WORDS & PICS: CRAIG NELL
A few years ago, while on a winter holiday to the South Coast, I found myself really frustrated with the lack of sardines and big fish within casting range from the points and beaches.
Every morning, just before sunrise, I was on some or other point, looking for a fish, when I noticed that every morning between 4am and 9am there was a fresh offshore breeze. Surely this could provide some assistance.
Then, during a family visit to the Shelley Beach Mall, I happened upon Windsong Kites and their fishing kites. I spent the rest of the day flying the kite ‘inland’ but learning the principles of tacking and lift and pull.
Not having huge reels with huge capacity, I prepared myself for dropping a piece of bait beyond casting range and got everything right and ready for an early morning start. I had my kite up just as dawn was showing itself on the Indian Ocean horizon.
I dropped a whole bonnie at 300m and followed that up with a Paternoster with a big chokka blob bait, and a red-eye cutlet and chokka bait, which I dropped at around 400m, then got the kite in and sat to wait and see what this distance would bring. I hooked what had to be a passing Russian submarine on the bonnie and it emptied my Saltist 50 with no effort at all. I gave a good pull on the baited rod and landed a size slinger and a 6kg kob.
Since then, I’ve used the kite with success at Spreeuwalle, Langebaan for bronzies, stumpies and kob, Maccassar for kob and bronzies, Mosselbay for black pylies and raggies, Robberg Point for garrick, Mazeppa Bay (Boiling Pot, the Island, Tiny’s Bay and Shark Point) for all types of shark, as well as at Cape St Francis, Paradise Beach and Something Good.
It has it’s drawback of needing an offshore wind to tack into, but there are so many positives to the system:
- light and portable
gets your bait into the strike zone and beyond pesky robber fish and crabs that strip your bait down.
gets your bait into 10m deep water where gin-clear water has no effect on whether fish will feed or not.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 x standard Windsong kite (65cm) – a good-to-have is a 1m low wind kite
- short kite rod with multiplier reel with 16kg+ mono or 22kg+ braid – it must be a very short and stout rod for ease and control when retrieving
- 2 rod stands for kite rod and fishing rod
- outrigger release clip – my choice is the AFTCO
- Bait taxi/messenger/sled
- 7 to10m X 5mm ski rope as kite tail
HOW IS IT DONE?
Large bait for shark fishing, such as a whole yellowtail:
1. Set the kite tack and lift for the wind (the more you do it the more it will be right and ready before you even launch the kite).
2. Launch the kite till it’s 100m out and up.
3. Connect it to the release clip.
4. Clip your fishing rig to the release clip.
5. Set the fishing rod with loose drag in a rod stand or have a mate hold it.
6. Steadily let the kite out, keeping the kite line out from under the fishing line by standing (down-current from the fishing line).
7. When the bait is at the desired distance, tighten the drag on the fishing rod and let the kite out till the fishing rod is holding the kite in one place.
8. Reel tight on the fishing rod and strike hard and to the side, which will release the bait, dropping it into the fishing zone.<END LIST>
Baited rigs for edibles (or a small shark bait such as a mackerel):
1. Deploy the kite as above but substitute the outrigger clip with a stopper bung (shad float also works); also, reduce the amount of lift on the kite.
2. Secure your bait into the bait taxi and send it up the line (match the rig to the wind strength or it won’t get up quickly enough).
3. Once it reaches the stopper bung, the baited rig will be released and the taxi kite will fold and slide back down the line, ready to deploy the next bait.
4. One can also send out a large bait on the clip, drop it and then move down the beach.
5. Leave the kite out as long as there is a wind and drop fishing rigs on a bait taxi.<ENDS>
(and things to avoid or do)
a. The harder your kite it tacked into the wind, the more pulling power you lose, so you need to lessen the lift and increase the pull.
b. The harder the wind is blowing, the smaller the kite and the more lift in the setting.
c. The fishing rod and kite rod must be apart from one another to prevent the dropped rig from tangling over the kite line.
d. Keep the kite line down-current from the fishing line – this will help to prevent the rig dropping onto the kite line.
e. The single most important item in flying the kite properly and with great stability is the tail. I’ve lost kites and rigs because of using the wrong tail.
• The best tail for a Windsong kite is a 5mm-diameter ski rope of 7 to 10m in length.
• Too short a tail and it will whip around in a wind gust and tangle around itself, the kite, the kite line or even fishing line.
• A short tail that is made of thick material causes erratic flight. The heavy weight and added wind resistance cause the kite to resist your lift settings, and when and if you eventually get it up, the tail is pulled down into the wind so that when the wind is pumping, it’ll result in a kite line popping.
f. Dropping bait must be done in water clear of reef in the drop zone and, more importantly, where there is no reef between you and the drop zone.
g. Make sure the outrigger clip is correctly fastened to the kite rod or you will be striking to release the bait till you are blue in the face, as you won’t put pressure onto the release mechanism.
h. When taking shark bait out you have to set the clip to the weight of the bait and to the pressure put on the bait by the surf and swell. If you’re setting bait out in a big swell, make the bait smaller to counterbalance the clip setting or so that the bait and rig can be lifted over the swell and dropped without being in touch with the water all the way out. Just a tip – always check that the AFTCO clip is set to a maximum of 5.5 but optimally at 4.5 or lower or you won’t get it loose.
i. To keep the weight swinging up and around the kite line when striking it loose, attach the rig to the outrigger clip by taping nylon loop to the leader to facilitate the drop, then clip the 3/0 swivel to the outrigger clip, using a sliding sinker on the steel rig and stopped 1m from the bait by means of a crimped sleeve and bead.
j. For shark fishing, you can maximise your tackle to provide all the protection you need in the fight ahead. My rig of choice is my Shark Extreme Heavy, 2mm windon leader to 0.60mm Awa-Shima backed with 80lb whiplash. The terminal rig is a 3/0 (250kg) Japanese power swivel tied directly to the windon through to 2m of 1.5mm cable, ended with a 20/0 circle and a whole yellowtail or shark head (bridled to the hook). The weight is a long wire grapnel (balanced to meet the currents) where the wires are not tightly clipped in and can vary from 6oz to 10oz (8oz is the most used).
k. For bait fishing, make up a 2–4 hook Paternoster trace with the hooks 1m apart in the trace. Connect it to the leader by a larger swivel (2/0 or 3/0) and use the swivel eye to secure it in the AFTCO clip. Set the clip to the minimum as the bait will be sent out above the water and a light strike will release it; where possible, use a 6oz grapnel with long thick wires.
l. When fishing in early-morning KZN offshore winds, I prefer to retrieve the kite after dropping the bait as the wind dies suddenly, which can result in a kite being lost.
1m Low wind Kite 40cm Storm wind kite 5 Kite rod AFTCO Release clip 5mm x 10m Ski Rope Tail
Max lift minimum pull the center guide is at max length deflecting wind down and lifting the kite