Weekend Ride: Wilderness Systems Ride 135 Review by Jeremy Chavez

Let me start off with an introduction. My name is Jeremy Chavez and I am a passionate, i.e. obsessed, kayak fisherman. I reside in southeast Texas. On average I spend 100+ days a year on the water. Most of my fishing is on the coast where battling the elements (wind and tides) is part of the game.

Over the years I’ve paddled nearly every make and model kayak on the market. Some have suited my needs as a kayak fisherman and others not so much. The reasons why become obvious after observing my fishing style, fishing destinations, and body type. All three are very important considerations when choosing the right boat to paddle. I spend most of my time chasing redfish, so naturally I’m a marsh-rat. My domain consists of mud, oysters, and skinny water. I spent two full days in the marsh fishing out the newly remodeled Wilderness Systems Ride 135 a couple of weeks ago and these are my thoughts.

Hull and Layout
What initially intrigued me about this kayak were the design changes from the previous model. The Ride has always been a stable boat and this model is no different. The pontoon-style hull provides excellent stability when seated or standing. I have an average build (5’10” and 190lbs) and have fairly good balance and it was extremely easy and comfortable to stand and fish out of the Ride.

The Ride’s max beam is 31” which aids in its stability. The width is also a slight hindrance when paddling, especially for a guy that has grown accustomed to paddling a Tarpon 160. I would recommend a 240cm paddle when paddling this boat. My 230cm paddle was too short and would occasionally bump the sides, which was an annoyance. A minor change in paddling stroke helped alleviate this issue significantly.

The redesigned hull incorporates a hard side chine which helps the boat track straight even in a stiff wind. One disadvantage of high sides is they catch a lot of wind, which is more noticeable when drifting versus paddling since the boat tracks straight once in motion. The boat was also completely dry with no standing water in the cockpit.

The Freedom Elite seating system with Phase 3 padding and adjustability is extremely comfortable and very easy to adjust on the fly. It’s one of the most comfortable kayak seats I’ve had the pleasure to sit in. You really come to appreciate the comfort of the Ride’s seat after you leave the seat at home and are forced to sit on bare plastic. Take my word for it. The seat has a track built into the boat that allows it to be slid forward and backward. The middle strap located near the center hatch allows the seat to be slid and locked to the desired position.

Another added design feature that I like is the rear keel guard. As mentioned previously I regularly fish harsh, oyster-ridden environments and the keel of my paddle-craft bears the blunt of that abuse. The replaceable keel guard is an awesome design feature that will keep my kayak out of the repair room at my local kayak shop.

Storage
Like its predecessor there is plenty of the storage in the new Ride. The tankwell is huge. I was able to fit a standard milk crate, a large Pelican dry box, a SealLine dry bag, and a small soft-sided cooler and still had room to spare. When seated the seat has to be positioned far enough forward to reach the foot pegs so there is additional storage room behind the seat. Good place to store objects that need to be accessed quickly. The cockpit is also massive with plenty of leg room, which is nice for taller paddlers. The Ride also has interior storage accessed by two hatches: a medium-sized hatch located in the center and a large hatch at the bow.

Paddling and Handling
Despite its length and width the Ride handles quite well. The new Ride handles much like the past model, but does track noticeably straighter. The model I tried didn’t have a rudder; it could definitely use a rudder for maneuverability and control. The Ride has a decent glide after you stop your paddle stroke. It doesn’t glide as well as a Tarpon but I didn’t expect it to. One thing to keep in mind if you frequently fish extremely shallow is the draft on this kayak is about twice that of a kayak with a rounder hull. Due to the pontoon hull the ride needs about 6” of water to float.

Observations
The new Ride will excel with a person of the right body type. It’s not for a small person. It’s heavy for its size, weighing in at 85 lbs. It’s not the easiest kayak to maneuver while transporting to and from the water. Keep in mind the seat needs to positioned in the middle of the boat while paddling otherwise the weight distribution causes the bow to rise and creates plenty of hull slap because of the shape of the hull. There’s tons of storage space on this kayak, so it will be a good kayak for someone planning on taking a bunch of gear or doing overnight camping trips often. This kayak is also a great option if you want to able to stand and fish comfortably.

Jeremy Chavez is a blogger and kayak fishing addict. You can read his musings and view his photography and cinematography work at his blog www.castingtales.com.

Kayak Fishing…Baja Style!

ACK Employee Jerron takes us on an adventure he’ll never forget?

Beautiful mountain range greeting us upon arrival.

It all started back in spring as I met up with fellow kayak angler and Necky Kayaks Team member, Jeff Herman. He simply stated that I needed to pack my bags because we were heading to Baja to go fishing with Jim Sammons. I can only imagine how big my eyes appeared as I immediately thought to myself, “How am I going to explain this to the wife?” Without hesitation, I picked up the phone to call her and to my surprise she quickly responded with a “HELL YES!” Now, mind you, this was in early March and the trip was not even slated until June but from that point on, I was in full gear-up mode.

Hotel Punta Colorada

The days and months slowly crawled by leaving me more and more anxious as the trip of my dreams drew ever so close. As June arrived, we grew concerned about Hurricane Beatrix but she quickly sputtered out giving us a clean window of weather. SCORE! On the morning of the trip, my wife and I loaded the car up and made our way to Bush Intercontinental Airport. Upon arrival I was greeted with odd stares by other travelers. Apparently very few had ever seen an 8-foot rod tube. One lady even asked me if it was a weapon as I made my way to the TSA line. 

Upon arriving in Cabo San Lucas we noticed the mountains surrounding the airport. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. We loaded up into our transfer van, grabbed some cervesas and made our way down to the Hotel Punta Colorada. The drive took about an hour and a half, but the sights were awesome along the way. Upon arriving at the resort we were greeted by Jim Sammons and Sean White (our other guide). We quickly got set up in our rooms and of course it was off to the bar for some refreshments as we discussed our game plan for the next day.

A great catch by my lovely wife!

The morning of our first attempt to go fishing yielded some higher than expected winds, but it did not deter our group from hitting the water. We picked up some bait on the way including sardines and mullet. The action that day was slow, but my wife scored her 2nd kayak caught fish, a silver Pompano.

Shortly after that, birds started to target our baits, so a change of location was necessary. We made our way around Punta Arena to a place where Jim said that big roosters like to hang out. Our group trolled for several hours but still didn’t catch much. Jeff and I made a move with Jim, only to hear over the radio that a member of the other party that stayed behind caught a 35lb Rooster and then another. Unfortunately, our day was almost over so we decided to just head in. The good news is that we were treated with an awesome dinner and discussed our plans for the next day.

Waking up to an amazing sunrise.
My first 40lb+ Rooster!

On day 2, we woke up to an awesome sunrise as we ate our breakfast. Soon after, we were gearing up our kayaks up for launch and made our way to Punta Arena once again. After about 10 minutes of trolling I noticed that my bait was starting to dance all over the place, but I kept paddling like instructed — that is until I heard the line screaming off my reel. I looked behind me to see a massive Roosterfish slam my mullet and slice across the top of the water. I slapped the drag down and held on for dear life. The kayak did a complete about face very quickly and off to a Baja sleigh ride I was! I will be the first to admit, our local sharks and such have nothing on Pez Gallo! These things are absolute freight trains! For every 5 yards of line I gained it would strip off another 50. It was back and forth for a good solid 30 minutes. Soon I had color and then the landing process began. I could only describe these fish to be extremely thick and HEAVY! This one was about 40-50lbs.

Jeff landed this 60lb monster.

Soon after landing my first fish, Jeff’s line takes off and he is off to the races. Mind you, he is fishing in a scupper pro too! The fish had his way with him for about the same amount of time that mine did, weighing in at about 50lbs. Little did Jeff know his next fish would take him to the limit and back, by a much bigger fish. I reeled in and started to follow him for support. For a while there, the fish was pulling him so fast that I could barely keep up. It easily had him cruising between 4-5 mph and finally got to where he could not gain any more muscle on the fish so I stepped in to help him reel it in. Once we landed the fish, we could see why it took so long to get it in. This was easily a 60lb fish. — a pure beast.

Back to trolling and BAM, my bait gets slammed again rendering another titanic fight. From that point on it was fish on for everyone! Of course, all good things come to an end. As the fishing slowed down, we made a move where one angler caught a 25lb Dorado. Another fine dinner and drinks ensued.

Max landed this beautiful striped Marlin.

Next up on day 3, Marlin! We made the necessary gear changes that consisted of 100lb fluorocarbon and 100lb ball bearing swivels along with 10/0 circle hooks so that we could troll Ballyhoo. While in a group, the key to the Marlin process is to form a line and then paddle at the same speed to maintain a virtual wall of bait.  Jim calls this the “wall of death.” Not 10 minutes into our troll, Max (from Quebec) hooks up to a striped Marlin — crazy! We all scrambled to get our baits in and support Max. As the fish pulled Max farther away from our group, Jeff volunteered to keep up with him to assist him with landing the fish. The rest of us reformed the line and continued trolling down the Baja coast. We had several strikes and follows from Marlin and a good run by a Dorado but no hook ups. Later on, we heard that after a long one and a half hour fight, Max finally landed it. Needless to say, Max was spent for the day.

The Wall of Death

On day four, we formed another “wall of death” and began the troll. We trolled, trolled some more, trolled a little bit farther, trolled a wee bit more and did I mention we trolled? After a lengthy trolling session the wind had picked up considerably, so some of us made a move back over to Punta Arena. We were determined to catch something on our final day so we began trolling for roosters again. I quickly hooked up but not with a rooster. Instead I was tussling with a large needlefish! Estimates have this thing between 4-5 feet. As soon as I let the monster go Jeff gets a screaming run and hooks up with his final rooster of the trip. Shortly after, I was rewarded with a nice Jack Crevalle and again, another Rooster.

Goodbye Baja!

This marked the end of our last fishing day in Baja, so I was happy we made the move!

 The meal that night was the best yet with everyone reflecting on the most amazing trip we had all taken.

This by far was the best fishing trip I have ever experienced in my life. Jim and Sean are two of the coolest guys I have ever met, and am proud that I can now call them my friends. I will never forget this trip as long as I live and am already planning for the return trip next year. Billfish or bust!!

Thanks again Jim and Sean, you made this trip more enjoyable than I could ever have imagined. If you ever get a chance, this is an experience of a lifetime and I highly recommend it.

Jerron Wosel
ACK Houston

I Found the Ultimate Offshore Fishing Kayak!

Offshore kayak fishing is my passion but the one aspect that can make this style of fishing difficult is kayak  selection. I have experimented with several kayaks over the years and I had yet to come across the perfect vessel. While I have paddled some decent models for this type of application I have also paddle a few that should never have left the beach.

The good news is that my quest to find the perfect offshore fishing kayak has finally come to an end. A couple of months ago, when Ocean Kayak announced that they were going to import the Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7 all the way from Australia to American shores, I was one of the first to place my order.

If you are not yet familiar with this kayak , the Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7 is collaboration between designers and an international group of dedicated professional kayak anglers. The Ultra is based on the Trident 15 and crafted around the original Prowler hull. The Ultra 4.7 incorporates more volume across the bow which creates a drier ride, moderate rocker to help performance in ocean swells and a more pronounced tail fin to aid in tracking. The kayak measures 15’5”, weighs in at around 77lbs and boasts a carrying capacity of 400lbs.

When my Ultra 4.7 arrived, I was anxious to put her to the test to see how well the offshore Aussie inspired design would suit my style of fishing. Seeing as this kayak was designed for offshore applications, I was particularly excited to get this one off the beach and into the water. Once underway, I was greeted with a 1-2’ chop and could see that the green blue water was within a mile of the beachfront.  I quickly got my Ultra up to speed and came up against the first wave which the kayak easily rode over with no problem. I was impressed because kayaks in excess of 14’ tend to punch through waves, instead of riding over them, requiring the paddler to work twice as hard to not let the surf push you back or possibly over. This was not the case with the Ultra. Instead, due to the flared bow, she easily rode over the waves. Once I made it through the surf I set off to paddle just under a mile to my destination.

Upon arriving at my fishing spot, I set the anchor and prepared my bait. The forward facing front-mounted flush rod holders made it very easy for me to keep my rods within close reach. Not having to reach behind  in choppy seas is something every offshore kayaker will appreciate. I noticed that the seas continued to build with some 4’ rollers mixed into the bunch. Still, the kayak held strong and never felt top heavy or gave me the feeling that I was going to tip. This set the stage for a great day of fishing. Before I knew it my bait was hit with such a force it lead me to believe that I had hooked something fairly large. The fish took off, out to sea, pulling me for quite a distance. After a 45-minute or so fight I finally landed the fish. It was a 5½-foot bull shark. I grabbed the leader to pull the shark over so that I would be able to take a picture and release it when the shark decided to take a massive dive causing a huge explosion of water and waves that violently rocked my kayak — no problem. This was my third major test of stability, and already I was convinced that the Ultra was a rock solid offshore fishing kayak.

I released the shark and the day went on with a few more catches. It was time for me to head back in. I stowed everything away and secured some items below the deck to protect them in case I tipped over during surf re-entry. As I reached the surf zone, I noticed that the waves were now 2-3’ with an occasional 4-footer mixed in, making my return a little trickier. I started to paddle in and suddenly, out of nowhere, a 4’ curling wave was right behind me. Hoping the bow of my Ultra wouldn’t dig into the water ahead of me and sling shot me out of the kayak, I stuck my right paddle blade into the water and braced myself against the oncoming wave. To my surprise, the kayak simply surfed the wave and I successfully rode it into shore.

At the end of this trip I fully expected the Ultra to have some water in the hull due to the conditions but upon inspection I found not one trace of water. The neoprene cover on the bow hatch kept water from entering while the new flip pod hatch in the cockpit kept everything watertight as well. Also, since the kayak has many brass inserts to facilitate installation of accessory items, there is no need to drill ensuring watertight installations.

I am really looking forward to my next trip. The Ultra 4.7 paddled better than I expected, it never showed any signs of instability and it seemed to greet waves with ease. I can honestly say that I think I have found the best-suited kayak for offshore fishing, ending my 3-year search.

For more information about the Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7, click here.

Jerron
ACK-Houston