Well here I am after a year of research, longing, and begging; I have finally joined the ranks of Kayak fishing.
January 2010 I came across an article on kayak fishing and thought to myself “Now that sounds like fun; and no 20 foot, 200-horse power behemoth to pay for, insure, and feed. Now that’s for me!”
The more I looked into the sport the more I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Four months of researching every internet article I could find; how-to’s, kayak reviews, paddle reviews, this review, that review, every review. I was enamored with dozens upon dozens of articles written by lots of kayak fishermen who obviously knew how to fish from a kayak. What I did not find was anyone like me who was just getting into the sport and how they were going about it.
Once the research was completed and questions answered I was ready to let my wife know what I wanted. “You are out of your mind!” she said, “You don’t know the first thing about kayaking.” “Is this some sort of mid-life-crisis?” She was right, I didn’t have a clue, still don’t. I did however go and demo a couple of kayaks, and rented one for a day. Both of which failed to deter my enthusiasm. I wanted to start kayak fishing and I didn’t want to ease in to it either. I wanted to jump in “Head first”. To the later point of the mid-life thing, well, I am 43 years old and my kids are all in their late teens and don’t need me to be coach, chauffeur, scout master, or baby sitter any longer. So, maybe a little mid-life “reconditioning” I’ll cop to, but it’s not the over-priced sports car or fling with the secretary after all.
She surprised me with the go ahead for my Christmas present (birthday, anniversary, Valentines Day, Arbor Day and every other Day). Christmas Eve Day I became the proud owner of a Malibu Stealth 14 complete with X-wing console, Accent carbon-fiber paddle, Hummingbird 385ci fish finder, bait well aerator plumbing, kayak cart, crate mate, cart, and a bed extender (More on that later).
I had waited long enough, the X-Wing, fish finder and aerator would have to wait, I was going to test drive this baby. I dubbed my new Stealth the “Minnow” due to the inexperience of her Gilligan-like owner. I met my friend at the lake on the way home. This is when I remembered one very important item I had left off the shopping list. The PFD! The lake, East Lake Tohopekaliga, is clear and shallow, I wouldn’t be in water deeper than 5 feet, and I had a buddy with me, I decided to take the “Minnow” on her maiden voyage with out the PFD.
I unloaded the “Minnow” and drug it the 50 yards through the sand beach to the water. 26 yards into the pull I really wished I had strapped on the cart. Once in about two inches of pre-passenger water she began to float and moved much easier. Five inches of water was all I needed to board and paddle away. My first impression was how well the Stealth moves through the water almost effortless. She isn’t a speed racer by any means, my friend in his much slimmer older model Heritage was able to pull away from me as we headed to the outside grass line. He covered the distance (about 200 yards) about 30 yards ahead of me but he did leave first.
The weather was sunny and cool with the temperatures in the mid 60’s, the water temperature a few degrees below that, so I didn’t want to get real cute out there without a PFD but I did rock her side to side and was surprised how stable the Stealth is. I didn’t try to stand up on the “casting platform” because, well, the water was cold and I didn’t want to. I am planning to purposely tip over the Stealth once the water warms to practice getting back onboard and to see just how far over is too far. I will let you know how that goes.
I brought along two of my fishing poles and found casting easy, remembering there is another pole in the rod holder behind me took some getting used to. The rod holders in front are just a tad bit to far forward to comfortably use for a man of my size 6 foot, 235 lbs, and limited flexibility but if they were any where further back they would be in the way of paddling. Bottom line, lose some weight and get limber. Out in the main lake and casting back to the cattails I realized how nice an anchor would be and decided to add that to my list. That being said I was surprised at how easily it was to reposition myself with a simples back paddle or two.
I put the “Minnow” in every imaginable fishing place the lake has to offer. I was amazed how the Stealth needled through the cattails, floated over the thick “Kissimmee Grass”, and gently rocked through the open water which had mild chop to it from a north breeze. Even the wake of an occasional passing boat was of no concern. The Stealth floated effortlessly over vegetation I would have avoided with a bass boat.
Interestingly the Malibu “Dry Ride” motto is right on the mark as my Stealth 14, and I are concerned. Back at the truck my friend showed me his 1-2 gallons of water in the bottom of his kayak. We spent four hours on the water and I could have dumped a bag of flour under the gator hatch and vacuumed it out when I got home, not a drop of water.
Although I didn’t catch my first kayak fish on the maiden voyage of the “Minnow” I did find out that after all those months of research and waiting I have definitely made the right choice and I am very excited to get my new Stealth back on the water. I made a mental note of the items I needed prior to the next trip out to the lake, a PFD, and an anchor and trolley. Oh! The bed extender I used my wife’s Ford F-350 (She wanted a big-ole truck so I got her one) with a full bed to pick up the kayak and the bed extender was not needed, I drive a Jeep Wrangler and the extender can be reversed, so I am hoping I can use it to carry the Minnow on top of the Jeep. Next time I’ll let you know how the installation of the X-wing, fish finder, and aerator went.
Limits to you all,