The Joys of Kayaking
by Ed Zieralski

A couple of months ago Jim Sammons was bobbing on the ocean in his kayak, catching log-size legal barracuda on every cast of his iron jig.
"There wasn't a boat in sight, on one else on the water but me," Sammons said. "But that's common when I'm kayak fishing."
Sammons said kayak fishing offers him a different perspective on the water, but it does something else, too. It connects him to a fishing heritage that has spanned thousands of years, back to a time when coastal natives plied ocean waters from handmade kayaks.
"It's like fishing in a different world," he said.
The Pacific Beach resident has had sea lions do everything from scare him with loud grunts to foul the air with essence of lion flatulence under his boat. "They can be pretty nasty," Sammons said. "But most of the time they're just curious. They'll blow bubbles and mess with you. One thing, though - I've never lost a fish to a sea lion. But I've lost hundreds of fish to sea lions when fishing from a boat."
He once had a gray whale not 10 feet from his kayak. And there's always the dolphins, often performing wave dances around him.
But the biggest draw of all is the fishing.
He gets into areas boats can't, and he catches fish that seldom see jigs or hooks. By his count last year he caught and released 15 calico bass over 8 pounds. He has several trophy calicos this year. He releases 99 percent of the fish he catches.
It is into that magical ocean world that Sammons goes as often as he can.
"I got into this because I couldn't afford a 20-foot center console," he said. "And I got tired of fishing from a surfboard."

by Ed Zieralski

Sammons is a deliveryman for Pepsi, but last year he started his own guide service, La Jolla Kayak Fishing. He offers group or private lessons, guide service on the water and tours by kayak. He'll even help anglers modify their kayaks into better fishing machines.
"I've fished San Diego waters all my life," Sammons said. "I started the business as a way to get onto the water more. It's also a way to get my wife to accept my time on the water."
Jon Larson of El Cajon went out with Sammons and caught the adrenaline rush. Sammons taught him all the basics. Now Larson has his own kayak and fishes often.
Sammons charges $175 for his one-day course on the water. It covers everything, including rental rods and use of the kayak.
"All you have to do is show up with a fishing license," Sammons said. "When you're done, you'll know everything about kayak fishing. You'll know how to set up the boat, how to catch live bait and how to fish. I have techniques for all types of fishing-calico and sand bass, halibut, even white seabass."
Sammons recommends a Scupper Pro kayak, which sells for around $600, for its versatility. It has a tank well to store food and water and a hatch big enough for him to carry eight rods. Sammons added three "rocket launcher" rod holders.
He keeps his gear simple, but doesn't sell himself short. His rods and reels are quality, and he carries most of the lures and hooks and other tackle he'll need in a fanny pack. He doesn't wear the fanny pack, but simply puts it around his forward rod holder.
He wears wet-suit shorts and a rash-guard shirt. A large brimmed hat and sun screen protects him from getting hammered by the sun and polarized sunglasses save his eyes and help him spot fish.
Safety is a prime concern, Sammons said. He always has a cellular phone in case of an emergency. He also carries a rescue bag and a throw rope. He often fishes tight to the rocks and surf zone. But he watches an area for 15 minutes or longer before moving in. "You never want to be so wrapped up in fishing that you get swept into the rocks or broadsided by a wave," he said.
A paddle is a key piece of equipment, Sammons said. It can cost as little as $100 and as much as $400. And he said always attach a leash to the paddle. Sammons said he can paddle much faster than a trolling motor.
Sammons' kayak also has a fish finder and depth finder.
"I really like it for areas I'm not familiar with," Sammons said.
He carries a live bait bucket for mackerel, but he said his best fish-getter is a Rapala, black and silver.
"The second I hit the water I get the Rapala out and start trolling," Sammons said. "I've caught more fish with the Rapalas than with anything else."
When the yellowtail are going, he'll put back a nose-hooked live mackerel, far behind the boat.
As do captains on sport boats, Sammons looks for birds working or fish rolling or boiling on bait.
Sammons has found a different world with his new fishing pursuit. His views are from the water's edge now, not above it.
"San Diego Bay is a great place, especially when you get in there in a kayak and got to the end of Point Loma," Sammons said. "You never realize what a pretty place it is."
For information about Sammons' La Jolla Kayak Fishing, call him at (619) 461-7172