Kayak Fishing - an Introduction
By Jim Sammons owner of La Jolla Kayak Fishing

Do you ever get tired of bumping elbows at the rail of a party boat or losing that "fish of the day" due to someone else's mistake? Are you tired of shelling out money every time you want to get on the water? Would you like to get on the evening bite but don't have time to launch your boat, get to the spot then spend two hours late at night cleaning your boat? Are you tired of wanting to go fishing but you can't find a fishing partner to help launch your boat and share expenses? Do you hate to see birds working the surface but you can't get to them because your fishing from shore? Do you just want to get more time on the water? Do you want to put sport back in sport fishing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions Kayak fishing may be for you.

Kayak fishing gives you an intimacy with the ocean that is hard to describe. The silence of the kayak is so noninvasive that you see and experience more interaction with sea life. Gray whales will surface near the kayak, circle a few times to check you out, and then disappear into the deep blue water. You seem to see something different and exciting each time you get on your kayak.
It is that same stealth that has given kayak fisherman the opportunity to make some extraordinary catches. From bull Calicos, Yellow tail, and trophy White sea bass for starters. For the real adrenalin junky Thresher sharks close to two hundred pounds and even Marlin have been caught from kayaks in the La Jolla area. The ability to take your kayak to the beach right next to the fishing grounds means more fishing time. You can launch your kayak and be fishing in mere minutes.

Of course you don't start off launching through the surf and fishing for these larger game fish. You want to leave that to the more experienced kayak angler.
So how do you get started?

Before I take someone out on one of my guided trips I usually suggest that they go to one of the local shops and first just try paddling on the bay. If you want to kayak fish, you have to paddle, so you better see if it's for you first. Alan's Kayaks in Mission Beach is a good choice of shops as he caters to the kayak angler. Next, I would suggest that you take advantage of my instructional guide service. We supply the kayaks, fishing gear and everything else needed for your day on the water. For most people this will shorten the learning curve by one or two years. It is also a great way to see if kayak fishing is for you before you make the investment on a new kayak.

If you feel you are ready to venture out on your own start out small. Bring one rod (not your favorite four hundred dollar stick) and some of your favorite plastics such as fish traps and some crocodiles. Fishing for Calicos, Sand bass and Barracuda is a great way to get a feel for your boat. Just remember if it's not tied down you will loose it, so everything should be secured to your kayak.

adding gear such as multiple rod holders, fish finders, GPS and live bait tanks. Of all the pieces of equipment on my kayak, the live bait tank is the one that has increased our catch the most. These home built tanks will hold up to two dozen Mackerel. And paddling speed seems to be perfect for slow trolling these live Mac's for the Yellows.

Here are some things that you don't want to leave the beach without.

  1. Your kayak: The best thing to do is test several kayaks to see which fits your needs the best. For a fully outfitted fishing kayak (kayak, seat, paddle and rod holders) you can expect to pay from $600 to $900. For reference I use the Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro TW. I feel it is the best choice out there. It is at the top end in pricing but well worth it. But again not all kayaks fit all people so test a few.
  2. Paddle: Obviously if you want to get anywhere you need a paddle. A good paddle will run you about $125. I also suggest you carry a second cheaper two-piece paddle inside your kayak. I had a client loose a paddle two miles from shore that backup paddle saved us.
  3. Seat: Just like kayaks they come in many different sizes and styles, and like a kayak not every seat is for every person. Go to a shop that will let you test the different seats on the water. A good seat makes a big difference in your comfort.
  4. Paddle Leash: This allows you to get your paddle out of the way while fighting a fish but keeps it close at hand.
  5. Personal Floatation Device: This item is not only required by law but just a good idea.
  6. Fishing Rods: Gear the rod to what you are fishing for. The main consideration is length. Don't buy into "short boat short rod". You will want to use a rod of about seven feet for a couple of reason. It will increase your casting distance but more importantly allows you to reach around the bow of your kayak while fighting a fish.
  7. Rod Holders: I like to carry several rods, so having several rod holders allows you to do this. There are several on the market I prefer the rocket launcher type.
  8. Fish Finder: I use the Hummin Bird portable unit. They are not expensive and can make the difference between a good or bad day of fishing.
  9. Dry Bags: Don't let anyone tell you these boats are waterproof. If you have anything you want to keep dry you need dry bags.
  10. Fishing tackle: I personally keep my tackle in a waterproof fanny pack. This keeps it secure and available to me at all times.
  11. Bait tank: Live bait can give you a shot at some of the real bad boys out there. You can use a Plano bait bucket they work well but limit you to only a couple of baits. My live bait tank holds dozens of baits and will keep them alive all day. You can buy a bait tank online in the Kayak4Fish.com Online Store!
  12. Safety Equipment: I carry a small first aide kit in it's own dry bag, a small pack of hand held flares, and a towline. I always bring my cell phone with me on the water and a hand held radio. I also carry a GPS and a compass as backup. When that fog rolls in they will get you home safe. These items don't take up much space on your kayak and can mean the difference between life and death.
Fishing from a kayak can give you a whole new appreciation for the ocean and the creatures that live in it. Being so close to the water you almost feel at one with your surroundings. Kayak fishing truly is an addiction and my passion.
I hope this give you a little insight into kayak fishing. For more information please call Jim Sammons at La Jolla Kayak Fishing at (619) 461-7172. Please let the big Calicos go - they are the future.