PROFILE OF A KITE FISHERMAN
Picture this scenario: You head out for a little boating adventure in South Florida -- say Ft. Lauderdale. It's a sunny and windy day out on the open water. You approach another boat and spot several grown men that appear to be flying kites from the rear of their vessel. No, this isn't the latest craze in ocean entertainment. This is a fairly new (as fishing goes) technique used all over the world by adventurous anglers looking to get something more out of their fishing experience.
So, we know that kite fishermen are out for a more creative kind of fishing. But that isn't the only reason why someone first thought to use a kite with a fishing rig. There are a couple of very specific things that using a kite can accomplish. When you're fishing from the beach, a kite can take an attached fishing line far offshore where the larger fish are. These depths can't be reached from shore, no matter how strong of a cast you muster. When you're fishing from a boat, a cleverly set kite rig can take multiple pieces of bait set along a line and keep each piece dangling close to the surface where some prize game fish feed.
It's a complicated way to fish, so you should go out with an experienced kite fisherman, if it's your first time trying it. But like any fishing technique, once you get the hang of it, you'll have luck. In fact, you can haul in a large amount of fish because of the multiple lines you have in the water at one time. Once you have the technique mastered, all you need is the right equipment, some patience and a 10 to 15 knot wind, which is usually not too hard to come by on the open water.
Kite Fishing (cont)
KITE FISHING GEAR
Gear is important for any kind of fishing, but that's especially so with kite fishing. You're going to need some very specific and sometimes expensive components to make it all work. First and foremost, you're going to need a kite, and not just any kite. It must be a kite specifically made for fishing. A fishing kite ranges between $50 and $100, for the most part. And like recreational kites, they come in a variety of shapes sizes and colors, depending on your needs. The more expensive kites are generally heavier weight, sturdier and able to withstand stronger winds. High-speed spool reels are used, although some kite fishing rigs rely on mechanical spools to do the dirty work. The rod used with a kite rig is short, about 3 feet long, and stout.
The releases are another key piece of equipment. This is what attaches the baited line to the kite line. They are built to release as soon as something tugs on it and run about $10 each. There are also all kinds of side items you can buy for kite fishing: Ceramic rings help reduce wear and tear on the kite line. Marker floats indicate where the bait meets the water and rod holder for when you want to kick things up a notch and use several rod-and-reel rigs per kite line.
Typically, you're going to sink about $300 or more into a basic beginner's kite fishing rig. There are Web sites that sell complete kits for a little under $300, and if you plan on going top-of-the-line with your gear you can spend more than $300 on the mechanical reel all by itself. Your best bet as a newbie is to go out on a chartered kite fishing boat and see how you do before sinking a lot of money into a rig.
Kite Fishing (cont)
The southeast coast of Florida is fairly windy and known as prime kite fishing area, mainly for highly prized sailfish. The fish are biting from October through April, making it a prime "off-season" fishing destination. Because Florida is ahead of the kite fishing curve, the sport has spread across the state, with anglers on the Gulf Coast using this method in recent years. The technique has also caught on in other locations around the world to fish for a variety of species. In fact, you can fish for pretty much any fish using the kite method.
California fishermen troll the Pacific in search of large yellowfin tuna, and in the Northeast bluefin is on the menu. Kite fishermen usually have luck catching types of fish that like to feed near the surface of the water. A typical kite fishing day could yield snapper, tuna, wahoo, bonito, kingfish and even shark that are out for the fish interested in your bait. Even bottom feeders can come up to the surface on occasion for an unexpected catch.
One plus of kite fishing is that you can use the technique from a variety of places -- from the shore and from almost any kind of boat. When angling for fish with a kite, look for where the blue water meets the green water. This edge is known for being fertile fishing ground. Reefs, either natural or man-made, are also prime spots for kite fishing. Just do your best to keep your kite out of the water. Retrieving a downed kite is tricky and you can easily break the kite. If you manage to get the kite into the boat in one piece, it needs to fully dry before you send it back into service. This is why the experienced kite fisherman always brings along at least one backup kite.