When I was a little girl I loved reading the Florida Sportsman fishing magazines that my dad subscribed to. This gave me a peek into a world I loved so much. I’d flip through photos and words about places I could only dream of. In these daydreaming moments I was haunted by the elusive roosterfish. A fish that’s known for its aggression towards topwater while sporting a killer Mohawk. They are one of the coolest looking fish, but not easily reached from Florida. To get to Los Buzos, Panama to fish with Deep Blue Kayak Fishing, I’d have to travel by air.

So my story begins…

Preparing to kayak fish takes a little more effort. We can’t leave a ton of gear in our boats. We lack a motor to run around. So when I found myself preparing to live my dream to leave the country and head to Panama to kayak fish for roosters and yellowfin I was already well prepared.

I understand the process, the accessories and the needs. Everything I currently rely on while fishing my own kayak is removable and versatile. Yet I over packed, over thought and over exhausted every inch of space I had.

I’m going to share some packing tips that’ll help you prepare to kayak fish in remote locations where you’ll rely on what your brought and someone else’s Hobie® kayak. Where you’ll fish on water you know very little about, while in an area so remote once you’re there you’re there.

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Just a little gear. Hey, it's for two people. It's a lot, but it isn't as much as it looks.

Sharing expenses with a friend allowed us to pack our gear together cutting the number of our bags in half. We made our own 8’6’’ rod tube that was wide enough to hold eight rods, and two gaffs.

I used a large dry bag backpack for all my kayak accessories – extra rod tube extenders, gear ties, PFD, headlamp, pliers, cutters, extra dry bags, sunscreen, my TackleWebs, rain gear, and those other useful tools.

Tackle took up an entire luggage bag – lures, hooks, leader and tackle boxes. It doesn’t sound like much until you have everything laid out. Terminal tackle has to be checked. I’d rather send a luggage bag down the chute than a soft backpack.

I used a Pelican case to pack my eight conventional reels. I’m able to use this as a carry on and it holds my laptop/POV camera. By the time this guy is packed there isn’t much space, but it gets the job done. I actually use this case each time I fly with my reels. You might think your reels can handle the abuse of travel, but all that rattling and banging has the potential to loosen screws and drags. Plus, I’m not comfortable with the thought of losing thousands of dollars in gear.

Article image - Packing for a Dream Kayak Fishing Trip
Packing in progress. My Pelican case with eight conventional reels is on the top right. I use it as my carry on.

Coming home to the United States was another story. Security objected to the line on my reels. I had to swap clothes and reels, forcing me to check my reels, which I really hated doing. That’s just the price you pay for adventure. With spinning reels, it would be easy to pack the spools and carry-on the reels.

I brought a few things that I’d leave home next time I’m lucky enough to make it to Panama. Your needs will vary depending on your target fishery. I would most certainly cut back on the deep divers, heavy leader and my PFD, because one was provided. I also had the option to do laundry which I wasn’t aware of so I would pack a lot less clothes. Other than that I would actually bring more of a few things. I could have used more light leader, an extra spool of braid, and a lot more 2-ounce vertical jigs.

Other than rods, the top five things I couldn’t fish without are my pliers, cutters, kage gaff, gear ties and Cush-It rod butt cover. These are the tools I need to get the job done. Out of the twelve of us who went to Panama only one person had their rods not make it. It’s definitely a scary thought. At the end of the day there’s nothing we can do. Pack our best and hope it all arrives. For me, it did.

I’d catch my roosterfish (and plenty of yellowfin too) but that’s another story. Check back for part II, coming soon.

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