Is it a kayak or is it a boat? Whatever it is, the Pro Angler means business.
I recently had an opportunity to test paddle a Hobie Pro Angler on a weekend fishing adventure and I have to say, I am impressed! My first reaction was, “man, this thing is huge!” but once I hit the water, it was smooth sailing or rather pedaling. It all started when a customer, turned friend of mine, invited me join him on his annual Choke Canyon Lake trip. No arm-twisting here — ready, set, let’s go! As an ACK employee, I must admit, its pretty nice having access to almost any kayak we sell so I decided to try one that I’ve never used for an extended period of time, the Hobie Pro Angler. There is another reason for it. I was told that this lake was home to alligators and I have to admit, I was a little concerned. I do understand that alligators can be pretty laid back but still held strong to using something BIG for peace of mind.
I have a small truck with a short bed so was a little worried that it may not fit but when paired with a Darby Extend-A-Truck Bed Extender, it fit like a glove. Three hours later, I drove up to our cabin and without hesitation pulled the boat off the bed of my truck and into the water. Admittedly, it was a bit of a haul having to drag the boat into the water, it would have been nice if I had remembered to load a Hobie Heavy Duty Plug-In Kayak Cart. Not a huge deal though since it was downhill and mostly sand and grass.
Before I launched, I did spend sometime thinking about how I was going to outfit the Pro Angler. Since this boat already has multiple areas to secure my rods, there was no need for me to purchase any rod holders. I especially liked carrying my backup and night fishing rods in a horizontal position and out of the way on both sides of the cockpit. I did bring a crate to load a few items that I usually carry such as my anchor kit and other fishing gear. As you can see in the picture at the top of this article, there was plenty of room for more. I used the front hatch for my camera equipment but if I had done any fishing for keepers it would have been a perfect place to store my catch on ice.
It’s not the first time I’ve used this boat but I was again impressed with the speed and control I had. There was a stand of sunken trees that I wanted to fish about 300 yards from the shoreline and it only took a few minutes to get across using the Mirage Drive with Turbo Fins attached. I was a bit nervous at first with all the crisscrossing powerboat traffic but was able to get through quickly without hitch. Speaking of powerboats, I never had any problems dealing with heavy chop even while standing. This boat was bone dry all the way through — talk about stable.
Once on water and in place, it was a bit windy so I was prepared to release my anchor but with within a few minutes I realized that by simply adjusting the position of my retractable rudder combined with the fact that this boats weighs just under 138 lbs. I wasn’t being pushed all over the place. Instead, I had a controlled and steady drift.
The cockpit area is probably my favorite feature of this boat. I can’t sit still for more than 15 minutes so plenty of wiggle room and being able to stand up makes this a winner for me. The Pro Angler’s extraordinary stability had me standing more than sitting even while drifting and experiencing powerboat chop. I can’t say enough good things about the seat — comfortable, wide, rigid and dry. I also like the utility trays reserving one for used worms, another for trash and another for my water bottle. I have to be honest, I didn’t know what the flat area just between my legs was for and come to find out, it’s a center hatch cover with a cutting board — nifty.
Choke Canyon Lake is southeast of San Antonio, Texas. For years I have seen a sign off the highway identifying it’s location but never thought much of it. We stayed in a couple of cabins that are part of the state park system. I didn’t have time to explore the entire 26,000 acre lake but enjoyed a sense of isolation from any urban environments. The lake is mostly tree lined with oaks and mesquite amongst open areas of brush land. I didn’t see any alligators but did encounter a variety of birds I had never seen before, turkeys, deer, raccoons and wild hogs. One bird in particular that kept catching my eye was the Crested Caracara (AKA Mexican Eagle). A large beautiful bird that seemed to own the lake.
I also learned something this weekend. Choke Canyon Lake is FULL of fish or at least it seemed so. Over the course of the weekend, our group must have caught at least 40 fish, more specifically large mouth bass. The fishing was on! Okay, maybe not the first day but day 2 rendered a day full of “fish on” moments. With so much space in the cockpit landing and releasing fish safely was a breeze. I used a combination of Texas rigged worms by Get Five Lures, Rattlesnake and Senko. Darker shades of green, black and black with red sparkles were the ticket. Some of the guys were also doing well fishing top water with soft plastic frogs. Most of the fish I caught were just at the edge of grass and hydrilla beds. The fish seemed to be hanging out at the edge ready to strike at anything that came their way. Areas with sunken trees were also hot spots and the nice thing about using a kayak or small boat for fishing is that I was able to get right on top and into those trees. Overall, it was a successful weekend of fishing.
I did run into one situation where I dropped my Shimano Calcutta Rod and Reel Combo into the water. I’ve owned this setup for years and wasn’t about to let it go, so with nightfall fast approaching, I quickly began to try and recover it by dragging my anchor across the bottom of the lake. After 30 minutes of failed attempts, it was pitch black and realized I hadn’t loaded my Scotty Sea Light when I left home. My persistence led me to using my Kelty LumaCamp LED Lantern, which emitted more light than I could ask for. I quickly got back to work rigging up a treble hook with heavy weights and within a few minutes I caught the best thing ever, my rod and reel combo. I’ve always been a big believer in rod leashes and I wonder why a boat that is so feature rich does not come with them. On a different note, I wasn’t too crazy about the placement of the paddle holder although I couldn’t think of a better place to put it.
Back at camp, we enjoyed a festive night of grilled fajitas, sautéed veggies, cold drinks and fish tales celebrating an eventful day of fishing. The Hobie Pro Angler met my expectations and I was thankful for the opportunity to go on this fishing trip and look forward to the next one.