Prior to this past year I had taken my ten year old son Ryu out kayak fishing on small lakes and protected saltwater environments. Places that required minimum protective gear, and the fish were small and easily manageable. He quickly proved himself worthy of joining the adults on the hunt for big fish.
The first order of business as always is safety. I outfitted him with a youth Supernova paddling suit, Aries PFD, and Seeker footwear from Kokatat. Having the top of the line gear if anything went wrong was a peace of mind that should be mandatory when taking young kids out.
The first few trips involve trout and Pollock, smaller but more plentiful fish that allow repeated self-handling of fish. I also allow him to spend an hour each trip just playing in the water with his new Kokatat gear, giving him the confidence that if he did fall off his kayak, that he would be protected. As a ten year old he enjoyed wallowing in the water with his dry suit almost as much as catching fish.
By summer time, my son was ready to go fishing for bigger quarry, namely King salmon and Halibut off his kayak. When a halibut as big as the angler is towing an over-sized piece of tupperware around Cook Inlet, AK with currents that can surpass 5 knots, you MUST expect that the unexpected will happen.
In July, he manages a nice 35 pound halibut. Then a few trips later, he is battling a 60 pound halibut…a fish nearly as large as he is. The large fish and the heavier drag settings tipped his kayak precariously on several occasions but Ryu manages to recover. After a brief battle, the catch is secured.
A month later, he is out-fishing dad for King Salmon. He has even managed a November King Salmon where I have not this year. He has now landed over a half dozen kings off his kayak since October.
Fishing in November off a kayak in Southcentral Alaska is no easy feat. It takes some perseverance, willingness to tolerate the cold, and gear you know will keep you safe if something were to happen. I am grateful for his Kokatat dry suit, PFD, and footwear that insures he can hit these frigid Alaskan waters with full confidence in his safety.