The view from my office never gets old!
So often we talk and write about the destination…but frequently the journey to the fishing grounds is the true story. Don’t believe me? Well, then just think for a moment on all the stuff you’ve done in your life to get to the fish: Some of it was probably not exactly what you’d call safe. Some was physically grueling and some of it was straight up fun.
This is a tribute to the journey: To all the rapids run and river crossings that were just at the top of your waders. To the miles hiked and rough water poundings. To the brilliant sunsets, calm waters and the epic adventures that make this sport so awesome. This is a tribute to Getting There.
Is there anything better than blazing across glassy water at dawn? The anticipation of what the day holds is almost too much to stand, so you slam the throttle all the way open so you can get there just a bit faster. Unfortunately, these beautiful quiet moments are usually forgotten as soon as you get to where you are going and the lines are in…well, until the next morning anyway.
Perhaps more than any other method of transportation, small inflatables enhance “the journey is the adventure” concept. Man, some of the things we’ve done in these things would give the manufactures’ legal teams nightmares if they only knew. But what fun! And in some spots, personal rafts and pontoons are the only way to get there.
Alaskan backcountry jet boating in a little jonboat that could run on a wet lawn is one of my favorite things to do on this planet. Arm yourself with couple rods, a shotgun, a shovel and a chainsaw and go find the source of some creek. The “getting there” part is guaranteed to be more fun than the actual fishing!
Sometimes getting back is all you can think about. Maybe the dreaded north wind blew 35 freezing knots all day, the fish didn’t bite and now you have to beat your way right into the teeth of it to get home. It’s funny how it always seems that, after one of those long, cold, wet rides home you pull into the harbor and the wind lies
down and you think “well, that wasn’t so bad.” And that’s exactly how you end up back out on the water the very next day.
It’s something most sane people wouldn’t understand…but the allure of catching chrome far outweighs the risk of encountering something that’s higher up the food chain. Never mind that steaming pile of droppings in the middle of the path and the still flopping salmon missing its belly on the bank…there probably aren’t any grizzlies around here…right? Here, the journey involves some edgy nerves and, often, a heavily pounding heart.
We all have those “I’m lucky I made it through that” moments and several of mine had to do with crossing raging rivers in chest waders and praying my next step out in the middle of the channel actually hits tierra firma before I fill up and get sucked down the deadly rapids below. And then there were those brutal hikes through the snow with felt soles…if you’ve done it you know what I’m talking about! Hiking and waders isn’t a great combination…but it usually means I’m headed somewhere cool.
I’ve been on some float trips in which the portages outnumbered the fish. It’s funny how those trips seem so brutal when you’re there…but often become the most fondly remembered adventures after some time passes and the memory of the pain fades… “There we were, dragging the boat around anything Mother Nature threw at us…we couldn’t be stopped.”
The journey is truly a thrill when you find a secret honey hole that takes a little creative driving to get to.
The Kiwis know how to have some balls to the wall fun in a jetboat! But before you get any wild ideas, West Coasters…remember these guys have a lot more remote places to do this than we do!
Kevin and I having more fun getting to the fish than actually catching them!
I just got back from the ICAST show in Vegas (insert debauchery themed joke here), where the top names in the fishing industry gather to show off their product lines.
This is where manufactures also introduce their new products to the world. Talk about a kid in a candy store! The main thought that kept running through my head: I want that, and that, and that…and two of those…
Over the course of the next week, I’ll show you some of the coolest things I saw at the show (which is closed to the general public).
To start with, here’s my Top 5 watercraft from ICAST:
Inflatable Drift Boat
NRS recently came out with the boat I’ve been dreaming of for a long time: The inflatable drift boat! Talk about the best of both worlds! The Clearwater Drifter gives you all the room, storage, high freeboard and rowability of a hard drift boat, combined with the worry-free piece of mind that a raft affords.
Rocks and shallows pose no threat to the durable drop-stitched construction and running big water is a much safer proposition because the boat is self-bailing and unsinkable.
The hull material pumps up so tight that it feels like a hard-sided vessel and the internal frame can be customized to suit any style of fishing you want to do.
The hard transom can accommodate up to a 10HP outboard, so the Clearwater Drifter’s got you covered in several types of situations. The boat comes in two models: 17 and 14 feet.
To read more, visit www.nrsweb.com
The Ultimate, Do-Anything Skiff
I’ve long been intrigued by Hog Island Boat Works’ roto-molded, high density polyethylene drift boats which are virtually bulletproof (on YouTube, you can find owner John St.John blasting the side of one with a .12 gauge). Unsinkable, quiet and constructed with no welds, seams or joints, you can put these things through hell and back. They’re also super easy to repair and never need painting.
Well, now Hog Island has put that same technology into a 16-foot shallow water skiff that can, thanks to a plug and play interior, be anything you want to to be from a lake troller to a flats boat. Of course, my devious little mind thinks it would be the ultimate little jet sled, capable of doing thing mortal boats can’t.
The boat can handle up to a 40 HP motor and, add some oars and oar locks and you have one super sweet little “power drifter.”
Here’s a cross-section of what the roto-molded foam “ice-cream sandwich” hill material looks like…
For more info, check out: www.hogislandboatworks.com
Inflatable Fishing SUP
Unless you’ve been residing someplace other than Planet Earth over the past few years, you’re well aware of the explosion of SUP’ing — Stand-Up Paddle Boarding. Well, as things often do the sport has evolved and now folks are fishing off their SUPs. That’s where the Creek Company’s new Osprey SUP comes in. They designed the boat to be wider and more stable than a traditional SUP, so standing up and casting is no problem. The boat is also inflatable, so you can easily pack it on a plane or in the trunk of your car, making it perhaps the most versatile personal fishing device around. Lakes, bay, rivers, ocean…
The Osprey also has lots of fishing-minded features like bungee tie-downs for gear, special pads that accommodate Scotty rod holders, a place to lash down a cooler that can also act as a seat (cooler sold separately) and a removable foot brace.
Oh the places you can go with one of these babies! See more at: www.creekcompany.com
Frameless 1-Person Pontoon
Okay, so frameless pontoon boats aren’t exactly new, but I’ve never seen a more impressive, built-to-last model than Outcast Sporting Gear’s new FishCast Stealth Pro. The boat weighs a mere 35 pounds and fully inflates in just minutes. With no frame to assemble, you’re on the water in no time. Plus, it packs up into a luggage-sized bag so you can take the Stealth Pro wherever you want.
In addition, there are saddle bags to throw your gear into and integrated pads that allow you to mount Scotty rod holders and accessories.
The Stealth Pro is 8 feet long, has a generous carrying capacity of 400 pounds and is constructed of tough PVC surrounding durable vinyl bladders. It comes with a 5-year warranty.
Read more about it: http://www.outcastboats.com
The SUP-Yak Hybrid
I love it when somebody takes boat design to the next level and that’s exactly what the folks at Diablo Paddlesports has done with their new lineup of Stand-Up Paddle Kayaks! You get the stand up and fish ability that a SUP affords, combined with the nimble paddleability of a kayak.
The boats come with ‘yak-style accouterments like dry & wet storage, comfy seat and plenty of room to stow gear and mount accessories and feature a try-hull bottom design that makes them super stable and able to handle shallow water.
To lear more about these slick rigs:
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