Monday, April 15, 2013

Maiden Voyage of the SS Yet-To-Be-Named

Truth be told, I'm not much of a motorized boat guy. I own one, but for the most part they're noisy, intrusive, expensive, unreliable, complex pains in the ass, especially when all you want to do is get away for a few hours of fishing or duck hunting smaller waters without making everything such a huge, time-consuming production.

Which is why for years I've been wanting one of those specialized fishing and hunting-specific kayaks. They appeal to both my sense of the aesthetic as well as my preferred means of fishing, which is for the most part slow and contemplative rather than fast and frenzied. Nothing appeals to me more than easing along close to the water in blissful solitude and silence, far from the madding crowd.

So when a story assignment requiring a kayak came my way, I used it as an opportunity to get this...

She's a Wilderness Systems Commander 140, and after fishing in her for the first time, I am smitten. Not only is it an absolute blast to fish out of, I cannot wait to get it out on the lake this fall for duck season, if for no other reason than it will allow me to get the hell away from the legions of assholes who, by their mere presence, made this year's waterfowl season so miserable for me. Yes, I am a wholly unsociable person in the field, and no, I make no apologies for it.

As kayak rigging goes, it's fairly conventional: milk crate tackle box with homemade PVC rod holders attached (plus two flush mounts on the side), and an old cooler behind that to store more tackle and various stuff. Up front I have a soft cooler for drinks and ice and a Garmin Echo 550c fishfinder mounted on a tray with two Scotty holders on either side. I rigged up the Garmin to a 12-volt deer feeder battery and I use a suction-cup transducer mount. So far it works like a charm. It paddles and tracks easily, is stable enough for me to stand (albeit tentatively right now) and I can load and unload it by myself and be on the water in just a couple minutes, anywhere at all, quickly, quietly, and with no boat ramp drama whatsoever.

There is, admittedly, a learning curve to paddling, steering and casting from one, but it's a fairly short curve, and this complete kayak newbie was casting and navigating my way around in no time at all. And even catching a few fish...

My first-ever kayak fish, which means in,'yak parlance, that I have now officially "slimed" my new boat. Personally, as christening acts go, I think it beats the hell out of a bottle of champagne.

When the weather warms up and the thought of accidental dunkings no longer elicits chills, I'll start taking Tess out in it to get her (and me) some practice in riding in and retrieving out of a boat. Should be fun...


  1. Chad

    'Well Jel' [envious in Essex speak] I've wanted one for a while.
    please keep us posted when the assignment is published

  2. That's awesome. I can't wait to hear how it handles with your dog in it, as well as how difficult it is to load the dog back in. I'm also curious about what will happen when you shoot heavy duck load out of it. I don't necessarily hope that the recoil causes you to flip, but reading that it had would make my day.