Dennis Spike

170# Dogtooth Tuna

Raf Vargas, age 45
Yigo, Guam (originally from Levittown, Puerto Rico)
Dogtooth Tuna 170 lbs, 70.5 inches.  Weighed and witnessed at the local Fisherman’s Coop.
Landed on Wednesday 5 December 2018
Edited Angler Account:
The fish was hooked on a 500 gram jig. The bite happened while vertically jigging at 700+ feet and the fish bit the lure very close to the bottom. It took about 1 hour 50 minutes to get it to the kayak plus, another 10 to 15 minutes to figure out how to get it onboard.  I was fishing alone with my GoPro cameras rolling.

45# Pacific Cubera Snapper


Also known as the Pacific Dog Snapper, this is the largest snapper specie in the Pacific.

Landed by Gregory “Miles” Panto on April 16, 2018

Location-Sea of Cortez, just north of Los Barilles, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Hometown-Seattle, Washington

Angler Account: “I hooked it in about 100 ft of water, jigging a candy bar over a rock face, north of Punta Pescadora.  The fish was weighed at Smokey’s in Los Barriles, just an hour and a half after getting it to the beach.  Smokey’s weighs the local catch for anglers, it came in at exactly 45 lbs.”

Detailed account of the catch: “The morning of April 16th was the first calm day after a week of insane, unseasonable wind and the north swell was still almost big enough to keep me off the water.  But I knew there had to be some really hungry fish and scattered bait, so I pushed out.

I paddled out about 3/4 of a mile off a small wash north of Punta Pescadora, where I’d previously found some rock clusters and nice depth variations.
The first drop of a red candy bar jig hooked something small and while reeling it up pretty quickly, it got off.  I let the jig drop again and before it got back to the bottom it was picked up again, by something much bigger.
Knowing it was likely a snapper and already off the bottom by quite a bit, I put very little pressure on it and he swam around in various directions for a while at that same depth.
After a while of that I gave him some pressure, trying to get him up, and realized I had something crazy.
For the next hour or so it was gain a little—loose a little, while chasing and trying everything to gain some line.
I’d hooked it on the smaller of my two poles, so I was working with 50lb test on a small (borrowed!) vintage rod and a light sealine real with maybe 300 feet capacity.
At one point I was pretty sure I’d never get to see what I’d hooked, but every time it changed direction I could feel its mass, and I was pretty damn sure it was a dog snapper.
When I finally got it up into sight I literally screamed.
I knew right then it was a kayak record, and was surprised when it weighed in at only 45 lbs…it really felt bigger!
                               That was one bad-ass fish!  My Kayak is a Native Watercraft Propel, which I love.”


















Descending Black Seabass and Rockfish



3/27/18-Revisiting the Safe Release of Fish

On the heels of rockfish season opening soon and snapper and other coastal species seeing their seasons with size and retention limits, the successful release of traumatized fish is crucial to conscientious fishing.  Here on the California coast, anglers are too accustomed to releasing traumatized no-take, under and oversized species for the ospreys and crabs to eat, the case in many similar fisheries.  In the time since this was first published, “release tools” have become readily available on tackle shelves

Kayak Fishing

Canary Rockfish-CA Daily and Bag Limit, One Fish

 Getting a feel for a good hookset and SLOOOOOWWWWWLLLLLY moving the fish up the water columns on the lightest drag possible will keep its eyes in its head, the bladder in its belly and a long sporting fight to effect a healthy release.


Releasing ocean fish with inflated bladders is a necessary angler skill and . With so many restrictions in today’s fishery, from rockfish to snappers and groupers plus the depths we can fish and more, possessing a release rig has become a matter of angler consciousness.  We advise guided guests fishing shallow water rockfish not to “horse in” smaller fish and retrieve them slowly to avoid inflating bladders and killing the fish.  Shallow water returns are less successful.   This link to Sportfishing Association of California details barotrauma and several release methods.  Release tools are effective but not necessary, most kayak fishers have what they need onboard.

From Captain Jerry Barber:

Black seabass are making a rebound from near exticnction and are being hooked and landed by more and more fishermen every day. The first problem when landing one of these giants is to identify it as a black seabass. Too often I hear, “What the hell is THAT?” when one is brought to the boat. If you are fishing on or near the bottom and bring up a large, usually spotted, grouper-like fish, you probably have caught a black seabass. Now you have a problem. These fish are fully protected by law and MUST be released. The problem is how?  These fish are usually caught in deep water and their now-inflated gas bladder stops them from swimming back to the bottom.

Most sportfishers carry long hypodermic needles which are inserted into the side of the fish behind the pectoral fin. This deflates the bladder and allows the fishSafe_Release to return to the seabed. There are two dangers in doing this. First, it must be done correctly or the fish could be killed instantly. Secondly, when the needle is inserted through the skin, it picks up slime which is then deposited deep inside the fish. This can cause an infection which results in a long, slow death. I use a device that safely and efficiently returns the fish to the sea and I offer it to you for your consideration.  We do not recommend this invasive technique.

The device consists of a 5# rock cod weight, a 24″ piece of braided stainless leader and a 10/0 stainless hook modified to be barbless. Simply attach the hook to the weight with the wire leader and keep the device permanently on your boat. When a seabass is caught, tie a line from any convenient rod to the bend of the hook. (Use at least 25 pound test so the line doesn’t break) The hook is then inserted DOWNWARD through the UPPER lip of the fish and the weight is slipped gently into the ocean, followed by the fish. With the reel in freespool, the weight pulls the fish to the bottom where its swim bladder deflates naturally. If it doesn’t swim away by itself, a sharp upward pull on the line will pull the hook out and release the fish.

This “Safe Release”, as I call it, costs only a few dollars to build and is the easiest, and safest, device I have ever found. Take the time to build one and keep it in a convenient spot on your boat.


PVC Kayak Cart


*You need to add “T’s” to the top of this design to cradle the hull.  Pad the top of the T bars with a pool noodle or similar foam wrap.  Based on kayak manufacturers recommendations, we do not recommend supporting your kayak through the scupper holes.



What should I look for in a used kayak?


A summary of important considerations from Judge

Brittleness – if any of the plastic feels brittle (from being in the sun or just plain old) do not buy – and maybe don’t even take as
a gift – it’s up to you on that one. You need to know what a new kayak feels like before you start checking old ones.

Structure – look for modifications, holes and visibly deep scrapes in the hull. If you are concerned – ask the seller if you can fill it up with water. By doing this on dry sidewalk, you should be able to tell if it leaks (and there will probably be a lot more pressure on the hull when it’s full of water than it will be when you are on it in the water). Modifications – any holes put into the hull are a possible source of leaks. Check them out. Real small holes (like for pop rivets) can be filled with plastic and a heat gun (from Home depot), hot glue or even some shoe goo. Look it over top and bottom -particularly to see how the wear is around the supper holes on the bottom – a place of particular wear as you land on the beach.

Form – The plastic boat can be misshapen as a result of being tied to a car or truck in hot weather. They say in the OK book, that they will regain their old shape if allowed to heat and cool on a level surface with no tie downs. If you find a boat that seems to have cooled to the wrong shape, you may or may not be able to get it right again. Also, the booklet says that hanging them by their handles can make them warp. Again, I don’t know if they will “right” themselves if allowed to heat and cool on a flat surface – Maybe this is a question for a dealer or manufacturer.

How do I install FLUSH MOUNT ROD HOLDERS on my kayak?


Thanks to Wali for his excerpt from the Idiot’s Guide.

How? Poke large hole(s) in your perfectly good Kayak and set it in place with some stick-um and screws. Seriously though, it really is about that simple. A 2 1/4″ hole saw works real well to poke the hole and I like 3m 4200 as a sealant. Don’t drill the screw holes until you put the holder in place and rotate it to the position you want your rod to point in and it fits inside your hull (I shortened mine some). Be careful and don’t over tighten the screws (just enough to pull it almost flush and make the sealant ooze (wipe clean) Make sure you use stainless steel hardware. Most come without a bottom and you need to cap it. I sanded mine down some and fit an abs cap (2″ I think) on it and sealed it   I have three. Hope that helps

Can I install the CKF Paddle Clips on kayaks with rounded sides like The Ride, Prowler and Malibu Kayaks?


Yes…..You can install the CKF Paddle Clips on the Prowler and other “rounded” kayaks by flexing the base to conform to the hull. Stainless nuts and bolts are recommended when access to the interior is afforded. Snug the paddle clip base down gradually alternating back and forth between each fastener. Stainless sheet metal screws or rivets will work when a “blind” fastener is needed. The Paddle Clips should be installed at room temperature or warmer for an easy application.

How do I get tar off my kayak?


“Years ago I suggested on this web site, orange hand cleaner for removal of oil/tar. Spike emailed me asking that I keep an eye on the cleaned area for signs of “reactions”. I still have the OK Scrambler. The area cleaned looks the same as the rest of the kayak. I do store the kayak
indoors and use “303” protectant about once per month. Perhaps the extra care has been helpful.” 

Thanks to Bill Hartman, Oxnard California.

How do I avoid backlash when I cast?


Thanks to Ed Whited  for providing an easy primer on casting an open face reel.  The information applies to Shimano Corsair & Calcutta, Daiwa Millionaire, Abu Abu Garcia Ambassador and similar reels.

I have two Corsairs, both of them are the new versions. I have caught yellowtail, bass and barracuda with them.
They cast great and the drag system is the same as the Calcutta’s.

Always watch your jig when you cast, If you do not stop the spool with your thumb when the jig hits the water, you will get a backlash. To help with your casting, and/or minimize your backlashes, make sure that your spool adjustment is correct. This is the knurled cap on the right hand side plate. The purpose of the adjustment is to take the play out of the side to side movement of the spool. I like to tighten the knob until I can no longer here a “Click” or sound as I try to move the spool side to side with my thumb. Too tight and you will limit your casting distance. Always watch your jig when you cast, If you do not stop the spool with your thumb when the jig hits the water, you will get a backlash.

The next item is the proper adjustment of the “Weights” on the left-hand side of the spool. These weights are located on the left-hand side of the spool. You have to disassemble the reel to access them. Unscrew the two slotted knobs holding the right hand side plate to the frame and remove the spool from the reel. Look at the left-hand side of the spool. There is a series of 5 (as I recall) weights on the left side of the spool arranged in a circular or star pattern. The weights can be pushed toward the center of the spool’s shaft to turn off the weight or pushed outward toward the spool’s rim to turn them on. Be careful not to damage the weights. I would turn them all on until your thumb becomes more educated and you can then start turning some of the weights off to lengthen your casting distance. When you re-assembly your reel, make sure the release (free-spool) button is in the up position or it will not engage the release mechanism properly. This will be apparent by the button remaining in the down or disengaged position and not engaging when the reel handle is turned. The easiest way for me to prevent this is to turn the reel upside down so gravity pulls the release button into the proper position as I reassemble the reel.

The issue of the line being caught between the spool and frame is a function of the line diameter, spool looseness (see second paragraph) and backlashes. Everyone, no matter how experienced, has backlashes at times. Experience and proper adjustments will minimize the backlash frequency. Try not to use line of a diameter smaller than what the reel is designed for. With smaller diameter line the frequency of catching the line between the spool and the frame increases and the line’s tolerance to damage decreases.          Ed Whited

How to ID (red) California rockfish


Canary and Vermilion and Yelloweye…oh my!
by Jayna Schaaf-DaSilva, Marine Biologist (article harvested from CDFG Bulletin)

One of the most diverse and successful groups of fishes in the eastern Pacific is the rockfishes (genus Sebastes), represented by more than 60 species in California waters. All rockfishes have a set of characteristics that distinguish them from other fishes, most notably the prominent head spines. Rockfishes have five spines on the rear cheek area, a continuous dorsal fin with 12–15 spines and 9–16 soft rays, and an anal fin with three spines and 5–9 soft rays. Rockfishes are generally long-lived, slow growing, late maturing, and mostly residential fishes.This combination of characteristics makes rockfishes extremely vulnerable to overfishing.

In addition to these life history characteristics, increased fishing pressure and unfavorable oceanic conditions have combined to reduce some populations of rockfish to extremely low levels. Two examples of important species under pressure are the canary (Sebastes pinniger) and the yelloweye (Sebastes ruberrimus) rockfishes. Canary rockfish have a potential lifespan of 60 years or more, while the yelloweye rockfish can live to be at least 118 years old. They mature relatively late in life. NOAA Fisheries has designated these species as “overfished” and the federal Groundfish Fishery Management Plan mandates actions to rebuild their stocks to a healthy condition in the shortest time possible. In order to allow these stocks to rebuild, it is illegal to keep individuals of these species. Stocks are not expected to be rebuilt until 2017 and 2074, respectively. Unintentionally caught canary or yelloweye rockfishes should be returned to the water immediately to increase their chances of survival.

It can be challenging to identify any rockfish species, including prohibited species, when many of them are the reddish-colored and look very similar. In the past, anglers have typically misidentified canary (a prohibited fish) as vermilion rockfish (a permissible fish). The best way to distinguish a canary rockfish is by the bright orange coloration. The color can be compared to that of a road construction cone, a soda can of orange Crush®, or a bowl of Cheetos®. In northern California, the orange color pattern may be more reddish. However, all canary rockfish have a broad white or light grey band along the lateral line of the body that extends from the head to the tail. Canary rockfish also have a white belly, a slanted triangular-shaped anal fin, and a slightly forked tail fin. In smaller individuals, a dark grey or black spot can often be found at the base of the dorsal fin, about halfway down the body. When all else fails, rubbing the thumb against the chin of the fish will give a clue; canary rockfish have a smooth jaw.

Vermilion rockfish are actually quite distinct from canary rockfish, once one knows what to look for. Vermilion rockfish possess a much deeper red color: envision the red of a very ripe tomato. Vermilion rockfish lack the broad white or grey band on the body, but may have a partial band, and the belly is never bright white. The anal fin is rounded in vermilion rockfish, and the tail fin is straight. Many individuals have black borders on the fins. The upper (dorsal) part of the body is mottled with dark grey to black speckles, especially in younger fish. Again, rubbing the chin of the fish can help distinguish it; vermilion rockfish have a sandpaper-like roughness to the chin.

Some anglers misidentify yelloweye (a prohibited fish) as vermilion rockfish (a permissible fish). Yelloweye rockfish reach a larger maximum size than either canary or vermilion rockfishes, and they have very big, strong head spines. The yelloweye rockfish goes though a rather dramatic color change with growth. Juveniles are reddish-orange with two solid white lines running the length of the body, one along the lateral line and one below it. During transition, the body is red with only one white stripe (the bottom stripe disappears first). Large, mature individuals lack the white stripes completely, and are more orange-colored with pinkish fins. The fins are tipped with black throughout growth. The yelloweye rockfish, not surprisingly, has prominent golden-yellow eyes. There is a rasp-like ridge of spines above the eyes of large individuals. Like the canary rockfish, the chin of the yelloweye rockfish is smooth.

With practice and patience, identifying the characteristics of canary, vermilion, and yelloweye rockfishes can become a straightforward task. A combination of characteristics such as the coloration of the lateral line, shape of the fins, chin texture, and body color can be used to identify each species of these three “red” rockfishes. Proper identification is the key to reducing the accidental harvest and ultimately rebuilding the California stocks of overfished species in a minimum amount of time.

For more information about canary, vermilion and yelloweye rockfishes, visit the following Web sites:

For full-color illustrations of these rockfishes, click here.