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Kayak Fishing

Alejandro Benes
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Costner, July/August 2008

A calico bass has already nibbled on the Big Hammer plastic lure and escaped. I try again and feel something bite hard on my Big Hammer. With a jerk on my light tackle, I successfully set the hook. It doesn't take too long to reel the fish in. The bass is about a foot long, maybe a little more, and heftier than I anticipated.

Still, in the fast growing world of kayak fishing, this is a minor trophy. Along the coasts of California, Texas and Florida intrepid kayak fishermen are catching marlin, sailfish and even sharks from these small craft. Sportsmen choose kayaks to fish from because they offer more stealth and maneuverability than noisy powerboats. I do it because tennis hurts my knees, but there is also the occasional excitement of catching a ride from a big fish that can easily pull a kayak and you through the water.

Not this time. I briefly take in the brown and white fish. Then I set it free.

As an urbane gentleman of Caribbean origin, my first challenge in getting here today is the water temperature. The Pacific Ocean is an uninviting 59 degrees, but the air temperature is close to 95. That makes it a lot less appealing to put on the neoprene wet suit and booties I'll need when I finally get into the water.

"You have to study the waves," my more experienced friend told me. "Then you want to paddle really hard with the point of the kayak headed straight into the wave."

Another obstacle comes first. I, with a vertical leap that gravity mocks, have to jump onto the kayak, not into it. This is a "sit-on-top" ocean kayak. Very stable. It is specially rigged to secure fishing rods, tackle, a gaff and a net inside the hull. A depth finder or sonar is recommended to "see" what's under you, but that's too much to think about. So are a humidor and a beer cooler.

Once beyond the waves, I tie onto some kelp to steady the kayak while I slide up and down the deck to get ready to fish, a tricky maneuver at best.

Really warm now, I strip the top of my wet suit down to the waist. I mount two rods in holders, one behind me and one on the side, and move back to the middle, where I dangle my feet over one side (in full view of any nearby sharks!) and slide back to gain better balance.

The lure flies out at the end of my line and glides near the top. All is calm. A cigar would be perfect. Then the fish start hitting.

Visit LaJolla Kayak Fishing Adventures at www.kayak4fish.com for information as well as guide service.

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