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Old 10-12-2018, 04:29 PM   #1
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Musings on the Learning Curve

I've been a bit bummed that I had to drop off the Gonzaga trip this year, and it's been a few weeks since my last trip into the blue.

As often comes with the itch to fish, I've been thinking about fishing a lot lately.

Over the past year and some change, I've been really happy to get back into fishing after about 10 years of hiatus. I find it meditative in a very meaningful way, and it fulfills a need I have to step outside of my comfort zone like only the surf zone north of LA seems capable of at 5:30 in the morning.

I've also enjoyed this community quite a bit over that time. I appreciate the resource and those who contribute to it. Before most trips to new locations I find myself keyword searching old threads for anecdotes on technique, or just vicariously enjoying the success and camaraderie of others in their reports.

As with anything worth doing, I've found the learning curve of kayak fishing has been both worthwhile and challenging. I guess I'm also stubborn with lessons, and find I'm well aware of things I could be doing better before I make a habit and improve significantly in practice.

Thus I subject you to a list of things from the past year that have consistently interfered with my hooking and landing fish... they've become veritable mantras for me at any given time, and I still forget them regularly.

I write this as a letter to myself, and in front of you that you might find some beneficial lesson, or perhaps just amusement at my expense
  • Above all, your biggest lesson has to be: Let the damn fish eat the damn live bait. How many times this year have you heard the clicker, dove for the rod, and jerked the bait out of the fish's mouth?
    To this day you've missed at least a dozen yellowtail bites because of it, and have yet to hook up on one outside of a party boat where they're practically handing you the bites.
  • Similarly, the drag. Oh man, the drag. You need a child safety lock on the drag to keep it loose.
    Sometimes you'll get impatient to just get the fish out of the water.
    You had what was clearly a solid LingCod bite last time you were in deep water, right after landing a decent legal from the same structure.
    You cranked down the drag and started winching.
    On the first head shake, you practically bounced the fucker off the hook. Maybe next time you won't touch your drag.
  • Speaking of lingcod, if it even *kind of* feels like a lingcod, *stop* reeling before they break the water.
    You've lost at least two this year, learning the hard way that they *really* don't like that first second above water.
    Best get the gaff or the net.
  • Use the lanyard on the radio to secure it to your lifevest. When you lean forward and it swivels upside down, it may just go in the water. And you might not even notice it happening.
    Half the time you come in and the radio is hanging by its lanyard on your shoulder strap anyway.
  • Sunscreen is not optional, especially if it's overcast.
  • Chances are you're going to forget something at home.
    It's probably going to be your hat. Sunscreen isn't optional.
  • Meclizine- Also not optional. No you haven't become impervious. Just eat it.
  • Don't chase that boil. Seriously. Stop. It's too far away. It's a mirage drive. Not an Evinrude. You chased it didn't you? That boil was moving a lot faster than you thought wasn't it?
  • This one took me a minute to even realize, and this is a big one-
    Try to get in the habit of always dropping and trolling so that you're never holding the rod with your reel hand. So many fish lost to this one. No leverage while swapping hands, can't reel down.
    Basically asking the fish to give you a mulligan on the strike and hoping the hook doesn't slip. This is one place where the Hobie steering on both sides looks attractive as a future nice to have.
  • You're not 100% sure yet, but you should probably ditch that spinning reel. Sure they're great to cast with.
    The baitrunner is a lovely device, but you're mostly trolling macs, dropping jigs, and if you are casting it's with an idiot-proof baitcaster.
    It's also 100% opposite of the hand coordination of reeling right handed and holding with left, which is probably counter-acting the previous lesson. Plus they're always twisting your line at least a *little* bit during a fight.
    Maybe just hang on to it in case you ever want to have a novice tag along and not worry with bird nesting.
  • Pre-tie those leaders. nothing like getting out in current and drifting a quarter mile because you didn't have a breakaway rig ready to go.
  • Probably ditch the Carolina Rig for live bait in deeper water. You've had all of your best luck on a breakaway with 6-8oz.
    You've spent most of your time cursing that Carolina rig. Let it go.
  • When bringing in a rig fully loaded with macs, those sabiki hooks sure love to get tangled up in your mirage drive, into your pants, gloves, rod leashes, shoes, and fingertips.
    You haven't figured this one out.
    You probably won't. But hey! You made bait, so that's cool.
  • Your hatch cover is not a cutting board. Stop cutting your bait on it. Unless you yard sale on the way in, you're going to be scrubbing blood and guts off your hatch cover. Get a cutting board already.
  • Swell direction and wind direction often feel counter-intuitive when drift fishing. Don't over-think it. Just look at the screen and follow the lines.
  • If you're drifting with a dead stick while bottom fishing, figure it out and get consistent. Keep your line out of the rudder.
    Be proactive about lifting the rudder if it looks like it's wrapping.
    There's a bit of sadism in Hobie's rudder design in that it turns into a cleat for your braid *really* quick if left unchecked.
    It's also really not fun to shimmy down the back of even an outback in swell.

I.... think that's about it.

I've long held that acknowledging and examining shortcomings in good humor is a pretty effective way to shortcut the learning curve.
Feel free to share your own musings here if you like, or simply revel in my own

Last edited by ProfessorLongArms; 10-12-2018 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 10-12-2018, 04:46 PM   #2
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Lets see if the Sewer Boys will get this party started? Jorge? When fishing for yellows, practice counting one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three when you start your day and through out. Minimal 3-4 second count is what I would recommend. Do not down play the Carolina rig. When taking a break from paddling / trolling and you are drifting or standing by idle, this is a great go to rig. Keep the sibiki taught. When you get a hit wind very slowly and others will follow suit. Do not just dead stick the sibiki waiting for it to load up with more baits after your initial hook up. You will have a cluster hump every time.
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Old 10-12-2018, 04:59 PM   #3
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If you get bit on a flyline mackerel and you are over anxious and miss the hookset, put the bait back in freespool. There are usually more than one yellowtail competing for your bait. The aggressor takes the first bite, but if he misses the hook, a second one will eagerly take a look. This has happened to me a bunch of times. One ended in my PB yellowtail at 44lbs. Maybe the one that bit was a 20lb fish like the one my buddy had caught that day. Iím glad the small one spit the hook!

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Old Today, 08:01 AM   #4
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The sabiki - I have found that having a sabiki rod is a life saver. Use a heavy weight on the end = less tangles. But what takes it to another level on a kayak is shortening it and taking off 2 hooks. If you load up, managing 4 baits is way easier than 6.
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Old Today, 08:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Denis_Ruso View Post
The sabiki - I have found that having a sabiki rod is a life saver. Use a heavy weight on the end = less tangles. But what takes it to another level on a kayak is shortening it and taking off 2 hooks. If you load up, managing 4 baits is way easier than 6.

If by Sabiki rod you mean the Ahi bait stick (hollow tube), I am 100% in agreement. I got it for pier fishing, but it is great for boat and kayaks.
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