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How To Avoid Flipping Your Fishing Kayak When Fighting Big Fish!

December 02th, 2020 | Railblaza Team
Adam Fisk from Los Buzos, Panama shares with us the number one question he gets from clients and friends about landing big fish from a kayak and how he does it without capsizing. Adam and his team have years of experience guiding clients onto fish of a lifetime offshore at Panama, including BIG marlin!  

How To Avoid Flipping Your Fishing Kayak When Fighting Big Fish! Adam Fisk

I think the most asked question I get is “How do you not flip when kayaking in the ocean and fighting/landing such big fish.” Here at Los Buzos, Panama offshore fishing resort we put our clients onto giant roosterfish, cubera snapper and the occasional marlin battle so it’s certainly a great question especially coming mainly from anglers who have never kayak fished or those who mainly are fishing for smaller species. 

It’s about trust and relaxing

It’s easier than you think and starts with the right kayaks for the environment which is why we choose only the best fishing kayaks for this offshore environment that will cater to anglers of all shapes and experience levels.  After that, it’s about being relaxed and trusting the kayak so you can focus on maintaining your balance well and you will have no issue. 
While fighting a fish keep your head upright and centred as much as you can and not looking over the sides for example.  If you are tense and rigid you will risk capsizing due to your reactions, just relax and enjoy the moment!

Most important when fighting a powerful fish

It’s critical when fighting a big fish always try to keep the rod tip pointed towards the front of the boat. If a fish takes a hard strong run out to the side, lean the opposite way and turn in the direction of the fish keeping that rod tip as close to the bow and side of the kayak as possible.
The moment you break this control you risk being pulled sideways into current or swell which is never a good place to be. With the fish off the bow, your kayak will act as extra resistance for the fish while it tows you around and hopefully tires it out before you!

Boating BIG fish 

When pulling a big fish on onboard, make sure first of all you have a good grip, know where your rod is and watch for stray hooks, then counterbalance and bring the fish into your lap as you lean back towards the centre. Do not lose focus as it’s not over yet and there is still a real risk of either the fish having one last dash for freedom or the last thrash that could send a hook into your leg..keep a tight hold.
Something that sends kayakers swimming often is when they are not paying attention during this process to waves so take a moment to calm yourself and be aware of everything, if in doubt wait for someone to come alongside and raft up to you helping stabilise your kayak while you bring the fish on board. If on your own and if possible throwing a leg in the water to act as a stabiliser will often help while you leverage a bigger fish on to the kayak

Always be situationally aware 

I’ve seen several times where kayakers are untangling rod tips while looking straight up and that is a great way to lose balance. Another one is when the angler is turned around grabbing a tackle box from their crate or a live bait from their tank… this can put them off balance just enough for a poorly timed wave coming from the side to finish the job. Pay attention to your environment, make smart decisions and you will stay dry.

Practice makes perfect 

Maintaining balance in a kayak is something you can get used to very quickly. We have had several anglers flip the first day just paddling around when they are completely new and by the end of the week they are moving around like pros and pulling 50 lb fish into their laps like it’s nothing. Everything just needs a bit of practice. 
If your keen to know more about what to do if you were to capsize your fishing kayak then read the blog below which has some great information and video guide.

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What To Do If You Capsize Your Fishing Kayak