Kayak fishing has come a long way since we first started kayak fishing in 1998. My friend and surfing buddy, Mike Casinelli and I started kayak fishing in 1997 or 1998, hard to remember, but the first photos and videos we have of kayak fishing are from 1998. I’ve been going through some old photos and found these pictures from June 1998. We’d probably had been out a couple times before that without camera gear and minimal fishing gear until we got an idea of how the somewhat tipsy Dagger Cayman kayaks were going to work out on the open ocean. We had a good deal of ocean experience with different watercraft, so we were mostly trying to figure out how to catch fish from a kayak. There weren’t too many guys kayak fishing in those days, so we had to figure out a lot of the stuff on our own. We loved being out on the ocean, kayak was a new way to spend time on the water when the surf was flat, we were stoked about that, and the cost of kayak fishing was peanuts compared to even the smallest boat, that was a big plus as well.
We started out not really knowing what we needed for a full day out on the kayaks, but started to get it dialed in the more we went fishing. In the photo above, you can tell we must have only been a few trips in because of the gear we’ve got. We dumped the landing nets pretty quickly and used started using gaffs instead. I’ve got my entire tackle box strapped behind my seat, that would soon devolve to about a half dozen lures and a few spare hooks and sinkers. The old school burlap fish bag was good for boats, but we started using stringers on the kayaks. When we went through the surf to launch, we didn’t take anything that didn’t fit through the hatch and below deck.
On this trip, we were fishing a couple miles off Oceanside, CA, probably around a couple artificial fishing reefs off Oceanside Harbor. We didn’t have a GPS, but we fished near a commercial party boat which usually fished the artificial reefs. You never know what kind of fish you’ll run into around the reefs, this time out we ran into a lot of barracuda. Not great eating fish, but a lot of fun to catch and some of them were pretty good sized fish. The best way to catch the barracuda was by trolling around the reefs. If you trolled too slow, you wouldn’t get any bites. As soon as you sped up, the fish would bite immediately. When the wind came up, trolling at a pace fast enough to get the barracuda to bite was a good bit of paddling.
The Dagger kayaks were pretty narrow and were a handful to paddle in the ocean with a chunky wind swell going. Even though we were a couple miles out and were doing a lot of heavy duty paddling to troll fast enough to get the fish to bite, we knew we had the afternoon west wind to help us get back to shore.
Here’s Mike trying to unhook a pretty good size barracuda. Barracuda have sharp teeth and are slippery and slimy. With seals and sharks around, having your kayak all slimy and stinky from bringing fish on board was not the best idea, so we tried to unhook the barracudas without bringing them on the kayak.
Going through these old photos of our very first kayak fishing trips has gotten us thinking about the fishing season ahead. We’ve gone through some our camera gear and are starting to get the bass fishing stuff ready to go. If the water warms up and the weather cooperates, we may even get out for the first time next week. We’ll see. After a long, cold, snowy winter, we are really ready to get back out on the water.