Danny Viscardo

Whether fishing in far off corners of the globe, or targeting pike in his nearby New Jersey waters, Danny Viscardo is a kayak angler with a penchant for sharing his passion and skill set. A retired firefighter and current stage hand, Danny is also a published author, with articles and photographs appearing in several publications.

What first drew you to this style of angling?  When was that?

There is a local river near me, and one day I just decided to take a pole and make a few casts.  Of course, I got my lure snagged after a couple casts, and I was lucky enough to find a small soft plastic with a jig head only a few feet from where I was fishing.   I made a couple of casts, and found myself fighting a nice northern pike, which I landed in a couple of minutes.

I fished plenty of times when I was younger, and also took my daughter out many times when she was younger, but this was my first fish in many years.

I saw an article in a fishing magazine about kayak fishing, and thought to myself, if I can catch pike in this river in the few spots that have shore access, I would be able to land a bunch away from the few shore spots.

This was about seven years ago, and little did I know that after buying my first 10 foot sit-in-side kayak, I would become obsessed with kayak fishing.

Do you remember the first fish you caught from a kayak?

After getting my kayak, I read online about different set-ups for norther pike. I got a new bait casting reel and a good fresh water rod, and headed for the river the first chance I got.  I think it was my second day ever in the kayak that I landed my first kayak fish; it was a norther pike about 28 inches…I was hooked forever!

As a frequently traveling angler, you’ve fished in latitudes small and large.  What are some common threads that you’ve seen within the global culture of the sport?

With most of the trips, it always amazes me to see the reaction of people watching us catch fish from a kayak. For us it all seems natural, but talk to someone in Alaska and tell them that we are going halibut fishing from a kayak, they will tell us that we are nuts.

Something else that is truly amazing, is that I have never met another kayak fisherman, whether it be on the water, online, on a beach, or anywhere that I wouldn’t feel comfortable fishing with.  I think we all are a certain breed that loves the sport and would do anything for each other to help out.

I feel that if I wanted to fish any place in the US, I could just make a post on one of the sites, and I could get a response with a room to stay in, kayak and gear to use, and the best hospitality I could ask for.

What food and or music fuels your drive to the put in?

I am not a breakfast person, but there is always a stop for coffee just after leaving my house.  Most of my salt water trips are an hour or more from my house, so I am always listening to the radio for any traffic reports on my way to the launch.

Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?

Me…just kidding!  Although I have gotten so many people involved in the sport, I really love seeing new people out on the water.  I almost enjoy taking pictures of everyone on the water as much as fishing myself.  Pictures of friends fighting the fish, to landing the fish and releasing the fish, all have become a special part of the day for me.

Of course, Jim Sammons has done a great deal for the sport with all his videos from all over the world, but most trips that he is on are just a dream for most.

I have had the pleasure to be on three trips with Allen Sansano and hope to do at least one trip a year with him in the years to come.  He is just about as hard core as you can get, and when I am fishing along side him, I am learning something new all the time.

Tell us a story, any story.

With all the great trips I have been on and with all the great people I have met through kayaking, one of my favorite experiences with kayaking has been with my family.

About 6-7 years ago, I took my daughter out with me on Mother’s Day morning for one of her first salt water kayaking trips.  She was trolling a jointed bomber when she hooked and landed a beautiful 36″ striped bass.  I took a picture of her fighting the fish, with a beautiful sunrise behind her and another picture with her holding the fish. They have been featured in several kayaking magazines.

There also was another day that I loaded three kayaks on top of my Subaru wagon and headed to the salt water.  My wife was in my Hobie with no intentions of fishing, and my daughter was in her kayak, and we all went for a nice trip. I noticed a school of bluefish breaking the surface, so my daughter headed straight for it.  She landed a couple of 10 lb. bluefish by herself.  Now the fun part – I paddled over to my wife, casted my rod out, stuck my rod into the rod holder in her kayak, and told her to just pedal.

It took about 10 seconds before the rod was bending and she was fighting a big bluefish with the rod behind her!  I am surprised the coast guard din’t come with all the screaming she was doing.  My daughter and I were laughing so hard, watching her trying to reel in this fish with the kayak going in every direction.   I am happy to say that she landed it and even held the leader up for a great picture.

With regards to kayak angling, what issues are important to you?  What, if anything can be done about that?

With living in the north east, the weather and conditions are always the main factor with getting out into the salt water.  So, of course the biggest issue I see is that most people are not properly dressed for the conditions.  We only have about a 2 month window where shorts and a tee shirt can be worn, but for the most part it’s a dry suit or waders/dry top combo.

When I get people involved with the sport,  I tell them that the kayak cost is only a small fraction of the total cost that will be needed.  I always get the question, “what should I wear?”  Which sometimes is not an easy answer.  I have about eight different combos of dry gear that I can mix and match for just about any weather condition.

So, I guess my answer would be dressing for the right conditions, and the only thing that can be done about this is to make sure that the people that you are with have all the proper clothes.  I am logged onto several different kayak sites, and I always try to make the point about having the proper gear.

Barring money and logistics,  what is your dream kayak angling trip?

I have been on three kayak trips in the past three years, and every one has been amazing.  My plan is to go on “a trip of a lifetime” every year from now on.  The two trips to Alaska were pretty rugged, with one year in a small state owned cabin. This year, we stayed in tents.  In Alaska, the weather is always a factor, and sunny days are not too plentiful, but we had two great trips and made the best of the conditions.

My other trip was to La Paz, Mexico, where we lived on a boat for 6 days, and launched and landed from the boat.  The weather was great and so was the fishing, and it was a lot easier to pack for a warm water trip.

So my dream trip  would have to be a week long trip, staying in a lodge, with mother-shipping each day to pods of busting tuna. I am working now on this exact trip to Panama in the spring.

What’s in your milk crate?

I do not use a milk crate.  Behind my seat I carry a small 12″ x 12″ soft cooler with everything I need for the trip. I believe less is more when I am on the water.  In the north east,  there is usually only one or two target fish for the trip, so a big variety of lures is usually not needed.  Most of my fish are caught with soft plastics and different sized jig heads.  I can’t ever remember not having something with me that I really needed for an outing.

I secure the bag, which has a sholder strap, to a bungee in the rear, and I can swing it on my lap while it is still secured and look in and find everything I need.  It has small compartments for terminal tackle, and like anything else, when you get used to it and you know where everything is, it makes it simple.

Tell us about your best day on the water.

That’s a tough one.  Catching halibut and rock fish in a Alaska, catching yellowtail, dorado and many other species in Mexico, catching sharks all day in Myrtle Beach SC, all come to mind.  But I would have to say the best day was just a couple weeks ago in Montauk, Long Island NY.  Me and a few friends spent three days with perfect weather, walk in conditions for all 3 days, and just acres and acres of boiling fish – pretty much from sunrise to sunset. The first two days were insane with the amount of fish that we caught, but the third day was just off the charts.  I would guess the number of fish caught the last day was between 20-30 striped bass, all in the 32-36 inch range, at least 10 false albacore in the 10-12 lb. range, and just too many bluefish to count.  It was one of those days that we all dream about during the winter months.  It was one of the only times I can remember that I actually stopped fishing in the late afternoon because my hands just could not handle fighting and releasing another fish.

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

For me, I love fishing the north east, but like I said, we have about 4-5 months a year when the conditions just don’t allow getting out in the ocean.  I can live with that, but I would love to make 2 trips a year to different places (regardless of what my wife says) and really get the most out of this great sport.

You invented a device that allows for remarkable self-portraits.  Tell us where your idea came from.

I usually fish alone, and had just too many pictures of a half of a fish across my lap.  During the off season I went to get a few supplies, and after a few trial and errors,  I came up with a swing out arm that takes some great pictures.  I am not sure where the idea came from, but after sitting down and knowing where I wanted the camera to be, everything came into place.  I work now as a stagehand on Broadway, in NYC, and there is nothing that we can’t make, weld, drill, or put together.

The camera is mounted to a bent piece of conduit that is just behind my sholder, where I can put the camera on and hit the self timer. The arm is attached in the front of the footwell by a pivot point.  I just swing the arm out and it takes a perfect picture every time.

What does the future hold for you?

With retirement not being that far away, I am very happy now with the amount of times I get out to fish.  I also enjoy hunting, golf, and taking trips with my wife.  My daughter is married and my wife would never leave this area for any long trips,  but as long as I stay healthy and am able to get out when the fish are biting, and go on a kayak trip or two each year…I am a happy camper!


One Response to “Danny Viscardo”

  1. David Elgas says:

    Good read Danny… I had a blast fishing with you in La Paz.. and look forward to more kayak fishing travel adventures with you.. let the good times roll..

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