Opelu 3 E-mail
Written by Dave Elgas (Boogie-D)   
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 21:16

Dave Elgas (Boogie-D) is a longtime friend of KFM, and is now featured on Discovery's Pacific Warriors series.  Here's part 3 of 4 on live bait fishing from Boogie.

 

Aloha KFM.  It sure is amazing how time flies by. Over the holiday season I began a 4 part series of articles on how to get better at kayak fishing.  We discussed personal safety, the importance of a fish finder for finding live bait, and how to catch live bait.  In this month’s issue I will go over how to store live bait on a kayak and in next month’s issue I will go over how to rig live bait for catching fish.

100 1666 It is always good to talk about kayak fishing safety.  There has been a lot of debate about the laws governing the use of a PFD or Personal Flotation Device.  The coast guard only requires that kayakers have them on board just like a boat.  PFD’s don’t have to be worn all the times.  However I advocate the use of a PFD at all times while kayak fishing.  I wear mine all the time and I keep it fully loaded with safety items like my cell phone, and VHF radio.  Many of my sponsors will not accept photos of me kayak fishing without a life vest on.  I just finished my yearly CPR, AED, and First Aid training.  This year we watched a lot of footage of people getting struck down with cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke.  I don’t care who you are or how healthy you appear, no one can predict cardiac arrest.  Cardiac arrest affects all ages, all races, and all health types.  Cardiac arrest can happen to the fittest of all athletes.  For this reason alone I advocate wearing a PFD at all time while kayak fishing.  Again this is my opinion and we all know what those are like.  The coast guard only requires that you carry a life vest while kayak fishing.  Personal safety is a personal choice. My personal choice is to know my limits, know the weather and the fishing grounds, have a backup plan, let someone know I went fishing, train for emergencies, wear a fully equipped life vest at all times,  carry  a cell phone, VHF radio, GPS, and flares.  Someday I will get me and EBIRP too. I take my safety seriously and I hope you do to.

Ok back to kayak fishing.  Perhaps between all the holiday hustle you were able to get out and do some kayak fishing.  Maybe you got to practice finding and catching opelu.  One thing for certain is that when you finally do get a full line of opelu on the side of your kayak your next thought will be “now what”.  Keeping that fresh caught bait alive and healthy is a very important aspect of kayak fishing.  Beside my fish finder, my live well is the next important piece of equipment on my kayak for catching fish.  There are many ways to make a live well.  Probably the easiest way to get going is with a bait tube.

DSCF1758 A bait tube is a simple and cheap way to make a live well.  All of the bait tube parts can be purchased at your local hardware store.  A bait tube consists of a plastic pipe with caps on either end that when dragged by a kayak will allow water to flow through it. Finding the right size pipe is important.  A bait tube that is too wide in circumference will allow the opelu to turn around within the bait tube.  If the opelu become stuck while being trolled backwards they will quickly die.  You will want a bait tube that won’t allow the bait to turn around.  As long as the baits can face forward and there is water flowing over them they will live for a while.  A bait tube will create drag and resistance when paddling a kayak so you need to think about how to minimize drag.  Certain types of plastic pipes will float and this is helpful.  I have seen angers attach floats to the tube for more buoyancy.  Some will attach a funnel to the front of the tube to make it sleeker in the water.  Another component of the bait tube is the door or hatch to remove the bait from the tube.  A door can be made on the side of the bait tube with stainless steel hinges.  Others kayakers will use the cap to get the opelu in and out of the tube.  The important things to remember when making your own bait tube it to minimize drag, make sure the opelu can’t turn around and get stuck, and have a good system in place to add and remove opelu from the tube.

Another easy method for a live well is a floating bait cage.  These are inexpensive to purchase through bass pro and cabela’s.  A bait cage is about the size of a Frisbee and has a floating top and a sinking bottom with a net around the perimeter. These bait cages stow pretty well on a kayak and quickly deploy.  Opelu will live in these types of lives well for a while however the down fall is that the bait cages do not troll at all. So when using a bait cage you must remain in the same location as where you caught the bait.

More and more experienced kayak anglers are going with custom built fiberglass live wells.  Some of these fiber glass live wells are actually glassed inside of the kayak hull.  Others use fiberglass to perfectly fill the space on top of the kayak tank well to maximize the amount of bait they can store.  These fiberglass live wells can be formed up with card board and duct tape.  After the fiber glass has cured then the card board is sanded off.  With a bit of time and effort a very good live well can be made out of fiberglass.

Micahs First Ulua There are many kayak live wells for purchase on the market.  Shimano has a kayak live well that will fit into just about any kayak.  On the internet there are several companies that now make kayak live wells out of pet food containers.  Hobie also makes a really nice live well.  Windward Boats is the local Hobie dealer on Oahu and they carry Kayak live wells and Kayak fishing accessories from Hobie.  Here in the islands many kayak anglers will make their own live wells out of a cooler.  A good live well can be made with a cooler, bilge pump, battery, and some simple plumbing.  For my live well I use a Coleman stackable cooler.  I got this from ebay with free shipping to the islands. I find the Coleman stackable to be the perfect size for my kayak.  I pair the cooler with a 350 GPH bilge pump and a battery from interstate batteries in Waipahu.  My live well will hold about a dozen of fresh opelu and keep them frisky.   The battery is probably the most important aspect of a live well.  You will want a battery that has the power to keep the live well water flowing all day. There is nothing worse than catching bait early in the morning and then watching them die in the afternoon because the battery has no more power.   Interstate batteries handles all my battery needs and I can’t thank them enough for keeping me powered up.  Interstate has a great selection of batteries to choose from.  They also sell the battery chargers that you will need to recharge after a long day of fishing.   Interstate Batteries offers solar panels too that can be used to shine more life into kayak batteries.

Inevitably opelu will die while you’re tying to keep them alive.  Not a problem fresh opelu are good to eat.  More importantly they can be used as dead baits while you look for the live bait ball on your next kayak fishing trip.  I have a special opelu cooler that I use for dead baits on my Shark Attack 028 kayak.  Dead opelu in the live well will kill other opelu so it is best to remove them right away when you see them dying.  I put the dead ones in my opelu cooler along with some brine.  When I get home after a day of kayak fishing I take good care of my dead baits.  Sometimes I will eat a few if the catch was good.  Often I will pat them dry and salt them before sealing them up in the freezer for the next kayak fishing trip.  Dead opelu have caught me a lot of fish too and are a good way to start the day.

In conclusion, live bait can help you catch more fish on a kayak.  A fish finder and a live well are two very important tools for catching fish on a kayak.  When you have a good live well loaded up with live bait you can productively work the grounds for bigger predators.  To me it’s one of the best feelings ever to see my live well full of fresh bait.  There have been a very few times that I did not catch something with a live well full of fresh bait but it does happen.  Safety is your choice so choose well. Time on the water is the best teacher.  Get out and fish more.  Respect the ocean and the fishing traditions of the ancient Hawaiians.  Next month I will discuss how to rig opelu for catching big predator fish.  

 

Until then tight lines and Aloha, David “Boogie-D” Elgas. 

Mahalo to: Windward Boats, Hobie, Garmin, Interstate Batteries, Yak Attack, Kokatat, Werner, and Penn.

 

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