Paddle Power in June 2023

The past 15 years I have spent as a fishing guide in both boats and kayaks have been full of all kinds of ups and downs. The thrill of an awesome catch can immediately be replaced by the agony of losing an equally amazing fish. The hours can be long and the sun unrelenting, but the balance of introducing people to the joys of nature and watching their accomplishments achieved make that burnt face and sore hands well worth it. Unlike many small businesses, fishing captains and guide service owners sell an experience, not so much a product of any sort. That seems to lend itself to long-term captains not only having a career, but fully embracing the lifestyle of someone devoted to the water and its ways. I will just say this, you don’t see plumbers stoked about a vacation to a far-off land with great prospects of some once in a lifetime plumbing chances. Replace plumbing with fishing and you’ll catch my drift. This is truly a commitment to a lifestyle as much as it is a job. Without a doubt, questions are a common thing throughout a day of fishing. Here are two of the most common questions I get as a fishing guide from the kayak side of my business.

What is your favorite fish to catch? For most this might be a challenging one to answer and especially when you take into consideration someone like me who chases fish from the shallow lagoon waters all the way out to the deep blue water offshore, but it’s actually a no-brainer. Tarpon! Big, small, here, there, ocean, lagoon, heavy, light, even fly tackle – me catching, client catching, it doesn’t matter. Tarpon are tops of a large list containing some awesome fish. This love most likely stems from growing up on Pine Island Rd. (North Merritt Island) and our constant pursuit of this top tier gamefish. Every interaction with them is special and quite challenging.

What is the best fishing kayak to buy and what features are necessary for a “good” fishing kayak? There is no across the board best kayak to buy, period. Everyone’s needs, wants, and comfort considerations are different. The single biggest factor in buying a kayak for fishing is the seat in my opinion. You can’t expect to indulge in the ease of pedals, all those cool rigging options and rod holders, or shallow water capability if you can’t sit in the seat for more than 30 minutes without discomfort. Buy it for the seat and the rest will fall in place. All kayak dealers worth their weight will have demo options before you buy – utilize this even if you end up purchasing from a personal sale on a used kayak. Do not rig your kayak until you’ve fished it. I’ve seen countless anglers spend good money getting their kayak fully rigged out from the dealer. Only to find they must move items or even delete them due to working against you as you fish. Just a few trips will have you understanding where certain items like extra rod holders, depth/fish finders, and the other myriad of stuff you can put on your kayak should be installed so it does not get in your way.