Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 30, 2011
Seward, AK  Cohos from a Yak.

So I make an executive decision to head to Seward on Saturday.  Launch from the South Beach near Miller's Landing.

I get three strikes and land one silver before I get to Tonsina Creek.  I should of followed the first rule of fishing which is:  Never leave fish to find fish.  But the silvers aren't supposed to be this close in and EVERYONE knows the fishing is better away from port.  WRONGO.  I spend the next three hours landing one more silver.  Caught a few cod and rock fish and I begin to paddle back.  About where I hit the first fish I consistently hit fish. Next 2 hours I hook maybe 30 fish and land 10 silvers!

About half came while power mooching.  Could not have done that with my mini-x.

Stopped by Liquid Adventures and said hi to Chris.  Great guy.

Not a very good video but hopefully you get the idea.  I need to clean my LENS!!!!  I didn't think about it with the nice day but forgot about all the water the fish throw into the air!  Oh well.  Next time if I get in to fishing anywhere near this good, I want to try the underwater camera.  Dang!  I need to get my act together!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Initial Review of the Hobie Outback Kayak.

So now I have had the opportunity to take the Hobie Outback out three times.  Once each out of Whittier, Seward, and the Kenai River.

All I can say is "WOW!" 9.5 out of 10!

Keep in mind my the Kayak I upgraded from was a Malibu mini-X.  The Mini-X was/is a GREAT kayak.  I love the lightweight, tough, stable kayak.  But it just did not have the range to effectively and more importantly fish the waters where I wanted to fish safely.  No longer am I limited to a one mile of launch fearing currents and wind.

Before this sounds too much like a commercial and not a review, we'll start with the negatives.

1) The first is the price.  Mine was $2,300 to ship it up here to Alaska with the ST Turbo fin and Sailing Rudder upgrade.  My mini-x I bought on Craigslist for $400.  I got it through Alaska Raft and Kayak who in turn orders it from Hobie Cat Northwest out of Seattle.  But Mark at Alaska Raft and Kayak said he'd take care of me and any warranty issues so I opted to go through them.  Basically it's what you'd pay for a Hobie in Seattle plus $300 bucks for shipping.

2) The weight.  At 60 pounds, its 22 pounds heavier than my mini-x.  I can already tell that over the course of the year, I WILL get lazy and will take one or two fewer trips because of the extra weight hassle. It's a LOT harder to load onto the car when i go out by myself 

3) A LOT more stuff that can break or get in the way.  The mirage drive in my eyes effectively cuts the front area in half for things like strapping on a 75 pound halibut.  The mirage drive and the rudder are two more things to worry about whether it be while landing or fighting a fish.  In my third trip out, I bent the mast of my turbo fins.  Fortunately one of the pros is it was easily fixed.  Also you better hope your rudder doesn't break.  That mirage drive was impossible without it...almost took hitting a sweeper to realize that rudder must be in water before it works...kinda like tires need to be on the ground.  But the yak will NOT go straight without some kind of rudder like a paddle.  Duh....

4) Not as many places to mount things...I think.  The mirage drive takes away the nice center space, I don't have racks on my car so I don't want anything like a ram ball extending past the flat plane.  I guess maybe I should just buy racks.

5) Plastic seems MUCH softer than my mini-x.  I've got a few nice gouges and dings already.  Maybe I am just sensitive from looking at my first brand new kayak.

6) I still haven't gotten my seat adjusted to where it is anywhere near as comfortable as my mini-x seat. But I think I still need to tinker with this some more.

Okay that probably covers the cons, most of the functionality issues are very minor.



Maybe that's all I need to say?  Okay, let's try this again.

1b) Mirage Drive:  If you are thinking about seriously fishing any flowing waters whether it be ocean current or river, the Mirage Drive is an unfair advantage.  To be able to propel and drive the boat with rod in hand is an advantage that just cannot be made up by the standard paddlers.  When I was trolling with paddles,  I would say that maybe one in five drops, my gear was tangled because I would either have to cast/drift while deploying and then begin to move.  If I judged the current or wind wrong, the result was I was pulling tangled gear.  Never happens with the mirage drive because I am moving while deploying which is not only much faster but doesn't tangle.

How can you stay over a small pinnacle or other structure with current if you hands were busy paddling.  You might get one brief drift while the mirage drive can hold me consistently over that structure.  The mirage drive alone strapped to a cardboard box would be almost as good as a standard paddle kayak in many situations.  It is really that good in terms of fishing effectiveness in my opinion.

2) Stability.  The Outback is designed such that it feels like you are sitting inside the kayak versus sitting on top of it like it did on my mini-x.  Although I haven't tried it, it almost seems like it would be impossible under normal conditions to tip the outback as long as you were seated and you did not lean your body over the edge.  Much more initial stability.  No fears swinging my legs to dangle over the side even the the sides seem much higher.  I always hesitated on my mini-x.  I bought the outback over the revolution for the stability.  I definitely got it.  But it is so dang stable, I am almost thinking I should have gone with the revolution...nah, I'll probably just get an adventure in a year or two.  lol.

3) Cruising speed.  Not necessarily top end speed but the ease of maintaining a cruising speed.  A very slow cadence.  Often I'd get tired fairly quick and I'd think to myself that if every peddle cycle was like a paddle stroke, my arms would look like a comic book character imitating a windmill.  So I slow down and it cruises just fine.  100% more effort only seems to yield 33% more speed anyways.  I haven't gone out with anyone so i will be interested in seeing if I can at least keep up.  Well all I know is it will keep up with anything a LOT better than my mini-x.

4) Control- With the sailing rudder and turbo fin upgrade, holding or slowly backing down in a nice straight line on the Kenai River was easily accomplished.  Even in the fastest sections I had no problem maintaining what I thought was a fish catching speed down river.  The one thing I should have tried was to reverse the drive so I could face downstream as I backtrolled.  But being the first time out on a river ever in any kayak, I opted for familiarity.  But I could see swapping it every drift which is probably only once every 15 to 30 minutes.  I wonder how the rudder will work if it at the front of the kayak?

5) Fish control - I can't say I have first hand experience but it HAS to be the case.  Imagine sitting in Beaver Hole and the fish tears downstream?  With the mirage drive I can peddle upstream and still fight the fish.  I MIGHT be able to coax the fish back upstream.  Turning the corner at Beaver Hole means taking out 10 miles downstream at the bsuiest dock in Alaska during the last two weeks of July. I guess with a paddle yak, you could stick it in a rod holder, paddle like crazy and hope to god the fish is still on but I can't imagine having to do that with a fish of a life time.  Even if the fish doesn't tear downstream, if you are fighting the fish, you have no choice but to drift downstream with a paddle yak.  How you would deal with a monster Kenai king which tend to run upstream.  How are you going to control that with a paddle yak?  I guess tighten the drag and go for a RIDE!  Nothing wrong with that...but being able to chase down the fish while fighting it on the rod and reel seems like a MUCH more effective method of landing that fish.

I am sure that as I use it more, I will have more to report. I give it a 9.5 out of 10.  Not perfect due to the price and weight mainly.  The other issue that concerns me a little bit but seems to ne okay is the reliability of the mirage drive.  I guess only time will tell for that, though other erviews seem to indicate they are very durable drives.
Non Motorized Monday on the Kenai River - July 25, 2011

Mark Colett and Jammer, and I launch out of Stewart's Landing at around 9am.  On the way down, we stop by a bank and fish some reds.  I get lucky and limit out at the first stop.  I am using my new hobie Outback peddle drive so I try some backtrolling.  My first attempt was with a K-16 Kwikfish and a diver.  

The mirage drive worked great.  In the fastest section I could hold if I worked hard, but at a very sustainable cadence, I could back up at a nice slow pace.  It was interesting that no matter how slow the water was, it seemed like a lot of effort to move upstream. You could do it, but it was work.  But on the flip side, no matter how fast the current was, it seemed fairly easy to maintain a good back drifting speed.

On a small high tide at Beaver hole, I had no problems moving back up the hole.  In fact I had enough control of the kayak that the last hour I used 10 oz of lead and bottom bounced a K-16 kwikfish.  I should have used a lot lighter weight but the heavier weight wasn't a problem and it kept the lure near the yak and working.

I did manage to hook a fish at the top of crossover hole.  Got the rod out of the holder, took one run, and it was off,  DANG!  As soon as it came off a rosey 30 pounder surfaced to mock me.  ARGH.  Well it can be done.  Keep in mind this Monday was the first no bait restricted day, so I was probably lucky to get the hit.  I didn't see a single net or a single rod out of the water though I heard several folks say they caught fish.  the boat wake is no problem at all.  A good anchor system is in order for the non motorized day.  I think with a few more runs, i would have the confidence to run it during a normal motorized day as long as it was late in the evening after most of the crowd had thinned out.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Real Fish from my Outback!

Ok, so last week I jigged up a few herring and undersize rockfish.  That doesn't count.  So I launch out of Seward near Miller's landing and make it almost to Caines Head.  I manage to pick up my first coho of the year and the christening real fish for my new outback!  WOOHOO!

Caught it on 5.0 coyote spoon right off Tonsina Creek.  I had one other one on but lost it at the same place but when I was headed back in.  I thought I might hook a chum but I am pretty sure the fish I lost was a coho by the way it fought. This outback sure is worth its money when it comes to trolling and letting out flashers and such without tangling.

I spent about half the day jigging with not much to show for it.  I did manage a small greenling I was going to send down for bait and then realized I should at least measure it and get points.

The wind and rain pick up and it gets cold so I decide to call it a day.  the outback definitely gives me WAY more range!!!  Too cool.  After spending the first half of the summer getting my upper body in shape, now I need to get my legs in shape.  After I stopped for a bit, i started to cramp up and a tinge of panic as I was thinking I didn't want to paddle all the way back.  Nothing some fluids and a snickers bar couldn't take care of though!

Monday, July 18, 2011

So this weekend the insanity began on the Kenai River.  To make it more stressful, I had my (ex) father in law in town from Japan.  So no kayaking, but I did get a good look and secure a potential private launch/retrieval area on the river.

First I am on a King Charter with Hi Lo charters.  Fished with Guide Albert Kutzkey who allso fishes Norther California when not in Alaska.  He just did a super job.  We go four for four on Kings.  A 40, 30, 30, 20 in a half days fishing.  Just awesome!

So now its time to go get my reds.  Martin and Sean had HAMMERED them the day before while I was King fishing.  Boated over 200 reds they did!  We start off slow but in 55 minutes we net 50 or so sockeyes to round out our tags!  Here's a 10X sped up video!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Congratulations Aaron and Adrienne!  The A-team decides to renew their vows on their tenth anniversary on board a boat in front of Blackstone Glacier near Whittier, AK.

Well I got invited and of course I HAD to go.  Besides, they are going to renew vows where I know there are fish?  Heck ya!

So Saturday morning, Martin and Sean drop me off as they go check their shrimp pots at 10am.  The wedding isn't till 2pm so I have 4 hours to fish!  The fishing wasn't hot but I did manage 6 or 7 rockfish with one of them a super nice 24 inch yelloweye for the area.

Saw at least a dozen whales.  One group got so close that I could smell their "breath",,,ughh...nasty.

Martin comes and picks me up and off to the wedding!  With the number of people on the boat, I launched my kayak and watched the ceremonies from my yak! 


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Halibut and Ling Cod charter with The Fish House in Seward.

What a great day.  Ran out towards Latouche Island and just hammered ling cod and halibut all day long.  Nothing huge...maybe 40 pounds for the halibut.  I have no idea how big the ling cod were. But great limits of fish!  90 pounds of fillets for the two of us!

We used 16oz leadhead jigs with white powerbait curly tails and 3lbs of weight and circle hooks with herring and a few rods with big salmon heads.

Weather was not so good early but by the time we really started fishing, the sun was out and the fish were biting!

As a side note, we ran into a BUNCH of silvers.  They were hitting our 16oz lead head jigs and our halibut sized herring bait.  Tough to hook.  I hooked several but lost them all.  No biggie.

We were on the boat "Servant"  captained by Trent.  He and his deckhand did a great job and got us onto some super hot fishing.  We had a BLAST!