Photo: Robert Fort
Global Kayak Fishing Hotspots

Kayak fishing has gone global. With professional guides operating in destinations from Asia to the Caribbean, paddle-powered anglers can follow their adventurous spirit to the four corners of the earth. Kayak Angler magazine tracked down veteran travelers and local guides to find the best kayak fishing destinations in the world. Whether you’re looking for a remote expedition or a five-star vacation, we’ll tell you where to go, when to fish, what to bring and how to get there. So pack a bag, put the mail on hold, grab your passport and go global!

COROMANDEL: NEW ZEALAND

Location

Peninsula on the east side of New Zealand’s North Island.

36°45’S 175°30’E

Tour Guide

Robert Fort, professional kayak guide and owner of Coromandel Kayak Adventures.

Aerial View

Coromandel Peninsula is 40 miles long with steep mountain peaks and sheltered bays, estuaries and harbors surrounded by dozens of offshore islands. Expect cool mornings and comfortable days. From clear blue ocean water, temperate rainforests climb steep slopes to the deep blue sky. The peninsula is named for the HMS Coromandel, which stopped in the harbor in 1820.

Target Species

Blue cod are found on reefs and sand holes year round. John dory are located on reefs, over weed beds and along the edge of weed lines. Kahawai are pelagic fish that can be caught around the entire coast of Coromandel. Snapper are abundant on the reefs just offshore. The best time to target these species is from October through May. One of New Zealand’s hardest fighting fish, king fish bite best from January to April. This is open water fishing, without surf launches. Expect strong current and choppy seas.

Tactics

Live bait fishing with dropper and flasher rigs. Cast quarter-ounce to half-ounce jigs and four- to five-inch softplastic tails in natural colors and white. Bounce vertical jigs through fish marks or along reef sites. Troll between fishing spots with short-billed plugs or cast poppers and stickbaits to breaking fish.

Tackle

Light spinner or baitcaster with 20-pound braided line

Quarter- to one-ounce soft plastics, vertical jigs and Sabiki rigs

Heavy jigging combo spooled with 50-pound braid

Seven-ounce jigs

Seven-foot, heavy-action rod

Trolling plugs

Coromandel Kayak Adventures carries all bait and tackle needed

Kayaks

Ocean Kayaks available rigged with color fishfinder and all accessories necessary for local fishing. Guide provides all bait and tackle.

Local Knowledge

Gulp! Jigs are deadly on local gamefish, but very expensive. Bring packs of Gulp and make local friends.

Travel Notes

New Zealand has strict quarantine laws so don’t bring any food. Also, sporting equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any animal residue.

Get There

Fly to Auckland where Coromandel Kayak Adventures transports anglers to Coromandel.

Stay

Coromandel Town is a popular destination for tourists and offers a wide variety of accommodations and activities from camping to five-star resorts. For a fun option, rent a campervan and stay at any of the Department of Conservation’s “Freedom Area” campsites. Make reservations ahead of time, vacancies can be hard to find during peak vacation months from December to January.

Side Trip

Take a trip on the Driving Creek Railway, a miniature train built to bring potting clay down from the mountains. The Waterworks is a museum showcasing unique water-powered machinery. The beach at New Chum features white sand, crystal clear water and very few people. Or, check out the local gold mining operation—you could strike it rich!

Ideal Itinerary

Spend two days inshore fishing and three days offshore on a mothership expedition. Or, fish a guided half-day trip, then rent gear and fish on your own.

Contact

Rob Fort at Coromandel Kayak Adventures: kayakadventures.co.nz

Coromandel visitor information: coromandeltown.co.nz

SALINAS: PUERTO RICO

Location

Puerto Rico’s south shore, Caribbean Sea.

17º57’N 66º17’W

Tour Guide

Captain Jose Aponte has spent the past six years guiding out of Salinas.

Aerial View 

In the shadow of Puerto Rico’s largest mountain, Cordillera Central, Salinas is a dry landscape dominated by steep mountains and extensive mangrove forests. The city is famous for incredible seafood brought fresh from the pristine green-blue water of Salina’s Bay. The bay boasts the largest population of manatee in Puerto Rico and one of the most extensive red mangrove forests. Grass flats and 11 cays dot the coast.

Target Species

Tarpon are available from September to November. Snook are available year-round. Best time for mutton snapper is May to November. Mackerel turn on from February to July. During this time, the weather is usually hot, dry and still. No strong currents and consistently calm seas. On rare windy or rainy days, anglers can fish the flats. Hurricane season runs from June to October.

Tactics

Cast five-inch jerk baits to docks for snook, tarpon and snapper. Or use an eight to 10 weight fly rod to throw bunny or desirer patterns. Target mackerel, jacks and snapper by trolling Rapala and Yo-Zuri plugs off the reef. Best fishing is early and late in the day.

Tackle

Light-action spinning or casting gear spooled with 15-pound braided line and a short leader of 20-pound fluorocarbon

Heavy action spinning or casting rod spooled with 50-pound braid and a five-foot leader of 80-pound fluorocarbon

Jerk baits, jig heads, worm hooks

Rapala Magnum and large Yo-Zuri plugs

Guide provides Shimano and Penn reels on St. Croix rods, DOA, Yo-Zuri, Rapala and Z-Man lures

Kayaks

Ocean Kayak Trident 15, Ocean Kayak seats, MTI PFDs and Bending Branches paddles.

Local Knowledge

Pack a pair of closed-toe water shoes, as wading is an effective way to fish, but walking barefoot can be hazardous.

Travel Notes 

No fishing licenses are required for visitors.

Get There

Fly into San Juan. Rent a car ($40/day) and drive two hours south to Salinas.

Stay

Salinas Marina ($80/night):
marinadesalinas.com

Manatee Eco Resort ($90/night):
manateeecoresort.com

Side Trips

Ladi’s Place restaurant invented the world famous mojo isleno creole sauce. Take a stroll along the El Tuque boardwalk for night life. Don’t miss feeding tarpon from the docks and snorkling and island hopping the 11 cays nearby.

Ideal Itinerary

Fishing in the morning, followed by snorkeling and island hopping in the afternoon.

Contact

Eco Journeys Kayaking Excursions: ecojourneypr.com

PANAMA CITY: PANAMA

Location

Southernmost country of Central America, located on an isthmus between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

8°58’N 79°32’W

Tour Guide

Captain Hennie Marais, a pro who’s been guiding out of Panama for 14 years.

Aerial View

Often described as the Hong Kong of the Americas, Panama City is a modern and vibrant city with cosmopolitan residents. Visitors will find high-dollar boutique hotels and high-end restaurants, but clean and safe low-budget motels and eateries are also available. Public transportation is excellent, the country boasts the best roads in Latin America and a brand new international airport. Outside the city, Panama is a tropical climate with monkeys, exotic birds and deadly reptiles, amphibians and insects. It only takes 40 minutes to drive from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean side of the isthmus.

Target Species

Panama is rich in fishing resources. The country’s waters feature sheltered mangrove estuaries that host light tackle targets and offshore structure covered with pelagic species. Anglers can expect to encounter roosterfish, cubera snapper, blue jacks, yellowfin tuna and billfish. August to November is the rainy season while December to July can be agitated with offshore winds. The Pacific side of the country is usually calm, while the Atlantic and Caribbean can get rough from December to March.

Tactics

A typical fishing trip starts by catching live bait with a sabiki rig. Then slow troll with the live baits for snapper and roosterfish. Cast large top-water plugs to the shore and structure for hiding roosters. Trolling Rapala plugs between fishing holes can also produce big roosterfish bites. Be warned: Panama has big tides that create currents and waves that could be dangerous for an inexperienced angler or paddler. Freshwater fishing is also excellent for peacock bass on Gatun Lake and the Panama Canal.

Tackle

Light action rod and 15-pound test braid

Sabiki Rigs

Rapala plugs

Five-inch topwater lures

Heavy-action spinning or conventional rod spooled with 50-pound braid

5/0 to 7/0 circle hooks

30- to 80-pound fluorocarbon leader

Local Knowledge

Bring your own fishing tackle. Pack a high-quality spinning outfit and jigging combo each spooled with 60-pound braided line. Also, a lever-drag reel spooled with 80-pound braid and a topshot of 50-pound monofilament will be perfect for fishing live bait. Bring a light-action rod and reel for catching bait with a sabiki rig. For terminal tackle, grab a selection of large popping lures, Rapala plugs and soft plastics.

Kayaks

Ocean Kayaks, Harmony Paddles, seats and PFDs are available.

Travel Notes

Many of the fishing locations are remote and medical evacuation insurance is highly recommended.

Get There

Arrive in Panama City. Overnight in Panama City, then travel three hours to Mariato by small private bus or 4X4 vehicle (included in package). Take a small boat 40 minutes or more to beach house or campsite at the fishing destination.

Stay

In Panama City, anglers can opt for anything from five-star hotels to backpacker hostels. Fishing camps consist of comfortable beach houses or large tents. All food and non-alcoholic drinks are included.

Side Trip

Panama City has a vibrant nightlife and great restaurants. Visit the Panama Canal and watch huge ships pass through one of the great engineering marvels of the world.

Ideal Itinerary

Typical trips run eight days. Arrive Saturday, fish five full days and leave the following Saturday. Depending on accommodations and boat support, all-inclusive trips (including in-country transportation) run from $1,800 to $2,700.

Contact

Hennie Marais at Paddle Panama:
paddlepanama.com

YELLOWKNIFE: CANADA

Location

Northwest Territories, Arctic Circle

62°26’N 114°23’W

Tour Guide

Jeffrey Goudreau, a professional guide with Plummer’s Arctic Lodges.

Aerial View

Yellowknife is the gateway to the Canadian Arctic. The town of 20,000 residents is a 14-hour drive from the nearest city. Wild rivers and massive lakes hold giant pike and lake trout along with whitefish, grayling and inconnu. Water temperatures in the summer range from 40 to 60 degrees. The sun does not set from May to June. Expect dense evergreen forests, thick and scrubby vegetation, lichen-covered rock and rolling hills. River and lake water is clean enough to drink from the source. Anglers can expect to fish alongside bears and wolves.

Target Species

Northern pike, lake trout, Arctic grayling, inconnu and whitefish. Plummers Arctic Lodges’ services range from accommodations at remote fly-in lodges to providing local guides in Yellowknife. Fly-in trips consist of fishing wild rivers and Great Bear Lake. In Yellowknife, anglers fish close to town on the Yellowknife River or travel to nearby Great Slave Lake for big pike. Late June is best for pike. Early July produces the largest lake trout. Giant inconnu visit in fall but expect cold, inclement weather.

Tactics

Sight fish for northern pike with Rebel Buzzfrog, large Mepps spinners, CFL bucktails and Savage Alien Eels. Troll for pike and lake trout with large swimming plugs.

Tackle

Bring a medium-action musky rod for trout and pike. A light-action spinning rod will be best for grayling and whitefish.

Kayaks

Jackson Cuda 14

Local Knowledge

Bring insect repellant, Deet is recommended. Insect-repellant clothing is a plus. Wear a neck gaiter to keep flying insects out of your mouth, ears, eyes and nose.

Travel Notes

Due to the remote area, wildlife and unpredictable weather, only experienced wilderness travelers should venture on backcountry fishing excursions without a guide.

Get There

Fly to Yellowknife from Edmonton or Calgary. Taxis wait outside the airport. Once you get there, the Yellowknife River is walking distance from any point in town.

Stay

Yellowknife hosts a variety of franchise hotels and motels. Fishing camps are all-inclusive and extremely remote.

Side Trip

Whitewater rafting is a five-minute drive north of Yellowknife.

Ideal Itinerary

Anglers can spend one or more days fishing out of Yellowknife. Lodge trips are a week or longer. Guides are available, or anglers can launch right from the lodge and fish on their own.

Contact

Plummer’s Arctic Lodges:
plummerslodges.com

CABO SAN LUCAS: MEXICO

Location

La Ribera, East Cape southern Baja, on
the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California.

22°53’N 109°54’W

Tour Guide

Jim Sammons, host of Kayak Fishing TV, is a 10-year veteran guiding at Rancho Leonero.

Aerial View

Rancho Leonero is located on a small point right between the Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean. The water is crystal clear blue, with miles and miles of white beaches. Desert meets the sea with rugged mountains on the horizon. The contrast between the blue ocean water and sandy desert is striking.

Target Species

Roosterfish, tuna, dorado, striped marlin and sailfish. The fishing season runs from April to October. July to August are the best months, but the weather will be hot and dry. From December to March the wind blows.

Tactics

Anglers slow troll live mullet, mackerel or cabaitto for marlin and tuna. Drift strip baits for dolphin. Work three- to six-ounce vertical jigs for snapper and tuna. Purchase live bait at the bait boat in the morning. Mullet, mackerel and cabaitto are $2 each and $5 will fill the livewell with sardines. Trolling large swimming plugs is also effective.

Tackle

Medium-heavy, seven-foot conventional or spin outfits spooled with 50-pound braided line

Light-action rod

Rapala CD 14 plugs

Sabiki rigs

5/0 to 7/0 circle hooks

30- to 80-pound fluorocarbon

Livewell or live-bait tube

Kayaks

Kayak Rancho Leonero has a large fleet of Ocean Kayak, Hobie and Jackson rental kayaks.

Local Knowledge

Anglers fishing solo should hire one of the resort’s captains ($275 to $1,000/day) to get dialed in.

Get There

Fly into Cabo San Lucas then take an hour-long shuttle to the Ranch.

Stay

Rancho Leonero is one of those all inclusive kid friendly resorts with unlimited things to do for the kids while the parents get away.

Travel Notes

Resort accepts American dollars.

Side Trip

Dive the Cabo Pulmo underwater park, go horseback riding on the beach or take an ATV tour.

Ideal Itinerary

All-inclusive, five-night, four-day guided fishing trip for $1,400.

Contact

jimsammons.com

rancholeonero.com

CONSENZA and CORIGLIANO: CALABRO, ITALY

Location

Southern Italian Peninsula between the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean.

39°42’N 16°31’E

Tour Guide

Alfredo Gigliotti, local guide.

Aerial View

Cosenza is a small town on the west coast of the Italian Peninsula that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea. Corigliano is on the east coast by the Ionian Sea. Between the two cities, steep mountains drop into the crystal clear sea. The weather is generally warm and dry. The area features culture and artifacts that date back 1,100 years including influences by Greek, Roman, Ashkenazi and other ancient cultures. Religious traditions, such as Christmas and Easter, originated in the area and are still celebrated today in elaborate festivals.

Target Species

Bluefin tuna, amberjack, grouper, albacore and snapper. April and May are best for bluefin up to 100 pounds. Big false albacore over 30 pounds come close to the beach in June and July. Early fall is a good time to find big amberjack, grouper and snapper. The sea is usually calm. On a windy day, anglers can fish the lee side of the peninsula.

Tactics

Catch bluefin tuna on heavy spinning gear with sinking stickbaits or metal jigs. Launch before dawn and look for birds working over breaking fish within a mile of the beach. Troll live bait or work vertical jigs to score amberjack, snapper and grouper. If the tuna and amberjack aren’t biting, hit the mouth of the Crati River for leerfish, bluefish and sea bass.

Tackle

30-pound-class spinning combo spooled with 50-pound braided line and 80-pound fluorocarbon leader

Lures: Shimano Waxwing 88, Ocea Staggering Swimmer and Pencil Poppers

Jigs: Shimano Coltsniper

20-pound-class outfit filled with 15-pound braid and a 40-pound fluoro leader

Three- to five-ounce quick-release lead sinkers

Light spinning rod

Sabiki rigs

Kayaks

Ocean Kayak 4.7, Hobie MirageDrive

Travel Notes

Anglers can keep 11 pounds of fish per day or one fish over 11 pounds. Bluefin season is open from June 16 to October 14, but the best bluefin bite is off-season.

Get There

Fly into Lamezia Terme (SUF). Rent a car ($200/week) or take a bus ($20).

Stay

Rent a tent or bungalow at Onda Azzurra (onda-azzurra.it) on the Ionian Sea. Launch kayaks directly from the campground. Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are available in Corigliano.

Side Trip

Explore the medieval town of Corigliano, Calabro. Check out the 11th century ducal castle, aqueducts and ancient Greek cities of Thurii and Sibari.

Ideal Itinerary

Go in spring or fall for seven days. Wake at dawn, fish offshore for bluefin, amberjack, grouper and snapper. In the afternoon, try inshore fishing at the mouth of local rivers.

Contact

Alfredo Gigliotti: [email protected]

PUERTO JIMENEZ: OSA PENINSULA, COSTA RICA

Location

Central America, Pacific Ocean.

8°33’N 83°19’W

Tour Guide

Joe Lynberg, owner and guide, at Osa Peninsula Kayak Fishing.

Aerial View

National Geographic magazine called Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula the most biologically intense place on earth. Howler monkeys swing from the trees, exotic birds swoop through the air and the water is full of roosterfish, tarpon, marlin, grouper and snapper. The isolated peninsula is separated from the mainland by the Gulfo Dulce, a 15-mile wide tropical fjord that is home to some of the best inshore fishing action in the world. The waters around Costa Rica have produced many International Game Fish Association world records.

Target Species

Costa Rica’s waters host some of the greatest gamefish in the world, but most kayak anglers come for the roosterfish. Salt Water Sportsman magazine called Osa the number one roosterfish destination in the world. The waters of the Golfo Dulce regularly produce trophy roosters over 50 pounds. The best time for big fish is between January and May. Sailfish are available year-round with the biggest numbers between November and May.

Tactics

To target roosterfish, kayak anglers slow troll live bait and keep a spinning rod and plug ready to pitch at cruising fish. The trolling rod is spooled with 50-pound braid tied to a three-foot piece of 40-pound fluorocarbon ending in a 5/0 to 7/0 circle hook. Roosterfish are protected in Costa Rica, so all fish must be released. Circle hooks are mandatory on bait rigs. The spinning rod holds 50-pound braid, a short leader of 40-pound fluoro and a four-inch popper or swimming plug.

Tackle

Medium-heavy, seven-foot spinning and casting rod with high speed reel

30- and 40-pound fluorocarbon

12 pack of 5/0 to 7/0 circle hooks

Pre-tied #15 live bait rings

Four-inch poppers, twitch baits, deep divers in ghost, sardine, mullet patterns

Kayak

Ocean Kayak Trident Angler 13

Local Knowledge

Roosterfish are tricky to hook. When the fish hits, be patient and let it eat before engaging the reel and coming tight on the line. When the fish picks up the bait, paddle five more strokes to turn towards the fish, then lay down the paddle, engage the drag, tighten the line and enjoy the ride.

Local

Be sure to wear sun protection, including wide-brim hat, long sleeves and pants, sunglasses and sunscreen. It is best to completely cover the skin with quick-drying clothes. Also, bring a small dry bag and waterproof camera. And make a personal first-aid kit.

Get There

Fly to Juan Santamaria International Airport, San Jose (SJO). To reach Osa Peninsula, either rent a car (six hours), take a bus (10 hours) or make a 45-minute flight. Depending on flight times and connections, expect to stay in San Jose on the way in and out of the country.

Stay

Stay at Crocodile Bay (crocodilebay.com) for five-star accommodations with easy access to the fishing. Home-stays and hostels also available.

Travel Notes

For information and advisories, U.S. citizens traveling to Costa Rica should enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at travel.state.gov.

Side Trips

Take a break from fishing to ride zip-lines, go snorkeling, horseback riding or surfing. Visit an organic chocolate farm, climb a rainforest tree, rappel down a waterfall or mine for gold.

Ideal Itinerary

Seven days in-country with four days fishing. Osa Peninsula Charters offers room and board with complimentary bikes and free Wi-Fi. Joe Lynburg is a chef, so good food is guaranteed.

Contact

Joe Lynberg at Osa Kayak Fishing:
costaricakayakfishing.net

This article was first published in the Winter 2013 issue of Kayak Angler. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

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