Kayak Fishing, Gay Varano

 By Gay Varano
The world of fishing is wonderful as there are many and varied methods of bagging your catch.  This month I wanted to explore and share with you the world of saltwater paddle fishing.  While on my quest for knowledge, I had the privilege of learning about the equipment, methods and secrets of several of the areas top paddlefishing guides.
Kayaks are the boat of choice for the serious paddle fisher person.  The length choice varies depending if you want to stay inshore or you are more adventurous and want to try your luck with a Tarpon or a Kingfish offshore.  Twelve to fourteen feet is a typical kayak length.  A slightly larger (15’ to 16’ model kayak will afford you more stability for offshore situations like rougher water and more space for a larger cooler for more than just adult beverages (like maybe your catch).  There are different construction considerations that affect flotation, tracking (how easy it is to go in a straight line) and maneuverability.  Kayaks also offer options such foot guided rudder systems, fish finders, storage compartments, extra supportive seats and much more.
Kayaks are moderately priced, easy to transport and launch (don’t need a boat ramp or marina) with some weighing in at as little as 32lbs.  All these pluses do not take into consideration that they are without a doubt one of the most environmentally responsible boat choices you can make.  Consider that there are no fuel or lubricants needed to get to where you want to go on the water.  Best of all is that the stealth factor of a kayak will make getting dinner to the table just that much easier.
LadyPictured is Capt and Local Area Guide Neil “Skates” Taylor, of  Strike Three Kayak Fishing, recently spoke on the 620 WDAE AM Capt. Mel show (FOX News Radio/ www.97Adventure0WFLA.com) broadcast from Shells Restaurant on St. Pete Beach, to a large audience of interested paddle fisher persons.  Neil is an experienced guide that shared some great pearls of wisdom with us.  For starters file a float plan with a friend or family member, include a good life jacket, sunscreen, protective clothing, eye protection, bring medium to medium heavy spinning gear, rod holder, anchor, a bait bucket (with bait in it already or catch it) that you plan to dip every 45 seconds to 1 minute to keep bait frisky, bring a small cooler or freezer bag.  His rule is simplify gear and quiet is supreme” and another of his pearls of wisdom was “do not try offshore kayak fishing if you are inexperienced or if experienced and do not have a drift chute aboard to slow down a big fish unless you want a free ride to Mexico (I guess the bigger cooler would come in handy in that case).  Neil further suggests that 10 years old is a great age to start and that the upper end of the age range is subject to your conditioning and health.  There are 90+-year-old folks out there successfully wetting a line from their kayak.  Neil provides all inclusive guide service. He can be reached by calling 727-692-6345, emailing LivelyBaits@aol.com or visit his www.strikethreekayakfishing.com website.
 Another great area guide is Jason Stock with JM Snooky Kayak Fishing Charters (727-459-5899) who works out of Canoe Country Outfitters (www.canoecountryfl.com).  Mike Seibel, who happens to be Jason’s Uncle, owns Canoe Country Outfitters.  Canoe Country Outfitters sells, rents and services kayaks (and you guessed it canoes too) and anything you would want to put in or on one.  Jason has excellent success in the paddle fishing arena with major tournament wins and happy customers he regularly guides to spectacular catches.


When trying to figure out what to use for baits, Capt. Neil suggests 1/16  – ¼ jig heads with DOA shrimp jigs and Producto Lures: Buzz Tail and Shad for artificial baits.  Live bait is harder to keep frisky but usually produces great results.  Jason says there is nothing like ladyfish cut bait for that special Redfish.  Every guide I talked to said “No Chum” unless you want to paddle with the sharks!  Sounds reasonable!!


Hope to catch you on the water, Gay Varano