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TAKING FISHING TO EXTREME LEVEL OCEAN-KAYAK SPORTFISHING IS EXCITING TAKE ON AN OLD SPORT.

Byline: NATHAN BROWN Staff Writer

Ocean-kayak sportfishing is a far cry from the late-night ESPN bass angler in a flat bottom boat.

And if you see Calabasas resident Tom Bolger, a seasoned kayak fisherman, hook a 6-foot, 190-pound thresher shark and go on what is called, a ``sleigh ride,'' you might agree.

Your typical bass angler works in a relatively calm and predictable environment and can pull up his prizes with regularity.

Bolger, on the other hand, engages in a willful fight with the thresher that can last up to three hours.

These powerful threshers have a sickle-like tail about half as long as its body and can pull a kayak fisherman a few miles before tiring out.

``There's nothing like battling with those beautiful sharks,'' Bolger said. ``It's a whole lot of work, but there's nothing like it. You earn your catch.''

After spearing his thresher after a long fight, Bolger then has to tow his prize in as far as it took him out. The tow can be especially challenging -- the thresher leaves a trail of blood that could attract unwanted attention.

``That's when it can get dangerous,'' Bolger said. ``You have to be serious out there and alert. You just can't go out, buy a kayak and get out there. You have to know what you're doing.''

However, there's also a place for the novice as many advantages make it an attractive fishing option.

First, it has a cost that is relatively cheap.

The craft is easy to transport, its maneuverability is unparalleled, the exercise is great and its stealthy approach allows the angler to sneak up on the fish.

``There's just nothing like it,'' said Nick Geist, who sometimes accompanies Bolger on kayak fishing trips.

``I tried it and I was hooked. I don't think I could fish any other way besides this.''

Tricks of the trade: ``Potholing'' and ``trolling'' are two effective techniques when out in the ocean.

Potholing has to do with fishing the kelp lines -- a spaghetti-like mass commonly seen just off the coast.

These lines house a surplus of calico bass, sand bass, halibut, rockfish, white seabass and ling cod, to name a few.

``It's like Sherwood Forrest down there,'' Bolger said, who has seen the kelp from below as a master diver. ``It's amazing what you see down there.''

The kayak, as it glides with ease over the wiry kelp, is effective at getting anglers into position for a catch without getting caught up.

Once there, you drop a weighted grub through a hole in the kelp down to the bottom (about 40 feet). When the grub hits bottom, you up hold your pole at a slight angle and reel in slowly -- waiting for a strike.

``With a boat,'' Bolger said, ``You'd probably be spending most of your time untangling your prop.''

For trolling, Bolger uses two poles with fresh squid to comb some of the flatter shelves not too far out from shore.

The kayak is surprisingly adept at maintaining an even pace as you troll a sizable area.

Equipment: Times have changed since the Chumash Indians used Tomols (plank canoes carved out of Red Wood trees) hundreds of years ago along the California Coast.

``They were on to something,'' Bolger said of the early, but effective Chumash fishing techniques. ``They knew what they were doing.''

Today, a sit-on-top kayak can be fully loaded and could hold some, or all of the following equipment: Two to four fishing pole holders, foldable kayak seat, paddles, fishfinder, compass, drift chutes (underwater breaks), bait and food storage compartments, spear-gun, emergency flares, radio, and even a waterproof CD player.

In comparison, a boat with its equipment, trailer and registration fees can surpass a modestly equipped kayak ($800) many times over.

Captain Hook: On an episode of Fox Television's ``Extreme Sportfishing,'' Bolger set out with some friends to demonstrate their trade, but the day took an unexpected twist.

Bolger landed the first thresher and was underway until a fellow anglers line crossed his own. The hook zipped up his line and hooked Bolger in the middle of his chin.

Assessing his damage, Bolger's pole went with the thresher and the fishing was done -- but the camera continued to roll.

Bolger then calmly asked for some pliers, a friend lent him an on-board flask of tequila, and he tried for several minutes to pull the hook out himself.

Bolger didn't get the razor sharp hook out of his chin that day, but instead, drove himself to the doctor to have it surgically removed.

``You never know what's going to happen,'' Bolger said. ``That's what makes it fun.''

nate.brown@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3607

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

(color) Calabasas resident and kayak fisherman Tom Bolger poses next to his catch, a thresher -- a surface, coastal swimming shark that can range from 10 to 18 feet long.

Nicholas Geist/Special to the Daily News
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 26, 2006
Words:817
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