“Kayak fishing used to be about fishing with friends,” Adam “Trout” Traubman says of the early days. Thinking back 25 years, he channels the genesis. “We were badasses. We let it ride and people thought we were nuts.”
Who Is Kayak Fisherman Adam Traubman?
Traubman was one of the first Southern California kayak fishing guides.
If you started kayak fishing in the last 10 years, you may not have heard of him. Like a lot of kayak fishing’s early adopters, he’s gone under the radar.
“By the time this generation started kayak fishing, I was already gone,” he says. Traubman moved on to fish for himself and to capture the Zen of the experience in Mexico and Hawaii, away from the crowds.
The beginning of his story sounds familiar. Traubman remembers when his best friend JJ returned from visiting his mother in Florida, where they fished out of sit-inside kayaks.
“He told me they caught 20 fish in two hours; we had a new way of fishing,” Traubman remembers.
The friends scavenged a couple rudimentary boats and hit the water. They figured they were the only kayak anglers at the time.
“It was about trial and error and self-educating,” Traubman says. The learning curve turned way up when they started fishing live bait. “Yellowtail, white seabass and halibut started coming to gaff and our skills solidified.”
In 1995, Traubman met Dennis Spike at a fishing show. Traubman calls Spike kayak fishing’s godfather. “We were discovering fire at the same time,” Trout says. As other anglers were drawn to the flame, Trout started guiding on his local waters.
In the early days of the Internet, Trout and Spike created Kayakfishing.com, the first website to share information, tell fish stories and sell the first purpose-built rigging and gear. “Like Ford’s Model T, we started with the basics and worked up to livewells and sonar mounts,” he says.
Traubman remembers early innovators. “There were a few guys in San Diego, Malibu had a crew,” he says. Trout lists his favorites: “Toad Patrol, Anacapa Bob, Falcon, Mike Allen, Big Boy and obviously Rhino, inventor of the Rhyno Bar.” Host of Kayak Fishing Show, Jim Sammons was one of the first guides in San Diego.
“The turn of the century was about the OEX/Big Water’s Edge guys,” Traub- man adds. He calls Hobie’s product manager Morgan Promnitz the diamond in the rough. “He had the fire before his voice changed,” Traubman laughs. The world-traveling host of Hobie Outdoor Adventures was a fixture in Trout’s life. “Morgan was always asking questions and picking my brain, now he’s designing fishing kayaks.”
When the sport picked up steam, Trout tapped out of the commercial side. A beach philosopher, he has some thoughts. “By the time the water was so congested I pulled back and just watched the attitude, arguments and ego.” Trout removed himself from the fray and focused on fishing with the original gangsters. “This sport is so special it doesn’t deserve the BS,” he explains.
The sense of discovery and adventure leaves Traubman with fond memories of the early days.
“Read The Old Man and the Sea. I feel privileged to be a part of the golden age.” Still, he gives a nod to the current generation of groundbreakers. “I have total respect for the new crew, especially the boys in Hawaii.”
The history goes back further than many kayak anglers imagine. “All these people pounding their chests when they have no idea about the origins.”
Not that Trout’s contemporaries were better, he admits, but they were first. If kayak fishing had a family tree, Traubman and the Southern California boys would be the trunk. “We cross-pollinated the sport with grassroots media and it blew up overnight.” Which is why you won’t find out where Traubman fishes these days. “I just give people who ask a wink, and go fishing with my kids,” he says.