Monday, March 09, 2009

I own a fleet!

OK, a fleet of plastic boats but a fleet nonetheless.

I met Roland from Lakeline Watersports at the shop this afternoon and he kindly installed the extra Scotty rod holder mount I had and also the anchor trolley system I bought from him.

The anchor trolley is something I am really glad to have purchased since it will allow me to face in the direction I want when fishing regardless of which way the water current is flowing. This was always difficult with the old setup I had since I had a pair of cleats in which my anchor line was wrapped so I was sort of limited to the position in the current.

I got home with the new kayak and showed it to the family. My wife likes the brighter yellow of my old kayak. I admit that the golden yellow sort of looks like baby poop yellow color but I still like it.

My son came over and sat in "his" kayak and one of our dogs came over to congratulate him.

I have a fishing trip to Corpus Christi late next week where it will receive a baptism in saltwater and hopefully some speckled trout slime.

I may also take it out this weekend in Lake Travis if the weather cooperates.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A kayak with character and memories

I was out by the shed out back where I keep my kayak trying to figure out how I am going to stow two of them now. While planning out how I would screw two by fours to the wall to stack them, I took a good look at my old kayak. The thing has character.

The bottom of my kayak is a series of scratches. There are a few deeper gouges here and there but otherwise the hull is sound. That polyethylene plastic sure is tough stuff.

Even then, I had to repair the keel a couple of times as it had worn thin from dragging it on concrete, oyster shell, and limestone rock. It looks pretty bad but should be fine for a few more years.

The cockpit has a few blood stains here and there that don't ever seem to come out. The bungee cord is weathered and doesn't stretch much anymore. The hard plastic pieces here and there have cracked and the bungee that holds my seat back has broken.

The interior has algae from where water occasionally still gets in it. The reflective tape on the stern that my cousin added five years ago so he could spotlight the dark to find me at night is barely there.

The rubber cup behind me that holds my C-Light for night fishing is crumbling apart.

I don't think I can count the number of speckled trout I have caught in this boat. Hundreds. Maybe more. Lots of bass, too.

All my kids have paddled in it with me from time to time.

It's been a good boat and I am going to miss paddling that kayak but will try to still get in it from time to time. It is a nice thought to know that my son will be paddling it alongside me sometimes.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Buying a new kayak

My wife went out of town with my son to visit her parents this weekend so I stayed to take care of our two girls. Even so, fishing wouldn't have been possible anyways given the high winds. Instead, I took this opportunity to take a look at some kayaks that I was interested in. In particular, one was the latest 2009 version of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 that I have owned for the past 6+ years. The other was a very similar boat by Native Watercraft called the Manta Ray 12.

The new Tarpon 120 has had many improvements to it. This topic on the forums provides a good review of the '09 models. It describes major upgrades to the hatches, improvements in the seat, gear packets, and paddle holders as well as other improvements. It is a very nice kayak and I got to see a couple of them at REI (I wouldn't purchase it from them but it was the closest place that had them).

The second kayak, the Native Manta Ray, was one that I had been reading about for a while now. It is a boat that a lot of folks really like. It has a comfortable seat, tracks well, well thought out storage options and so on. I wanted to see this one at a shop since it reminded me so much of my own trusty Tarpon 120 except a little nicer.

I wanted to stay with a 12 foot kayak. The 14 foot ones are roomier and tend to track better, are more stable in choppy water and paddle faster but are not the best choice for small rivers. Rather than have one boat for lakes and the bays and another for the rivers, I wanted another general boat like my Tarpon 120 since the Tarpon was going to my son.

I went over to a nearby small kayak shop called Lakeline Watersports and spoke with the owner, Roland, about this model. He was very helpful and he mentioned he had two new 2008 models on closeout at a reduced price. One was red and the other yellow. My current kayak is yellow. I like high visibility colors like orange and yellow as opposed to colors that blend in to their surroundings. I do this so motorboats can spot me easily as well as when part of the kayak is hanging out the bed of my truck, it can also be seen by motorists behind me.

While I would recommend to anyone to paddle a kayak before purchasing it, the Tarpon 120 was already familiar to me and I had read the Manta Ray was very similar to the Tarpon. I did want to try the seat out and after adjusting it, it seemed quite comfortable. So, I pretty much committed to Roland that I would take the Manta Ray and for him to hold it for me. I just need to wait until my wife comes back tomorrow to get a Scotty rod holder mount out of my truck so that he could install it and also rig up an anchor trolley to it and I would pick it up on Monday or Tuesday. The price was just too good to pass up. While the new Tarpon 120 is very nice, I really couldn't justify the $150 to $200 extra cost. With the savings, I decided to order a new Stohlquist Fisherman PFD from REI that should get here next weekend. I'll review it after I get it but it is the type of fishing PFD that I have been looking to get for a long time.

So, I am pretty excited about this new kayak. My current Tarpon 120 will become my son's kayak. He already has a good Stohlquist kayaking PFD and a Carlise paddle that I had as extras for it. I hope it serves him as well as it has served me.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

More news on Fly Fishing the Texas Hill Country

Kevin Hutchison was kind enough to provide me with some additional information including some exciting news about kits that may be coming for tying the flies in the book. Thanks Kevin!

In answer to a few of your questions and statements.

First, I am very proud of the cover art, my Daughter did it. She is a Fine Arts major at North Texas State and she worked hard to achieve the "look" i was going for with the Sunfish. Working from a photo I gave her she did numerous test drawings until we were both happy with the resulting image. The original watercolor is a treasure that I will never let go of.

Second, we will be adding recipes for all the flies on the web site ( in the coming weeks and months. Along with the recipes you will be able to buy kits for each of the flies. Each kit will come with ALL the materials needed AND a DVD showing the fly being tied by one of my staff. I have always hated fly tying kits because they usually don't give you all the materials and they never have good instructions, ours will have both!

Third, I can't take credit for the spiral binding. Bud had the spiral binding on the first and second edition, it was lost, along with any integrity, in the third edition. I wish you could have stayed to hear the history of the book and that third edition. The Priddy and I have very strong feelings about that edition. I'll just say that it took me about seven years to convince the Priddy family that I would put the book back in it's original form and rewrite the content back to a useful form. The third edition was a train wreck...enough said.

Well, I hope that everyone finds the book as useful as you have. Remember, it will only get better if the entire fly fishing community tells me what they want and need the book to be. If there is a mistake or something that needs to be changed just let me know. If I forgot your "special" spot and you want to share that with your fly fishing brothers let me know that to. The book is "organic" and will change over time, that is truly what Bud would have wanted.

Kevin Hutchison