Catching fish in a kayak never gets old. However, there is always that quest for bigger and different species. Nothing provides that opportunity better than a trip to an exotic location. I received several requests recently for information on fishing trips outside of the United States. Just like charter fishing operations, there are outfitters that now specialize in kayak fishing adventures. With a little advance planning, the kayak fishing trip of a lifetime is easily within reach.
The first decision to make is whether it’s going to be a guys’ trip or a couples’ venture. Some are perfectly suited for fishing couples, or even non-fishing partners. However, some are more primitive and best suited for hardcore anglers and those that are more adventurous. Panama, Mexico and Costa Rica are all easily accessible from Louisiana and have outfitters that offer kayak fishing opportunities like no other. Imagine launching your kayak off the beach in front of your camp or resort and doing battle with an exotic roosterfish, cubera snapper, dorado (mahi) or perhaps even a sailfish or marlin.
A good outfitter will help you plan what to bring and whether you need your own gear or can rent or use theirs. I generally prefer bringing my own gear so I know I can depend on the quality and condition. However, you need to research available airlines, as their baggage charges for carrying fishing gear vary widely — with some charging exorbitant fees. Passports are a necessity and you need to plan well ahead of time to get or renew yours if necessary.
Pelagics right off the beach
So what should you expect once you get there? You’ll be fishing in pristine clear waters, usually with breathtaking beaches and scenery. In some areas, it is hard to concentrate on fishing just trying to take in all the sights. Most of these locales are situated where deep waters come extremely close to shore. You will likely never be out of sight of land, but you’ll be located where pelagics like tuna and dorado come within yards of shore. Snapper, amberjack and roosters are regularly caught fishing right off the beach.
Lures are productive, but live bait is best, if available. Most popular resorts or marinas are stocked daily by local fishermen selling a variety of live baits out of their pangas. Check with the outfitter to see if they have livewells or bait tubes available. If not, an inexpensive PVC bait tube can easily be carried in your suitcase and left with the outfitter when you leave.
Of course, the fishing is why you came, right? Slow trolling is best for tuna, billfish, dorado and roosterfish. However, giant poppers produce topwater hits like nothing you’ve ever seen. Oftentimes you can see the fish rising from the depths in the crystal clear water. Try keeping your composure knowing you are about to experience the biggest toilet flush you have ever seen.
Wake up with a roosterfish
Bottom fishing is nothing to sneeze at, either. Giant jacks and snappers devour metal jigs and fight like semi-trucks. A couple of these bruisers and you’ll experience the best pain of your life. If your trip takes you to an area with roosterfish, don’t pass up the chance to do battle with one of these beasts. These ferocious fighters are prized by anglers the world over, but catching one in a kayak is quite an experience. They are beautiful and elegant, but their looks are deceiving. They are some of the toughest fish that swim, akin to a jack on steroids. Landing one from a kayak is quite an accomplishment.
If you’re dreaming of exotic kayak fishing, it’s easier than ever to arrange. Be sure to pick a full-service outfitter that provides quality kayaks and accommodations. Sure, at some point you’ll have to come back to the real world of trout, reds and bass — but the memories you bring back will last a lifetime.