By Paul Lebowitz
Robert Field has come a long way in a little more than a year. In July 2013 he manned up and faced the music when he published Kayak Fishing: Offshore Trip Gone Wrong. Part three documents his first solo offshore shark fishing experience. It was a mess.
On his third day Field capsized in rough water. Bystanders on the beach noticed he was in trouble and called the Coast Guard, which scrambled a rescue helicopter. When it arrived, Field was already back on shore after self-rescuing. He was brutally honest in posting about his misadventure. “No fish is worth dying for. I broke a lot of rules and did a lot of things wrong on this trip. I shouldn’t have been out alone in these conditions,” he said.
That makes his newest full length video release Kayak Fishing: Big Sharks Offshore a do-over of sorts, a mission to right his earlier wrongs and, incidentally, tangle with bigger sharks. Kayak Fish caught up with Field and asked him if he’s settled a past score. (continued below)
KF: You’ve come a long way since your first shark trip offshore.
Field: My first time chasing sharks, I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I’ve always had this fascination with the big-fish-little-boat dynamic and I remember the very first time I sat down in a kayak and went fishing I thought, “Man, it would be an insane rush to catch a big fish from this thing. Especially a big shark. I want to do that one day.”
I was brand new to saltwater fishing and I grossly underestimated the power of the ocean – and almost paid the price. Ever since that day I now have a tremendous respect for the ocean and the creatures living in it. Where before my priority was catching fish, now my priority is safety. Not only keeping myself safe, but also promoting safe practice so that those following my films don’t make the same mistakes I did.
KF: In your latest video you tangle with two blacktips and a huge nurse shark that tested your arms for more than two hours. What’s your philosophy on targeting sharks?
Field: I definitely understand and respect those that avoid sharks when fishing. Some do it because they don’t enjoy the fight; some do it out of respect. As opposed to many in our industry, I’m big on “live and let live.” I personally enjoy catching sharks from a kayak. I like the thought of not necessarily having the upper hand over a fish. While I would prefer to be in that scenario with a big marlin or tuna, I don’t have those species in my fishery, so sharks are a good alternative.
KF: That first blacktip teed off on your arm, giving you quite the love tap with its tail (it’s at the 8-minute mark). Did it leave a bruise?
Field: I always say that 90 percent of the battle with the shark from a kayak is within ten feet of the boat. That’s when things always get interesting. Sharks are notorious for exploding after seeming like they’re done. I can’t help but think that after what you just put them through, they might just want to put a little hurting on you.
I was lucky to be wearing a shirt when that blacktip caught my forearm. Their skin is extremely rough, and even with the grain can leave a nasty rash with enough force. With the shirt on I escaped with a big but light bruise.
KF: What’s next now that you’ve launched the pro-style Kayak Bass Series and taken a marketing job with Manley Rods? Can we look forward to more full-length videos?
Field: It will be a mix going forward but anytime I’ve got a decent story and footage to match, I’m not going to shorten it for the sake of shortening it. That’s one nice thing about not getting paid for my film work – nobody can tell me what to do.