A Chance To Teach

Tim Moore

One of the greatest things about being a full-time fishing guide is when I get to teach new and prospective anglers. The New Hampshire Fish and Games’ Great Bay Discovery Center was recently awarded a grant by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The purpose of the grant was to purchase kayaks and all the fishing gear needed to offer striped bass kayak fishing classes as part of the Natural Pathways Kayak Program which is aimed at participation, recruitment, and retention of kayak anglers in hopes of getting people to identify themselves as kayak anglers those who do not yet do so. I was one of two licensed New Hampshire guides asked to teach the angling portion of two classes on kayak fishing for striped bass.

Each participant was provided a kayak, paddle, PFD, and tackle box with various lures and other tackle items. Before hitting the water we began by talking about different aspects of kayak fishing for striped bass. We discussed safety, striped bass habitat and feeding habits, the contents of the student tackle boxes, and how, when, and where each tackle item might be used.

Once the paddling instruction was finished the guides took over. We had building winds to contend with which added difficulty for the students, and the guides. Some of the students had never kayaked, and many had never fished from a kayak. When we began on the water things were a bit chaotic. It took a while for students to get acclimated to controlling a kayak in high wind while fishing, tending to their paddle, and giving each other enough room to fish. All this while minding not to drift into breaking swells or the open ocean.

Our fishing area was made continuously smaller by high winds out of the east. The nine students, two guides, and three kayak instructors were confined to a space typically fished by two anglers. Within the hour though, a disorganized bunch transformed into a well-oiled machine with students taking turns participating in drifts.

The idea was to fish until lunch, at which time we would discuss some of the difficulties each student faced before heading back out to refine their new skills. The high winds made it unsafe to return to the water so the rest of the afternoon was spent discussing how to overcome some of the students’ difficulties as well as a rundown of different aspects of angling kayaks such as length, width, weight, and gear mounting.

There will be another class on June 20th with a different group of students and we are hoping for better weather. Given that it is still very early in the striped bass season and the shortage of fishable area, no fish were caught, but students left with enough knowledge to purchase an angling kayak, necessary fishing gear, and get out on a better day to catch striped bass on their own.

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