Ultimate Big-water Fishing Kayak Review

6 open-ocean rides tested

This review is featured in the May 2011 issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine.

ultimate fishing kayak review

Proving Grounds: John Pawlak working the Coronado shoreline for rockfish. Photo by: Jeff Moag

Big-water Fishing Kayak Review

BIG WATER. Anglers read these two words differently than other kayakers. For the fish-obsessed, the term elicits visions of powerful dynamos with turbocharged tails, ocean denizens such as yellowtail, striped bass, tuna and even marlin. And big water demands capable rides—kayaks with the elongated stride to step over swells and cleave through the miles. Boats with the heft to carry a heavy load of gear and maybe, just maybe, the occasional trophy back home to a well-earned supper.

So our fish-hungry squad convened to test six worthy open-water angling options. We chose San Diego for this mission, for a one-two punch few locations can match. First came a shakedown cruise in the shadow of skyscrapers and among the Navy destroyers and frigates of San Diego Bay, where we soaked up steep wakes and insistent current. Next we hopped a ride to the lively, wild waters of the Coronado Islands, wave-tossed rock specks just south of the U.S.-Mexico border. The paddling was sublime, the fishing slow—bruisers don’t bite on cue, especially in the dead of winter—but we discovered one undeniable truth: Today’s kayak anglers have some serious choices between several tasty flavors of fine fishing rides.

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