Hooked on Fishing
Like many beach kids, Jason Hanson craved the action of surfing, skimboarding and skateboarding over the more mundane pursuits of kayaking and fishing.
Then Hanson discovered the sport of kayak fishing. And yes – he was hooked. “As soon as I was able to catch a fish from a kayak, it all changed for me,” Hanson explains. “Kayak fishing is absolutely exploding.”
Hanson should know. The First Flight High School and Appalachian State University graduate is putting his local knowledge and degree in recreation and tourism to good use. As the Waves Village manager and watersports buyer for Kitty Hawk Kites and Kitty Hawk Surf Company, one of Hanson’s biggest jobs has been putting people in fishing kayaks.
Pedal-powered kayaks, such as Hobie kayaks that feature a high-tech “MirageDrive” system, are popular among the kayak fishing crowd, Hanson says. As kayakers pedal with their feet, the drive mimics the motion of penguin flippers to propel the kayak. Steer with one hand and fish with the other – all without the expense and maintenance of a motorboat.
“Kayak fishing presents itself as a new way to more easily get out on the water,” Hanson says. “My biggest customer base are guys selling their motorboats.”
Fishing kayaks allow anglers to navigate in as little as five inches of water and approach fish quietly without spooking them, Hanson explains. They’re stable and comfortable so people can stand up and fish, or lean over to haul in a big catch, and also loaded with compartments for gear – and keepers.
The bottom line for Hanson is that there’s just something a little extra fun about catching a fish from a kayak.
“With a decent-sized fish, you’ll go for a sleigh ride,” he says with a laugh. “I haven’t caught too many massive fish from a kayak. I got pulled around by a giant stingray once. That’s one thing I’m waiting to have happen. My goal is to catch a big ol’ drum or cobia.”
He’s had friends catch 50-pound cobia that they’ve strapped on top of their kayaks and pedaled triumphantly back to shore. Until that day arrives for him, Hanson will have to hang his hat on that first-place trophy from a local kayak fishing tournament. He won the flounder division.
“There were not that many entries that day,” he admits with a smile. ♦
Steve Hanf worked as a sportswriter for 13 years in North Carolina before finding a fun second career in the classroom. He currently advises the newspaper and yearbook programs at First Flight High School and loves his new life on the OBX.