Captain Mike Genoun
For adventurous kayak anglers competing in the Sailfish Smackdown—the only billfish tournament of its kind across the United States—successful sailfish releases are the only way to the podium. And while hometown heroes familiar with local waters and local species may believe they have the upper hand, the truth is this is anyone’s game.
The Atlantic sailfish is an open water pelagic game fish constantly on the move. Migrating fish heading south en route to wintering grounds off Isla Mujeras, Mexico, fuel their insatiable appetites whenever opportunities arise. This means picking off ballyhoo, flying fish, herring, mullet and tastiest of all, the coveted goggle eye. Still, sailfish are no fools and in order to persuade hungry fish to commit, irresistible offerings must be presented as naturally as possible. Considering kayakers are not afforded the same opportunity as competitive sailfish crews aboard open center-consoles where six- to nine live baits are presented below a duo or trio of specialized fishing kites, ‘yakers have to close the deal with only one or two baits. Out-of-towners fishing in the Extreme Kayak Fishing Sailfish Smackdown and new to this style of high adrenaline offshore fishing where both physical and mental prowess play huge roles, need to know that appropriate terminal tackle is both simple and stealthy, yet absolutely pivotal for enticing strikes and achieving successful releases in the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament.
The path to stardom starts with 20 or 30 lb. class conventional or spinning tackle outfitted with high capacity reels cherished for their silky smooth drags.
Doubled low-vis running line tethered to a reliable 75 lb. class ball-bearing swivel starts you off right. An egg sinker in one- to four-ounces can be incorporated above the barrel swivel to help present one, or more baits deeper in the water column. When fishing two rods, one flat and one with added weight will assist in avoiding tangles while covering a greater swath of the strike zone.
The opposing side of the swivel is where 6 ft. of 50 lb. Diamond Presentation fluorocarbon leader is tied before completed with a VMC 9/0 in-line tournament circle hook connected via loop knot. Bridling the bait through the top of the eye socket with rigging band increases hook up ratios.
From start to finish, the hardware is simple and stealthy while the appropriate length leader provides ample protection while allowing confined anglers with limited mobility the opportunity to handle fish safely at boat side.
Win or lose, achieving sailfish success during the Extreme Kayak Fishing Sailfish Smackdown will undoubtedly result in one of the most exciting angling adventures all kayak fishermen strive for. Follow my advice regarding terminal tackle, and you may achieve a milestone only few have.