Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Guided Kayak Fishing, Trinidad Rockfish Wars, Sea Kayak Whale Tours

It's been a long time since my last posting. I have to say I debated calling it quits on the old Kayak Angler Blog. I started this blog in 2008, shortly after I began coaching & guiding sea kayaking as a way to keep my paddler's log as required by the BCU (British Canoe Union) system of education and certification. It quickly grew  into a more efficient way for me to keep my friends and family up to date on my kayaking and fishing adventures.

Soon I had attracted the attention of the booming kayak fishing industry. Being a low income kayak guide, it was in my best interest to accept free gear I otherwise could not afford in exchange for using and including product in photos, videos, and putting links on my blog.

A lot has changed since then. In 2013 this little blog won the Kayak Angler's Choice Award for best Kayak Fishing Blog, and people from all over the world scan these pages every day. Isn't the internet amazing?

I thought so too, but immediately after receiving the award, the internet trolls began to attack. Loads of nasty comments appeared in chat forums and Facebook pages. At first I took it personally, but later I realized a lot of people voted for my blog, so I must be doing something right.

I thought possibly I would stop blogging, and remove myself from the kayak fishing world all together, and just get back to what it's all about; kayaking...and fishing. No pictures. No blog posts. No Facebook updates. Just kayaking, and fishing.

The thing is, I like sharing my adventures with others. That's why I teach and guide. I love this stuff and I want to share it with the world. I want to scream it from the mountain top! Am I the best kayak fisherman in the world? Hell no. Do I know a lot of stuff and have a lot of experience others can learn from? Hell yes. So if you like the blog, stay tuned, I have a lot to report. If you don't, kindly move along. Nothing to see here...


In December 2013 I moved to far Northern California to launch Pacific Outfitters Academy & Adventures. I'm happy to report that we're up and running, and accepting reservations for tours and classes for Sea Kayaking, SUP, SCUBA, Surfing, Kayak Fishing, White Water Rafting, and Hunting in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, California.

Ocean bottom fishing season opened in Humboldt on May 15th, and I threw together my kit and hit the water as quick as I could after work. I have been dreaming of fishing Trinidad for years while in Oregon. It's one of the few places on the West Coast where you can launch in flat water on to the open ocean, and be in some of the most picturesque and premiere fishing grounds on the West Coast USA within 400 yards of the launch. I had to get it dialed quick, because Chris Bensch was set to come down four days later to shoot an article on fishing from a sea kayak for Ocean Paddler Magazine, set for publication in July 2014.

Shay and I launched after work on the evening of May 15th to quite possibly the calmest ocean conditions I've ever experienced. We paddled out to prisoner rock about 400 yds from shore and I began jigging for lingcod, rockfish, and cabezon. I jigged for ten minutes with no results. I quickly realized how foolish it was for me to only pack one color of soft-plastic in my kit. I had grown quite fond of chartreuse soft-plastics in Oregon &Washington, using them as my go-to color to catch big lingcod in deep (40-100ft) water. It obviously wasn't working here on that day, and I marveled at my own cockiness for about thirty seconds before a gray whale and calf popped up and spouted about one hundred yards to the South of us. I managed to snap a couple of low quality photos with my cell phone.

Having sea kayaked thousands of times, and having only encountered orcas on one occasion, and humpbacks and grays only once or twice before, I stopped fishing to observe these massive creatures. They swam North towards our position and passed by us one hundred feet seaward off our bows, spouting, and slapping their flukes on the surface.

When the whales were gone, we paddled North around Trinidad Head to try another spot. Immediately after dropping my line, a pod of harbor porpoise began to play all around us as the sun was setting. Again I stopped fishing to soak in the scene. It had been a while since I've had the time to get out on the ocean. Between relocating, starting a new business, recovering from a hip injury, and keeping up with my duties at OSOM, I hadn't had the time. I wasn't too concerned with catching fish that day, I was just happy to witness it.

The next day was an exact repeat of the day before. Whales, porpoise, incredible scenery, and all of it distracted me from putting the proper effort in to catching fish. I went home that night and tore apart my fishing kit, hoping to find just one buzz bomb. I used to use a buzzbomb when I first started handline fishing from a sea kayak because they catch everything. I found one, and tossed it in my kit determined to have every option imaginable to catch fish. I'll change colors every ten minutes and change location every thirty until I figure out what's working and where the fish are.

I hit the water early the following morning. The swell had picked up to 4-5ft but the wind remained calm. I started the day with the first lure I ever used to catch a lingcod; A hot pink #4 BuzzBomb. I paddled to a kelp bed not far from the launch and immediately caught a chunky greenling. The water was so glassy from the lack of wind you could see black Rockfish schooling on the surface.  I was fishing hard, keeping a close eye on my line to make sure it stayed in the perfect position. I was determined to do everything right and catch fish. I caught another greenling, a 25" lingcod, and a black rockfish over the next two hours, and again I was visited by the whales. The lingcod I released. He did not want to hang around and have his picture taken!

It was then I realized my fatal mistakes. I had not eaten breakfast, and I had not paused to drink water while fishing. Most importantly, I had been staring at my line in the water for two hours while bobbing on a 5ft swell. As I was paddling in, I broke out in a major sweat and felt ill. I had that moment where you decide to just go with it and puke because you know it will make it better, then I booted three times in succession over the side. I never broke cadence on the way in, and felt better immediately after puking. The lesson is, don't watch your line, keep your eyes on the horizon!  

At least I had cracked the code. I had found a reef on the chart and found what the fish were biting. Things had come together just in time for my shoot with Chris.

A day before Chris arrived for the kayak fishing shoot, the wind began to howl. 35mph winds churned up the swell. The day he arrived we launched to confused seas with a 9ft NW swell at 8 seconds combined with a 2ft SW swell at 4 seconds and 2ft wind waves. Manageable for paddling at best, but tough for fishing, even in the morning before the wind picked up. NOAA had issued a small craft advisory for the day, and the rest of the week.

We paddled South about a mile to the reef where I had caught fish two days before. I began jigging but felt it was pointless. I was getting bounced around in the confused seas and to be honest, fishing was a real pain in the ass. A gray whale and calf spouted near the edge of the reef we were fishing. I was beginning to see a pattern. The whales were coming specifically to that reef before traveling North around the head and up the West Coast. I'm not sure if they are rubbing on the reef, or if the reef fish are cleaning or providing a service to the whales, or if it's just a nice resting spot, but over the next two weeks, I saw 26 whales. A few popped up less than 20ft away from my kayak, one of them showed up 5ft underneath me. It's a unique emotion when you realize you've just dropped your jig on a whales back, but I can now say I've felt it.

The rough seas made me quickly lose interest in fishing, we paddled around a bit before calling it quits. Our first day shooting was a wash. So we decided to go play in the surf instead. I took over camera duties for a bit, and managed to snap a few photos with the DSLR of Chris playing in the rocks.

The following morning, the SW swell and wind swell had dissipated, but the wind was set to return by mid-day. We hit the water early to a NW 9ft swell at 9 seconds. With the reef just barely in the shadow of Trinidad Head, the swell at my fishing hole was 4-6ft. It wasn't perfect, but it was possibly as good as it was going to get. We paddled to my reef and I jigged for twenty minutes before catching a 24" lingcod.

Again the whales visited us. This time, a mother and calf came right towards us. Chris and I paddled 50 yards towards shore, and looked to find the whales headed right towards us. We rafted up and discussed how awesome it would be if they went under us and, also how terrified we both were that they might go under us. I looked down to see a large, barnacle covered mass whiz by in the murky water, just barely visible.

We got our fish pics on the water, and paddled in to shoot cleaning and filleting of the fish. By the time we finished, the wind was howling and fishing was done for the day. I was happy we were able to get what we needed for the shoot. I can't share any of the photos as they are to be published in the upcoming article.

We went out the following morning to similar conditions as the day before, and I boated another nice 25" lingcod within 10 minutes. This time we used the gopro to get some really cool under water photos that I can't wait for you to see in the upcoming Ocean Paddler article. Here's a little preview of one of the shots not getting used in the magazine. We were trying for half in/half out of the water shots with fish on, and we got it! 


Paddling and fishing out of Trinidad is one of the most epic things I've experienced as a sea kayaker. Words and pictures can not describe it. I'd love to share it with you. I've put Handline Fishing for Sea Kayakers on the books and it's open for reservation now. Trips begin at the end of June and run every day through October. If your into rods & reels and prefer fishing from a Sit on Top, we've got Ocean Kayak Fishing trips for salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and cabezon June through October. The whales visit us in spring time, and I've added Kayak Whale Watching Tours for April & May 2015. Looking to test your kayak fishing skills in one of the best spots in the US? Trinidad Rockfish Wars, an ocean fishing tournament open to all human powered craft (sit in/sit on kayak, SUP, canoe, etc.) is set for September 13 and registration is open now.

It's been big and windy for the last two weeks and I haven't been out. Things are shaping up for Thursday, and I'm planning on fishing. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing!

Until next time,


Monday, November 4, 2013


Just a quick post here to let you guys know the latest developments in my kayak fishing world.

First up, I'm honored to have been nominated for the third year in a row for Kayak Angler of the Year and Kayak Fishing Blogger of the Year at yakangler.com's Kayak Angler's Choice Awards. I've made it to the final round of voting in the Blogger of the Year category ending on Sunday 11/10/13. If you'd like to vote for your favorites, click HERE.

Considering I've been spread quite thin for the last two years, guiding, coaching, working full tilt for Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe in Portland, and putting a lot of effort into my Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Team OSOM) project, including magazine articles, shooting and producing our first feature film on location in NorCal, Florida Everglades & Keys, and Kauai, HI, I am truly honored to have made it this far.

Second, I'm happy to announce that in December 2013 I will be relocating to the far Northern coast of California to join forces with Pacific Outfitters. We are launching an Adventure School offering instruction and trips for paddlesports, fishing, hunting, SCUBA, and more.

I am extremely excited for this new business venture, and I'm also pretty fired up about living less than a mile from the ocean again. With incredible saltwater and freshwater fishing, touring, and kayak surfing at my doorstep, my goal is to increase my time on the water fishing as compared to the last few years in Portland where 99% of it was guiding or teaching. The majority of my time will still be spent sharing the love of the sport with others, but now I will be able to squeeze in some personal kayak fishing time as well. All of this means new and increased content for you, my important blog followers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guided Kayak Crabbing at Oregon Coast Aug. 11 & 25, 2013

Interested in eating fresh seafood on your next multi-day kayak journey? Maybe you'd just like to pick up dinner while day-playing at the coast? The crab are here in BIG numbers this year so let's go fishing! 
Join me on August 11th at the Oregon Coast for a full day of learning how to catch dungeness crab from your sea kayak. We'll be cooking and eating as well! We'll be fishing/paddling inside on one of Oregon's beautiful bays or estuaries in flat water. There's always potential for a little wind and current, but for this class basic kayaking skills are all that's required.  
Bring your own paddling gear or we can provide it at no extra charge. All fishing gear is provided. You must bring an Oregon shellfish license. Call 503-285-0464 for more info, or if you are ready to register, click HERE to go to the sign up page.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kayak Fishing Radio Double L Show April 16, 2013

I promise a full report with photos of shooting OSOM's "Search for the Perfect Day" Episode 1-3 on location on the Redwood Coast, Everglades and Keys, and Kauai, Hawaii very soon!

I wanted to let everyone know, in the mean time, I have been invited to be the featured guest on Kayak Fishing Radio's Double L show tomorrow (Tuesday 4/16/13) at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern. I'll bee talking about paddling and fishing as well as shooting on location for Perfect Day. I will be sharing video clips in the chat room during the show!

If you're in the Portland, Oregon area, join us at the Reel Paddling Film Festival on April 25th, 2013 at the Mission Theater where we are showing a short home-town only preview of Search for the Perfect Day as well as Q&A with the team after the preview. Doors are at 5:30, films start at 7pm. Tickets are available at both Alder Creek locations or at the theater day of show for $6. All proceeds benefit Willamette Riverkeeper.

Stick around that weekend (April 27th & 28th) for Alder Creek's 8th annual Paddle Festival at Vancouver Lake. Enjoy free demos of hundreds of kayaks, canoes, and SUP boards, as well as skills clinics. I'll be there giving kayak fishing clinics as well!

I hope to see you there!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

825 Likes 68% Funded 4 Days to Go!

We're incredibly grateful and humbled by the support we've received so far for our current video project; "The Search for the Perfect Day". We're 68% of the way to our all or nothing funding goal with less than four days remaining. It's coming down to the wire, but with your likes, shares, and pledges, we can get there.

We've added another new reward: Make a pledge to our Kickstarter Fundraising Page (new or existing, increase your pledge, and/or refer a friend who pledges and let us know and we'll put your name in the hat for a drawing of one of two signed, limited edition 26x13 prints of "My Back Yard" by Todd Fischer Surf-Art, who is profiled in Episode 1: The Redwood Coast.

Pledge $500 and we'll send you 1 of 10 signed prints, Project DVD, Team OSOM T-shirt, Team OSOM photo calendar, and Team OSOM decal.

Like/Share/Pledge here: http://kck.st/SfJf3h

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Team OSOM (Jason, Shay, & Chris)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Exploring Caves by Sea Kayak with Team OSOM

We're one week in to our Kickstarter fundraising campaign to help support our current project over at Team OSOM called, "The Search for the Perfect Day".

At the time of posting, we've raised 20% of the funds needed with twenty-five days left to reach our goal. If we don't hit our target, we won't receive any of the pledges, although if we continue at this pace we feel confident we'll get there.

We truly appreciate everyone who has supported this project so. If you haven't yet, we've got some great items like OSOM decals, T-shirts, photo calendars, and you can pre-order the DVD's as well. Click the Kickstarter link above for details.

We made this video of Team Member Chris Bensch exploring caves by sea kayak on the Oregon coast to help support our campaign. We hope you enjoy it, and we hope you will join us in our mission to inspire people to get outside and into nature.

Thank you!

-Jason and the rest of Team OSOM