Mark Naumovitz is a graphic artist at Florida Sportsman magazine. Mark has been an avid kayak angler since growing up in Maine fishing for stripers, now having extended experience fishing the flats of Florida. Follow him as he shares his experiences, tips and tricks, and how-tos from the waters of paddle craft.
I can’t think of a better place to start off this blogosphere of paddle craft than where it all first started for me, the estuaries of Maine fishing for stripers. Back in those days as a kid, the thought of waking up with the chickens while not being able to see your toes in the dark didn’t strike me as too appealing, but Dad would always find some way to wake me up and get on the road for the 3-plus hour ride down to the Saco/Old Orchard Beach area. Even to this day, the smell of cooking bacon jump-starts the olfactory system and opens my eyes.
His love for the clean and pure sport of fishing has been passed on to me, and hopefully on to my children (none yet) or other children one day. Back then, he may have made me go on one too many trips that early, keeping dormant the passion of the sport. Eventually (after 10 or so years), it finally ignited to where I’m now ready and willing to kick the chickens awake.
We didn’t own any kayaks back then, but would borrow them from time to time and load them in the back of the pickup. Then, we’d make a little camping trip of the weekend. They definitely weren’t “rigged” up for fishing, but we made the best of it–just happy to be out having the freedom to go where we wanted to go.
Our particular type of kayak fishing required us to dig in the mud at low tide and collect sand and blood worms, holding onto them until the high tide (and 6-foot change) 6 hours later. I never once got bitten by the pinchers of the sand worms, even to this day –I’m not bragging, I was just too much of a wimp to hold them for that long.
When it was time to hit the water we would usually launch in the winding estuaries, which were fed off the inlets near the grass and mud banks. Our technique was to put a nice glob of worms on the hook, and usually just let them do the work while drifting with the current. When I would get a hit, it wasn’t anything pretty. I would fumble with the paddle in one hand, trying to steer clear of obstacles, while fighting the striper with the other hand. Eventually, after clearing my drift, it was time to haul in those pretty fish.
I don’t remember ever catching a keeper–the limit there was like snook here: 28-32 inches–but the little ones would definitely make for a fun time and many unforgettable memories. I think those are the times that really put an imprint on me, which like I said, only took a matter of time to really come alive and make fishing a passion, and not just a “have-to” with dad. To this day, I can still smell the bog of low tide and the sourness of the Maine salt air–to some people that may not be too pleasing, but it’s a good memory I won’t forget. Take your kid fishing, at least once (it’s not always about catching fish!)