Beginning as a teenager, I spent 30 years fishing out of small powerboats offshore of Port Aransas chasing kingfish and cobia. I learned a lot about presentation and rigging ribbonfish in those years, and I became “that guy” in charge of keeping all the tackle in order, rigging baits and keeping the spread of baits clean while we fished. I also spent a lot of my earlier years wade fishing the bays for trout and reds, and I even had the chance to crew on a big boat chasing (and catching) billfish, wahoo and tuna for several years.
In 2007 I was in a traffic accident and had a pretty serious neck injury. It required a fusion of three of the bones in my neck, and really limited my activities for a while. I began kayaking to strengthen my neck and shoulders, and it quickly paid off by letting me sleep pain-free again. It also helped me see the offshore world in a whole new way. When I slowed down to kayak speeds, I got a closer look at the fish and gained a better understanding of what it took to catch them. I started to think more like a fish, so I began to catch more and larger fish.
That first year I only paddled a few miles, but every year I have added more trips (sometimes 25 miles of paddling per trip) and it has helped me stay in shape and chase lots of fish that make the drags scream for mercy. I began carrying video cameras to prove to friends that my stories were true, and that launched what has become a pretty popular YouTube channel. I post fishing trips, but also how-to videos to help new-comers learn to rig up and succeed when they head out to try kayak fishing for themselves. I haven’t hit a million views yet, but I’m creeping closer with each new video.
Kayaks have allowed me to catch more fish, and have also allowed me to approach some that were unexpected. I have been able to pet Manta rays much larger than my kayak, paddle with several types of sharks over 10 feet in length (no I didn’t pet any of those).
Last year I discovered fly fishing and I’m watching for opportunities to add this type of fishing to my usual kayak trips, including offshore. Using a fly rod requires that the angler pay attention to all of the details, but man can it be addictive when it all goes right! Using a fly outfit on a kayak presents some challenges, and I am still working through how best to solve them. Stay tuned because I’ll be sharing what works, along with kayak catches made with the buggy whips!
I fish the Bluewater Kayak Classic each year, and have finished as high as second place. It is a challenging tournament but is filled with fishermen who have a similar drive and desire to catch big fish, so it’s always a lot of fun. I fished both Extreme tournaments when the offshore series came to Texas, and finished second in the first event that was run in, fittingly, extreme weather.
A couple of years ago I began running a few small “Prof. Salt’s King of the Beach”tournaments, and they aren’t usually announced until a few days prior to the event. Our weather can change quickly, so I try to set the tourneys up to run when there is a strong chance for favorable weather. I run these events mainly to enjoy some competitive time on the water with friends. These events are limited in size so they are easy to manage.
I have fished Kayak Wars for several years now, and it seems every year the team (Mackerel Mafia) ends up in third place. The problem is that it’s difficult to find five guys who live in the same area and who share a similar devotion to getting out there on the water as frequently as needed.