Catching sailfish from kayaks was the adventure of a lifetime for Oklahoma anglers

by Ed Godfrey Published: February 9, 2014

Catching a sailfish from a kayak on the Atlantic Ocean is like taking a sleigh ride.

“He pulled me pretty good,” said Ryan Jones of Yukon, the assistant manager of OKC Kayak who last month caught a 6-foot long sailfish on the Atlantic Ocean while fishing from a kayak during a tournament in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Jones and Chris Thomas of Coweta — who also is on the pro staff for the kayak stores in Oklahoma City and Tulsa — were the top two anglers in the tournament, defeating a more experienced field of saltwater fishermen.

The angler catching the most sailfish in the two-day tournament would win the event. Jones and Thomas each caught one sailfish (only one other angler landed a sailfish), but Thomas was declared the winner for catching the first sailfish.

Jones finished second, even though he caught the biggest sailfish during the weekend in the first tournament of its kind for kayak fishing.

Jones, 32, said he discovered the tournament on Facebook and decided to enter, even though he had little experience with saltwater fishing from a kayak.

To prepare for the tournament, Jones said he watched videos on how to battle the ocean swells in the kayak.

“For sailfish, you actually want rough water, which is quite tricky,” Jones said. “They look for 3 to 5 feet swells to catch a sailfish.”

The Oklahoma anglers called the local bait shops on Pompano Beach to see what gear to use and what the sailfish were biting.

The anglers in the tournament would fish for sailfish by trolling, drift fishing or downrigging. Jones landed his sailfish in a Hobie Outback kayak while slow trolling a goggle eye bait fish.

He was fishing with a 20-pound braided test line with a 15-foot leader of 40-pound monofilament fishing line. He fished with a Penn 209 reel that is commonly used for striper and spoonbill fishing in Oklahoma.

Jones said he paddled about a mile and a half from shore to reach his fishing location, a place where he had seen two sailfish jumping while scouting the water before the tournament.

He hooked the sailfish in water about 175 feet deep, but when he finally reeled him to the boat, he was in water that was 250 feet deep. He estimates the sailfish had pulled him a quarter of a mile.

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by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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