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Kayak Fishing in Monterey Bay: A Complete Guide [2024]

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Jess Grigsby

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kayak fishing monterey bay

Have you ever dreamed of gliding silently through the glassy water, getting ready to cast a line and land a big one?

If so, kayak fishing in Monterey Bay could be the perfect activity! 

A serene way to experience nature and enjoy a great day on the water, kayak fishing is a truly unique experience.

Here at Kayak Connection, we offer kayak fishing tours all summer long – starting on April 1st. 

Our guides take guests kayak fishing in the protected waters of the Monterey Bay and surrounding areas.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to make the most out of your kayak fishing experience.

Let’s dive in. 

What is Kayak Fishing?

Kayak fishing is just fishing from a kayak!

It is the simplest way to get on the water and drop a line in quickly. Since there’s no motor or prop, it’s possible to glide along stealthily, enjoying the scenery and getting some exercise in the process.

Kayak fishing is suitable for novice to experienced kayakers of all ages. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved in a unique outdoor activity. 

Is Kayak Fishing in Monterey Bay Worth It?

Kayak fishing has grown in popularity in recent years, and for a good reason: it’s budget-friendly and provides more access than boat fishing.

Fishing kayaks are portable, customizable, stable, and (most importantly) safe and easy to launch.

Here are a few of the benefits of kayak fishing in Monterey Bay:

  • Access to secluded waterways. The Monterey Bay area is filled with waterways that are off-limits to motorized boats but fully accessible to kayaks. Thanks to their size, kayaks allow you to access even skinny, shallow channels without getting stuck or damaging your boat. 
  • Kayaks are ocean-friendly. Kayaks are built for all types of water, including oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds. All you need is an open bit of shoreline, and you can launch your kayak and get paddling.
  • Access to many different fish species. A fishing kayak allows you to access many spots along the coast that might not have good boat access. This makes it possible to catch many fish species, including perch, rockfish, lingcod, seabass, halibut, and salmon. This is a significant perk for anyone who loves to fish!
  • A better fishing position. Fishing kayaks sit low in the water, providing an optimal casting and fishing position. Plus, fishing kayaks rock back and forth much less than a boat, allowing you to fish more accurately and experience less seasickness.  

Why is it Better to Go Kayak Fishing with a Guide at Kayak Connection? 

monterey bay kayak fishing guide

One of the great things about kayaking is that it’s so user-friendly. All you need is a boat, tackle, and some basic safety gear, and you can easily get out on the water by yourself. 

When it comes to kayak fishing, though, we always recommend fishing with one of our experienced guides.

Here’s why:

1. Personalized guidance

Whether you want to try kayak fishing for the first time, or you’re hoping to pick up some tips and tricks from a local expert, a kayak fishing clinic (like the ones we offer at Kayak Connection) will cater to kayakers of all abilities. 

Our fishing clinics are led by experienced fishing guides who will find the most productive areas offshore and help you manage your tackle, bait, and kayak maneuvering throughout the trip. 

This provides an excellent opportunity to improve your kayak handling skills, master that cast, or catch the fish of a lifetime. 

Our guides meet you exactly where you are and provide tips designed to cater to your level of fishing and kayaking experience.

If you’re new to fishing, you’ll never be made to feel bad for not knowing something. If you’re an experienced angler, our guides will challenge you and help you hone your technique.

No matter your skill level, we always recommend using the buddy system when kayak fishing on the open ocean.

Our fishing guides here at Kayak Connection are thoroughly trained in kayak rescue techniques, making us the best possible buddy on the water.

2. Fishing hotspots

kayak fishing clinic elkhorn slough

During our kayak fishing clinics, we take paddlers a short distance from our dock located at the Santa Cruz Harbor and into Monterey Bay.

Once you are in the open ocean, you’ll find several productive areas for rockfish, lingcod, and halibut from April through October!

3. Educational opportunities

Our fishing guides are experts in the local ecosystem. In fact, many have biology or conservation backgrounds.

During your clinic, your guide will provide insight into the other species in Monterey Bay, including sea otters and marine life.

It’s a great way to learn about the natural ecosystem and enjoy a great day of fishing at the same time.

4. Compliance with local laws

With the diversity of marine life in Monterey Bay, identifying fish species and adhering to catch limits can be challenging.

There are several species of rockfish that are ILLEGAL to take from Monterey Bay. Fortunately, our guides identify each fish you catch and ensure you only keep approved species. 

Our fishing clinics take place every weekend from 6 am to noon, starting April 1st and lasting through summer. Participants must have a valid California fishing license.

Clinics are limited to six people per guide, so claim your spot now!

What is the Best Fishing Kayak?

When it comes to fishing kayaks, we love the Hobie brand. The biggest benefit of these kayaks is that they feature a unique foot pedal propulsion system so you can fish hands-free.

The two top sellers are the Hobie Outback and the Compass model. If you’re interested in learning more about Hobie kayaks, visit us at the shop.

We’ve got a ton of Hobies in stock and are the only authorized Hobie dealer in the Monterey Bay area. 

hobie fishing kayak

As you shop, here are a few features to look for in a fishing kayak:

  • An elevated seat. An elevated seat allows you to see more of the water under and around you and ensures all-day comfort.
  • Multiple rod holders. Forget rigging and re-rigging the same rod – look for a kayak that offers multiple rod holders so you can always have the perfect rod within reach.
  • A paddle holder. The ideal fishing kayak should have a place to secure your paddle while you focus on fishing.
  • Enclosed storage. Also known as a “dry hatch,” this enclosed storage area provides a safe place to stash your phone, keys, camera, and other valuables. The waterproof dry hatch will keep your personal items dry and safe if the kayak flips or gets wet.
  • Deck storage. The ideal fishing kayak will have a deck storage area with a bungee system to keep items secure. This is the perfect place to keep an extra layer.
  • A GPS or fish finder mount system. Take your fishing to the next level with a kayak that offers built-in GPS and fish finder mounts. This gives you the option to add some gadgets to your kayak down the road.
  • Retractable pedal power propeller. Some kayaks, like the Hobie line, offer hands-free propulsion to allow you to cruise around easily and quietly. 

3 Important Kayak Fishing Tips

kayak fishing catch in monterey bay

Before you get out on the water, make sure you’ve checked these to-dos off your list:

1. Pick the perfect paddle

Your paddle is one of your most essential pieces of equipment. It allows you to move through the water quickly and efficiently. Choosing the right one will make your fishing trip more comfortable and productive. 

We suggest picking a paddle that’s long enough for you to reach the water easily but not so long that it feels unwieldy. 

For most people, a good starting paddle is about 230 cm.

If you want customized paddle recommendations, visit our shop. We’ll help you choose the right length based on your height, the width of your boat, and your paddling style.

2. Get yourself a personal flotation device (PFD)

A PFD (or life jacket) is a critical piece of safety equipment, and you should always wear one while you’re on the water.

For something that’s both comfortable and functional, look for a fishing PFD that’s outfitted with compartments to hold your lures, hooks, leaders, and more. 

3. Dress for the day

The weather and water conditions can change drastically during a fishing trip, so it’s essential to dress accordingly. 

We recommend wearing a lightweight long-sleeve shirt, sun hat, sunglasses, light shell pants, a UV-blocking neck gaiter, and UV-blocking fishing gloves. Pack some water and sunscreen, as well. 

4 Important Kayaking Techniques

Once you’re on the water, here are a few tips to make your day of fishing as successful (and fun) as possible:

1. Be patient as you develop your cast

Casting might feel awkward if you’ve never fished from a kayak before. The boat will wobble a bit, and you might be nervous that it will flip. 

Remember that kayaks are stable boats with built-in primary and secondary stability features. Some fishing kayaks are even stable enough to support standing casts. 

If you keep the lower half of your body relaxed, your kayak will stay steady, and you’ll soon master your cast. 

2. Focus on developing your paddling skills

If you’re paddling to your fishing spot, you’ll want to work toward perfecting your paddling skills. This takes time, so be patient with yourself. 

As you fish, practice paddling with one hand by locking your paddle’s shaft along your forearm. This secures the paddle and allows you to paddle your kayak like you would a canoe. 

3. Anchor correctly

Anchoring can be a great way to take some of the pressure off and enjoy a bit of peaceful fishing. 

We offer water anchors that slow your drift in the wind and can make it easier to take advantage of a great fishing hole. Visit us at the shop to learn more about these unique accessories.

4. Use the conditions in your favor

If it’s windy or you’re paddling up-current, don’t fight to make headway. Instead, move into the shallowest water possible. 

The current is milder in shallow water, and shoreline vegetation and other structures keep wind and waves in check.

Important Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

Safety first! To stay safe out on the water, follow these tips:

  • Always wear your PFD. It can be tempting to take your PFD off during a fishing trip. Even if you’re a good swimmer, keep your PFD on. An unexpected flip, a large wave, or a simple accident could have disastrous consequences. For maximum comfort, buy a PFD meant specifically for kayaking or kayak fishing. These PFDs have thinner, higher backs, making them less bulky in a kayak seat. They’re also vented for breathability.
  • Never anchor your boat in a current. If the current turns your kayak the wrong way, it could flip or take on water. Whenever you anchor, make sure you’re doing so in still water and that you attach a float to the end of the line in case you must retrieve it from the water.
  • Keep a straight blade on you. A straight blade is a knife without an opening mechanism. Most kayaking PFDs have an area to store a straight blade safely on the front of the jacket. If you need to cut your anchor or fishing line, a straight blade allows you to sever it quickly. Many kayaking safety companies manufacture straight blades with convenient, quick access holders and blunt tips.
  • Stay visible. Kayaks are, by design, low-slung and stealthy in the water. While this makes them easy to paddle and excellent to fish from, it can make it difficult for oncoming boaters to spot you. To stay safe, purchase a kayak and paddle in a high-visibility color, like orange or red (this won’t impact your fishing productivity). We also recommend adding reflective tape to your paddle and kayak and installing lights for low-visibility conditions. 

Join our Fishing Clinic for the Best Kayak Fishing Experience in Monterey Bay

Explore Monterey Bay and enjoy the fishing experience of a lifetime with one of our fishing clinics!

Perfect for all skill levels, our fishing clinics are the ideal way to improve your skills, take advantage of a beautiful day on the water, and learn more about the ecosystem of Monterey Bay.

Don’t wait — spots fill up fast! Book your kayak fishing experience online or give us a call at (831) 479-1121 

Author: Jess Grigsby

Since 2012, Jess has co-owned and operated Kayak Connection together with her husband Dave. She is a lawyer, coach, avid kayak enthusiast and mother of two teenage girls. At Kayak Connection, Jess oversees a team of experienced kayak guides who are all CPR certified, with many holding advanced Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications. Our team is composed of environmental educators, naturalists and classroom teachers with experience working with all kinds of visitors, from school groups to large corporate teams.