Editor’s Note: Occasionally, we receive material we think covers topics outside our normal fishing experiences. Today, an avid paddle angler tells us why he’s hooked.
As the fishing world prepares to descend on Orlando for ICAST, my thoughts go to the late Vic Dunaway, his novel, Fishing Florida in the Golden Age, and the similarities I’m seeing today to paddle sport fishing. Just like in the 1950′s, when trailering a boat took off and opened up fishing access, the progression of paddle fishing from the bulky old canoe to kayaks, and now Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUP), is opening a golden age of fishing access to a new generation of young anglers yearning to pursue game fishing in a new way.
Marshall finds SUPs suitable for fishing for virtually any species – like this snook. Photo courtesy of author.
Now that summer is here and waters are generally flat, the ability for anglers to experience paddle fishing is easy. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s TakeMeFishing.org helps anglers find places to fish and nowadays kayaks and SUPs can be rented just about anywhere. They’re an easy way to spend a day on the water and it’s relatively inexpensive rent different styles to learn which type of paddle fishing suits you best. I’m a firm believer that the more folks get outdoors, experience fishing and the importance of good habitat to catching fish, the stronger the conservation ethic that’s at the foundation of our sport.
Personally, I’ve become a die-hard SUP angler. I migrated to SUP’s from years of back problems that made standing still on a boat or sitting in a kayak at times uncomfortable. On an SUP I can paddle standing-up, kneeling or laying flat, and most of the time I cycle between all three depending on the wind and my need to transit distance or sight fish and cast.
SUPs dramatically increase sight fishing ability over kayaks and canoes and with a pair of polarized lenses, like the Costa Del Mars I’ve come to trust, you actually see fish before you get too close and spook them. SUPs, in particular, are in a golden age because of the advances in stability, size and lightweight design. If you can stand at attention without falling down, you can stand and fish on a modern day SUP without landing in the water.
Ram Mounts has a wealth of components and the double suction cup rod holder is a must have piece of gear for the SUP angler. I pack two when I’m on the road and whether you are a fly, spin or bait caster, there’s a rod system and travel case for you that will fit in any airplane carry-on compartment. When I travel, I’m set to getaway for bit, rent an SUP or kayak, explore new waters and aim to catch a sleigh ride courtesy of a hard fightin’ fish.
TJ Marshall is an avid angler and travels the Gulf as Constituent Outreach Director for Ocean Conservancy pursuing game fish.