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 sea 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.