I have been kayak fishing for some time now and have gone through quite a few phases of kayak fishing. When I first started kayak fishing, it was about being able to reach that far away spot or get off the beach. I was thrilled to be on the water and making casts to new spots and learning how to paddle and fish.
I had one rod, one rod holder, and my bathing suit. Everyday was an adventure on the water. This initial phase was pure exploration!
Over the next couple of years it became more about numbers. “I slayed them last night” and I got great pleasure from discussing online and the tackle shop about the dozen fish I caught while guys on the beach landed one or two.
I added extra rod holders and a milk crate to hold extra gear. As the internet fishing community grew, so did the photos of large stripers caught off the yak. I got together with a select few very good anglers and friendly competitions started about who could land the biggest striper. The trophy phase was entered and game was on!
Now it became an obsession. I rigged out the yak with a fish finder, a GPS and then I added a longer faster yak to target offshore islands and more remote spots. I was setting the alarm for 3AM and fishing in the dark. I wanted the biggest, baddest striper out there. If it wasn’t 40” it was a bait stealing schoolie. I made plans around getting the largest sea worms, the best tubes, the perfect size eels and marked out the calendar with tides and moon phases. It was all I wanted to do!
As this schedule bumped against family life I tried to share this thrill with my family. I took my wife out for sunset paddles and took one casting rod each. We actually landed on some of the offshore islands and looked at the seals and wildlife. I took my 3 kids out paddling and what this did was take it back to the beginning for me. It was simple and pleasurable, I didn’t care if we didn’t catch a keeper, the kids loved being on the water, seeing wildlife and spending time with dad. I realized I just love being on the water and my perspective changed.
I decided to try lobstering off the yak, got a couple of traps and enjoyed doing something different. I brought home different stuff like skates, crabs, sculpin, and starfish, had the kids Google them and report what dad caught. Now I was buying bait for 10 traps and money became an issue, so I began targeting other species to use as bait for the traps.
I had some fantastic days hammering the bluefish last summer. Surface plugs and light gear during sunny afternoons! It was great, then the mackerel showed up, I took the kids out and we slayed them, bringing home 70-80 fish and stocking the bait fridge for the summer. One day as I was mackerel fishing I decided to live line one along the shore. Well it was on to another phase! I was hooked again. Live lining macks to big stripers is a blast and I love that my kayak fishing continues to evolve.
So my long story is about enjoying what you have today. Don’t rush out and get all the electronic gadgets, keep it simple and take a moment and enjoy the sunsets and schoolies alike. Get a fishing buddy and enjoy the company and don’t get caught up in the craziness. Each of the different phases above offer unique pleasures, find your own comfort zone, share the experiences with others.