JET SKI FISHING
Theres no doubt that Jet ski fishing is a relatively new but rapidly growing sport right around the world.
More and more people are enjoying the activity and there are plenty of good reasons for that.
There are many benefits to this exciting sport such as ease of use, being able to go fishing even if a buddy isnt available and to get the ski on/off the trailer on your own, the bigger skis can fish two up with relative ease and when not out fishing all the other fun things can happen on a jet ski like tubing,skiing, camping or just a liesurely day up the river to escape life behind some horse power!
Even a couple of hours to spare can be enough time to bring home a good feed of fish.
Whether it be at a reef or sand areas or in close throwing lures at the washes and headlands.
On your return then simply wash the ski in no time, flush the engine with fresh water and as I do, simply store it in the garage for the next outing. Fuel efficiency on the newer 4 stroke models is excellent.We recommend the 3 seater models for offshore use,supercharged is optional.
Launching /retrieving your ski is quicker and getting to your favourite fishy area is part of the good times of the day.
There is also plenty of scope for estuary/bay fishing and where anchoring your ski is more feasible than when off shore.
With the evolution of the jet ski has come the benefits of enhanced safety, reliability and plenty of horsepower for all the fun times!
Firstly, dont ever think that off shore fishing off a jet ski is difficult, to the contrary its a heck of a lot of fun and can be very productive.
Ive been fishing off my Sea Doo GTI SE for five years off the coast of Port Macquarie,NSW.
I started by using a converted esky (cooler) that did the job ( just) but that didnt mean that plenty of snapper weren’t landed on some, of course,not all 🙂 outings.
From this early starting point was when the whiteybox evolved to what it is today.
In terms of how a jet ski compares to boat fishing here are some considerations and tips:
1) A ski will drift in offshore current slightly faster than a boat, not hugely, but to compensate this, I use a small drogue sometimes called a sea anchor. Use of the drogue tied to the ski will slow the drift down by usually half a knot or so, or close to the drift of a trailer boat.
2) The actual way of fishing off a ski is exactly the same as a boat using either
floating baits with berley, soft plastics or just driftng along “bottom bashing”.
3) I find that using any more than 2 fishing rods is a bit impractical. I have fished with a hand line and rod and that works quite well too.
4) The rod has the light weighted floater ( bait or soft plastic) with berley going out and the hand line is used to fish off the bottom.Double hook ups can be interesting ! but this is no different to fishing on your own in a boat.
5) When jet ski fishing you will need an optimal number of rod holders, we use four, two for the rods ( or hand line) and the other two for items such as a gaff, landing net or maybe a spare rod.
6) I prefer fishing the inshore reefs in around 30-40 metres of water for reef species such as snapper,kingfish, morwong, pearl perch etc. In this area of NSW the flathead are found on the sandy bottom in 50 metres of water.
7) For bottom fishing the weight of the sinker, or sometimes called dropper, depends on the current flow and wind. The right weight is when the sinker holds on or close to the bottom without having to constantly let out more line to hold near the bottom.We use line of 15kg.
8) The floater consists of line between 6-15 kg breaking strain with just enough lead ( ball sinker) that can run directly to the hook,usually size 4/0 making the rig float in the water column, not go to the bottom and then at the same time berley using finely cut pilchards, I also like laying pellets. Dont fill the water with berley, just use small amounts at a time to interest the fish and keep a regular flow. If using dead bait for drift fishing, I prefer squid about 12 – 15cm long hooked either with a single straight shank hook or even gang hooks, about 3/0 size.There are so many types of soft plastics available it can be hard to know.Quite a neat trick is to select the soft plastic at the bait shop thats been the most popular ( or least number of rigs left on the display stand!)
9) Trolling: You can troll from a ski and achieve good results using rods,either spinning or overhead reels and many different line classes depending on what fish you are after.
If you see birds concentrating, almost frantically at times, in a small area it usually means there are baitfish schooling with larger predators under them.It is these predators you will be targeting.
Trolling any more than 2 lines from a ski is pretty difficult and will almost certainly result in line tangles and possible tackle losses !
If you plan to troll lures in the ocean , I find it best to run a smaller bright red or fleck type lure, or even a silver jig in close to the ski ,around 12-15 metres from the back of the ski and preferably where the lure is still in your wake. It can be surprising how many fish are caught close to the boat.I then run a larger lure further back, around 30 -40 metres. Kona head type larger lures work well and I always run a different colour lure out wider, say green with a solid head and plastic skirt.There is a huge choice of lures on offer at the tackle shops, so if unsure, you can usually get good advice from the local shop proprietor.By trolling one lure in close and one out further the lures will have less tendency to cross over each other causing tangles.
Always avoid tight turns on your ski so the lures dont get too close to each other and NEVER troll through a school of bait or any other type of fish as they will normally react by diving down deep and you ( and other fishers) lose the school……..and you might lose a mate or two as well!!
By trolling around the outside of the school, the lures will naturally tend toward the edge of the schooling fish.
It helps to try to ” match the hatch” …i.e. if a certain type of bait fish is schooling in the area you intend to troll then a lure of similar appearance and size of the baitfish should give better results..
If trolling bibbed diving lures you must be careful the lure is travelling at a speed where the lure is most effective. This means the lure is working in a swimming motion with the bib also giving off a bright reflection. The lures movement can be seen at the rod tip as a vibrating motion. Troll a biibed lure too fast and it will fly out of the water and usually cause tangles.The motion of the lure will dictate the trolling speed you travel at.
If you plan to troll live or dead baits then firstly make sure you are using the right hook, it must be of straight shank design so the bait doesnt spin and the hook size is appropriate for the size of the bait. Live/dead baits that are spinning in the water will catch nothing. Live bait are usually “pinned” by placing the hook through the fishes shoulders. Dead baits can be trolled the same way but will tend to fall apart easily so these baits are often sewn up with needle and thread ( this is a technique you would need to learn from an experienced fisho) In both cases the baits should be presented as close to real as possible and trolled at a much slower speed than other forms of trolling so as to not drown the livie or cause the dead bait to break apart.
If other fishos are trolling the same area as you around a school, near a headland, wash etc then etiquette is important.
Just observe the direction the boats are travelling and get in line with them in single file. Never overtake another boat/jet ski trolling lures and never also troll in the opposite direction to the others.
What is the best trolling speed? Well , as described above the speed varies to suit the lure/bait but as a guide,trolling plastic or metal lures ( non live bait or bibbed lures) a speed of around 5-8 knots or 9kmh- 15kmh will produce the best results. On my ski I find that when the ski is almost planing then the speed is right.If you’re getting hits but no hook ups then by slowing down a bit you should get better results.
The bigger hooked fish will cause the ski to spin and possibly get dragged along, thats Ok but keep an eye on your location, especially if you’re close to a rocky outcrop or structure. Happy trolling!
10) Nothing beats talking to other fishos though about local conditions,places to fish,types of baits etc.As this sport grows we will all get to know other jet ski fishos but dont be frightened to ask the boat fishos at the ramps or at the local. Joining a fishing club will give you plenty of practical advice too and the friendship of like minded people.
11) The best baits are those that are fresh including mullet strips, pilchards, prawns, fleshy baits such as tuna, mackerel but nothing beats live bait so if you can find “livies” such as small mackerel, yellowtail, squid then thats the go for sure.You can fish livies either using a floater or on the bottom.
12) Lets enhance our sport by being responsible in our actions, I have no problems with our local boaties who are usually up for a chat but equally curious I think about the whole concept of this great sport!
13) Stay safe and warm, it gets bloody cold at times on a ski on the ocean. Always adhere with your state or local boating requirements including bag limits.Try to fish with a friend or another ski, its more fun anyway…..
I hope this is of some benefit to you and good fishing.