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Landing Fish in a Paddle Craft

Proper technique allows kayak and canoe fishermen to land large fish without getting dumped overboard.

This canoe fisherman hooked a sizeable tarpon off the beach. He uses his trolling motor to keep the fish in front of him at all times.

Kayakers continue to push limits, particularly when it comes to nearshore, offshore and open-bay fishing. The days of catching kingfish, sailfish, amberjack, tarpon, sharks and other large fish exclusively from motorized boats are in the past. But offshore kayak fishing is a relatively new technique, and many anglers are learning on the fly. Safety must always be the first priority.

Don't be a dog chasing cars—know what to do when you actually hook into that oversize tarpon, shark or amberjack. One of worst things that can happen while offshore—besides being hit by a boat or losing your paddle—is to fall out of your kayak. Always consider how your actions affect your balance within your kayak, whether you're fishing with a rod, paddling, fighting a fish, or even trolling.

Florida Sportsman members in the No Motor Zone section have sound advice to help prevent you from tipping over. Plus, there are tips to help land that monster fish.

FS member Parrothead had some key observations:

-Don't go solo if you're targeting big fish, especially if you don't know how to land them.

-Never use a rod too stiff or a drag too tight. Either or both will absolutely get you flipped if you're handling the rod incorrectly when the fish is near the yak.

- Never fight a fish with the rod at 90 degrees to the kayak. Always try to keep the fish in front of you. It's about the center of balance on a kayak, which is generally where you're sitting. If you get a big fish that dives under the kayak and your rod is straight out to the side, you stand a real good chance of getting flipped. Another reason for keeping a fish in front of you is so you can see it! A lot of kayak battles with big fish tend to happen in very close range.

-Side saddle is great for flats fishing and horse shows, but sitting that way while fighting a fish in deep water throws off the balance.

-Have a cutting tool, such as a knife, to quickly release fish if circumstances become unsafe.

There are plenty of other considerations to think about. Join the discussion. Add your own advice and experiences from kayak fishing offshore.

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