Kayak Fishing tips

The Kayak Fishing Show review of 2015

It is hard to believe we have finished shooting for our seventh season on the air and are days away form the start of shooting for season eight.

We visited some amazing places and fished with wonderful people in 2015. In all honesty it was one of our tougher years fishing and weather wise but we pulled together and I think we got some great footage that will make for some real fun shows.

Our first stop in 2015 was a return trip to Panama with Paddle Panama, this was actually a shoot for our last airing season. We had a fantastic trip with some good fish and lots of fun kayak surfing.

One of many great fish in Panama

One of many great fish in Panama

Charging the Surf

Charging the Surf

Fun little Roosterfish

Fun little Roosterfish

One of the coolest parts of this trip was hanging with these kids

One of the coolest parts of this trip was hanging with these kids

After Panama we went directly to Florida for the kayak fishing Boondoggle and to explore the everglades.
Coming from Panama I was expecting Florida to be just as warm, big surprise it gets freezing in Florida. Even with that we had a great time hanging with friends and getting on some fish.

The next trip was a road trip with my daughter Kirstin, Jarrod Mcgehee and my good friend Sean White. We hit up Mag bay and one of my favorite places Cedros Island with Cedros Outdoor Adventures.
This was another trip where we got our butts kicked by weather but we kept at it and got some real good fish for our efforts. The highlight of the trip for me was Kirstin catching the biggest Yellowtail on the trip.

Kirstin with her big YT

Kirstin with her big YT

I was so stoked for her

I was so stoked for her

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A decent one for me

A decent one for me

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

We didn't release everything we caught

We didn’t release everything we caught

For our next trip it was back on a plane for a flight down the Costa Rica, this time to the remote Drakes bay and the awesome Aguila de Osa Lodge. Our good buddy Esteban from Black Beard fishing charters set up the trip for us and brought along his partner Drei for some great fishing action on BIG Roosterfish and Dorado.

A big AJ for Esteban

A big AJ for Esteban

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds


Of course it is always fun during our shooting seasons to explore new places and this year we were able to visit a couple places we had never been before. First off was a trip to the Caribbean country of Curacao. On the trip with me were my wife Allene and by buddy Wes Seigler from Truth Reels.
This was one of our toughest trips of the year when it came to the fishing and the weather. Very high winds every day kept us from doing some of the things we would have liked but that didn’t diminish the great time we had in this beautiful country with its wonderful inhabitants. The water here is warm and the most wonderful color of blue you will ever see and the people were amazingly friendly. We worked hard on this trip putting in so many paddling miles in the wind, but because of the great company we spent most of that time laughing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Our arrival in Curacao

Our arrival in Curacao

Wes getting his game face on.

Wes getting his game face on.

Just look at that water

Just look at that water

A beautiful place to paddle

A beautiful place to paddle


I did catch some fish

I did catch some fish

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After Curacao we continued on to another new destination for us and that was Belize. This time we were joined by one of our very good friends Jeff Herman. He set us up at the historic Belize River Lodge for a great stay. Of course once again the weather just killed us, wind and driving rain kept us off the flats for the target species of bonefish and permit. Thankfully we had the fallback species of Tarpon to keep us entertained.














Here is a little video I put together of a few of the Tarpon I caught.

Because of the incredible fishing we have had here in San Diego, thanks to El Nino, we decided to do a shoot here in my home town this year. There was a tournament going on in honor of James Lebowitz so we decided to shoot that too. The weather and fishing for the tournament was fantastic and some incredible catches were made. Of course when it came time for me to fish, the weather went sideways and took away some of the things we had planned. Still some great catches were made and we had a great time fishing with our friend John Jackson from Ram mounts.

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament

A couple great fish from the tournament

Johns first yellowtail

Johns first yellowtail

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

Nothing like a Ballast Point Sculpin to go with that smoked fish

Nothing like a Ballast Point Sculpin to go with that smoked fish

Our final shoot of the year was a return trip to Florida to do a couple of things. First off was meeting up with Chad Hoover who had challenged me to a bass fish off, and second was to meet up with some of our Jackson Kayak teammates to go after some trout and redfish.
The first order of business was kicking Chads butt. Honestly I was pretty lucky, while I went after any fish to put on the boat, Chad went after big fish. Lucky for me the small ones bit and the big ones didn’t that day.

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

It aint much but it is a bass and I am on the board

It isn’t much but it is a bass and I am on the board

And another

And another

And your winner is !!!!!!!

And your winner is !!!!!!!

After the fresh water bass beating I met up in the salt for some reds and trout with team Jackson.

fun little trout in chilly Florida

fun little red in chilly Florida

and a red

and a red

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

And farewell from Florida

And farewell from Florida

We had some tough trips but nothing for me was as tough as losing one of my best friends, my father in law Bob Williams. Many years ago he is the one who bought me my first kayak and introduced me to paddling. He was a wonderful man and will be missed by anyone who ever met him.

One of the greatest guys you would ever have a chance to meet. RIP

One of the greatest guys you would ever have a chance to meet. RIP

Though it was a tough year personally and for shooting as I look back on it, it was still a pretty incredible year spent at amazing places and time spent with so many great people. I sure love my job and hope I can continue at it for some time.

Many thanks to all of our sponsors who make it possible, and our fans who keep us inspired.

Rigging Tip of the Week – Brought to you by SEA-LECT Designs

Every two weeks, we release the Kayak Fishing Tales Newsletter, which has giveaways, videos and announcements. (If you don’t already get the newsletter, sign up here: http://bit.ly/1O8fexH ) Another great part of our Newsletter is the SEA-LECT Designs Rigging Tip of the Week, which outlines some handy tips and tricks to outfit your kayak to optimize your fishing experience. This week, Jed Hawkes of the Product Development Team at SEA-LECT goes over a very cost effective and simple solution for lashing your paddle to the deck of your kayak and for keeping knots from coming undone.

We commonly will just “deal” with small repeated tasks that are imperfect, it’s so small or common that we will spend a moment struggling with that task rather than find a simple solution to streamline it. This is either because we don’t see a solution, know of one that already exists, or perceive that moment of struggle as insignificant. But these moments add up. We commonly use our deck bungee to securely store our paddle while we accomplish a task; this can be a something as simple as taking a drink of water or more complex like tying on a new lure, assisting in a rescue, or landing the first catch of the day.

IMG_2774The Clamcleat® Shockcord Ball greatly helps assist quickly storing your paddle under your deck bungees. The ball is threaded onto your deck bungee and gives a wider radius to allow the paddle blade to slide under the deck bungee without snagging. The flattened side helps it sit nicely on the deck and the beveled corners of the hole help prevent fraying of the bungees sheath. The balls can be used on deck bungees for Fishing Kayaks, Sea Kayaks and SUP’s.


I also use the Clamcleat® Toggle Ball to add a large stopper onto small diameter cordage. The Toggle helps to cover the knot as well as provide an easy object to grab. I install these on the ratchets of by back band on whitewater and sea kayaks to help pull the back band taught.

For more information about SEA-LECT Designs, visit sealectdesigns.com

Getting the best shots from your fishing kayak

An action shot is always better than a grip and grin

An action shot is always better than a grip and grin

I wrote this article with Will Richardson several years ago. I had someone point me back to it recently and I figured I would update it with some more current info and insight.

For the past 9 years I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best videographers and photographers in the industry to make our show. Making a show about kayak fishing would seem to be no harder than making any other fishing show, but let me tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

We have a few unique challenges that we face: We travel to a variety of countries and places, and each one has its own set of rules, power supplies (or lack of), and weather conditions. Kayaks are by nature always wet, which makes it almost impossible to keep gear dry, and finally, unlike on a big boat where the videographer can hover over the anglers shoulder to get the perfect shot. On a kayak, everyone gets spread out, and the person to hook up is always the guy farthest away from the camera. (hint) If you are going to focus on just shooting consider adding a Torqeedo motor to your kayak, truly hands free propulsion and allows you to hold your camera good and steady.

This month, I thought (with the help of our videographer and photographer Will Richardson) I would give you some tips to get great photos and video from your kayak, and in fact, a lot of these tricks will work from any boat.

The biggest issue you are going to face is waterproofing your gear. In 4 years we have lost a total of 4 cameras to the water. Water and cameras just don’t mix. For most people it is best to simply invest in a good waterproof point and shoot camera. These days the cost has really come down, and they will give you the freedom to stop worrying about keeping your camera in a watertight box, and just have it ready to take a shot.
Our pro photographers need better cameras, and as of yet they don’t make DSLR cameras in waterproof, though they are getting pretty close. Several of the photographers have employed an amazing dry bag from Watershed Dry Bags. The lining is padded to protect your camera from banging around in the kayak, and even after being flushed down a serious set of rapids and rolled in the surf, not a drop of water has gotten inside. If you are on a big boat and have the room, a waterproof and padded case from Pelican is a great way to go, but very impractical on a Kayak. The Watershed bag can easily stow away in the bow of the Kayak, center hatch on my Jackson Kayak.

If you have a few bucks to invest in gear, another handy piece of gear is a EWA Marine underwater soft plastic housing. They make them for almost any camera, and will allow you to take shallow underwater shots, as well as keep taking photos or video in very rough conditions with your high end cameras.

Most people don’t have to travel as much as I do, so this is not as large an issue. But if you are taking a trip to somewhere exotic to fish, you will want to take a lot of shots, and nothing is worse than catching the big fish, only to find you are out of power and can’t take home the proof. Sounds simple, but always remember to bring a spare battery and memory card, and always, research the type of power/plugs you are going to encounter in the host country.

If there will be no power on your trip, such as a back country or long distance camping trip, there are a few great power solutions. Huge leaps in the quality of solar power have allowed us to charge up big production cameras and even laptops while we are away from the juice for more than 6 days at a time. Goal Zero has ended most of our power issues when at remote locations with a variety of solar panel and backup battery options.

The last issue is how to capture the moment when the moment hits. One thing I know is that it can be very tough to predict when a fish is going to bite. It is almost impossible to be there to get the cool hook up shot, or to snap a pick of that topwater explosion. The only solution is to have a camera running all the time. This is pretty easy to do with your GoPro or other POV camera though you do need to be aware of battery life. I think often as fisherman we have a good feel for when the bite might turn on so it’s never a bad idea to just turn the camera on when you have that feeling and let it run for a while.

Another option for great stills and decent video on the water is your run of the mill iPhone…Now is when you say “But Jim! You are talking madness, I am not gonna bring my iPhone on my kayak!” Well I have great news for you, waterproof cases for the iPhone and Galaxy phones are now available from Lifeproof and Pelican . You can still use the whole phone, including the camera, in or out of the water. They also have a floating Lifejacket, which protects your phone when dropped and makes sure the iPhone will float if you drop it off your yak.

As far as how to get the best looking video or still shots of your fish… well here are a few secrets I can pass along from my photographer friends.

1) Still shots of you holding a limp fish and smiling are never as cool as one of you fighting, landing or dealing with a fish. Hand your camera off to a friend and get him to shoot the action, not just the results.

Hard to beat a good action shot

Hard to beat a good action shot

2) Fill the frame! People want to see the fish, not a ton of water, fill the picture with you, the fish, the kayak and get as close to the action as possible.

Nothing wrong with the Grip and Grin when it looks like this

Nothing wrong with the Grip and Grin when it looks like this

3) Prepare for the action! The ultimate fighting shot has both the angler and the fish in it. Either shoot over the anglers shoulder, get in front of the fight so you can hopefully get a shot of the fish jumping in front of the angler, or shoot very wide so that the angler and the potential fish are both in your frame.

4) Shoot lots! With modern digital cards, you can just delete the junk later, the more shots you take the better chance you have at a winner. With video, never stop shooting, and keep your focus on the fishing (best jump shots are always lost because the camera man gets distracted and looks away)

5) When you do have jumping fish or good topwater action put your camera on rapid fire, this eliminates some of the digital lag and ensure you get the shot of the fish in the air not just the splash.

6) Play with different shooting angles, low angle shots looking up at the angler make for an interesting shot.

7) Have multiple camera mounts on your kayak; If you are shooting with GoPro or other POV cameras having a variety of mounts allows you to get many different angles of the same fish. With Yakattack and Ram mounts making so many different camera mount accessories you can put your camera anywhere. Drew Gregory is the master of this, take a look at one of his one fish many GoPro videos

8) Get the underwater shot, these shots can add so much to the interest of your video and with the waterproof housings available there is not excuse not to dunk that camera. Be sure you have the attached leash or float if you do this, we learned the hard way years ago, GoPros sink.

9) Avoid the crotch shot!!! I don’t know about you but I am just not into looking at someone’s groin while they are grunting away on a fish, yet we seem to see this shot all to often in peoples Youtube kayak fishing videos. So if you are shooting video from a rear facing camera, think of getting the camera up off the deck of the kayak a bit and angle the camera up a bit higher, I and the other viewers of your videos with thank you.

10) Avoid the death metal music. This music may appeal to you but In know that it doesn’t appeal to most and for someone perhaps watching a video while in an office , clicking on a video and having blasting head banger music is usually not a good thing and will get them to click off your video very fast.

11) Invest in secondary cameras. If you want to take your videos to the next level invest in another camera other than a POV. There are a couple guys that are making videos that are 100% POV that are top quality but not many. The quality of the video and audio on other cameras will really up your game. Add a lav mic if you really want to do much dialog in your videos, the audio is so much better than you will get from the camera mic.

12) Try to tell a story in your videos. Even a three minute video can tell a story and if you tell a good story people are more likely to watch and share.

GoPro has rather cornered the market on POV cameras over the past few years but there are many options out there, many of which have some incredible features or will get you into on the water shooting for a bit less money. So take a look at some of these options. I know a camera we are excited about taking a look at is the Flir FX, this camera has a lot of uses and some pretty interesting features that we are looking forward to putting to the test.

To finish off, a bit of light editing on your video and your pictures will go a long way to making the best impact when you show them off. You want to keep those YouTube videos short. (unless it is a big marlin or Tarpon with nonstop action) Chop em down and focus on the best action from the fight, YouTube viewers don’t seem to stick around for the long videos. I love watching fishing videos but a ten minute video of you just pumping and winding gets boring real quick. If you can get the hook up, some of the fighting and then the landing, unless the fish is a real jumper or thrashing on the surface, all of this should make for a video of three minutes or less.
Though this is a promotional video for one of our sponsors it is a pretty good example of the length that most people are willing to watch.

For Photos, delete any and all shots that are out of focus, or badly framed right off top. It will make it easier to pull out the best shot later. I usually do very little editing after the fact, just find one that is in great focus that shows the fishing action the best, then maybe pump up the saturation and brighten up the shadows a little if it was a really sunny day.

I hope this helps you get the next cover shot or million view YouTube video. I would love to see them. You can always post your catches at our Facebook page for the Kayak Fishing Show. You can view some of our videos on our YouTube Channel Kayak Fishing Tales

A visit to Yankeetown in Levy County Florida

Fishing the grass bed in Florida

Last month the Kayak Fishing show was invited to visit Levy County Florida for some kayak fishing and local hospitality. We were not disappointed in either. We had some tough weather, with wind and rain but when we got on the water it was awesome. Even on the tough days the scenery was well worth getting out for a paddle.

Damon Bungard from Jackson kayak joined me on this trip and brought along his custom kayak hauling, bomb proof high speed camper Xventure trailer.

Damon’s Road tripping mobile

We stayed at a very cool little place called B’s Marina and Campground which was located right on the water. We hooked up with Captain Rick from Osprey Guide service for the week to show us around the area and put us on some fish.

Captain Rick waiting on the kayakers

Damon brought along three kayaks for the trip, a Kilroy for him and a Cuda14 and Big Rig for me. Each of these Jackson kayaks was rigged with the new Power-pole Micro anchor which were just awesome for hold position in the wind. I ended up spending most of my time fishing from the Big Rig because I loved the stability of it and the ability to not only stand up and sight cast to the fish but the fun of fighting a big fish and getting towed around while standing..

Pulling on a Black Drum, stand up sleigh ride.

Better sized fish I had to sit to land em

Damon in on the action on the Kilroy

Besides the fun fishing this place was a bird watchers paradise. So many species of birds to be seen in such a cool setting.

Close encounters with Spoonbills

I think every other tree had an Osprey nest

Always cool to get a fly by from some peilicans

Besides the bird life we saw many manatee, turtles and one of the coolest things I have seen, dolphin pushing mullet up against a bank to feed on them.

Open wide

Open wide

And we caught plenty of fish too.

Damon getting em on the fly

And I got to add another new species to the list with this Florida Gar

If you like to fish or just want a beautiful place to visit and paddle you should visit Levy County you won’t regret it.
Here is a sneak peak of the show we shot in Yankee town.

Nor Cal Road Trip Part One

California Road trip

Because we had to cancel a couple shoots this year due to some bad weather at the planned locations we decided to hit the road in my home state of California to visit and fish with some friends and teammates at the northern end of the state.

On the first day of the trip we stopped at Liquipel to get an introduction to their product and get some of our gear treated. For those of you that have not heard of Liquipel it is a micro coating that can be used on many items including electronics to protect it from water. Here is a little sample video from their site.

Not only do they have this coating but also have skins to protect your phone screen from damage. We dropped a large ball bearing on the screen of a phone and had no damage. I see this a perhaps a great addition to a fish finder screen. They even had a treatment for fabric that has huge potential to us paddlers.

Checking out the goods at Liquipel

After our tour of Liquipel it was back on the road for a quick stop in Santa Barbara to visit an old friend for lunch then the long haul up to Shasta Lake. All told we had a 17 hour day to get to our most northern location for the trip. Thanks goodness for truck stop coffee, Dukes beef jerky and Bigs sunflower seeds.

At Shasta Lake we were hosted by my Jackson Kayak fishing teammate Jeff Baker. Our initial plan was to spend a day drifting and fishing the Sacramento river and half a day fishing Lake Shasta but as always plans are subject to change. Our normal issue on trips is we tend to get followed by rain, but not on this trip. Just so happens we decided to go fishing during the worst drought California has seen in years. Because of this there simply was not enough water to drift the river, so we spent our first day on Lake Shasta. Now Shasta does have pretty big fluctuations in water level anyway but as you can see in the picture below it was beyond low on our visit.

Note the normal water line up near the trees


On a positive note we didn’t have to use the boat launch just pulled my Malone trailer right up to the water any place on the lake

We set up to troll for trout and had a second rod for tossing lures for bass. The trolling set up was a dodger above a small hoochie which gave off a really good flash and action at paddling speed. The wind came up pretty early so we ducked into cover when we could tossing lures hoping for bass in the frigid 46 degree water. I decided to throw a small Sebile magic swimmer soft as I could fish it weedless around the heavy structure. Well of course while fishing for bass I manage to catch a trout on the magic swimmer. These lures will catch anything. That trout was the only fish we managed to catch that day as the wind really came up hard and pushed us off the water. I didn’t even get a photo of the fish because the slimy bugger slipped out of my hands before we got the camera out.

Lake Shasta is a man made lake so there are a lot of submerged trees and even a submerged town in the lake. With my Raymarine Dragonfly fishfinder I was able to get some screen grabs that really show off the structure. It was pretty amazing the detail I got from this unit.

Split screen view of my Dragonfly fishfinder.

Because we were off the water fairly early we decided to stop by Headwaters, the kayak shop that Jeff works at to get a look at their line of Jackson kayaks as well as a closer look at the new Jackson Big Rig.

Checking out the Jackson white water boats and the new Big Rig

The next day we hit up another lake in the Shasta Lake area and had much better luck, as least as far as the wind and weather goes. We tried the same routine trolling for trout and casting for bass but this day I had no luck at all while Jeff landed several trout and a Pikeminnow, which I had never seen before.

Jeff Baker with a nice sized Pikeminnow

After about five hours on the water we loaded up the truck and headed to Clearlake to fish with my friends Sean White and Terry Gowan, but I will save that story for the next installment.

Huge thanks to Jeff, his wife and their lovely daughter for hosting us and for letting us crash at their house. I hope I can return the favor if the come to San Diego.

FAQs on Kayak Fishing

Yes Kayak Fishing is FUN

Having worked in the kayak fishing industry for over 20 years I have heard just about every question people can think of about the sport. Whether it is at a trade show, during a trip, or on the internet people come up with many of the same questions. I thought this would be a good place to answers some of the more common questions I hear.

Is kayak fishing fun?
It is more fun than I can describe, everything from catching your first small fish from a kayak to getting towed out to sea by a marlin is a blast. Getting off the bank on your own kayak and going where you want under your own power is like nothing else. The great thing is I have yet to meet someone who couldn’t do it and everyone who tries becomes an addict like me. If you want to see more reasons why I think kayak fishing is fun, watch this video. Why I Fish

What is the best kayak for me?
I could tell you the Jackson Kayak Cuda 14 that I am currently using is the perfect kayak. In reality, there is no perfect kayak for everyone. Think of it like shoes, there is no one shoe that fits every person, and there is no one kayak that every person is comfortable in. The best thing you can do is to ask some questions from people already involved in the sport; you can do this on one of the kayak fishing web sites. Give them your height, weight, what you plan on fishing for, what kind of water you plan on paddling, plus any other pertinent info such as storage limitations. You likely will be given several kayaks, from different manufacturers, from which to choose. Find the shops in your area that stock these kayaks to demo, and take them for a test paddle. If you can take the kayak out on a day when the water is a bit choppy you will get a better idea of its performance. You will then be able to make an educated decision on which is the correct kayak for you.

Are these kayaks stable?
Don’t over estimate the importance of stability, sure you don’t want to feel like you are in a fight to stay upright all day but you also don’t want to feel you are trying to paddle the dock out to sea. The learning curve for feeling stable in a kayak is rather short, you will learn to be stable but you cannot make a slow boat fast. The short answer is this; yes, even the kayaks that are considered tippy, are stable, if you take the time to learn the how to be a good paddler. If you are looking for ultra-stability for stand up fishing, kayaks with that feature are also available, take a look at the new Jackson Kayak BIG RIG, you can stand up and dance on that baby. If you want to go the fast kayak route but still want stability to stand from time to time you can even add stabilizers that can be added or removed whenever needed.

Sight casting from a Cuda 14

Do you have a kayak big enough for me?
The average kayak fisherman is actually a fairly large person and the kayak manufactures have addressed this with a variety of kayaks that will fit persons of all sizes, see the Big Rig mentioned above if you doubt me.

Do you prefer a longer or shorter kayak?
The longer the kayak the better it glides through the water, so the less effort I have to put out to move the kayak through the water. Think of it this way, have you ever pedaled a bike with low air in the tires, then gone to the gas station and filled those tires up? That is what it feels like to go from a short kayak to a long one. You can still get there on the bike with low tires, but it is a lot easier once those tires are pumped up. So for the longer distance paddling I tend to do I prefer a longer kayak, now when hitting smaller lakes or running some rapids a shorter kayak like the Jackson Coosa is a better choice.

I see there are a couple pedal kayaks out there why do you still paddle?
The answer to this would be multifold the first part being that I just really enjoy and prefer paddling. While pedaling employs your legs, paddling, when done properly involves your entire body. I also like the simplicity of paddling, having no mechanism to maintain or that could potentially break while on the water. I also like to fish in and around the thick kelp beds which my paddle kayak will glide right over and when fishing in amongst the rocks on the inside or while gliding down rivers I don’t have to worry about hitting a rock and breaking anything. I also do a lot of launching through the surf and the paddle boats just seem to do that better. Many of the pedal boats are much heavier, which with my bad back is a major issue, and cost a lot more, which with my empty wallet is also an issue. I will say this, paddling does take a certain amount of skill that the pedal boats don’t require. No this is not rocket science but a little technique goes a long way and taking a paddling class will really help you improve your skills and add to your enjoyment on the water. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the pedal boats and they make fine products but for what I like to do and my style I prefer to paddle.

A little surfing action in a Cuda 14

Should I spend the money on a Carbon Fiber paddle?
You will find paddles ranging in price from $49 to $500, with the carbon fibers starting around $200. Your paddle is your motor and I generally tell people to get the best motor they can afford. Would you rather have a Porsche motor or a Volkswagen motor? Carbon fiber paddles are lighter and stronger than lower cost paddles, so like the faster kayak, with the lighter paddle I will have to work less to move my boat through the water, all, day, long. I have been using a Werner Kaliste paddle for a few years now and there is nothing like it.

What do you do if a fish starts to pull you out to sea?
Sit back and enjoy the ride, and what a fun ride it is!
Watch this video of one of my clients in Baja for a great example of what it is like to go for a sleigh ride in a Cuda 14!!
Baja Sleigh Ride

Enjoy the ride

What happens if you catch a big fish, do they ever pull you off your kayak?
As far as I am concerned, the bigger the better, I love big game kayak fishing. If your drags are set properly there is no reason a fish would ever pull you off your kayak. If you do make a mistake and fall off your kayak, make sure you are wearing your PFD and have a cut away tool on your vest.

Big enough for you?

Do you ever tip over and what do you do if it happens?
People generally fall off the kayaks because they forget one basic rule, where your head goes your body will follow. You should always keep your head down the centerline of the kayak, letting the kayak move under you. You should also know how to do a self-rescue, and practice it. The last thing you want to happen is to fall off your kayak a mile from the beach and realize you do not know how to get back on. Here is an article on doing a self rescue, read it then go practice.

Now don’t you try and pull me over

Where do you put the fish that you catch?
We practice a lot of catch and release but I do like to keep fish for the dinner table. When I am keeping fish, I want to keep them as fresh as possible, so I have an insulated game bag that fits into the center hatch of my Cuda 14. I can keep my fish inside the kayak on ice. The other options would be a divers game clip or a gunnysack. I do not recommend hanging the fish off the side of the kayak, as this is just an invitation to unwanted guests.

Aren’t you afraid of sharks?
I have a healthy respect for sharks but I would not say I have a fear of them. I have had instances where sharks have taken fish while on my line as well as out of my hand as you can see in this video. If you are in a sharky area you certainly do not want to have fish hanging off the side of your kayak and I would think twice about bleeding my catch. It is also a good idea to keep your feet aboard your kayak in sharky areas. If you tend to fish in areas what have a lot of shark activity an investment in a Shark Shield, an electronic shark deterrent, is a good idea. I have used this product and can tell you first hand that it works. Check out this video of the Shark Shield in Action.

A little hammerhead shark

Can you fly fish from the kayak?
People fly fish out of float tubes all the time; a kayak is an even better platform. Fly-fishing off the kayaks has become a large part of the sport. With the stand-up ability you have on the Jackson Cuda and Big Rig fly fishing is a natural.

Where do you keep the beer?
There is room for everything including the kitchen sink on most of the fishing kayak on the market, so I am sure you will find room for your beverage of choice. Do remember this, in a kayak you do have to paddle back from where ever you are, and alcohol is a depressant and can make you tired and a bit lazy. I prefer to have my cold ones as I am cleaning my gear at home. You may also want to check the regulations for your area, I know some places don’t allow drinking on the water.

Is it hard to sit in a kayak all day if you have a bad back?
In the past I would have answered this question with yes but that was before the insanely comfortable seats on the Jackson kayaks came out. If you can sit in a lounge chair next to the pool, you can sit in one of these kayaks. On a sit on top kayak you can move all over the deck and even sit sideways when you need a change of position, which really lessons the strain on the back. Start with short days on the water and build up to the all day excursions, so that your muscles have a chance to get in shape for this activity.

Look at that comfy seat

What if you have to go to the bathroom?
Lets just say, yes you can, and let you figure it out from there.

Can I put a motor on my kayak?
Not if you are fishing with me, but if you must, search the web and you will find directions on how to do it.

Should I get a tandem or a single kayak?
If you are talking about two adults, get singles you will be much happier. If you will be taking your child out with you, the tandem is a great way to get them on the water. If your spouse says, “if you get a kayak you have to get one that I can go on with you”, think long and hard about the percentage of time your spouse will actually go. If you will be paddling the tandem as a single more than 50% of the time, I suggest getting a good single and renting the tandem for those times when your spouse goes out with you. Of course, you could always get both. Another option is a tandem like the Jackson Big Tuna. This kayak is big enough for two but easily switches to a single.

Why do you carry so many rods?
Just like any boat fisherman I want to have a rod ready for any type of fishing I may do that day, so I carry five to six rod with me on my kayak. The kayaks on the market today have plenty of storage so it is not really an issue.

Can you keep bait alive in a kayak?
I have a live bait system on my kayak and will always have bait soaking in the water, even when I am tossing jigs. You can keep bait in anything from a Plano bait sled, a bait tube or if you want to hold a larger quantity of bait, a live bait tank. You can purchase a custom bait tank for your kayak or make your own. My friends at OEX have turned the JKrate into a great custom bait tank.

Do you wear a wetsuit when it is cold?
I am not a big fan of wetsuits; they are a bit confining and can get too cold if it is windy and too hot when the sun is out. I prefer actual paddling clothing such as dry pants and paddle jackets. These will keep you dry, warm, keep the wind out and are easy to peel off when it gets warm. Lightweight breathable waders are my go to clothing when it gets chilly and for the coldest environments a dry suit may be the best option. Kokatat makes some of the best paddling clothing available see what they have to offer for your style of fishing and conditions.

Dressed for the cold in the Arctic Circle

Should I take a class?
I have found the biggest problem with kayak fishermen is that they are fisherman first and kayakers a distant second. They never seem to want to learn to be a good paddler, which is a mistake because it would make them a better kayak fisherman. In my opinion you should at least take a class to learn to paddle correctly, how to self and assisted rescue and how to navigate the surf zone. An all day class with a guide will also help decrease the learning curve when it comes to kayak rigging and fishing techniques specific to kayaks and your area.

Do I need to register my kayak?
In California, you only need to register your kayak if you put a motor on it. You will need to check by state what the requirements are.

Do I need a PFD on my kayak?
Legally you must carry a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) on your kayak, children are required to wear it. A PFD will do you no good when you need it if it is tucked down inside your hull. Get a PFD designed for paddling and wear it at all times for your own safety. The best quote I have heard on this came from a coast guard officer I was chatting with. “We never find dead bodies wearing PFD’s”!

Can I put a fish finder on my kayak?
Most of the people that kayak fish a lot have a full spread of electronics on their kayaks, including fish finders, GPS and VHF radios. You can even put a waterproof stereo on your kayak if that is your thing. Be aware though that salt water and electronics do not get along and special care is needed if you want this equipment to last. Take a look at the Raymarine Dragonfly fish finder this thing is perfect for the kayak.

Portable Dragonfly on the front of my Cuda

Where should I place my rod holders?
There is no right or wrong way to rig your kayak; some people want their rods in front some in back. Take your time setting up your kayak so you get it done right the first time. My kayak has ten rod holders on it, so I can place rods in different places for different situations. Take a look at some of the great options on rigging your kayak from Yakattack and Ram mounts over at Hook1 kayak fishing gear.

Am I going to get wet?
This is a water sport and you will get wet, on some kayaks more than others. If you do not want to get wet, you are looking into the wrong sport.

What is the best color?
This is really a personal choice, if you want to be seen you should get the brightest colored kayaks such as yellow, orange, or lime green. I on the other hand prefer the duller colors like grey, olive green and blue-grey.

This is just a sampling of the questions that I hear about this sport on a regular basis, I am sure you can come up with some more. Of course, these answers are only my personal opinions, and I am sure if you asked someone else, you would get different answers. If you come up with more questions please feel free to post them on our Kayak Fishing Show Facebook Page or send them directly to me at Jim@Kayak4Fish.com I am always happy to help.

Rigging our fishing kayaks with the V.I.O. POV camera.

V.I.O. POV Camera getting all the action

People often ask me about how we get the point of view shots on our show, what kind of camera we use, and how we mount it on our Jackson Kayaks. For the past couple years we have been using the V.I.O POV camera because we feel it gives us better shot control and higher quality over other cameras available at this time. The V.I.O is also water tight and rugged enough to handle the abuse of kayak fishing.

Some of the other features that really appeal to us on this camera are;
An external waterproof microphone which picks up much better sound than anything else available from other onboard mics.

The POV Power which allows us to hook up the camera to an external battery so that we can run the camera all day without fear of running out of power when we need it most.

A wrist worn remote control which makes starting and stopping recording on the fly as simple as can be.

A recording looping function which means we can set the camera to record in a constant loop, only saving it when needed. This means we will never miss that shot of the fish hitting our baits.

Here you can see the POV remote worn on my right wrist

Watch the video below to see how we have the V.I.O. mounted on our Jackson kayaks with Yakattack gear.

The Kayak Fishing Show Visits Oriental North Carolina

This past week I had the opportunity to visit the lovely town of Oriental North Carolina to shoot another episode of The Kayak Fishing Show. Joining me on this trip were Brooks Beatty, from Jackson Kayak and Bobby Brewer a local who helped us set up the visit.

Oriental is a quaint little town with a lot of character, filled with small shops and restaurants like the Silos, which is actually in a Silo. The town has a love of festivals, dragons and all outdoor activities. For paddlers there are many choices of water to hit and for fishermen there are lots of species to target. For kayak fishermen it is ripe with possibilities. We were lucky enough to stay at the River Neuse Suites Hotel with rooms more reminiscent to a apartment than a hotel room.

River Neuse Suites our home away from home

On our first morning on the water we hooked up with Captain Ashley King of Keep Casting Charters, unfortunately we were greeted by high winds which kept us from being able to target the Old Drum known to live here. Fortunately Ashley had a plan B that would get us out of the wind and get us on fish. We moved from the bigger water to a nice protected spot out of the wind. This spot was gorgeous and had us fishing all around cypress trees covered in moss. Ashley promised us a good top water bite on Stripers and it didn’t take long until we had our first fish.

The Jackson Cuda 14 is a great stand up platform, at least for those more comfortable standing than I, and I got to see Brooks get the first fish while standing up tossing a Zara Spook and walking the dog. I discovered that I am not that good at standing and casting and even worse at walking the dog while seated. Because of my lack of coordination I switched to a lure I knew I could work properly and just hoped that it would do the job. My lure of choice was a Sebile Splasher and it wasn’t long before my lure choice paid off with huge surface blow ups and many hookups. Seeing my success Brooks switched to another lure which caused an equal amount of surface disturbance and noise and began to see the same great results. Many fish were hooked, landed and released that day and we can’t thank Captain Ashley for having such a great backup plan.


Brooks showing off amongst the Cypress trees


One of many caught on the Sebile Splasher

Brooks with another one on his secret lure

The next morning we stayed on shore to do some shooting around town and did an evening session chasing the big Red Drum. This time we hooked up with Capt. Mitchell Blake of Fish IBX. Captain Blake got us all rigged with Popping Corks, which are the hot ticket for the reds. We worked as hard as we could up until dark but we had to battle the wind all evening and just not found the fish. At least we got a good sunset.


Oriental Sunset

With only one day of fishing left on the trip we got an early start to the next day, hitting the water just as the sun rose. For our final day we met up with Captain Dave Stewart of Knee Deep Custom Charters. Dave set us up with DOA deadly combination popping corks, which by this point my arm was getting a bit tired of popping. We reached the fishing spot to find grease calm waters and bait popping, which got all our hopes up. Unfortunately for me the only thing biting were Blue fish which just bit my soft plastics in half. It didn’t take long though for Bobby to get on a real nice Red Drum, which gave him a great ride.


Sunrise and grease calm waters


Bobby with a beautiful sunrise Red fish

It seemed like we were going to get on the fish as all the signs were right, but I think maybe fifteen minutes after Bobby landed that fish someone turned on the wind machine and we spent the rest of the day trying to battle or hide from the wind.
Later in the evening as things calmed a bit Brooks hooked a good fish which he got to the side of the kayak but lost before landing so no photos were taken. At the point of being on the water about twelve hours I finally hooked what felt like a good fish which towed me around a bit but as luck would have it the hooked pulled.

I know that given some better conditions we would have really put the hurt on a lot of fish, but this is fishing and you have to take what you are given. Even with the tough conditions we caught fish and had a wonderful time in Oriental. Every single person we met or dealt with on this trip were absolutely awesome and I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again given the chance.

A huge thanks goes out to all the people in Oriental for helping us put this trip together and particularly Bobby Brewer for handling all the logistics.

If you would like to visit Oriental I highly recommend the guides and locations that helped us out.

Capt. Mitchell Blake
Fish IBX

Capt. Bobby Brewer

Capt. Ashley King
Keep Casting Charters

Capt. Dave Stewart
Knee Deep Custom Charters

Capt. Greg Voliva
Four Seasons Guide Service

River Neuse Suites Hotel

The Silos Restaurant

Oriental NC