dumb question--where to put the fish?

After quite a few times getting skunked out of Capitola (and once out of Moss Landing) I finally caught a decent sized rock cod last Saturday, and while trying to put it on my stringer, I lost it overboard. I eventually caught another smaller fish and made it back to shore with that one.

I don’t want to mess around with a stringer, because I’m not going to be dangling them over the side, not in the Monterey Bay. I have a Scupper Pro that has the big front hatch and a compartment behind me. I am not sure if the well in back of me is the “tank well” that these kayaks are known for, because it doesn’t say TW anywhere on the kayak, and it looks smaller than the tank well I see in pictures. So while I would like to strap a plastic shopping basket in back of me, I’m not sure it would fit without a lot of cutting and modifying.

Should I practice taking the front hatch off? I suppose I could lie down on the kayak, remove the hatch cover, and drop a fish in there. Should I try to add a hatch between my legs?

This is why I loved fishing in my Adirondack guide boat back in Wisconsin, there was plenty of room for everything, and there are no sharks in Lake Mendota!

fish handling 101
It sounds like you need to use a fish gripper or another kind of jaw grip so you don’t lose them so easily. Also you may want to look into steel fish stringers it makes it much easier to get them on and keep them.

fish bag
I went out of Trinidad (way NorCal) yesterday with a fishing guide friend from up there. he puts the catch into a bag that scuba divers use for collecting things. It is a mesh bag with a wire ring at the mouth to hold the mouth open. He has used bags without the wire (like what you get 10 pounds of oranges in a bag with), but says it is worth buying the one with the metal mouth. He uses these for crabs also.

That bag is then attached on his back deck (he is in a sea kayak). So for your case, you could toss it into the back hold area. Maybe use a leash to ensure the bag stays shut and stays attached to your kayak.

He does use a The Fish Grip fish grabber to hold the fish by the lip. Perhaps not as important with rock cod, but he also goes after Ling Cod, which are rather teethy.

Side note - I could be wrong, but I thought ground fish (rock cod, ling cod, etc.) season opens for SF area and south on June 1. Northern CA (Mendo and Humbiolt?) was May 15.

Catch bags are great and hoop stringers
are good too, depends on the person. Depending on how sunny the weather is you may want to get fancy with an insulated bag to maintain the quality of your catch. Putting fish “inside” the hatch makes a big mess and it can get really hot in there without air flow if the sun is beating down. When the fish are out on deck you can at least splash water on them occasionally

fish bag
I put a fish bag in my shopping cart at Amazon, plus a fish gripper plus a net to replace that horrible fine-mesh folding net that kept snagging hooks.

The fish gripper will be problematic for the grey rock cod I keep catching. They like to chomp down on the hook very firmly so I have no idea how I’ll get at the jaw with the gripper, but I’ll try it anyway.

Here in Monterey Bay, rock cod season opened May 1. I was out for hours and hours last time from Capitola, trying Mile Reef and the kelp at Surfer’s, and the only fish I caught was when I was heading in, at a kelp bed just off the Capitola Pier.

is filled with wildlife that would tend to see anything dangling over the side as a free meal. Shark is less likely than sea lion, but either could make a day on the water an eventful one.

I would probably look for a container or ice chest for stowing any fish, since I don’t have a well in any boat I have here. Since all my fish are released, I haven’t looked into this very deeply.

I have seen ice chests modified for purpose of a live well (usually for bait, but a larger cooler might be used for keeping one’s fish fresh. Someone has solved this already, all you need to do is look and see what project works best for you.