1) Net or Grips
This is one of the vital tools you will need within arms reach when you pull that monster snook or finicky mogan trout next to your craft. One headshake of a brittle yellow mouth and you could be waving bye-bye to your next hero shot when the hook pulls through its delicate mouth.
Several companies make quality rubber meshed nets that are key to your success at landing a whopper, preferably one that floats just in case something happens in the heat of battle and it’s dropped. Rubber mesh will help to keep treble hook tangles at a minimum and will also be easier on the fish’s scales in case you are feeling kind and don’t want to keep the fish for dinner, ensuring it lives to produce future kin.
A pair of grips also within reach, will assist you in pulling a beast aboard. There are numerous options available for grips from high quality Boga, to metal spring release grips from Bass Pro. I once had to dive in the water many years ago after a snook shook free from my grasp with a grip in his mouth, and sank, so I’ve been using a floating version from The Fish Grip for several years, just in case that happens again (needless to say I tracked down the snook and got my grip back). Also, a nice thing about the plastic grip is having no worries of it being submerged. With that being said, you can keep the grip in the fish’s mouth, attached to a lanyard, which is also attached to a kayak, and keep the fish in the water and breathing as long as needed; the alternative is keeping the fish in your kayak or lap, gasping for air. This enables you to reach for things in your kayak that you may need and not affecting the well being of the fish, increasing the chances of a releasable fish surviving, by a landslide.
The last thing you need is to be turning around, digging in your fishing bag, or opening up hatches, and searching for your pair of pliers when you have a fish! One of the first things you should do when first jumping in your kayak for your trip is find your pliers and put them in a location where you know where they’re at, preferably on a lanyard so you won’t lose them. Doing this simple thing could add valuable minutes to a fish’s life, ensuring its livelihood when released.
When looking for a pair of pliers I like to spend a little more money and get an aluminum pair at a minimum, something that will cut braid, and a sheath if possible (so you can again attach to kayak or self and not lose in the water). If you can still find a pair, I’ve been using a set of floating X-Tools for the past three years that floats, cuts braid, and does not rust (I don’t know why they stopped making these things!)
The final essential grab I like to have nearby, is my camera. There have been too many times when I’ve seen a cool sight that only lasts for seconds and I’m scrambling to get my camera at the bottom of my hatch or bag, and lose the opportunity, or even worse, I wont even bother with it knowing I’ll have to search for it. When it comes tournament time, or even just a fun day on the water, having a snapshot quickly accessible will also give your fish more chances of survival if needed.
With today’s technology, a push of a button can turn on multiple cameras at once, but you need to make sure they’re ready to go before your memorable experience.
I say a waterproof camera should you mishandle your device and accidentally get some splash or it or even worse drop it in the water, but in addition to that, if you feel the need to capture something underwater, this will allow you to get that cool shot you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get.
Floating camera? I’m not sure the variety of floating camera options on the market, but a simple floating strap attached to a waterproof camera will make any electronic “indestructible” to the water. This is truly an important feature; reflecting back on a tournament in Jacksonville, I went to hand off my waterproof camera to a friend on a rainy day after landing a top placing flounder for a photo, only to watch it sink away in the muddy creek terrain after slipping out of my pocket. It may still work today due to its waterproof technology, but the fact that it didn’t float cost me the fish payout, and the camera. A simple flotation strap under $20 is cheap insurance for your unsecured camera.
Keeping these few little tips in mind will make your day easier and more enjoyable, not to mention help you land and document your big one quickly and efficiently. I hope it does!
Mark is a competitive kayak tournament fisherman and loves sharing what he’s learned about kayak fishing. To reach him, feel free to e-mail him on his contact page.