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November 20, 2012

Kite Ballet

Become a Better Kite-Fisherman by Honing Your Boatmanship
kite fishing
Kite-fishing is a visual game, and learning to push your boat to its maximum capabilities while not fouling kites and baits will lead to greater success. (Pat Ford)

Whether you’re pursuing sailfish in South Florida or bluefin tuna off the Massachusetts coast, kite-fishing often produces when other techniques will not. Dangling multiple baits atop the water’s surface generates both stealth and the sheer power of numbers.
But kite-fishing can be tricky, especially for beginners, and particularly when flying two kites. There’s a lot going on at any given moment, and great attention must be paid to baits, lines, wind and current.
Then there’s your boat.

No doubt that maneuvering can get dicey with all that hardware in the air. But it’s something that boat anglers must become adept at if they hope to become successful kite-fishermen.

Spreading the Lines

Running a free jumping fish

When drifting in an easterly breeze and spotting a free-jumping sailfish ahead and starboard of his boat , A. Capt. Dean Panos pulls in his sea anchor, raises his kite baits from the water and runs ahead and around the fish's path . B. When he feels he has intercepted the sailfish, he reorients the boat into the wind and drops the baits back into the water. C. (David Sheperd)

Big sport-fishers or outrigger-equipped, dual‑engine center consoles offer a captain optimum mobility when flying two kites from the stern. Why? The port and starboard kite lines are generally run through the boat’s corresponding outriggers, which keep the kites spaced well apart in the air.

“This allows you to turn the boat right or left without having to worry about the kites tangling,” says Capt. Dean Panos, who runs the Double D, a 34-foot Sea-Vee, out of Miami. “It also allows you to spin the boat without gnarling up your rigs.”

Wind speed generally dictates just how aggressively the boat can be turned. “With anything greater than 15 knots, you can do whatever you want,” Panos says. “But with light wind, you’ll often have to power forward and then to the side to keep things orderly.”

But what if you don’t own a boat with ­outriggers? Don’t fret — you can still fly dual kites. But it must be done more carefully.

Capt. Dave Kostyo has been doing so for years out of Miami aboard his 28-foot Whitewater, Knot Nancy. His boat is not equipped with outriggers, so Kostyo instead runs his kite lines through stainless steel rings attached to the port and ­starboard sides of his boat’s T-top.

“It gets the lines up a little higher and spreads them out a bit,” he says. “I’ve got to be careful about trying to spin like the bigger boats because I don’t have the strength of structure up top nor the width. But it can be done — and the more you practice, the better you get.”