico Bass is an incredibly tough species. Given their size, they are heavily sought for the fight. They are ambush predators. When they are in the 1-3 pound range they will be attacking the lower tail region of your choice of bait, such as live bait, (i.e. sardines, anchovies and squid.) Even with artificial lures, they will bite the tails to stun its prey and then bite the head or hook.
So you’ve found the structure I’ve described, now what? It’s simple. I love to cast my bait just because I feel more productive vs. the bait-and-wait technique. One technique is not better than the other. It’s a matter of personal choice. Now, pick a spot you feel is optimal in your structure and cast toward it. Now it’s time to retrieve it.
Retrieve it at medium speed. Keep it steady while retrieving it back to you. Pause to allow the bait to sink or swim. Just let the bait do its job. With lures, you have to provide the action by mimicking a bait fish. Alright, did you catch anything? Chances are you haven’t.
So send that bait out again. But this time I want you to do what we call fan casting. Position your kayak so you’re facing the structure, or, to the best of your ability, given what the area allows. Now, fan cast in between the 9 & 2 o’clock positions, starting at 9 o’clock, retrieve it, then at 10 o’clock, and so forth. This gives you more water coverage in your structure and will increase your odds of landing a fish.
If this doesn’t work, adjust the position of your HOBIE. Go to a different side of your structure which may be either straight ahead, opposite of where you just were, or, to the left or right. Then continue fan casting in the same fan pattern as previously described. Try this method first before making the decision to find new grounds. Chances are with this semi-top water method you will NOT catch a monster, but, it will get you fishing like a kayak fisherman! You will slowly begin to understand how Calico Bass react to your lure or bait and it will be up to you as to how you can perfect your method and increase your success rate!
In my next installment, we’ll cover the more technical aspects of fishing for these crafty fish.
Until next time, keep your lines tight and stay fishy my friends!
Tommy Ponce, contributor