Heroes On the Water UK

Heroes On The Water UK provides Kayak Angling to our wounded military, injured emergency services and members of the public who have suffered whilst carrying out a public duty. It provides therapeutic rehabilitation and aids reintegration into society.

The use of kayak fishing as a means of rehabilitation has been proven in the US, where it has been has demonstrated that the unique qualities of the activity give our Heroes benefits beyond the paddling and fishing. Apart from the physical and mental stimulation, it also provides total relaxation and above all freedom and equality on the water for the injured, up to triple amputees and especially post traumatic stress disorder sufferers (PTSD).

HOW UK isn’t just for kayak anglers, although the main centre of expertise is likely to come from this side of the angling community. It is an opportunity for angling in general to provide something very positive and get behind our Heroes recovery.

Please spread the word throughout angling and boating world, it’s an opportunity for everyone to pull together for a very worthwhile cause. Join them on Facebook and “like” them!

August road trip

The original plan for the summer break was to take my family on holiday to Curacao. For one reason and another I’m unable to join my family this year, so that leaves me home alone for quite some time. I could sit here and sulk, imagining my wife and kids running along sandy white beaches with a turquoise sea as a backdrop. The alternative to that is to create a ‘Plan B’.

I narrowed Plan B down down to two realistic options. The first was a kayak fishing tour around the UK, taking in several key locations over a three week period. It certainly has its appeal, though there’s the potential for an awful lot of driving as well as the weather playing havoc with well made plans. I wanted to reduce the amount of driving somewhat, whilst locating myself where the fishing is potentially good as well as varied. An important consideration was to be able to easily relocate should the weather cause a particular venue to be unfishable. I also wanted something challenging and interesting. This resulted in the creation of option two – read on.

I remember as a kid perusing the various angling books that resided on my father’s bookshelves (they’ve since relocated to my bookshelves!). Books written by famous sea anglers such as Des Brennan, Clive Gammon and Hugh Stoker, to name but a few. I vividly remember reading these books as a kid, thumbing through the yellowed musty pages and staring at the black and white photographs in awe. At the time I didn’t appreciate the influence that these anglers had on me, however, almost forty years later I’m still out there fishing. 

I’ve added to this collection of books over the years and amongst the pile is a set of sea angling guide books written by Hugh Stoker. These are an enjoyable read in themselves, particularly ‘Sea Angling Hotspots’. Some of the descriptions on particular locating marks are, by todays standards, quite amusing. Of course there was no GPS back in the 60’s, navigation was by compass and chart. Some of the descriptions to find a particular mark are worded along the lines of ‘head 1¼ SE of the harbour, line up a particular headland with the centre of the adjacent beach. Head south dragging a greased lead, once it picks up sand drop anchor’. I do find this amazing and amusing at the same time, great stuff!. The ability to locate rough ground, even a particular underwater pinnacle, with simple navigation techniques is quite inspiring.

The additional sea angling guides that the late Hugh Stoker produced covered many areas along the southern coast of the UK, from Kent to Cornwall. The area of particular interest to me is the southwest of the UK, this includes Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. His guides cover both North and South coasts, providing numerous shore and boat fishing marks. As a kayak angler it’s the latter that’s of interest to me and this is basically what has resulted in ‘option 2’ of Plan B.

The southwest of the UK offers a huge variety of venues and species, plus being a peninsula it also offers the opportunity to shelter from the wind, though this may require relocation from time to time in order to achieve this. I’ve spent many hours, on and off, over the past couple of years transferring his marks to my GPS charts. Some have been straightforward, some required the use of the charts whilst reading his directions. The result of this is a large collection of marks that are available for me to visit (a small sample is shown below).


Fish stocks have been decimated over the years and I’m under no illusion as to whether or not these marks will produce the fishing that they did in the 60’s. I’m quite sure that some of the marks will still produce fish, though I expect that many of the marks will produce different species compared to what was caught when the guides were written. For me it’s an adventure, following in the footsteps of a great angler. It’s pure nostalgia, following the routes and fishing the marks in a similar fashion as they were over fifty years ago!. Obviously I wont’ get to fish them all, though I hope to fish a good selection of them over a three week period.

I’ll be camping my way around Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, at times roughing it, though I’ll probably utilise recognised camping sites as a hot shower after a long day on the water is always appreciated!. This fishing will consist of a fairly even mixture of lure and bait fishing. I’ve recently purchased a new vertical jigging rod and will be combining that with lighter spinning rods and a couple of boat rods. As for species, well where do you start?, the list is potentially long!. I’ll hopefully tick a good few off the list over the three week period.

New sponsor!

I’ve been extremely fortunate in the past couple of years in being able to get involved with YakAttack and Hobie. both of these companies produce some superb products that enhance the sport of kayak fishing. Earlier in the year, after much deliberation, I decided to purchase a Lowrance Elite 4x fishfinder for my Outback from Pixmarine. This decision was heavily influenced by my experience of using The Elite 4 DSI whilst fishing the Hobie Worlds in Texas last year. I’ve yet to write a full review of the Elite 4x DSI, I’m still wanting to clock up a few more trips with it before I publish my thoughts.

Last month I received an email from Lowrance offering me the opportunity to be part of the their Pro Staff team. It wasn’t a difficult decision, I’m already a satisfied customer, I like their product line plus it’ll give me the opportunity to test and review some of their equipment range that will be of interest to the kayak fishing community. They’ve recently began to release a new range of HDI fishfinder/plotters which combine traditional sonar with their down imaging system, something I’m interested to learn a lot more about – watch this space!

Mackerel – what mackerel?

It was a short notice trip, the weather was good, the forecast for the rest of the day even better!. The plan?, hit the water for 3-4 hours and catch a load of mackerel for the freezer. The chosen location was almost on my doorstep, a five minute drive and I was parked up in the centre of Stokes Bay. I travelled light, a spinning rod plus a 6lb class boat rod. The spinning rod was to be used for trolling a diving lure, the other rod was rigged with a string of feathers.

I was rigged up in no time and was soon pushing the kayak into the water. Another kayak angler launched just ahead of me, he reckoned that he’d be quite happy to catch anything. I can certainly relate to that, all fishing is good, though it’s always satisfying to catch a biggie from time to time!.

I peddled out a couple of hundred metres and began to drift with the tide, working a set of feathers towards the seabed and back to the surface, trying to locate the mackerel. There was very little activity, none in fact, so I began to troll a lure 30-40 metres behind the kayak with the string of feathers being deployed on the other side of the yak. It’s nice being able to have the rods right next to you, yet still be underway, no paddle getting in the way. I headed around Gilkicker Point and down along Haslar sea wall. I tried close into the rocks, out into deeper water, absolutely nothing!.

I looked over towards Spitbank Fort and thought that it may prove more fruitful. A quick check on the GPS put it 1.4 miles away, so I changed direction and made for the Fort.

It was a little deeper than expected at around 6m, though there was still a couple of hours before high water so it’ll probably hit a maximum of 7m or more. I peddled around and checked out the features, nothing too exciting, though there were some sizeable chunks of debris randomly scattered around the sea floor. I’m guessing that these were leftovers from its construction.


Around the down-tide side there was some weed gathering, it was in this area that the feathers were hit on a couple of occasions. There was nothing to show for it, though I’m guessing that the culprits were small Pollack. After twenty minutes of feathering around the Fort I had still failed to bag anything, so I decided to head back across the shipping lane towards Haslar.

I saw a ball of fish about one metre across head under the kayak as I crossed the lane. It turned out to be the only shoal of fish I was to see during the whole trip. I continued to troll and feather as I worked my way back towards Gilkicker Point.

I fitted a Lowrance Elite 4 DSI when I rigged the Outback for fishing and it’s performing extremely well. The detail is excellent and it picks up returns with superb clarity. Below is a photo showing a string of feathers being worked close the the bottom. At times all four feathers and the lead were clearly visible.


The forecast had predicted winds between 2-3mph, lasting overnight. This initially proved correct, though as the afternoon progressed a fresh westerly wind began to build, putting a steep chop onto the water. The feathers were hit a couple of times on the way back, though I failed to hook up.

I the last couple of hundred metres before I recovered to the slipway I finally hooked into a mackerel, one lonely mackerel!. I chatted to the chap who was still anchored up off the slipway. He was fishing two sets of feathers, one on the bottom, the other close to the top. He had managed two mackerel in four hours, talk about hard going!.

I clocked up seven miles in three hours of drifting and trolling, ok, so it was a pleasant afternoon on the water though the lack of fish was definitely frustrating!


Installing new storage pouches

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve recently purchased two new storage pouches from Tackle Webs in the US. The quality seems top notch and they should prove ideal for the handy, yet secure, storage of regularly used items whilst afloat. For me, that’ll include such items as pliers, bait elastic, line, hooks and minor items of end tackle.

The bags are sided for left and right fitment.The right hand pouch has dedicated secure storage for pliers and an additional smaller pouch for minor items. The left hand pouch is one large compartment with an upper Velcro strip so it can be secured in the closed position if required.

Right hand side pouch (above)

Left hand side pouch (above)

They are shaped to fit either side of the seat, the two photographs below show ‘before & after’ fitment.


There is plenty of room either side of my legs to permit items to be fitted within the pouches without restricting space within the cockpit.

Fitment is really straight forward. The areas either side of the seat were degreased with a suitable solvent, white spirit, etc. The bags are actually fitted to the sides of the kayak with adhesive Velcro strips. The adhesive seems exceptionally strong and you only effectively get one shot at fitting them into place!.

Once fitted, I used a towel to press firmly around the edges of the pouches to ensure that the Velcro firmly adhered to the hull. The Velcro does mean that the pouches could be removed, but why would you?. They are low profile when empty and weigh very little.

That’s literally all there is to it!, fitment takes under 5 minutes. Although probably best suited to the storage of smaller items, it’s provides some very valuable ‘on deck’ storage for those items that you always need to hand but would like neatly stored and secure.

Storage Solutions from Tackle Webs

I do like storage on the kayak and over the years I have constantly tweaked the storage potential of my Prowler Big Game, more recently my Hobie Outback. It’s always useful to have minor items to hand, something the Outback does actually cater for with moulded in trays on either side of the kayak. However, there is always the potential to knock items overboard, so for the small lighter items a more secure (yet still readily accessible) would be preferred.

Whilst looking through various posts on Facebook several weeks ago I came across what appeared to be custom made storage pouches fitted to the Outback. Basically they sit either side of your legs and add storage for pliers and other items. After swapping a few messages I found out that they were actually manufactured by a company called Tackle Webs.


I’m actually not entirely sure how they attach to the kayak, however, as I have two on order I’ll cover installation when they arrive in the next couple of weeks.