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November 20, 2012

Kite Ballet

Become a Better Kite-Fisherman by Honing Your Boatmanship

Running and Gunning

kite fisherman
To help keep his baits spread out, Capt. Dave Kostyo runs his kite lines from the kite rod through stainless steel rings attached to the port and starboard sides of his boat's T-top. (Mike Mazur)

That’s good advice for new kite-­fishermen — and, similarly, Kostyo says it’s important for anglers new to this type of fishing to remain “one step ahead of the curve” in regard to boat positioning.
“You’ve got to think ahead of what’s currently happening,” he says. “For instance, don’t react to what the fish has done but instead of what the fish is on the verge of doing.”

This certainly applies to boat-handling when fighting a fish — but also when searching for them.
“Kite-fishing is very visual,” Panos says. “In addition to watching the baits, I’m constantly watching the horizon for fish on the surface.”
If Panos spots a free-jumping sailfish out ahead of the boat, he’ll holler for his crew to pull in the sea anchor and raise the baits.
It takes a good deckhand about 30 seconds to rip in the sea anchor, and the baits typically can survive for about 30 seconds to a minute while suspended in the air, Panos says. Then he juices the engines to cut off the moving fish.

“We run with the kites and baits in the air,” he says. “Nothing crazy that will break the kites off, but pretty hard, 15 to 18 mph, depending on how hard the wind is blowing.”

It’s important to stay on a heading into the breeze so the kites don’t crash. Once Panos gets around the fish, he straightens out the boat and drops the baits — hopefully on one or more fish.

Orderly Catches

This sort of run-and-gun kite-fishing is common in high-stakes sailfish tournament fishing — but Kostyo often takes a more subtle approach.

Manuering between boats
Efficient maneuvering of big boats in crowded waters is a requirement when flying kites. (Capt. Vincent Daniello)

“When moving to different depths, a lot of guys like to pick up everything and run, but I get lots of hits simply by moving out slowly to the new depth,” he says.

Kostyo says it’s important for anglers to have a keen understanding of how wind and current affect a particular boat. “There are days I can use just one engine and other days when I need both engines in gear to keep the bow into the wind,” he says. “You really have to be in tune with your boat.”

And once hooked up, staying in tune with the fish from the helm becomes essential too.
“Always try to keep ahead of the fish,” Kostyo says. “Try to keep it off the stern or parallel to the cockpit. The guys with outriggers can spin the boat more easily, and they’re able to keep the stern facing the fish and back down on it. But for me, without outriggers, you just keep the fish to the rear of the cockpit and move forward with it.

“It all comes down to practice, though,” Kostyo says again for emphasis. “And the more you do it, the better you get.”

About The Experts
One of the top kite-fishing captains in Miami, Capt. Dean Panos runs a 34-foot Sea-Vee, the Double D. Call 954-805-8231 or visit doubled​charters​.com. Capt. Dave Kostyo has been chartering his 28-foot Whitewater, Knot Nancy, in the Miami area for 20 years. Call 305-965-9454 or visit knot​nancy​.com.