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Getting started kayak fishing an exciting endeavor
How-To

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This is the first in a series on how to get started fishing from a kayak.

While growing up on the San Francisco Peninsula I spent many hours with my father plugging and soaking anchovies in the surf of Rockaway and Sharp Park beaches in Pacifica for striped bass.

The hours spent fishing with my father while growing up were timeless and irreplaceable.  However, the older I got the more obsessed I became with catching fish rather than casting and hoping for a strike.

When I was old enough to drive and fish on my own I spent every free minute during striper season trying to catch the monster fish of my dreams.  Unfortunately, my frustration only grew when I watched the party boats back up into the waves of Linda Mar Beach and hammer the stripers one after another while I heaved an arsenal of metal and lead as far as I could.  No matter how long my rod or heavy my lure I could not reach the fish. 

Although the late 1990s brought increases runs of stripers to the beach my feeling of frustration continued.  After the birth of my first child my fishing time had dwindled to a few chance trips and a lot of blind casting for stray stripers. 

One July day in 2004, right about the time I was getting ready to give up fishing for a while, my two year-old son and I were hanging out at the beach digging for sand crabs and building castles.  Looking out at the water I noticed and odd shape out in the distance with what looked to be a fishing rod angled for the troll.  As the object got closer I realized it was a kayak and a person was fishing.  At first this seemed like an odd marriage.  A kayak and a fisherman in the ocean?  That is crazy! I watched the kayaker intently for 45 minutes before he finally landed.  Much to my surprise he had a limit of salmon and  ling cod.  After speaking with the man for few minutes I knew kayak fishing was for me.

With the prospect of kayak fishing racing around in my mind I quickly began to research kayaks and kayak fishing.  I located resources in Southern California but local information was scarce.  As it turned out the 2004 salmon season was monumental and I soon found kayak fisherman by the dozen flooding the Linda Mar beach parking lot.  I spent many early mornings talking and researching until I finally felt confident enough to take the next step.

The first step is purchasing a kayak that fits your budget and fishing needs.  When I first started there were just a few brands designed for fishing and others designed for diving.  After talking to people who were already kayak fishing, visiting dive shops and large stores such as REI, I decided upon the ocean kayak prowler.  At the time it was one of the most popular fishing kayaks. At 15-feet, four-inches and weighing 54 pounds, the kayak was both sturdy and fast, ideal when traveling long distances in the ocean and hauling in monster fish. 

Six years later kayak fishing has gained in popularity and kayak manufacturers have developed several fishing style kayaks to meet the needs of all fisherman. See  table A  for comparison.  

OCEAN KAYAKS 

Table A

MODEL

T 13 Angler

T 15 Angler

P 13 Angler

P 15 Angler

LENGTH

13’ 6”

15’ 7”

13’4”

15’7”

SEAT WIDTH

17”

17”

17”

17”

WEIGHT

56lbs

60lbs

54lbs

60lbs

LIST PRICE

$999

$1,149

$799

$1,049

STANDARD

2 flush mount rod holders, Rod Pod, Sonar Sheild, Fwd Hatch,

2 flush mount rod holders, Rod Pod, Sonar Sheild, Fwd Hatch,

6” cam lock, Bow hatch,

Bow hatch,

Sonar Shield

 WILDERNESS

 

MODEL

T12

T 14

LENGTH

12’3”

14’

SEAT WIDTH

20”

20”

WEIGHT

70lbs

75lbs

LIST PRICE

$1,050

$1,150

 

HOBIE

 

MODEL

MIRAGE OUTBACK

MIRAGE REVOLUTION

LENGTH

12’1”

13’5”

WEIGHT

62

58

LIST PRICE

$1,750

$1,750

 

 Although the table above will provide you with specs and dimensions, each kayak will be a little different than the other. For example the Hobie offers you the opportunity to use foot pedals as a primary propulsion system.  Of course you can use a paddle too!

 Although I own the Prowler 15, when I purchase a new kayak I will be looking at the Trident 15 by Ocean Kayak.  The rod storing capability will be a large upgrade from the Prowler series.  Being able to store rods safely inside the kayak provides peace of mind when landing on the beach or navigating through turbulent water.

 Other consideration when purchasing a kayak should be:

Where are you planning on fishing?  If you are planning on fishing in the ocean the larger kayaks with the most storage would be my first choice.  Launching and landing can be rough on calm days and you want to protect your expensive gear from being thrashed or lost.   If you plan on only fishing lakes then you can use a smaller kayak with less stability and more speed.  Mirage Outback and Revolution are popular for lakes and bay waters.

 Another consideration when buying a kayak is your size.  It is important to test drive your kayak before you purchase it. If you are an avid fisherman you should plan on spending a lot of time on the water.  You want to be as comfortable as can be and although kayaks might look the same they are very different when it comes to design.  A large person will not have the best experience in a short skinny kayak.  On the flip side if your kayak is too wide you will have trouble paddling for speed and distance.

 Next you should keep to a budget.  The kayak will be the most expensive purchase you make when entering this sport. However there are many other accessories you will need before you are ready fish safely.  If you can, I suggest looking for a used kayak. Many people often sell their kayak with electronics and other accessories included. This can save you a lot of money.   If you choose to purchase a used kayak I suggest asking the seller for pictures  then, if you decide you want closer look, make sure to inspect the kayak thoroughly.

 One last thing to remember when purchasing a kayak is transportation.  There are several different styles of car and truck racks available in many different price ranges.  Be sure have the rack system installed prior to your purchase!

 

 

 

 


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