Kayak fishing Addiction




In the Spotlight:

Kayak Angler, Will Knight

A.K.A. usafeod509

My name is Will Knight and I go by usafeod509 (formerly Lucky Pink Bucket) on the Pensacola Fishing Forum. My addiction to fishing started when I was very young. I grew up in central New York State and my dad took me hunting and fishing quite often. The front door to our house was literally ten yards from a nice trout stream. Needless to say, I spent most of my free time fishing there. My absolute favorite kind of fishing occurred during the winter months though – ice fishing!

I decided to join the Air Force and I completed bomb squad training at Eglin AFB. After a long stay in Missouri, I was lucky enough to again get stationed at Eglin AFB with my wife. As soon as I found out I was going to be moving to Florida, I immediately began researching everything since I had not fished saltwater in my life at that point. I never even knew kayaks existed until I started researching about the fishing in the Florida panhandle.

When I arrived, I started out fishing the jetties, bridges, pier, and tagging along on boats with friends. While fun, I knew I was looking for something different. I started reading some kayak reports of someone I went through bomb squad training with who was heavily involved in kayak fishing. At that point I was pretty sure that kayak fishing was going to be my answer.

Getting started was a bit intimidating since I had close to no saltwater experience when I decided to join the fun that is kayak fishing. I did my research and ended up with a Hobie Outback three months after I moved to Florida. The first day I took it out I launched in the bayou next to my house just to get used to using it and ended up catching my first sea trout. The very next outing I was pretty confident with the operation of the kayak and hit the Gulf in Destin. I didn’t catch much that first Gulf trip, but I was hooked on kayak fishing at that point and have never looked back.

Kayak fishing has opened up a whole new world for me. It is incredibly inexpensive after the initial investment of purchasing a kayak. No dock fees, maintenance fees, fuel costs, no having to assemble a crew if you do not want to. I can launch from anywhere instead of being restricted to boat launches. I can take it in water way too shallow for boats, I can take it offshore, or even do both in the same day. It is very peaceful as I don’t have to listen to a boat engine or the constant bickering on the pier. I routinely see amazing sights on the kayak due to the diverse locations it can reach and the close proximity I can get to sea life thanks to the kayak’s stealth.

The first year I owned a kayak I only fished offshore and I was too intimidated to fish the cold weather months. I have really embraced the versatility of kayak fishing since then. I have learned there is some great fishing available for kayakers all winter long. Winter brings along with it a few considerations for the kayak angler.

The first consideration is obviously the weather. The cold temperatures required layered clothing to keep warm and possibly a breathable waterproof outer layer you keep dry. Don’t forget some bright colored upper body clothing, hat, and/or flag so other boaters can see you from a distance. Also, the winter weather patterns can get the water wavy and choppy at times. Always check the weather forecast and surf forecast before heading out.

Everyone has their favorite fish species to target and so do I! Kayakers often give up on offshore fishing this time of year as most of the mackerel are gone and snapper and grouper are closed. However, this can still be a productive time of year for offshore as you can still chase triggerfish or amberjacks. You can also capitalize on grouper being closer to shore. You will have to release them, but it is a blast to catch them from a kayak. You can also catch red snapper until your arms fall off if you are just looking for fun catch and release fishing.

While I enjoy offshore fishing in the winter my favorite winter pastime is chasing sheepshead inshore from the kayak. They can be difficult to hook and even to harder to clean if you have not done it much, but the effort is worth it when you have fresh sheepshead for dinner. Finding them generally involves fishing near structure, to include: rock piles, jetties, piers, and bridge pilings. Incoming or outgoing tides are both good options - as long as the water is moving they will be a little more cooperative.  Braided line is practically a must to help you detect bites and for abrasion resistance due to fishing in close proximity to structure. A couple feet of leader, small weights, and small hooks tipped with a live fiddler crab or a live shrimp fished near the bottom will get you hooked up. As an added bonus, this setup will catch you just about anything else around the area. During the last week of November and first week of December this year I have caught: pigfish, filefish, bluefish, mangrove snapper, red snapper, gag grouper, black drum, redfish, pompano, and sheepshead with the above mentioned setup. That is part of the fun of wintertime kayak fishing…you never know what kind of fish you will pull up the next time you drop your bait.

Whether you are one of the many people curious about kayak fishing or a seasoned kayak fishing veteran, give winter kayak fishing a shot. It can be a bit intimidating if you have never tried it but once you do, I bet you will be hooked like I am and wish you had started years ago! The good news is that it is not too late to get started. The sheepshead bite should just keep getting better the colder it gets and the further we get into the winter months. If you are interested but don’t know where to start, feel free to contact me on the Pensacola Fishing Forum (usafeod509). Below is a short video of what winter time kayak fishing in the Florida panhandle has to offer.

Enjoy, Will.







Anglers in the spotlight


  • Barrett Fine
  • Brandon Barton
  • Oliver Hurst
  • Linda Cavitt
  • Doug Richardson
  • Chad Skeeles
  • Landon Mace
  • Will Knight

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    Contact the Kayak Fishing Addiction if you would like to be presented "In the Spotlight", all kayak anglers are welcome to tell their story.