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Topic: How dangerous is ocean kayak fishing alone?  (Read 14453 times)

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  • Guest
I have a flexible work schedule so I am able to fish workdays.  I'd like to know that on days I don't have meetings that I can load my kayak up and head to bonita cove, dux, or Stillwater and safely fish.

Yet, I keep reading that you should not ocean kayak fish alone.  What are the dangers?  What am I missing?

It seems to me that if I'm close to shore and I will be even if I flip and my kayak sinks I can easily and quickly swim to shore.

What are your thoughts?


  • Sea Lion
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There are lots of reasons not to kayak alone.  One is medical emergencies.  If you have a medical problem, it is always good to have a buddy there to help you out.

Injuries, while rare, can also occur and be life threatening on the ocean.

"quickly swim to shore" can be a difficult prosepect depending upon conditions.  The ocean is not a swimming pool, it has currents and swell and nasty critters....

Life is a giant cost/benefit ratio analysis.  Weight the pros and the cons and make your decision.

2006 Kayak Connection Father's Day Champion
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Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew!


  • Guest
Sure. It's safe alone.... Until your leg gets wrapped up in your rod leash when you flip and you can't get it freed by yourself.

It's safe until you misjudge the swell or find yourself on a reef where the drop in tide makes the swells break on you and as you are flipped from your kayak, all 85 lbs of it hits you on the head and knocks you out.

It's safe until you lose your paddle.

It's safe until the fog rolls in and visibility drops to 3 feet.

Heck, it's even safe until the wind changes direction and starts blowing offshore.

Everything can be safe... in theory, but in practice it's another matter.

Please don't try it alone. Especially in Norcal.

Everything I mentioned above HAS happened to experienced kayak anglers. Including myself. Flipping a kayak is not a matter of "If" but a matter of "When". I was thankful I was not alone when my "OH CRAP" moment happened.



  • Fish Nerd; AOTY Architect
  • Sea Lion
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I think you'll find that there are a few people on this board with flexible "work" schedules.  If you can find out ahead of time when you have a free day to go fishing, post under "hook ups" and you may not have to worry about fishing alone.

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SteveS doesn't kayak anymore

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  • Sea Lion
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i'm with bsteves-- if I'm alone I stick to the bay pretty much.  and even then its only certain areas along the marin side.

I had a crazy scare back last year- was padding out of Moss with a buddy when my eyes started burning (I wear contacts).  It just kept  getting worse and worse-- we hightailed it back in, and I couldn't see a dang thing paddling back- my buddy used my tow line to help guide me.
 turned out I had an allergic reaction to my contact solution tht i had been using for years.
I ended up with scratched corneas on both eyes...both eyes patched.  

can't imagine how that would have turned out alone....


  • Sea Lion
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I agree with much of what's been said... however, I still find myself going it alone from time to time... although those times are becoming few and far between after the advent of this board.

When I do go alone, I only go to places with which I am very familiar and I don't go alone for any offshore fishing such as salmon out of Moss where you have to paddle out several miles.  It's usually Rockfishing at Fort Ross, Halibut/Stripers in the Bay, or Sturgeon in San Pablo Bay.

Almost all of those places are frequented by other folks fishing from boats or ab divers or other kayakers.  

I only venture out alone when the conditions are favorable and I'm pretty conservative about heading in if the conditions start to go sour.  

I don't go alone (anymore) without a GPS and VHF radio.  

I typically carry a spare paddle or a pair of diving fins (in the ocean) in the unfortunate event of a paddle mishap.

I never Ab dive alone though... that would be silly... plus my Wife made me promise.   :smt018

That's my rules... agree with it or not... it's the level of risk I'm personally willing to accept when necessary.  I'd never recommend a newbie go it alone though.

As a safety professional during the week, I guess I need to take a little risk on the weekends just to keep me sane.  :smt101

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  • Guest
I prefer to have another person with me, but that isn't going to stop me from going. I've launched from Muir, Bolinas, Bodega and Carmet beach alone. I carry a VHF radio, GPS, extra paddle, flares, whistle and a compass.

I also have a lot of experience in the ocean, I've been launching power boats and sailboats off beaches since I was 15, I also boogie board, windsurf and have dove. I have paddled in 20mph winds, so I know what that is like and can manage it.

Fact is sometimes your safer alone, than if you had someone with you that was not very experienced. If something happens to them then you have to start taking risks you wouldn't normally take, to help them.

On the other hand, if you asked the question, then that implies you don't have enough experience to take on a solo trip. You would likely, be okay if you went out in front of some place that had lots of boats, like Bodega Bay. But do it on a nice day and know what the weather forecast is.


  • Sea Lion
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I fish alone at times too.  

A buddy lowers the odds against, but does not make it completely safe.

One smart waterman will outlast two idiots most of the time.

Those kind of warnings and platitudes are for people who don't think. And they won't save them either is the sad thing.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own safety.
john m. airey


  • Sea Lion
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I fish on lakes and bays all the time alone.

Offshore is a different animal, as the conditions can change so quickly and if you are separated from you yak offshore it can get serious very quickly.

However, as jmairey says, in the end you are responsible for yourself.

Make sure that you have all the saftey stuff (cell phone, vhf, flares, spare paddle, draining pump etc.)

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  • Salmon
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I tend to agree with what Rikshaw says. I've been a kayaker for for about 6 years now and I would have to say that the ocean is VERY unpredictable, and conditions can change drastically VERY quickly. I did a lot of kayaking before I got hooked on the fishing part, and I've had some pretty close calls, partly because of being stupid, partly because of the nature of the beast but on all occasions it was a damn good thing none of us were by ourselves. Ive been tempted to go out by myself too, but its just not worth it. I suppose there may be some exceptions here and there. If you are going by yourself, I would say at the very least you should carry a marine radio. I have a closed deck kayak so I carry a lot of extra safety gear anyway. You can never be too safe when it comes to being on the ocean. Im on vacation all next week and can be available for some weekday fishing. Let me know!!!


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If you are a newbie, by ALL means don't go alone. Once you have a lot of experience under your belt, then you can make that decision on your own.
I have no problem going alone at all. I know my abilities and don't exceed them. The only problems I have ever had on the water have always been with the other person, not me. It has been the other person that put me in a situation I didn't want to be in. I have been in some gnarly conditions which, while challenging, were fine for me. No way would I have wanted another person there with me. If you ever find yourself in a jam; relax, DON'T PANIC, assess the situation, and deal with it rationally. Always wear a PFD, ESPECIALLY if you do go alone no mater how calm it is.


  • Salmon
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I as well have time off during the week and have been tempted to go it alone.  most guys on this board seem to be fishing on the weekends.  If you are interested in trying to hook up, send me a message or post a reply here.  i have been thinking about hitting the Marin area for stripers.  I am a new kayaker as well.


`No Tuna'


  • Guest
I used to work weekends and had weekdays off.  I know how hard it can be to find fishing buddies diring the week.  I would also reccomend sticking to protected waters when fishing alone.


  • Guest
I'm out alone off the north coast about half the time (not diving), and I enjoy the challenge of it.  I've never had a major problem, but I do think differently about it.  First, I'm prepared to be in the water for long periods, which means  I wear a full 5 mm surf suit with hood attached.  Second, I keep float bags in the front and back of my scupper. Third, while I appreciate the convenience of electronics, they are no substitute for the reliability of a compass and common sense:  I only go out as far as I think I can swim in, and I take bearings often.

I also carry bogey fins, a hand pump, and something that's really helped out at times - a sail.

There's risk involved, but for that matter, driving on the freeway ain't risk free either.