This is a report for a trip I made a year ago today
I took my Hobie Outback to troll for Coho off of Point Robinson on Vashon Island. I got there early enough that I had to launch at KVI Beach because the park gates were not open yet. Around 7 AM, I began to troll down towards Point Robinson. Around the northeastern end of Maury Island, I found myself in a huge school of small herring, roughly 3 inches long, which just happened to match the lures I was using. There were salmon feeding underneath, so I tried jigging but only had a buzz bomb with me and had no luck, so I continued trolling around Point Robinson for several hours and got numerous shakers until around 1 PM just north of Point Robinson when my rod went absolutely crazy. After a brief fight, a large male Coho shot out of the water to my starboard side, and although I missed with the net, I landed him in the kayak after more than 6 hours pedaling and getting sunburns. He was around 9 pounds, a large Coho even for the ocean fish that are returning in September.
The Hobie Outback is a great all-around pedal-drive fishing kayak that does everything well. Although expensive, this craft was made specifically for fishing and is stable enough for me to stack crab pots on and fish for Lingcod yet is decently fast. It also holds over 400 pounds of cargo, which is very helpful when I use it for camping at Blake Island. At around 100 pounds fully loaded, it's not light, but not too heavy and I can get it in and out of my truck with ease. Kayaks are great for salmon fishing, but there are several methods and required equipment that one must know about. Here's the gear that I use and had my success on:
-Garmin Striker 4 Fishfinder. A good fish finder is vital to know your trolling speed, depth and to mark both fish and bait schools. Hobie kayaks are meant for Lowrance units, but I have heard that these do not stand up to saltwater very well. The Garmin was inexpensive, easy to install in the transducer cavity and has proven to be extremely rugged. I did have to replace the transducer though after it short-circuited.
Daiwa Wilderness Downrigger rod- I originally bought this rod for $15 at Outdoor Emporium in 2014 to use off of my 12' Sundolphin 120 that I got when I was 16 for trolling. Ironically, I've used it for just about everything that requires a big rod, mainly bottom fishing deeper than 80 feet but also jigging and mooching. This is a great rod that cost me little and has lasted me a long time. It's versatile and great for trolling divers from the kayak.
Okuma Magda Pro Linecounter reel- I bought this with the Daiwa rod for $45. This is a fantastic reel that is a great option. A line counter reel is a must-have for trolling to measure your trolling depth and distance. Originally had 25LB test Trilene Big Game on it until I discovered low-cost braid on Amazon. Currently I have 50LB braid on it that cost me less than $20 to fill up. Braid is a must for trolling divers, as it cuts through the water easily and does not tangle as much. I also helps set the hook when a fish hits.
Deep Six and Double Deep Six Divers- Every kayak angler should have these! When using divers, you are able to target fish that you would otherwise need a downriver for on a larger craft. When coupled with a line-counter reel and braided line, you can effectively target fish down to about 60 feet with the Deep-Six and 120 feet with the Double Deep Six. Put out twice the amount of line of your trolling depth. These give the kayak angler the ability to target Coho, Pinks, Chum and shallow-water Kings and even Blackmouth in some areas. Put about 6-8 feet of monofilament from the diver to your lure. Always make sure to put a ball-bearing swivel on the end of the diver, as this prevents line twist.
Flashers- The flasher I was using is and 8-inch Pro-Troll pro-chip flasher in green. 11 and 8-inch flashers both work great, but prefer the 8-inch when I can use it because it puts less drag in the water. When using spoons, spinners or plugs, try using an in-line spinning flasher like a Hot Spot Agitator and Big Al's Fish Flash; these are better for lures that have their own action. I caught a good Coho yesterday using a purple haze kingfisher spoon behind a Fish Flash!
Grand Slam Bucktail 3-inch black herring fly- I love these flies. They look a lot more realisitc than the regular hoochies that most people use fo Coho. That morning, there were 3-inch herring everywhere, and I just happened by accident to have the right lure to imitate what the Coho were feeding on. I also run the 4-inch needlefish fly in purple haze with a moon jelly or purple haze flasher when fishing on friend's boats with down riggers. Black/white, purple haze and green/white flies and hoochies do a good job of imitating the herring here, as do spoons, spinners and smaller plugs. Always run flourocarbon leader, as this is less visible in the water. Put herring oil scent on the diver, as this creates a scent trail and keeps it from fouling the tape on the flasher or hair on the fly.
Lastly, Coho are everywhere in the water column. As usual, start out and 30 feet and work your way down 10 feet every hour after 8:30. However, this isn't always the case, as I caught this fish at about 50 feet at around 1 PM. Coho are also often right on the surface in shallow water, and trolling a spinner behind the kayak can have good results. Troll at the same speed you would in a boat, around 3-3.5 MPH. You will catch fish if you follow these.