Mission: Catch some kingfish
Angler: Jameson Redding
When: Early July
Location: Offshore of Pensacola, Fla.
Rig: A 7’6″ Shakespeare Ugly Stick Inshore M/H with a Penn Battle 5000.
Bait and line: 30-pound Power Pro with 30-lb. Seaguar Fluorocarbon tied to a duster rig with a frozen cigar minnow.
Redding and his crew from Jackson Kayak were trolling and catching kingfish when they decided the clock was running out and called it a day. While making a final slow troll back towards the beach launch, his rod went bendo to a big surprise. This was no kingfish, it was a wahoo, Redding's first from the kayak. "This fish was all about being in the right place at the right time. I feel blessed to have caught it. What a ride," he says.
Mission: Scratch a years-old salmon itch
Angler: Ruben Ledesma
When: The first hot California kayak salmon bite in years.
Location: The Sonoma coast
Rig: A custom Seeker 196L8 blank and a vintage Daiwa SG27LC line counter.
Bait and Line: A green Rotary Salmon Killer presented on a Luhr Jensen No 1. Deep Six diver.
Ruben Ledesma dropped his bait 70 feet deep into the cool Pacific waters and started trolling. Minutes later, he was stopped dead in his tracks. "I thought I had snagged the bottom," Ledesma recalls. "I grabbed the rod to try and free it. I give it a little tug and I get a huge tug back. The beast had awakened." When he finally brought the king to the kayak he was amazed by the size of the royalty on his line: 34 pounds cleaned and dressed.
Mission: Catch another 50-inch stripped bass
Angler: Tom Fucini
When: Night fishing in autumn
Location: Long Island Sound, Connecticut
Rig: A 6'6" Shimano Trevala heavy action rod paired with a Release Reels SG conventional.
Bait and Line: A live eel threaded onto a 9/0 circle hook, tied onto 50-pound Ande fluorocarbon leader over 65-lb. Momoi Diamond Braid Verifier.
Nighttime is the right time for big striped bass. Fucini headed out in his Hobie Revolution in rough and windy conditions. Drifting an eel he found a few quality fish before the big one took his bait. In increasing waves and wind he fought and landed this 50-incher with a 28-inch girth—estimated at a whopping 48 pounds. "I had never seen a tail that massive," he says, and that's something. Fucini caught 15 bass over 45 inches on the season.
Mission: Catch a yellowtail
Angler: Luther Cifers
When: August, when hungry yellows breeze the kelp.
Location: The epicenter, La Jolla, California
Rig: A Shimano TLD-15 lever drag mounted to a Seeker Classic.
Bait and Line: A live jack mackerel presented on 40-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and 30-pound mono.
East Coaster Luther Cifers took advantage of a cross-country business trip to sneak a session in the La Jolla kelp with Jim Sammons of the Kayak Fishing Show and Kayak Fish Editor Paul Lebowitz. Until that day, the owner of accessory maker YakAttack had never tangled with fork-tailed lightning. He was about to get his arms stretched and test out his yellowtail face—a grimace of pain and pleasure. At color, Cifers stuck the fish himself, a solid 28-pound forkie.
Mission: Bottom scratching in the Gulf
Angler: Brian Vincent
When: During the Columbus Day Boondoggle
Location: Two miles off Navarre Beach, Fla.
Rig: A Release Reels SG conventional on a Shimano Trevala jigging rod.
Bait and Line: A live cigar minnow on a 7/0 Circle Hook, presented on 50-pound PowerPro with a 60-pound flurocarbon leader.
Brian Vincent normally chases bass, but he headed down to the Florida Boondoggle eager for new salty experiences. Going offshore for the first time, he caught his inaugural Spanish mackerel and topped it off with a tank of a snapper. "I felt it hit. I started reeling fast and it dragged me 40 or 50 yards," he says. Vincent's tank was a 29.75-inch pargo colorado.
Mission: Family time on the water
Angler: Kiras Carlisle
Location: McVille Dam, North Dakota
Rig: A custom rod with a Pfluger Presidential reel
Bait and Line: A secret. We can tell you it was caught on 8-pound Berkley mono.
"Both of my girls wanted to go fishing that day," says Chris Carlisle. The fit was a little tight on his Trident 11. Kiras, 10, perched up front by the hatch while her younger sister Avery fished from the tankwell. Kiras hooked up on her first cast. "Avery was laughing and trying to coach her sister. Kiras was holding on for dear life. The look on her face when she saw the fish was one of my best moments in my life," her father says.
Mission: Take a break
Angler: Kodi Bowers
When: Early June, 2013
Location: Mattawoman Creek, Maryland
Rig: A 6’6″ medium Abu Garcia Vendetta rod and an Abu Garcia Revo S baitcaster.
Bait and line: A LiveTarget Frog in green/yellow, cast on 20-pound PowerPro braid.
Bowers had parked his kayak in the shade to take a break during a banner day of fishing. As an afterthought he casually chucked a top water lure. "I was facing a distinct line where the lily pads and hydrilla began to cover the water surface. As the frog approached the line between lily pads and open water, one of the biggest and most powerful top-water strikes I had ever seen exploded," he recalls. It was no bass. Bowers reeled in a 31-inch snakehead.