Kayakers Charlie Strange and Earl Gleason of Orlando spend the hot weekends of summer chasing quality gamesters like tarpon, jack crevalle and king mackerel off the beaches of the Space Coast.
In seven trips since late April — all dictated by the wind conditions — they’ve accounted for nine tarpon hookups, two 50-pounders brought to the boat, a 28-pound kingfish, they lost two larger kings, and also released jacks, bonito and sharks. Quite an assortment to say the least.
“We think we do pretty good considering all we’ve got are kayaks,” said Gleason, who works along with Strange for a building contractor involved in the construction boom along Narcoossee Road (State Road 15) east of the Orlando airport.
Last summer each of the two men, in their early 20s, bought 13-foot Ocean Kayak Prowlers.
“We were fishing in the surf north of Sebastian Inlet when we watched a guy in a kayak only a hundred yards off the beach jump two tarpon in a span of 30 minutes,” Strange said. “He was having a lot more fun than we were, so we both went out and bought our boats. We can’t afford a big center console for the ocean but the kayaks do the job of getting us out there.”
Using kayaks to reach some of the heavyweights that roam just beyond the rolling surf during the summer months has been popularized by the challenges and rewards that only kayakers can describe. For a minimum of expense compared to power boating, kayak manufacturers have developed quality craft specifically designed for the angler in mind.
Strange and Gleason have launched from the beach anywhere from Patrick Air Force Base to Wabasso Beach, south of Sebastian Inlet in Indian River County, and they pick their days according to the ocean conditions.
“If the ocean is over three feet we don’t go. When we got our boats we practiced launching a lot. We soon learned it has to be pretty calm to do it safely and we try to go early before the wind picks up,” Strange said.
For the most part they use six- to eight-inch mullet for baits when they can get them. If…