Mark Veary


Mark Veary is an Oahu-born angler now living in Oregon.  A man of many titles, including engineer, author, surfer, inspiring father, and accomplished fisherman, Mark manages to exude a quiet, almost mystical stoke for the sport.  Though firmly self-rooted on the later side of the kayak/angler dichotomy, Mark has the willingness and ability necessary to paddle a small boat amongst some of the biggest waters deemed fishable in the Pacific NW.

What first drew you to this style of angling?

Back in the mid 90′s, I was jockeying for position at a jealously guarded point break when I saw Old Jack paddling out the rip on a modified tanker surfboard.  Well into his 80′s, Jack was still a respected fixture in the lineup.  On this day, he skirted the break to hover at the edge of the rocky point.  The board he rode had been raised in the back to form a seat, and was  propelled by a kayak paddle. Laying across the deck was a fishing rod.  Over the course of my session, I observed Old Jack hook and land scores of fish.  He made it look effortless.  Paddling out from yet another grinder, I watched as Jack set the hook on something big.  The battle was epic and all I could do was sit up, slack jawed, to see Jack getting spun and dragged across the water by 20+ pounds of angry lingcod.  Jack had figured out a lot of things in his long life and this was yet another.

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

My first was a black rockfish tempted by a white grub on a 3oz jig head.  Closely followed by my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on until I lost count.  Who knew that there were so many fish just beyond casting distance from shore?

Who is shaping the future of kayak angling?

I think we’re all shaping the future of kayak angling.  Sure, there are crash test dummies pioneering new fisheries, and companies responding to a whole new set of consumer ‘needs’.  But, the essence of kayak fishing is the freedom to fish where you want, without having to rely on some limiting infrastructure.  To shape the future is to define its boundaries.  The little kid in each of us needs to believe that the possibilities are limitless.

As for innovators to watch; Locally, Scott Brennaman.  He doesn’t post (to forums) much, but the guy fishes a lot, has a ton of knowledge on location and technique and gives seminars up in Washington.  Globally, The Uyeda Bros, Andy Cho, Sammons, Lucian and, of course, Howard McKim.

With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you?

Safety.  As one of the aforementioned crash test dummies, it’s important to me that people following my lead understand the steps leading up to paddling out.  Whether it’s planning for visibility in high traffic areas, immersion wear for the cold north pacific, communication when fishing solo or simply knowing the tide prediction.

You’ve published a few articles related to the sport.  Can you describe to us your creative process?

My preferred writing style is the moody anecdotal fishing report.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work so well for the standard “How to” periodicals.  Infusing my story telling style into a usable column is a work in process.  Most times, I’ll review my images for a tone.  Once I have the tone, I’ll try to find a hook that I can link back to somewhere in the heart of the article.

What’s in your milk crate?

That all depends on the fishery and my luck.  In most venues, I leave the milk crate empty until I catch some fish.  When a river anchor is required, my spool and buoys ride there.  It’s what’s around the outside of my milk crate that’s interesting.  I’ve rigged multiple ABS tubes of different sizes.  These hold my fishing rods, net and safety flag.

After a long day in the boat, is it fish tacos and beer, or cedar plank salmon and Pinot?

I suppose it depends on whether I’ve been fishing for Salmon or Lingcod.  Nothing tastes better than grilled collars and cheeks after a long day on the water.  To wash it down?  Some icy cold milk or a half gallon of water.

Tell us about your best day on the water.

I’d be hard pressed to nail down one day as being superior to any of a dozen others.  The most memorable tend to be solo expeditions to areas kayaks had yet to claim.  While I don’t have a death wish, I like to face adversity and come out on top.  From a kayak fishing community perspective, I suppose the day I got my first  ”Buoy 10″ limit could be considered my best.  My first attempt on the B10 fishery caused quite a stir among the power boating crowd. A picture, snapped by a boater, ended up on a local fishing forum, where most members claimed I had to be stupid or crazy.  So, the vindication of catching both a Coho and Chinook a year later to fill out my limit was awesome.  As much fun as answering the many “Y’ever catch anything out of that?” questions by holding up a full game clip was, the most memorable part came just before I made my landing.  A young boy watched me intently on my sprint for home.  Finally within earshot, he, too, asked if I’d caught anything.  When I showed him my prize he looked down and said, “I wish I could catch one,” to which I replied, “Just keep at it; yours is coming.”  Moments later, his rod went crazy.  As he worked with dad’s help to control the fish, he flashed me a huge smile and shouted “Thanks, Mister!”

What is the kayak angling lifestyle?

I don’t really have an answer.  But then, I don’t think that any of the early pioneers of the surfing lifestyle would have been able to answer this question either.  They were too busy pursuing something they loved.  Their only limits were the extents of their imaginations.  I consider myself extremely fortunate to be in that same position today.

Barring money or logistics, would tomorrow’s fishing trip take you to the local lake or far-off lands?

No question about it.  I’d be headed to far off lands. I have a bucket list of places I’d like to fish: The Sea of Cortez, Nicaragua, Hawaii, Alaska etc etc etc.  I used to maintain a similar list of surfing destinations.  As the only serious destination unchecked on my surfing list is New Zealand, I suppose I’d take the opportunity to scratch that off both lists.  Alas, money and time are both precious.  Luckily, the Pacific Northwest offers a wealth of fishing opportunities to explore.

What does the future hold for you?

I’ve been working on a book about kayak fishing the Pacific Northwest.  With it, I hope to re-kindle, in some, that feeling of freedom and discovery many lose in the transition to adulthood.  Beyond that, who knows?  The possibilities are limitless.

Photos by Scott Brennaman and Bryce Molenkamp

 

2 Responses to “Mark Veary”

  1. larry kegel says:

    Thank you Mark for your impute. I enjoy your pursuits in a kayak. It reminds me when I used to take my raft (11ft.9in.) out of Depoe bay, & Siletz bay when I was younger. Now overweight & 62yrs. of age I just enjoy seeing what all of the kayakers are catching & doing. Thanx again….

  2. David Smith says:

    I recently had a chance to meet Mark (Spot) Veary during a presentation he gave about two weeks ago, in Portland, OR. He was clearly a very knowledgeable speaker, on the many facets of angling from a kayak, conveying past experiences (many comical) and answering questions from the audience. I had communicated with Mark on the NWKA Forum many times in the months prior, finding him to be a comical, very helpful and friendly person. Only days before the above mentioned presentation, I had put it together that he was also an outdoor writer, one whom I had, and continue to enjoy the writings of. Despite his vast experience level, Mark remains approachable and humble, both welcome traits in this 21st Century and as Kayak Angling continues to grow. Thanks Mark for keeping it real…Peace

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