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Monday, November 16, 2009
MLPA Log: Coming clean at the closing bell


A Cedros kayak first takes a turn for the unexpected

Weather Forbidding


In early October 21 kayak anglers hopped aboard the Islander and steamed south to Mexico’s Cedros Island. That’s the place Mr. Mossback lives with about a billion of his closest friends. It promised sheer madness, with hooked up kayaks zipping hither and yon. Real bumper boat stuff. In short, deliriously fun chaos.

The trip delivered, but not as expected. But before we get to that, a more or less insignificant note for the history books. This was the first anyone had managed to fill a mothership with ‘yakkers for a long range run. The Q105 has toted a few kayaks this way for years, as a means of topping off the big boat’s famous skiff trips. The recent Islander trip was an all kayak affair.

It was unique enough emerging TV personality Jim Sammons brought along cameraman Will Richardson to document the exotic trip for World Fishing Network’s new Kayak Fishing Show. No doubt the calico-crazed Sammons hoped to get into some 10-lb’er boiler action. My plan was to join him after I’d caught my fill of forkies. The entrée never arrived; I had to be satisfied with a 2-hour Benitos appetizer that yielded a sudsy 7. Sammons had his fill of fivers, but we never did make it the alpha bass spots due to nagging weather issues. There’s always next year.

THE ISLANDER GOES MOTHERSHIP MODE TO CEDROS – Yellowtail central, what could be better for a boat-load of kayaks? The quality was there – here’s Mark Shimizu’s near jackpot – but winds kept the group cooped up in a tiny slice of the lee where the individual score was one or two ‘tails per day.
THE ISLANDER GOES MOTHERSHIP MODE TO CEDROS – Yellowtail central, what could be better for a boat-load of kayaks? The quality was there – here’s Mark Shimizu’s near jackpot – but winds kept the group cooped up in a tiny slice of the lee where the individual score was one or two ‘tails per day.


The trip was the culmination of a 5-year effort to get down there, and was only possible due to the go-get-‘em attitude of the folks who frequent the NorCal Kayak Anglers message board. Face it; there are no forkies up there. These people were hungry to get their pull on. Yellowtail or bust! Along with chartermaster Sean White, they were game for nearly anything. They’d need that adventurous spirit.

After a rolly ride down through cross seas, the capable 88-ft long Islander finally reached the south end of Cedros to find it wind-blown and white-capped. There was nothing for it but to shelter tight in the lee down around Cedros Pueblo. We dumped the kayaks into the water and went at it.

While the action was slow by Cedros standards, the quality was good. Packs of 30 to 35-lb yellowtail occasionally breezed down the beach. Free diver Justin Smith tagged four with three shots in a mere ten feet of water. Later Michael Manning hooked one within spitting distance of the town beach, then hung on for a rooster-like ride. Randy Goodchild and Pat Grant notched their first ever kayak ‘tails in front of the TV camera. It was good times for the NorCals who came unburdened with Cedros expectations.

The average was one to two fish per kayak stick per day. What would be off the hook fishing at La Jolla just wasn’t cutting it for Captain Shane Slaughter and his patient crew. The fish were shaping up off the south end at Augustine and they knew it, but that blasted wind just wouldn’t quit.

Slaughter suggested the obvious. Keep the kayaks on the rack and make a catch sportboat style. Reaction among the kayak loyalists was muted. In fairness, most had little to no sportboat experience. They pictured tangles galore and instinctively craved their independence and elbow room. It was back to the lee for another day, but with a wrinkle. At lunch the big boat would leave its charges in the care of the boat’s zodiac, then sniff around the south end. Only eight of the kayakers climbed aboard for the ride. Call it freestyle cruising in the mothership mode. Choose your adventure.

That night when the big boat scooped up the ‘yakkers, everyone found there’d been no wrong answer. The Islander had racked up a quick hit of 50 schoolie-sized fish, while several who went the self-motivated route boasted personal kayak bests.

Finally it was get-away day and the big boat steamed over to Augustine hoping for a break from the wind. Ultimately a forlorn one, as the kayak anglers still up for seat time couldn’t fish up a morning bite. Meanwhile the Islander started a long drift just a few hundred yards outside the kelp line – normally kayak territory given decent weather. Yo-yo fish came one after the other. It was the promise of yellowtail heaven.

Finally the hardest core of the kayak anglers threw in the towel. Wind-burned and muscle-sore, everyone piled aboard the sportboat for that final afternoon. What followed was that legendary Cedros yellowtail bite, drifts that went on and on, multiple fish always hanging, an embarrassment of boat-caught richness, fun-filled chaos incarnate.

The experience left me thoughtful – there wasn’t much else to do on the long ride home but think, as we paid for our thrills with a thorough uphill pasting. There’s much to love about the kayak. Self-reliance isn’t optional, success or failure is all on your own shoulders.

The thrill of a sleigh ride just can’t be topped, particularly when there’s a structure seeking missile on the other end of the line ever-ready to pop you off. There’s the independence, the quiet, the calm, the sense of fading into the background environment, the hunt. Only sometimes, that kayak is not the right ride. If this sport has a motto, its “weather permitting.”

There’s no wrong way to fish. If the kayak’s your first love, its ok, you can stray a little. Or a lot. Hop a ride on a private boat. Stalk a shoreline. Climb aboard a sportboat along with 20 or 30 of your newest friends. Chances are you’ll learn something. Maybe macramé. But if you’re having fun and catching fish, who cares what boat brought you to the dance?

Paul Lebowitz
PaulL@kayakfishingzone.com


SOMETIMES THE BIG BOAT IS BETTER – A slice of the wide open action that started tantalizingly close to the outside edge of the kelp at Augustine, but unfortunately well within a brutal wind line that took the little boats out of the equation. Who cares on what you caught that fish as long as you’re having fun? Don’t get stuck in a kayak-only rut.
SOMETIMES THE BIG BOAT IS BETTER – A slice of the wide open action that started tantalizingly close to the outside edge of the kelp at Augustine, but unfortunately well within a brutal wind line that took the little boats out of the equation. Who cares on what you caught that fish as long as you’re having fun? Don’t get stuck in a kayak-only rut.





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