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Jet Ski Fishing

jet ski fishing
jet ski fishing
Images courtesy of www.jetskibrian.com

PROFILE OF A JET SKI FISHERMAN

Have you seen the clip of "Man vs. Fish" and "Madman of the Sea" host Matt Watson wrestling with a marlin from the precarious perch of a Sea-Doo? Looks a bit extreme, doesn't it? Ergo, you're probably assuming that fishing from a personal watercraft (PWC) is just another of Matt's outré stunts. But actually a growing number of PWC enthusiasts are using their crafts not just for racing around and shredding waves, but also to catch fish.

Like their compatriots who fish from surfboards, PWC fishermen have discovered that while fishing from a PWC might look a little goofy, it's actually quite doable. Some of the newer models are now up to 12 feet in length, a size which gives them more stability as a fishing platform, and have the fuel capacity to venture out on longer fishing trips. Using a PWC as your fishing craft also has some significant advantages over using a conventional fishing boat. Because PWCs are smaller, they're cheaper and easier to store, and you don't need as big of a vehicle to tow a PWC to the water. Maintenance is simpler, and you don't need a crew. And PWCs are fast, so you can get to your favorite fishing spot more quickly. If you like the idea of being able to squeeze a few hours of impromptu fishing into your day without a lot of hassles, a PWC might just be the perfect choice for you.

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jet ski fishing
jet ski fishing
Images courtesy of www.jetskibrian.com

THE GEAR

Obviously, the first thing you need is a PWC, preferably one of the newer, more generously-sized models. Kawasaki, Polaris, Sea-Doo and Yamaha are major brands. One New Zealand PWC fishing enthusiast Web site, for example, favors the Yamaha FX HO Waverunner, a $12,000 PWC that has a four-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection and can carry more than 500 pounds of passengers and equipment.

You'll also want to outfit and customize the craft for fishing. Perhaps the most important gadget is a fish finder, a device that uses sonar to visualize the bottom of a body of water and locate objects -- namely fish. The cheapest models start at around $400, but you can spend a couple of grand on the most sophisticated, high-end finders. Another essential is a rig to hold your fishing rods and a cooler for storing the fish that you catch.

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Since most of the time you'll be fishing while drifting, use a lightweight spin and overhead reel designed for softbait fishing. It's a good idea to bring along a net and a medium-sized gaff also, to reduce your chances of losing the fish. A sea anchor will keep you from being carried away by fast currents.

Since you'll be out in the water wrestling with a fish from a small, less-stable platform than a boat, good dependable safety equipment is a must. Be sure to bring along a well-equipped first-aid kit and life jacket. A tow rope, emergency flares, a cell phone and a VHF radio are also recommended. You and anybody else you bring along should also have a wetsuit, goggles and extra warm clothing.a vital, floatation vest for each person on the PWC, wetsuit, goggles, extra warm clothing, a tow rope, emergency flare, cellphone and a VHF Radio if possible.

jet ski fishing
jet ski fishing
Images courtesy of www.jetskibrian.com

THE CATCH

Obviously what species of fish you catch is going to vary according to the region in which you're fishing. In New Zealand, where PWC fishing seems to be increasingly popular, one prized catch is the kahawai, or Australian salmon, scientific name Arripis trutta. The kahawai, which is silvery with black spots, can grow to more than 3 feet in length and 33 pounds in weight. It is a fast-swimming, energetic carnivore that feeds primarily on anchovies, mullet and crustaceans. Because of its preference for eating small creatures, it's easily fooled by artificial lures, though mullet also works well as bait. Once hooked, the kahawai puts up a tough fight, full of acrobatic leaps, before it succumbs to your fishing skills. The kahawai isn't very tasty to cook, so throw it back to fight another day.

Off the East Coast of the United States, a PWC fisherman might be pleased to haul in rockfish, scientific name Morone saxatilis, also known as an Atlantic striped bass. The Atlantic striped bass is found from Florida to Canada. The distinctively big-mouthed fish has a blue to dark-olive back, a silvery underbelly and seven or eight stripes that extend lengthwise from the head to the base of the tail. It can attain a length of nearly 5 feet and a weight of close to 80 pounds. Rockfish reproduce in rivers and are seldom found more than a few miles offshore. A versatile carnivore, the rockfish's diet includes a variety of aquatic animals, including herring, eels, lobsters, crabs, flounder, sea herring and alewives.

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WHY YOU SHOULD THROW IT BACK

Some species are overfished more than others. But remember -- every fish you catch and release is available to fight the line another day. Besides, if you're a PWC fisherman, you have an added incentive to throw them back: You don't have that much space on your small craft.

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