Kayak Kings - Take One

My arms felt as if they were literally burning. One described the pain/feeling as having a tourniquet tied on at your shoulder so no blood could get into your arms. I was leaving with one rod holder less than when I arrived and I discovered that waterproof marine radios aren't always waterproof. This is what kayak fishing for king salmon can do. I can't wait to do it again.

With me was BFA writer and Lucid Fishing founder, "Woz", and my long time friend Shannon. Woz had been out for yakking kings twice before, Shannon had never fished for anything from a kayak before, and I have done some kayak fishing before but never for king salmon. Despite our inexperience, we were beyond excited and seemingly well prepared. We were on the water by 6:00pm and everything up until this point indicated it was going to be a good night. The weather seemed right with exception of a bit of wind, the water temps were fantastic, and unloading/set-up/launching went flawlessly.  Woz started marking fish on his finder almost instantly. Boat traffic wasn't too crazy and most of them seemed pretty respectful of us kayak fisherman. As they passed, reactions ranged from mild to wild. The girls wanted us and the guys wanted to be us. We felt like rockstars but played it cool like it was no big thing. 

OK...I'm embellishing a bit but a party boat full of drunk people can provide for some funny stuff. 

Anyways, back to fishing. We were far from the only ones fishing Saturday night. Lot's of fishing boats, a couple of other kayakers, and plenty of people from shore. This seemed like yet another great indication of how good the night was going to be. As the sky got darker, the amount of fisherman dwindled in direct proportion. By midnight, there were only a handful of boats out there, no more kayaks, and two people from shore. We stayed until 2:00am.

My first strike came a couple of hours into the night and lasted for just a few seconds as I was paddling along a break wall and it completely caught me by surprise.  I wasn't really paying attention to fishing as much as the serenity of it all. The moon was bright behind a series of clouds with just a small portion clearly exposed. The clouds were illuminated in a peaceful orange hue as I listened to my paddle cycle through the calm bay. It was rather rhythmic and peaceful. All of the sudden, that daze I was in was interrupted by the drag screaming and the sound of braided line scraping through the guides at a rocket's pace. And then it was over. Almost as suddenly as it had began, it ended. I didn't even have a chance to get the rod out of the rod holder. 0 for 1. Oh well, at least the fish were waking up. 

An hour after the first run in, I decided to go fish the "gap" to see if I could hook into any fresh fish coming in from the main lake. The water inside the harbor coming off the gap wasn't too terribly rough and the winds had calmed down slightly so it seemed like a great opportunity to get there. As I paddled out there, I saw another kayaker headed out there so I felt a little bit of confirmation in my plan. The confirmation lasted until I hit the water on the other side of the gap. If the waves inside a harbor are around a foot, then the waves outside of it are closer to three...or four. All I know is that I would go up a wave and I could see the city; I would go down and I saw nothing. Needless to say, I made the decision to turn around pretty fast. Turning around proved to be no dry task out there and I was very happy that I had some waterproof pants on. Water would break over the bow of the boat and splash over the sides. Just as I was almost done with my turn towards the harbor, the line took off again. You have got to be kidding?! Here?! Now?! 

With my mind set on catching this fish, I tossed the paddle and went for the rod. This fish felt like he was hooked pretty damned good. Just as I lifted the rod, I saw the rod holder falling into the lake. Apparently, I had rotated it to the point where you could lift it out and straight into the water it went. Oh well, I had a fish to catch!!! As I tightened down the drag, the bow of the yak struggled to rotate in three foot waves and I struggled to keep pressure on the line as the fish was running straight back. The waves were too big for me to rotate my back to get a better angle on him and I think that proved to be the advantage he needed. 0 for 2 so far. 

Fast forward to 1:15ish in the morning. My original plan was to stay out till midnight but time had quickly gotten away from me. I found the other two and gave them the old "one more pass". There wasn't a single argument on that one. We were all tired and knew we had a lot of work to get the yaks loaded in the truck and a long drive home. As I was turning around, the line went crazy once again. This is the equivalent of a "one more cast" fish. I got the rod out the holder (without dropping it in the water) and started cranking down the drag as the bow started to turn. Woz was about a hundred and fifty feet to my right and the fish jumped ten feet in front of him. And that is when my line went slack. Ugh....0 for 3. 

We decided to give it a half hour more after that but didn't have any more luck. Despite not landing any fish, I learned a few things. The first is that I have a better idea of how I want set up the yak for kings and trolling. I'll write a separate post about that since this entry is already quite long considering I didn't even land a single fish. 

The second thing I learned is that we - well I at least - was trolling way too fast most of the night. That last fish made me realize that all of my hits came when I was either barely moving because I was captured by the serenity of it all or I was mid-turn and the lure was barely moving. Next time out I will be moving much much slower.

The third thing I learned is to keep the drag tight!! Since I can't set the hook to bury them in the mouth, I need to count on the momentum of trolling to do it for me. With loose drag, I can't do that and I wasted too much time trying to tighten the drag and never really had a chance. 

Still....a very fun night and I am more than pleased with the Wilderness Systems Ride115. 


  1. Nick
    Great story, you had me from the launch and up until you lost that last fish. One learns something on every outing and this trip was no exception. Hope the next trip will be one in the Kayak--thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks, Bill! Friday marks the next attempt!!

  2. Were you out on Lake Michigan?

    1. We used to go Coho fishing on Lake Michigan. Shooting out from Diversey Harbor was scary even in a small motorboat. Yikes!

  3. That's crazy...no way I would take the yak out in the harbor!

    1. In the harbor was no sweat...outside the gap was a different story. Lol

  4. Damn, sounds like a fun and frustrating experience. I got a feeling your adjustments will bring a few to hand this weekend.

  5. I really want to try kayak trolling, it sounds fun! I'm a shore fisherman, and a wader in the streams, so I don't really know much about trolling.What do you use for lures, the same as shore fishing? I use mostly Little Cleos and some cranks.


Let's hear it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog