Winter is coming:Fishing deep from a kayak part I.

So winter is coming… what does this mean for our kayak fishing? The fish move to deeper spots… and this requires a change of tackle and technique.

Where I am from, we start fishing deep spots in autumn. We mostly fish for zander (pike, perch, Euro version of the walleye) and perch at the local dams where the depth goes to over 60m in some places. The fish are usually 2-10 pounds. They hang out around 5-8 metres in autumn moving to over 25 metres as winter comes.

Maybe you will find this article useful for your fishing. This is what we learned here. First lets take a look at the gear I am using and why.


The lure:
We use soft plastics (rippers or minnows) rigged with a jighead. Sometimes also dropshot which works better for perch. We also use an additional treble hook on a stinger (especially with larger softbaits and in snagless spots)

The jighead:
The weight of the jighead varies from 0.2 to 1 oz. The weight you should use depends on the style of fishing (lighter when on anchor, heavier when drifting), the size of the soft plastic (the bigger the heavier), the presentation (the more aggressive presentation the heavier)and of course the depth (the deeper the heavier).

Ripper shads catch deep dwelling fish best

The line:
This is a very crucial thing. When fishing deep you need to maintain direct contact with the lure. This can’t be done with mono or fluorocarbon. So you need low diameter braid (max 15 pound test) because you need a) no flexibility in the line and b) low diameter (0.004 inch max) because the line needs to cut through the water easily.

Here you see the difference btw using low diameter braid and mono or higher diameter braid.

The leader:
Not only in winter I use mono or fluorocarbon leaders. The leader is more economical (braid is expensive) because you break the leader and lose a few inches of mono rather than some braid. Also it gives the your tackle a bit of extra flexibility. I use 1-2 metres of leader.

The rod:
We use long rods (over 8ft) this is useful because you need to do the right presentation and your bait is say 60 ft deep. You can jerk it and generally move it around much better with a longer rod. We use the so called quiver tip rods (special rods for this style of fishing) very stiff rods with a sensitive tip. This is because you need to strike into the fish over long distance and depth but you also need a sensitive tip to indicate the delicate bites.

The reel:
Smooth running spinning reel is the way to go. Why spinning? You will need to cast as far as possible (baitcasters are good when vertical jigging, but cast & retrieve covers more ground). Why smooth? Because you constantly need to maintain contact with the bait, this means you always reel in bits of line (sometimes just a few inches) to stay in touch with the bait and not miss the bite.

The kayak:

I prefer the Big Tuna because it gives me the comfort and stability for stand up fishing. Standing up while fishing deep is a must. Sitting down you just do not have the reach and freedom you need to maintain contact with end tackle. It has to be equipped with an anchor trolley and an anchor with around 70ft of line at least and a buoy.

The fish finder:

A decent fish finder is a must for deeper water fishing. We all know that. The best situation for you is to find balls of bait fish with the predators hanging around them, or a plateau in the correct depth with structure (rocks, trees, stumps, ridges etc) then when you are fishing just keep checking the screen for lines that indicate fish moving around, if you see this it is very good.

Now lets get to the technique. Your basic choice is either fishing on anchor or drifting. As I said before the most important thing is to maintain contact with your lure. So this defines your style of fishing when fishing deep. Let us first review the most important points of fishing deep with jigs.


1. When casting out let the bait descend on a tight line. Sometimes you will get bites on the first descent and you will prevent the line from forming an arc (see picture above).

2. The colder water the less aggressive presentation

3. Always reel in any slack in the line. Watch the line and the tip of your rod!

4. Hold your rod so that you hold the blank or at least touch it.

5. Do not lose concentration. The bites are very delicate and you need to strike into every tiny nibble or you will not hook a single fish. Sometimes the biggest fish bite the lightest.



When the wind moves you in the correct direction and not too fast it is entirely possible to fish on drift. Put on a heavier jighead, set up your kayak so that it drifts in a direction you want to go. Sometimes the wind blows from the right direction and allows you to drift along with the bank and cast your bait near the bank and bounce it off the slope of the bottom. Or, once you figure out where the strike zone is you can align your kayak with the bank and fish in the distance from the bank, on the correct depth where you are most likely to get bites.

Here you see the difference btw. looking for the strike zone on a sloped bottom and fishing the strike zone (strike depth)

Always cast upwind! If you cast downwind you will always be getting slack line because the drift takes you towards the bait.

Do not fish on drift when the wind drives you in the direction either to the bank or away from it. this is just not economical.

If you find a good but large spot (a plateau for instance) you can fish it while drifting to find out if it is worth more time and put anchor once you get bites.


Coming in part II.

Comments on “Winter is coming:Fishing deep from a kayak part I.”

  1. Eric Jackson
    December 8, 2013 at 1:15 am

    Great article and very informative Jan!! For a guy who’s first language is Czech, that was a very well written article in English!! thanks for sharing!

  2. December 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks EJ, I have written a 60 page diploma thesis in academic English and quite a few articles about phonetics, linguistics and stuff, so article like this is a piece of cake 🙂

  3. Mark Crame
    December 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Great read Jan, all the more fascinating as I have no waters like that so have never tried fishing those techniques. really interesting!

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