Kayak Fishing


Kayak Fishing
by Les Webster

A couple of weeks ago, I got the urge to finish off a kayak design that I had started over a year ago. The design has sat in front of me while other boats have had my attention. I wanted to take a look at some roto-molded polyethylene kayaks to get an idea of how their bottoms were shaped. These plastic kayaks seem to be very popular, and I see a lot of them on Perris Lake where I sail in the evenings. Although roto-molding is not a do-it-yourself material, I thought I could pick up some ideas from examining them.

I went to Sports Chalet, which is a chain of sporting goods stores in California and Nevada, and they had a good supply of kayaks, paddles and other accessories. While there, a sales person said “come on out to Lake Perris next weekend and you can try all the kayaks in the water”. There was a small fee of $5.00 paid in advance. I decided to take my wife and grandson who were both interested in trying out the kayaks. The store handed out a flyer for the event, and on the flyer was mention of a “free kayak fishing seminar”. Heck, I like anything free especially if it involves fishing.

kayaks were everywhere

We arrived at 9:00 AM and what a surprise! There were manufacturer tents and kiosks set-up on the beach at Sail Cove, and kayaks were everywhere. Hobie, Ocean Kayaks, Perception, Dagger and others were there with boats and helpful staff. Just walk down to the beach and someone fits you with a PFD, someone else hands you a paddle, and off you go to pick out a kayak. I should have counted the kayaks, but over time as more people showed up, more kayaks were brought out of the trailers. Over 200 people showed up to take advantage of paddling all different models of kayaks over the day for only $5.00, what a deal. Not once did I hear “be careful with that boat” or “watch out don’t scratch it” - what I did hear and see were helpful knowledgeable people helping adults and kids get the best out of the gear and having a great time. No one had to wait long for a kayak as there were plenty at the event.

The highlight of the day for me was the fishing seminar. I had pictured paddling along in a quiet lake casting flies to rising trout. Wrong, what I found was quite different. How about trophy sized saltwater big game fish pulling a kayak around the ocean.

Jim Sammons

I met Jim Sammons, owner of La Jolla Kayak Fishing, which is located in La Jolla, California. Jim is a fisherman, guide, kayak paddling instructor, Baja California expedition outfitter and equipment supplier. Jim was also giving the seminar that day.

Jim showed how to outfit a kayak for fishing in the ocean. Rod holders, life bait tanks, fish finders, game bags, gaff and rod holders, the equipment list reads like a 30’ sportfisher, yet all this equipment is on a 14’ Sit-on-Top plastic kayak. Jim was quite helpful about how to rig and fish for big game on a small boat; using 20# line and letting the fish tire out pulling the kayak around makes a lot of sense. Organization is very important on a kayak, as everything has to be easily accessible yet you don’t want it falling overboard.

organization is very important on a kayak

Knowing where to go and how to launch from the beach was a subject that was touched on. I have always thought it would be difficult to land a kayak thru the surf line, and doing it loaded with fishing equipment seemed even harder. Jim assured me that his class on Surf Survival would give me the skills to get out and back on the beach without crashing.

Kayaking is a fast growing sport, and Kayak Fishing seems to be growing even faster. The equipment that has been developed for Kayaks would work well on any small boat. Two of the items that Jim has developed and has available on his website www.kayak4fish.com are the 12V live bait tank and his fish storage system he calls a “Game Bag”.

The game bag fits inside the hull and is tapered to match the hatch opening in the bow of the kayak, it is constructed from vinyl covered foam and is opened with large zippers. With the fish they are catching from kayaks, a “stringer” just isn’t going to cut it. The small portable live bait tank was really interesting; it is powered by a small 12V battery that fits in a watertight compartment at the top of the tank. The game bag and live bait tank are shown below.

Game bag and live bait tank

Kayak fishing looks like an exciting way to fish big game without a lot of expense or boat costs. A fully outfitted roto-molded kayak is surprisingly inexpensive. If you have any questions, drop Jim a line at Jim@kayak4fish.com, and be sure to check out his website which also includes a kayak fishing forum

I will be incorporating some of these items and ideas into the kayak that I am building. I hope to have it finished for the Kayak Fishing Tournament in La Jolla.

What nice events Sports Chalet and the Kayak Manufacturers and Jim Sammons put on, I’m sure not everyone there will buy a kayak but everyone came away with a fun day on the water. Cold bottled water, snacks, and lots of give aways were appreciated by everyone.

Here are a couple of first time paddlers after receiving some instruction on beach