Kayaks - the most versatile boat

In December 2013, I realized that the most versatile boat was not made of metal, wood or fiberglass. No, the most versatile boat was made of plastic (and fiberglass, but mostly plastic).

I started this post because of a recent kayak trip down the Clackamas River in my Hobie Outback. It was the second to last test in determining if I had made the right decision is selling my sled and have my only boats be kayaks.

My boat obsession started with a 12-foot Klamath Fishmaster I picked up for $200. A lifelong fly angler, my fishing exploits changed with the arrival of my son. I knew a different approach was needed and with a limited budget I took a chance with the $200.

I refurbished the boat, sold it, bought another and continued this upgrading process in order to minimize the impact on the household budget. Neither my son, nor my wife, truly enjoyed being in the boats so I made a selfish goal to work my way up to a jet sled. I reached that goal within four years when I got a screaming deal on a 16-foot Ivycraft sled with a 115hp Merc pump and 9.9 hp kicker.

My old Fishmaster
As a fly angler, the sled was the near perfect boat because it could go about anywhere: big rivers, small rivers, lakes and bays. I could fish for salmon, trout, steelhead, crab and sturgeon. The biggest problem was pulling it with my Ford Escape Hybrid.

Although capable, I didn't like using the Escape to pull the boat so I had my fishing buddies pull it. A fair trade - I bought the gas for the boat, they bought the gas for the vehicle. That boat was a joy and I thought I had the perfect boat. Along the way I discovered kayaks and a parallel quest was started. You can read more about the start of that quest in my first blog entry.
My old Ivycraft Sled

In December 2013, I completed the winter steelhead boat test by taking the Hobie Outback down the lower Clackamas River. This little adventure proved that my fishing kayak could now do more that nearly all my other boats combined. I could fish big lakes, small ponds, big rivers, bays, and now small rivers. Of course the Hobie could not power upriver through rapids like my sled, I could pedal upriver and fish holes or runs more that once, unlike my drift boat.

I now had a boat that nearly matched the sled and with one more test, the ocean, the kayak would prove more versatile than my sled. That test is likely to come this summer.

In the meantime, the run down the Clackamas was one of many I expect to do this winter. I still have several ideas to try including using my spey rod while standing up on an anchored Hobie Pro Anger 14. Look for information on that adventure soon.


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