This is my first Blog post for the Channel Islands Sportfishing Kayak Section, so first let me introduce myself and give you some history on my background and experience. I have been fishing the Channel Islands area for almost 30 years now. As a new years resolution, I decided to become a Kayak Fisherman. I purchased my first Kayak in February, and have been going out fishing on average 1-2 times a week. Because of my surfing and fishing experience I took to the sport with some ease.
Here are some things I learned the hard way as a Novice that I will share:
1. Strap it down if you don't want to lose it - So far I have lost a tackle box with tackle, sunglasses, and a hat, but I've witnessed some other guys lose fishing rods, coffee mugs, tackle, phones, and some pride.
2. Get comfortable with your kayak. Within the first week I purchased my Kayak I took it out with nothing but a wetsuit and launched from the beach, I purposely rolled my kayak to simulate rolling it. I also rocked it to get used to the felling and the kayaks limits. I practiced getting back onto the kayak and practiced standing on it. I wanted to get a firm understanding of the limits and capabilities of both myself and the kayak. I launched from the beach into the surf, however I would only recommend this to someone who is familiar with beach surf. Unless you are comfortable and experienced with beach surf, I would not recommend launching into surf. Launch in harbors, and from calm coves, and inlets.
3. Boaters do not care about their wake. Stay away from boaters.
4. Wear sunscreen, hat, and water clothes and even possibly a wetsuit. Sunscreen is probably the most important.
5. Join a group or find some friends to launch with. At first I didn't know many people who were Kayak anglers. I was fortunate to have one friend "MJ" who is a pretty experienced kayak angler, and he took me out the first time. Since I was green, I wanted to go out more frequently and so when MJ was not available I found myself launching alone. Looking back my confidence was probably more stupidity, although I never encountered a problem, or hooked a large fish, I didn't need to rely on help. When you catch a large fish, having a partner can be essential.
6. Set up your fishing rigging before you launch. Its much easier to do from land, and you will be ready to fish quicker.
7. Always put your poles and gear in the kayak hull when launching and landing on the beach. A small wave is enough to roll a kayak, and I left a pole in the rod holder once only to have it broken when my kayak rolled on the shore.
8. County Line in Malibu is tougher than it looks. I launched in 4-5 foot surf and got out, the problem was coming in. I tried to time it right, but a rouge wave came up on me fast forcing me to jump from the Kayak and swim in while my kayak got rolled onto the beach.
9. Stretch before launching. Cold water increases the chance of cramping up, and stretching primes your body, preventing cramps, and possibly injury.
Here is a checklist of things you will need for kayak angling as well as a basic kayak setup for a novice:
1. Fishing rod, tackle needle nose pliers and stringer. (carry a small Plano type box with limited tackle, only what you plan to use). Make sure your kayak has rod holders, unless you don't mind paddling with a rod on your lap.
2. Net and or Gaff. You will need these if you hook up on a large fish. A good tip is to wrap the poles with foam noodles to allow them to float.
3. Life Vest. Required for safety and by Law.
4. Whistle and or Air horn. Another safety device to tell boaters where you are and to signal for help.
5. Water and a snack. Stay hydrated, and stay energized.
6. Straps and Leashes. You will want a leash for your rods even when they are in the rod holders. For instance while paddling your paddle can make contact with your rod and eject it from the rod holder. Leash or strap everything down that does not float.
7. Lights, if you plan to be paddling in low light, night, or even fog, lights are essential.
8. Measuring device. you will need to make sure the fish you catch are within Fish & Game regulations. 9. Needless to say a paddle and seat.
Once you start kayak fishing you will be hooked and obsessed, so be prepared to spend countless hours rigging you kayak, paddling to locations, and soaking bait. Im still learning a lot and will continue to share my experiences.