Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 Merritt Island Boondoggle

The lowcountry of South Carolina was represented at the 2014 Merritt Island Florida Boondoggle this past weekend.  The "Boondoggle" has become a popular gathering among the kayak fishing crowd.  It is not a tournament - just a chance to get together with other kayak anglers, camp, socialize, and fish (of course).  This was my fifth Boondoggle.

I decided to make the 6-hour drive after I got off work at three on Thursday afternoon.  Some minor detours plus Jacksonville traffic saw me get up there around 10:30 that evening.  Sleep was tough that night - the mosquitoes and no-see-ums wouldn't have it any other way.

Despite the lack of sleep, we set-off that morning to fish at Port Canaveral.  I loved this launch, as there was a tackle shop right there at the launch - plus they had bathrooms.

I caught some small fish along the northern-most jetty.  Greg caught a redfish.  Darrell was able to slime his new was a fun day on the water.  The day was cut short when the Coast Guard came out, to clear the inlet for a departing submarine - so we headed to the landing.

Saturday would be Mosquito Lagoon.  I had last fished here back in February of 2013, so I was looking forward to trying it out in an October, with warmer water and hopefully more fish.

This was my first snook ever - I was happy to see him on the line!

Sunday brought us to the Thousand Islands in Cocoa.

This was the only trout I caught during the whole trip, and it was a small one.  Florida boasts big trout, but I have been unable to catch them during my trips here.

This was the big fish of the weekend.  I was working plastics along the edges of the mangroves and was able to coax this one out to play.  It had a lot of spots - a beauty!

The Boondoggle is in the books - but the memories remain!  For more information about future Boondoggles, visit

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cheap Tunes on Your Kayak

I see all the gear-junkies rigging their kayaks up with these fancy bluetooth speaker systems that play music off their phones or mp3 players.  One rig I saw recently had speaker ports actually cut into the kayak with expensive waterproof speakers mounted...that was hardcore - and expensive.

Here is an option for those wanting something simple and affordable: a water-resistant shower radio.

Shower Tunes by Brookstone
This 'Shower Tunes' AM/FM radio, made by Brookstone, runs off of 4-AAA batteries, is lightweight and water-resistant, and has a handy hook for hanging on a shower-head, or a rod holder, milk crate, kayak handle, etc.!

Flounder pic - see the shower radio hanging on the right-side?
Sheepshead - a hard-fighting fish...the fight is made even better while listening to music!
I like listening to the radio while pedaling my Hobie Outback from spot to spot.  Sometimes it breaks up the monotony of a day when the fish just aren't cooperating.  This wonderful device cost me the unbelievable low price of $19.99 at my local store.

How does it sound?  You would imagine a single-speaker system to be rather cheap-sounding, but I found it to have a nice upper-mid range sound to it.

It is water-resistant, and I got to test this on a few trips where I had spray hitting the kayak during a channel-crossing, and had the radio setting up-front getting hit with water.  It is still alive!

Pros: Inexpensive, batteries last over multiple trips, water-resistant, has built-in hook for hanging on your kayak, decent sound.  Cons: No gear-junkie features like bluetooth or mp3 compatibility, no big-bass sound.

Final Verdict:

You won't be thumping big-bass sounds down the creek with this radio, but the price gets my vote!  Give it a shot...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

2015 Hobie Outback - Preview

Today, I'd like to talk about the 2015 Hobie Outback, and the things that will make this rig a winner.

The Hobie Outback has remained relatively unchanged over the years.  They've made tweaks here and there - but for 2015, Hobie has made some big changes.
The Old Outback
I have a Papaya Outback like the one in the pic above.  What did I like about this kayak?  Where do I begin?  It is stable, maneuverable, and has a MirageDrive.  The sides have the tray storage - handy for fishing pliers and collecting hooks and old lures.  I could stand in it, if conditions were right.

Dislikes?  The seat, the seat, and the seat.  Did I mention the seat?

The stock seat was definitely in need of an upgrade.  As a Hobie team member, I would get asked occasionally about changes to the seat.  My intel said they had something in the works, but I never knew when it would hit the market.

So it was with surprise and delight that I saw the pics on Facebook and the interwebs.  Hobie revealed the changes to the seat and hulls of several models, including the Outback, for 2015.  Hallelujah!!
2015 Outback with Vantage CT seat
First thing you see is the updated seat.  It is called the Vantage CT seat.  Dropped down low, it has the same level as the stock seats, but this one can adjust higher, as well as a "Vantage" position that takes the Outback's seat to new heights.

Gone are the old drains under the seat, that you had to screw shut.  They replaced it with a pull-cord activated drain system.

Also, the cockpit forward of the seat got some changes.  New handles, a flatter area that should be more-friendly to standing, and gone is the MirageDrive 'pond' around the drive-well.  They raised the floor up, so water should remain below floor-level.  There are mesh pouches on both sides, versus the single one on the floor found in previous models.
Overhead view of the Cockpit - 2015 Hobie Outback
Also changed - the MirageDrive.  Gone are the black, short and stubby fins.  2015 Mirage kayaks come with the ST Turbo fins, standard - in blue no less.  Also the MirageDrive has internal changes, with a type of integrated bearing system that makes them reportedly more efficient to pedal.

Random Thoughts

-The term 'game-changer' is overused in the kayak fishing industry.  I would like to think that the Vantage CT on this rig will make a 'big impact' on the market, especially for those that don't have a Pro Angler-sized budget, but want a better seat than the old Outbacks provided.

-Judging by the reaction to this reveal on social media, there are a lot of pre-2015 Outbacks hitting the used market now.  Folks wanting to get into a used Hobie kayak, this is your chance to snatch-up a good deal on a used Outback.

-I had put another seat on my Hobie Outback, with favorable results.  Can't wait to try an actual Hobie seat made for this platform!  Should be rock-solid and very stable, even in the highest position.

Watch for these new Outbacks hitting a body of water near you - soon.  For more information about the 2015 Hobie Outback, as well as changes and updates to other Mirage-driven models, visit Hobie Kayak Fishing's website.