Friday, February 03, 2012
Kayak fishing comes of age
|Kayak fishing is a changed game. No longer a curiosity, it’s now a mainstream part of the coastal fishing scene.
Need proof? We could run the numbers, but the arithmetic isn’t all that interesting. Let’s cut right to the chase. According to the 2011 Outdoor Industry Association Special Report on Fishing and Boating, more than a million anglers have cast a line from a kayak. Track me down if you want to see the work.
There’s more. The new NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) all of a sudden carries a Thursday-Friday block of kayak fishing programming. It starts with Hobie Outdoor Adventures, a full 13- episode series that airs weekly on Thursday at 8:30 am Pacific. As of press time, viewers have been treated to striper fishing in Massachusetts, a fun bass outing in the heart of downtown Austin, Texas, and scenes from the southeast-based IFA Kayak Fishing Tour action. Local kayak fishing partisans will get a kick out of the commercials shot at Cedros during a skiff / mothership trip. They show Hobie Fishing Product Manager Morgan Promnitz putting the surface iron hurt on the yellows. Sign me up!
Seaguar’s Extreme Kayak Fishing Challenge airs Fridays at 10 am Pacific, featuring local fish ’yaker made good Jim Sammons. The three-episode miniseries is full of adrenalized action — there’s nothing else like this travel / adventure show on the small screen. It’s riveting TV, but I’m biased. WON’s kayak editor scores Panama yellowfin and roosters in the third episode. Don’t get me wrong; Sammons is the shining star. This guy will brave anything to pull on fish, even man-eating whitewater and massive surf.
I asked Sammons, who has been at this since the early days, what it means to see his show on a network with name-brand cachet. “It’s huge. We’ve gone from a smaller network with an 8-million home audience to 75 million homes. It’s exposing the sport to a much bigger audience. It gets us into the heart of America. Hopefully it help get more people to try kayak fishing,” Sammons said.
Shortly after this paper hits the streets, the San Diego Anglers Open Bay Bass Tournament will fish its 2012 edition on Feb. 4. And this year, a kayak angler could win the whole enchilada. I’m not calling my shot. The odds are still with the boaters, who get to fish in two-person teams. ‘Yakers have to go it solo — just the way we like it. It’s only fair — the entry fee is half the team ante kicked in by boaters.
That kayak anglers can fish head to head with the horsepower crowd is a great incentive, and more ammunition in the ‘kayak fishing as mainstream’ argument. The $500 bounty in gift certificate form for the highest kayak finish is icing. This nice prize was put up by OEX Mission Bay Dive and Kayak.
“We did it to get kayak community involved, and to show they can fish right with the boaters. The SD Anglers Open Bay Bass tournament is a great cause. If we can get more people to sign up it’s all the better,” OEX Mission Bay owner Brent Torgeson explained.
That’s right: mainstream. Kayak fishing is no flash in the pan. Kayak anglers aren’t going anywhere. The minty freshness of a new mania is over rated.
More on Kurt Hoffman’s La Jolla 52-Pounder
In the better late than never vein, here’s more background on the huge, 52.1-pound homeguard Kurt Hoffman caught back in December. That weight was after the fish was bled to preserve the prime meat in sushi-grade condition. The catch put Hoffman in elite company, bested only by a 53.2-pound monster logged by Rod Bennett, and the 52.5-pound mossback Arne Rovell nailed a few years back. Persistent but unconfirmed rumor suggests someone else may have hit a higher number, but no one has beat double nickels, no matter the platform.
Hoffman, an avid waterman active in conservation issues including the white seabass enhancement program, noted with irritation that his impressive catch says a lot about the so-called pressing need for the recently implemented MLPA closures. “This fish is a testament to the fact that our fisheries are very healthy and our current regulations are working very well to protect our great local resources. Vast closures are not necessary and will lead to serious enforcement issues with the very limited budget of the Fish and Game,” Hoffman said via email. The man has a good point.
MONSTER LA JOLLA YELLOW — Here’s another look at the impressive 52.1-pound ‘tail Kurt Hoffman ‘yaked out of La Jolla in late December, just days prior to the nearby MLPA closure. Hoffman says it’s a testament to the health of inshore fisheries. Vast closures were unnecessary. PHOTO COURTESY KURT HOFFMAN