Surf Kayak Fishing


When people think of fighting trophy species, a kayak isn’t the first vessel most people think of. But you can take 100lb fish from a kayak just as effectively as any other offshore vessel. It’s all about having the know-how and technique to do it safely and effectively.

Truth be told, I hadn’t given much thought to my safety and technique when fighting bigger species until quite recently. I was fishing for Tuna, not too far offshore. I was on to a whopper and was beginning to wear it down. It was at the surface, flailing quite aggressively and clearly attracting a lot of attention. Just as I was about to deliver the final blow and pull the beast yakside, a shark came seemingly out of nowhere and took it before I had even realised what had happened. As Murphy’s law would have it, I had nothing to cut the line and my little plastic boat was now at the mercy of the most dangerous marine predators on the planet.

Needless to say, I learnt my lesson, and have refined both my fish-fighting techniques and my safety procedures when fighting big fish from my kayak.


Setting your drag to the appropriate level is important in all fishing applications but when you are fishing from your kayak, it becomes a matter of safety. Setting your drag so tight that the line and rod take too much of the load could end in disaster if you draw the fish in close and the last bit of fight it has in it tips you over or breaks your line.


While the fish still has fight in it, you should try to keep the fish away from the kayak. I have had several narrow misses where a sailfish has nearly jumped straight into the kayak. If you keep the fish off the front of the kayak, it is easy to adjust your position and move further back should the fish get too close for comfort.


Once your hook is set, the fight begins. Like a pair of boxers, you want to see where the fish is fighting and counter it, movement for movement. If the fish makes a run to the right, tilt your rod to the left, so it has to work a little harder and it tires faster. Expert kayak fishos will even sense when a fish is about to jump and tilt their rod down to put more pressure on the fish. Every movement the fish makes should prompt a response.

No angler wants to overly tire a fish he or she intends to release but at the same time, you need to prioritise your safety. If you bring a monster yakside that still has the energy to fight, you are risking being capsized. The fish has to have almost no fight left in it before you bring it in close.


If you are taking something big back, tow it in the water. Trying to get a fish over 90lbs into the kayak is tough in its own right. Further to that, the weight change can upset your kayak’s centre of gravity. Towing it may attract unwanted attention from predators, so you will have to be ready to cut your losses and slash the line at any time but that is better than hauling a 100lb yellowfin into the kayak, only for it to twitch and cause you and the kayak to capsize.


Make sure all your gear secure before you set off. If you assume you will capsize, then if you do, it becomes all the more easier to rectify the situation.

Landing big fish from a kayak is more challenging than when on a boat. You have to consider your centre of gravity and stability at all times, as well as your personal safety. It adds another dimension to your fishing. But it is also more fun. The more difficult something is, the more pride and satisfaction you get out doing it successfully. Refine your fish-catching skills and start taking the real offshore monsters because that’s when the real fish-fighting fun starts.


Do you have any tips for landing big fish from a kayak? Let everyone know in the comments section below.

Jackson Williams
Jackson Williams

Jackson Williams has been fishing around Australia for 20 years and loves his home region of far north Queensland.