The purpose of this article is to offer the reader information about ocean kayak fishing, starting from potential hazards and problems to recommended solutions.
What is ocean kayak fishing?
Ocean kayak fishing means fishing offshore out of a kayak, be it a sit-in, sit-in-top (SOT) or a Wavewalk™ kayak. Since kayaks are small vessels and in most cases they’re human-powered (Read: underpowered), and since kayaks expose their users to the elements, this kind of fishing typically involves some hazards and discomfort. Fishing in big lakes is similar to ocean kayak fishing in the sense that is presents similar challenges.
Hazards related to ocean kayak fishing
Fishing in the ocean is different from fishing in flat water in many ways. To begin with, the ocean is practically limitless, and unlike small bodies of water, it presents the danger of being lost at sea as a result of the action of ocean currents, tidal currents, wind and darkness, or a combination of these factors. In addition, the large distances facing the angler and their kayak could be more than it is practically possible for them to go. Depending on circumstances, the angler paddling their kayak faces the dangers of capsizing, dehydration, sun stroke, hypothermia, exhaustion and disorientation.
The surf – a challenging part of the ocean kayak fishing trip
Unless kayak anglers launch and beach at a dock in a protected harbor, the surf is where
they typically make the transition from land to sea, and vice versa.
The surf is characterized by various hazards related to the presence of waves – from water getting into your kayak while you’re launching or beaching, to capsizing, getting your fishing tackle sprayed with corrosive saltwater, losing fishing gear, and just getting soaked and uncomfortable during the rest of your trip. Strong waves can even pin your kayak in parallel to the shoreline, in a situation known as ‘broaching’, without you being able to either get to shore or go into the ocean.
Launching any kayak in the ocean surf isn’t easy, and launching a kayak loaded with fishing gear and tackle is likely to be harder. However, launching a W fishing kayak is considerably easier, and it can be fun: You just get the kayak in the water and hop inside – as you can see in the demo movie below.
If you prefer to surf launch in a more relaxed way, you can just launch regularly from dry land, as shown in the first part of this video:
Tip for easier surf launching: When you ride in the rear of the cockpit, you raise your W kayak’s bow, and by doing so you make it easy for the kayak to go over the incoming waves instead of going through them. This can make a big difference as far as the efforts required,
the chances of succeeding, and the probability that you’ll get wet. This maneuver is possible only with a W fishing kayak, thanks to its long saddle, which offers its user to relocate fore and aft, and by that move the kayak’s center of gravity (CG) with them.
How to prevent your W kayak from broaching –
If the waves drive your kayak to a fixed position that’s parallel to the shoreline (a.k.a. ‘broaching’), and your kayak happens to be a regular one (I.E. sit-in or SOT), then you’re broached, and your best bet is to try to get out of your kayak without capsizing it, and depending on what your plans are, either drag it out to the beach, or drag it in the water so it would face the ocean. But if you’re lucky enough to be in a W kayak, you’re not broached, since you can slide to the front of the cockpit, thus lowering the bow and making the stern go up.
The bow will act as a pivot while the waves hit the stern and make your kayak face the ocean again. When this happens, you can swiftly reposition yourself at the back of the cockpit, and paddle out to the ocean.
The reason why you want to do it from the cockpit’s rear is that it would make it easier for you to go over the incoming waves instead of having to go through them.
When this is done, you go back to paddling forward from a position in the middle of the
cockpit, and most importantly: in the Riding position.
Remember – the riding position is your position of choice in rough waters. Standing up is less stable, and sitting with your knees forward isn’t recommended at all in such conditions.
If you need to go pass big incoming waves, you should ride the saddle from the back of the cockpit. This makes your kayak’s bow go up, so you can go over the wave crests rather than have to go through them.
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Important: Before entering the water make sure you’re wearing a PFD (Personal Flotation Device), and that all your fishing tackle and gear are secured to your kayak.
Every W fishing kayak comes with at least one pair of side flotation modules.
Outfitting your W kayak with at least one pair of these side flotation modules is highly recommended.
How to cope with lateral (side) waves?
Lateral waves can be a big problem if you’re paddling a sit-in or SOT kayak, but if you’re paddling a W kayak they can be a source of fun if you’re surf playing – You paddle your W kayak in parallel to the beach, and let the side waves roll under you.
You’d need to learn how to lean your kayak into the wave just enough to prevent it from being overturned, but don’t lean too strongly or else you might roll to the other side once the wave has passed under your kayak.
Tip: Never go through the surf alone, and don’t go fishing by yourself far from shore. Make sure the beach is safe for kayaks No underwater rocks, oyster bars etc.