I bought a kayak about 5 years ago and was planning on using it along the coast (I live in Long Beach) at the oil islands and breakwall. It is not the foot pedal kayak that costs ten grand, but it is the basic no frills kayak that fits me perfectly. While the fishing inshore can be good year round, the best fishing this time of year involves trout. Irvine Lake in Santiago Canyon has some great trout fishing from late fall into mid spring. One difference about this lake than many other Southern California trout lakes is the variety of techniques that can be used to catch these fish. While the typical jar baits will definitely work and are extremely popular, Irvine offers another option that most Southern California lakes do not: trolling. They have a huge population of shad so the trolling options revolve around imitating these baitfish.
I have learned a few things about trolling from a kayak. One obvious is that less is more. Pack all lures and baits into one box if possible. Another need while kayaking, this one seems obvious but I forgot about it one day and life was pretty miserable for a while, is a back rest. While paddling, youíll want to lean back a lot of the time. I bring a small pillow and lean it against my tackle box. It fits in perfectly and is a very comfortable recliner while rowing. You donít want to get out there without a backrest. A life jacket (which is mandatory anywhere but is a pretty obvious necessity) can also double as a back support.
A major advantage of trolling for trout with a kayak is speed. Most trollers go too fast. This will not be a problem while in a kayak. In fact, it offers several erratic options for the lure. Two really quick paddles to speed up, then stick the paddle in the water to slow one side down and speed the other up. I have taken several fish this year after two really quick accelerations, then counting to 15 before paddling again. The biggest fish this year have actually come right when I hit 14, so it is actually the slowest point of the process. Big fish are lazy, and the slower the bait is moving the easier prey it is.
In a previous blog one of my more philosophical colleagues discussed lure colors in fishing. I could not agree more with his assessment, and there are certain aspects involving color that I have never understood. The trolling lures that work at Irvine are no different. Arguably the best color to troll at this lake, is pinkÖPINK. Pink Mira Shad, Pink SC Shiners, Pink Pin Minnows, etc. I donít get it, but that color works the Vine. Other colors that work are firetiger, and rainbow and brown trout.
I only have one warning when fishing a kayak: be careful about buying one, because once you fish from a kayak, you may not want to fish from anything else.
Brady grew up in North San Diego County. His home lakes were Dixon and Wohlford, but when Diamond Valley opened it became one of his passions. He also fly fishes the Eastern Sierras, particularly Hot Creek and the East Walker. When the surface action begins in the ocean in late spring and summer, he fishes offshore 2 or 3 times a week. He lives in Long Beach and is very close to some excellent surf fishing spots for halibut, corbina, and spotfin.