Dangling line from a kayak is worth a try
The popularity of kayaks has really taken off in local lakes like Donner and Tahoe. Kayaks are also extremely popular and very effective in ocean waters, as I discovered on the recent trip to the Sea of Cortez.
The Rancho Leonero resort maintains a fleet of kayaks for use by guests and is run by Dennis Spike. Spike rents the kayaks out on an hourly or full-day basis. He also does guided fishing trips with individuals or groups.
The day we selected to fish from the kayaks, the surf was still up slightly from the north winds on the previous day. We decided to go out around midmorning in anticipation of calming seas.
We selected our craft and then went quickly back to the room to change into a pair of swim trunks and to get a little heavier rod. A 10-weight fly rod is generally recommended when doing inshore fishing from either a Panga boat or kayak. After my experience this year, the best line is a shooting head of around 250 to 300 grains. I think that something similar to a Type IV Scientific Angler shooting head that many use at Pyramid Lake would be a pretty good all-around line. The 400-grain line that I was using was sinking much too fast.
Some of my companions trolled and cast with spinning gear, which is a great option. A medium heavy spin rod with about 25- to 40-pound test should be a pretty good set-up. Be sure the reel has adequate capacity for at least 500 to 600 feet of line. Lures such as the Rapala Saltwater X-Rap in the blue sardine and the olive green colors seemed to work very well during our stay at the end of April.
The swim trunks proved to be a good call, since getting out in surging surf from the beach requires paddling into the waves. Occasionally a wave will get you wet and having swim wear on makes it much more comfortable.
Paddling one of these craft is very easy, but I found that it pays to do a little upper body work in the gym prior to making your trip down there. The paddling gives the upper body an incredibly good workout! We all experienced a little soreness after paddling around for about a half day.
The kayak that I selected was a Hobie Revolution. It had adjustable foot rests to adapt to just about any size paddler. With storage compartments fore and aft, and one on the side, there is plenty of room to stow some gear. A dry bag would be a good piece of extra equipment to take along to stow gear like a camera or other gear that you do not want to get wet.
Spike’s kayaks were able to be rigged with fly-rod holders. However, they were unavailable the day that we were out, so we had to carry our rods out with us.
One other piece of equipment that is pretty handy is a rod tether. It is a simple device that secures your rod in the event that it drops overboard. I did not have one, but one of my companions had made a number of these with some elastic ribbon and Velcro. It worked just fine.
I was surprised at the stability of the kayaks. By the end of the morning I found myself confidently spinning around on the kayak 360 degrees to cast.
Fishing itself proved to be a little slow, but we saw schools of ladyfish and Jack Crevalle. I hooked a ladyfish, but it came off on the first jump that it made shortly after realizing it was hooked.
Kayak fishing has become extremely popular down in Baja and just about everywhere else. Anglers have taken just about every species that you can from a boat. Can you imagine catching a sailfish or marlin on a kayak? It has been done.
A couple of anglers we talked to were coming back in from about five miles out. They were using spinning gear and had gotten into a school of Albacore.
We did not venture more than perhaps a mile off shore at any time. The fishing was only fair at best mainly due to the weather. The weather during our stay kept the water temperatures a bit cooler so that the bait did not materialize in our area. The warmer water was much farther south, as was the better fishing.
Kayak fishing is really a lot of fun. Hobie even makes a couple of different kayaks with a foot propulsion system that would be great for fishing. I was really intrigued by the ease of handling and the overall stability of these ocean kayaks. I could easily see them being a great way to fish our local lakes as well as the ocean.
If you ever get a chance to try one, please do so. They are so much fun!
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
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