Native’s long awaited update to their highly popular hybrid canoe/kayak Ultimate series has landed at the ACK warehouse and for my unwrapping I couldn’t resist going with a St. Patty’s Day Green.
So what’s new on the Native Ultimate FX? A whole lot. I opened up Ultimate FX 15 Solo, but it also comes in a 15 Tandem and a 12 Solo.
The first thing I notice is that it is covered in Native’s Groove Track system. They’ve dotted the Solo FX 15 with a total of 10 tracks, 3 strips along each side of the hull, one just in front of the seat, two either side of the molded in thwart, and a single 5″ strip on the bow. There’s a good chance you’ll never have to hard mount anything to this kayak.
After counting up the tracks, I start playing with their new high/low seat. The seating system isn’t new per se, as we’ve seen it in models like the Slayer, but it is a new feature for the Ultimate. The 15 is meant to be paddled either solo or tandem and what’s neat is that they came up with a way for the high/low seat slide to different positions to accommodate this, just like in the old 14.5 Ultimate.
If you’re into kayak fishing, camping, or photography, I’d definitely give the Native Ultimate FX Series a look. With the pronounced hump in the middle of the kayak, I imagine it will be even easier to stand in the FX than the old Ultimate model, and it’s got plenty of storage area to hold your gear.
Railblaza sponsored UK angler Ian Pickering (Ocean Kayak UK Fishing Team) has been putting his thinking cap on and applying a little DIY to make use of his Railblaza accessories on the Old Town Predator 13 fishing kayak. The Predator 13 comes with mount plates fitted to the gunnels, which allow the mounting of accessories without the drilling of holes into the kayak. Ian has used these plates to recess mount the Railblaza StarPort. Here’s what he had to say:
The mounting plates fitted to the Old Town Predator and Ocean Kayak Big Game II are a fantastic idea. No holes to be drilled in the kayak and you can change your mind as often as you like without worry. I’ve started off by fitting a star port to the left hand forward plate. If I change my mind I could rotate the plate 180 degrees to move it further forward or even swap it with another position.Very versatile.
Paddling through the rough surf for an offshore kayak fishing adventure, more commonly referred to as surf launching, can be challenging depending on your specific location, the weather conditions, and the size of the swells you are battling! Done properly, surf launching can be a painless hurdle on the path to large offshore fish waiting to be caught, photographed, and either cooked up or released to be caught another day! However, there is some inherent danger involved. How do I prevent flipping or “turtling?” How do I keep my balance? What if all my expensive gear falls out?
To help ease your worries about surf launching and get you on those big “beyond the breakers” fish, we have developed these 6 introductory tips for surf launching on your next kayak fishing adventure.
1) Leash All of Your Gear
Yeah, yeah. You get it. The paddle sport accessory company wrote a blog telling me to leash my gear. How cliché! Hang on! All sales pitches aside, everyone knows that the more expensive the pliers, tackle boxes, boga grips, or even reels are…the much faster they sink. Leashing your gear is simply a built in safety net for the rough conditions you are admittedly going to face while beyond the breakers. During a moment of confusion or while you are losing your balance, these leashes allow you to focus 100% on correcting your movements and staying afloat. What if in this same moment you had to reach back for your expensive Penn reel and that new GoPro camera you just got for Christmas? With your focus off of staying balanced and maneuvering through the waves, drinking saltwater is inevitable in your near future.
2) Timing, Timing, Timing!
In general, successful surf launching is heavily dependent on timing. Without getting into the details that are far better explained by your local meteorologist, waves come in sets. This makes the ideal time to launch fall in between the wave sets. These wave sets vary based on many variables, however, typically the last wave in the set is the largest. Once this has passed and you are in between wave sets, there is a lull in the surf. Now its “Go Time!”
3) Be Visible
Large swells can limit your visibility to others. Having some sort of elevated safety flag during the day or 360 degree light after dark is highly recommended to ensure safety. These visibility tools are also very helpful while out beyond the breakers where much larger boats may lose sight of you and your tiny kayak in the swells.
4) Know your Weight Distribution
This is one of the tips that is often forgotten. Paddlers in any boat, paddling any water must always be conscious of how the weight is proportioned on their kayak. Paddling offshore for a kayak fishing trip is usually done on longer, wider kayaks. Having a weight balance in the center of your kayak can cause a nose dive when a wave either a) breaks onto you or b) you hit the peak of a large swell. Try to lean back and keep weight closer to the back of the kayak to maintain optimum balance.
5) Keep your Paddle in the Water!
Always remember, when encountering waves or other turbulent water, you and your boat are always more stable when your paddle is in the water. Having your paddle in the water is crucial to maintaining balance because it acts as an easily controlled fulcrum point. We know what you’re saying, “Oh, well I have Mirage Drive”, “Not me, I have the pedal drive system”, “I’ll just turn on my trolling motor!” We understand. This is why we aren’t advocating that you solely use the paddle for means of propulsion. However, we are recommending that you keep the paddle in the water for added balance. Those pedals can’t correct you from tipping, but your paddle can.
6) Practice Makes Perfect
If you are inexperienced, practice playing in the waves without any gear before you take all the expensive gear out on the water. Some beaches even have lifeguards present to further provide safety while battling this learning curve. While practicing, make sure there are not many people around. Runaway kayaks can be dangerous to surrounding swimmers. Here is a “How To” video showing how not to surf launch from a kayak. Video courtesy of our buddy YakYakker.
Not too long ago I picked up a new Malone Scupper Cart and I’ve found it’s made it easy to transport my gear-loaded Predator kayak. Just a reminder that the Predator kayak is quite heavy at 82 lbs and that’s before adding your gear. The Malone Scupper Cart is a great solution for this and very easy to use.
Here’s a short demonstration of the Malone Scupper Cart in action.
The super bright LED strips from SuperNova offer the kayaker many advantages. Here’s 6 reasons to get your kayak lit with SuperNova:
1. Safety First: Increased visibility of SuperNova LED Lights gives you peace of mind that everyone else on the water knows you’re there. These things are extremely bright!
2. Long Lasting Durability: Not only will they get you seen, but SuperNova LED Light Kitsthey are durable, submersible and salt water ready.
3. Color Options: Blue strips…or green? Blue SuperNova LED lights are bright enough to light structures for casting at a distance and their UV qualities work well with fluorescent line. Green are a bit brighter and attract bait by the net full.
4. Light Up Your Work Space: Position them in the kayak’s cockpit or seating area as task or indirect lighting to help with tying line or bait selection. Blue is easier on your night vision but green is brighter and renders color best.
5. Storage Space Lighting: Place them in your rear tankwell or inside a hatch to make it easy to locate your tackle, rod or favorite frosty beverage. No more fumbling around in the dark!
6. Custom Solutions Available: If the kits at ACK.com aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, contact our customer service team at email@example.com or 888-828-3828 and we’ll arrange a quote for your idea or specific need.
Our first shipment of the new Feelfree Lure has landed at ACK! I grabbed one quick as I could and got it unwrapped to take an up close look. Our Houston store team had a chance to play with one during the Boat Shows, but this was the first time they had made it to the ACK Warehouse.
The Feelfree Lure is clearly made for fishing – especially if you like standing and casting. Like many fishing kayaks, it’s got a adjustable elevated seating system, called the Gravity Seat, with a padded standing platform in front of it (along with a standing assist strap). The hull uses Feelfree’s tri-hull design, which they also utilize in their Moken series. Also, like the Moken series, the Lure’s have flush mounted rod holders with rod leashes and plenty of dry storage space. One nice addition they’ve made is a ridged rod keeper area near the bow to make it easy to lay down your rods while you paddle. See it below in the pictures.
At 11.5 feet, I see this ‘yak being a great fit for anglers who use the fly as well anyone use likes to kayak fish on rivers, lakes or even saltwater bays. Give the Feelfree Lure a look, and remember these are now in stock and ready to ship!
Not only was Saturday’s tournament the biggest KATS event ever held (94 competitors), it also produced some healthy limits for many and one Lake Austin big bass for Larry Martin (a KATS newcomer). His 26 inch bass has, for now, secured the Fishscale’s Biggest Bass Replica of the Season for 2014, and it will be hard to beat. Larry says he caught the bass on Lake Austin using 8 inch watermelon red lizard.
Ladybird Lake (formally know as Town Lake) was covered in kayaks along the banks and near structure on Saturday amidst the crowded waters of scullers, rowers, and recreational paddlers. Trail runners in the area reported seeing kayak fishermen from one dam to the next on the lake, while a good number also headed towards the various sections of Lake Austin.
This third event of the season has really mixed things up in the leaderboard and overall standings making this one of the most competitive and interesting seasons yet. Sean Mecredy took first place in the Pro division with 97.25 inches for grand winnings sum of $1,366.75. In second, Ryan Herzog earned $745.50 with 96.75 inches also placing him at the top of both the overall series leaderboard and King of the Fish. Third place went to Rodney Bronson with a 96.25 inch stringer for $372.75. Daniel Peters took 4th, and Kevin Hebert fifth, with close limits.
In the Social Division, Larry Fisseler placed 1st with 81 total inches earning a $379.50 ACK gift card. Kevin Tijerina took second for $207 ACK dollars with 77.5 inches. In third, Chris Ordner won $103.50 ACK dollars with 73.5 inches. See the full results here.
Larry Martin’s big bass out of Lake Austin earned him a whopping $680!
Thanks to C-Hunts Ice House on Burnet Road for allowing us to use their space and for providing excellent service! The Local Mobile Yokel (hot dogs and grilled sausages) was there to make sure no fishermen/women would go hungry.
Ryan, assistant manager at ACK San Marcos, headed out for a day of bass fishing with Grant on the San Marcos River. Little did he know it would turn into a personal best!
Grant and I started things off planning our trip based on the forecast. We typically like to be on the water at or before sunrise but this time decided to launch at 8:30. The reason being was that it was supposed to be partly cloudy until about 10 am, when the wind was supposed to shift to the North East and the sun was supposed to come out. The sun was the key. Leading up to the trip, it had been very cold, very windy and cloudy. After not seeing the sun for days I knew those river bass would be hungry!
Statistically in Texas all of the biggest bass are caught in the month of January and I knew this beforehand so we decided to forego the fly rods and bring out the conventional tackle. We were targeting river bass of all species but it seemed like all of the Lunker Large Mouths were in a feeding frenzy. Less than ten minutes after launching I landed the first fish, a 13 inch large mouth. I had a feeling it was going to be a good day.
About a half mile downstream I hooked into something good and she took off. I fought her for about two minutes before going airborne and spitting my lure right back in my face. She was easily a four pound largemouth that I had lost! I was already kicking myself at losing my one opportunity at a big river bass. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme for my trips. Little did I know this was not going to be my only opportunity… not by a long shot.
I was still beating myself up after losing the last fish as we were approaching the first section of water that is shallow and swift moving. I casted to a spot behind a rock that was in less than three feet of water and in a nice sunny spot and it was no more than 12 feet away from my boat. I tried to move my bait and thought I was hung on the rock so I paddled a little bit closer. As I did so the so called “rock” I had hooked took off with blazing speed. Instinctively I ripped my rod back at the right angle and set the hook. Seconds later the biggest bass I have ever laid eyes on in person surfaced and jumped almost completely out of the water trying to throw my hook and she was less than three feet from my kayak! I knew this fish would be a new personal best for me so I HAD to land it! Normally when I hook into a fish of this caliber and I know I have a good hook set I just sit back and hold on. Some people refer to this as a sleigh ride but I like to put my own twist on it and call it a Central Texas Sleigh Ride.
Where I hooked up with this Lunker was going to take much more finesse than just holding on. I hooked her in moving water, in a large Eddy that was about 10 feet long by 10 feet wide, just big enough to fit my Moken 10. The rock she was hiding behind and another rock approximately 7 feet down river formed this Eddy and immediately after the farther rock the river gets real shallow, I am talking 8 inches at most. So I knew if I did not keep her in the Eddy that she would get so beat up on the rocks going down river she might not make it. Over half the battle was keeping her in the eddy, when she would try to break out I would use my weight and the weight of the boat to keep her inside. During the whole fight we did not move more than six feet from where I hooked up because every time I brought her back into the Eddy she would hit that Eddy line and we would go in a circle. It seemed like she spun me around 10 times or so but in reality it was probably closer to 3 or 4 times. Finally landed her and let out a yell of triumph! Needless to say Grant and I were in awe of this Behemoth of a River Large Mouth! She was 7 pounds on the nose and just under 25 inches in length. We took lots of pictures and released her safely to keep those Big Bass genes in the River.
After that I felt like I was done for the day and we were not even a 1/3 of the way through our trip! Pretty hard to top your personal best! Feeling rather accomplished with my feat I began to fish much more lazily and was trying to put Grant on a nice fish because I fish the San Marcos much more than he does. Just over an hour after catching my personal best I hooked into another nice one.
I yelled over to Grant, “Got a good one on, it’s at least 4 pounds.” Just as I finished my sentence she jumped and I saw a gaping mouth wide open facing me. I remember saying “Well, Grant its way bigger than four,” to which his responded, “You have got to be kidding me!” I hooked this one in open water so she towed me around 40 yards or so and then I landed her! 6 pounds on the nose after quickly measuring with my Boga Grips! Two of the three biggest river bass I have ever caught in one day! I remember asking Grant over and over “was that real?” “Did I really just catch a 7 pound bass out of the river….and then an hour later catch a 6 pounder?” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! At the very end of the trip I hooked up with a 5 pounder but lost it after short fight but I could not complain!
After it was all said and done I had caught over 20 pounds of bass by myself including three different species: Large mouth, Small Mouth, and Guadalupe. It was the best day I have had on the River yet!
Ryan Herzog is a competitive kayak angler who’s participated in a number of Kayak Fishing Tournaments including several consecutive seasons of Texas’ Kayak Angler Tournament Series (KATS). See what he recommends bringing out on the water for your next kayak fishing tournament.
Kayak tournaments are sweeping the nation. With their growing in popularity, many folks find themselves competing in their very first event. With that, comes a degree of uncertainty of what as is needed to get out and compete. The following is a list of items that you may find handy when considering on competing in a kayak fishing tournament.
While this may sound like a given, there are several aspects that you need to consider when selecting the right kayak for you to fish in a tournament. Will you be fishing a lake, river or bay? What will the weather be like? Do I want to stand or sit? Which is the best all around kayak for me? These are just a few of the questions that you may find yourself asking. Visiting an event like an Austin Canoe & Kayak (ACK) demo day, where you can literally try out numerous different kayaks all at once can really help answer these questions. Also be sure to check out their lineup of fishing kayaks online.
Like kayaks, paddles come in different lengths and weights. There are variations for virtually all body types. Selecting the right paddle can be the difference maker when it comes to a full day on the water.
Personal Flotation Device (PFD/Life vest), not only is it a good idea, it is required that you wear one in most tournaments. There are various types of PFDs, from the low profile, auto inflate to more fishing oriented life vests with various pockets and compartments for putting pliers, terminal tackle and other kayak fishing related items at east access.
Since most kayak tournaments are CPR (catch, photo, release), a good camera is required. Some good features to look for would be: Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, flash and ability to accept SD media cards.
The “Hawg Trough” is a measuring board that has pretty much become the standard for measuring fish in kayak fishing tournaments. In addition to bringing your Hawg Trough with you to a tournament, it is advisable to do a couple of things to it. First, would be to darken the measurement increments with a sharpie. It makes it much easier on the judges. Secondly, make sure you have a way to secure it or to make it float because it will sink.
Stake Out Stick/Anchor
Being able to hold a spot in a tournament can be essential to your success. A stake out stick, which come in various lengths, usually anywhere from 5-8 ft, can help hold you in place. It’s pretty much what the name says it is, a stake that is shoved into the mud and used as an anchor point. In places deeper than the stake out stick will allow or on rocky bottoms when the stake out stick will not penetrate, an anchor may be the best course of action to hold in place. Both can be used in correlation with an anchor trolley system.
An anchor trolley system is comprised of a two pulley system, cord, bungee and nylon ring. One pulley is secured to the bow of the boat and the other to the stern. The cord loops around the pulley system and is connected to small section of bungee. The bungee is then typically connected to the nylon ring. The cord allows for the positioning of the nylon ring along the length of the boat thus creating endless anchor point scenarios. The bungee provides shock absorption. Used correctly it will take the hassle out of anchoring into the wind.
Electronics like fish finders and/or GPS can be essential in providing water temperature and a layout of the surrounding underwater area. Some are simple as they only provide the depth of water you are sitting in while some will provide exact GPS locations, down scan imaging, weather updates and various other bits of information. Deciding what you would like to accomplish by using a fish finder, should help you decide which model is right for you.
With any electronics you add to your kayak, you will need to find a way to power them. In most cases a simple 12v battery will power all electronics for the day. Others may use a battery pack of AA batteries to make the 12v needed to power the unit. Be sure to check the power draw of your electronics to ensure you choose the right solution for you.
It is a good idea to always have some sort or waterproof case to protect your items that you do not want to get wet. Whether it is a dry bag or hard case, this minimal investment can save you big from ruining your phone, key fobs or whatever else you want to keep dry.
Having the correct food and drinks can make for a great day out on the water. While trying to pack a light as possible for a kayak tournament, the last thing that a lot of guys will think about is food and/or drinks. Pack foods that will not spoil and are high in protein. Keeping up your energy for the entire day can be difficult but can make the difference in a tournament. Beef Jerky and granola bars seem to be favorites with the kayak fishing community. Freezing your drinks the night before eliminates the need to bring a cooler. The drink will melt over the course of the day providing something cool at almost any point during the tournament.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not preparing for a full day in the sun with it reflecting off of the water directly at you. Items like sunglasses, cap or hat, a buff, sun block and chap stick are essentials. With today’s fishing clothing, you can even wear long pants and sleeves without burning up.
Tackle/Rods & Reels etc
Always make sure you have the proper tackle for the task at hand. Pre fishing during the allotted times can ensure that you are properly prepared with the tackle that you think you will need that day. Making sure your reels are in good mechanical order and that your line is not old and damaged can help ensure a successful day as well.
A good net is something that you may not use on a regular basis but can be the difference in between landing a key fish and securing a victory and finishing 20th. A net can also determine on whether or not you will get a handful of hooks when you go to lip a fish or not. In a tournament I always use a net on a keeper fish. I just do not see the need to take the chance.
First Aid kit
You may never use it BUT first aid kits are one of those things that you will be glad you have when you do need them. Most times you can stow these out of the way and access them only when you need to.
It is always a good idea to take a change of clothes with you, especially during the winter months. You never know when you may need to get out of cold wet clothes.
A good bug repellant can make a HUGE difference in the comfort level of a tournament. It is especially handy for the overnight tournaments,
Texas Parks and Wildlife requires that all kayaks have a 360 degree light to be displayed from sunset to sunrise when not at dock. Most are LEDs that are pole mounted and battery operated. Additional LED lights can be wired in for safety and visibility.
In most tournaments you will write a code on your hand as well as record your score on to a score card. It is advisable; to use a black sharpie as it shows up very well.
So what do you bring when you fish a tournament? Let us know by commenting below!
Ryan Herzog is a competitive kayak angler and recently shared his Hobie Pro Angler Fish Finder installation on the Austin Kayak Fishing forum. This content has been re-posted with his permission.
I recently picked up a Humminbird 998 with side imaging. The first issue that came to mind was where/how to mount the transducer. I knew because of the side imaging, that the transducer would not work up in the transducer covey that already existed on the Pro Angler. After some thought and seeing how the Mariner guys mounted their transducers off of the back, I figured that would be the best option.
First thing I had to do to install my new Hobie Pro Angler fish finder was to make a small modification on the H-bird metal mounting bracket. I drilled out the middle slot to 1/4 inch so that I could mount a RAM 1″ screwball.
I then mounted one of these to the back hand rail of the PA:
From there, I stole the 3.5″ RAM arm from my existing FF mount and put it all together:
After much deliberation, I decided to have the exit point of the cable on the high point of the back of the boat using the Hobie Thru Hull Wiring Kit to ensure a good seal on the hole. Left a little slack in the cord for adjustments. Once I have it fine tuned out on the water, I’ll seal everything up.
Just an FYI for PA owners. Here is an inside shot (Video) of the boat from the back hatch looking towards the drain plug. You can see the rudder lines and the pully on one side. The back is clear for the most part: