Having only fished on shore, inland, or from a boat, the idea of going three and a half miles off shore to fish on only a kayak seemed a little daunting! But one Tuesday morning, a charter was booked with David at South Florida Uncharted for a day long fishing excursion off shore. I met David at 6:45 am, along with another charter participant, Paula, on Miami Beach before sunrise to make sure we got a jump on the day, and the fish! He was already on the water fishing for live bait to boost our chances of landing some big catches that day. After about another half hour of bait fishing, David came back on shore, already had our Hobie Outback kayaks set to go with rod holders, H Crates, and just about any other bell or whistle we might have needed, and off we went!
It was a perfect day for kayak fishing! The water was glass flat, a small breeze, and not much traffic on the water from surrounding boats or vessels. We paddled out about a mile and a half South East off shore towards the underwater drop off where the ocean bottom goes from around 60 feet to 150 feet then even down to 500 feet and beyond. Heading south meant we had to paddle out a little longer in the beginning, but we would be able to catch the current and drift back north to finish just where we launched from.
Before leaving, we had been warned of the sun’s impact, and were sure to dress accordingly. Big, floppy, full brimmed hat, long sleeves, long pants, polarized sunglasses, and a buff to block the reflecting sunlight that could still burn your face just from bouncing off the water surface.
Half an hour into the paddle trip, the Hobie Mirage drives were doing their part, giving us all a nice leg workout while trucking along with little worry. It was time to drop our first live bait and see what was out there! Paula got set up first, me second. It wasn’t nearly 10 minutes of trolling when Paula got her first bite! David paddled over to her right away when he heard her line whizzing off the spool, and thanks to his quick “how to reel in a fish” lesson before we left the shore, in no time Paula had landed “the biggest Spanish Mackrel” David had ever seen! It was put in the fish bag to keep fresh and filet later, and we were off again.
Another half hour ish of trolling, and still no bites. We continued on and eventually started to turn back towards shore while heading north to try our luck there. David and Paula were further south than I was as we all paddled in a line then all of a sudden, BAM!!! My line starts whizzing off the spool, sounding like it was going to burn a hole through the rod! I looked around for someone else to notice what was going on also, but David and Paula were too far away to hear the sound of my spool.
After what felt like a full minute of letting out line, the buzzing stopped and the fight was on! Remembering what David had said, I started the fight with something big. I just didn’t know what yet.
The fish would stop pulling long enough for me to lift the rod, and reel in as i dropped it towards the water line. I managed to gain a few feet of line back from the fish when it took off again. David by this time saw what was going on and was already nearly to me giving me pointers on how to tire the fish and get him in safely.
Never once during the whole fishing fight did I feel unstable in the Hobie Outback. It’s an incredibly stable boat and even when pulling straight off port or starboard I never felt like I was going to capsize.
All of a sudden, a giant sailfish jumped out of the water nearly 100 yards away, thrashing as it breached the surface! It was huge!!! Much bigger than I was ever expecting to catch on my first time EVER kayak fishing off shore!
I would reel him in a few yards, then he would run back out. Reel him in a little, he’d run back out. It was only a matter of who would tire out first now.
As he would get close to the boat, David warned that the fight wasn’t over. He’d get close then get a boost of energy again and pull line out to what felt like the original fighting distance, and we’d start all over! After nearly an hour of fighting, with tired arms and bruised hips from the butt of the fishing rod, I could see him just below the water surface. One or two big pushes and reels later, we had him! A 60 lb, beautiful sailfish!
David explained that sailfish actually can die pretty easily when caught because they are so “out of breath” after a fight, so since he was a game fish, we were only going to catch and release as safely as possible to keep him healthy. We got him to the kayaks, making sure to keep his head under water the whole time except to take one or two pictures as picture proof that a newbie can catch a sailfish with the proper guidance, equipment, and luck!
A few pictures, videos, and “sailfish hands” later (sailfish hands is a term when your hands get torn up by holding onto the sailfish snout. It is like holding on to a metal pole covered in sandpaper. No blood but not very comfortable either), David took him back to help him “breathe” by paddling around a little big, letting water and oxygen pass over the gills to make sure he was healthy.
The fish swam off with nearly as good a story to tell as I did (except his version was a story of losing)!
By the time we were done, he had pulled us nearly four miles off shore, to around a depth of 550 ft. We still had a long paddle back, but it was easy with the breeze going over the water and the sense of accomplishment of landing such a great fish on my first time out.
I will definitely go out again in the near future, and with David from South Florida Uncharted as my fishing guide, and all my gear from Adventure Sports, the next trip is sure to be as great, or even greater, than the first!
If you want to enjoy this adventure safely, with the guidance of experts book your date! Or contact David for more information.