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Bill_Howard

Malibu Kayaks New Ranger 15

Malibu Kayaks  Ranger 15

Malibu Kayaks Ranger 15

I received the Ranger 15 just last week, and it was with great anticipation I might add. I was intrigued with the first glimpses of the kayak and wondered how it would handle. Coming in a single seat (15.1) and tandem model (15.2), its Malibu’s entry into the hybrid kayak market.

Length – 15’

Width – 32” (at middle of kayak)

Height – 15” (from bottom of kayak to top)

Weight – 80 lbs (list weight, didn’t feel that heavy to me)

 

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PADDLING

From the seated position, with the high free board and width, it takes a wider and higher stroke compared to my other Malibu kayaks. It’s a bit wetter from paddle drip and the higher angle of attack with the paddle. It tracked well into all different wind directions; I think a rudder would help. As far as speed, I found it equal to my Stealth 14.

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POLING

I found it very easy to stand up from the seated position, and the stability was good. Having a tunnel hull, your feet are stuck in one position which I didn’t like. I’m more use to my Stealth 14, so I guess it would take some getting used to. While standing the bow is pushed down, and the stern is forced up a little out of the water. This causes the kayak to “Weather Vane” into the wind, making it a handful to keep on a straight course. I found that by deploying my anchor, in the folded up position, this would help keep the stern from swinging around into the wind.

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COCKPIT

The seat attaches to a plastic seat tray, which in turn is connect to adjustable side rails. This tray is bolted into position and would require the proper wrench to make adjustments on the fly. In front of the seat is a support bar, which at first glance you would think would be in the way. This was not the case. In fact it helps with standing, and also gives you a place to rest a fishing pole.

At first I thought this bar should be located behind the seat, and a smaller one located up front towards the bow. This still might be a good idea, giving the hull more stability. The area behind the seat is rather large, but plenty big for a milk crate or cooler. The problem is, there is no way to secure it in place. The area that serves as a rear tank well area, is to far aft for the single version, but reachable in the tandem configuration.

With no paddle holders installed, I had to stow my paddle and push pole down inside the kayak. The side pads are installed a bit too aft, but will be good if the seat was moved back a few inches.

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My overall impression of the Ranger 15 is good. While I don’t think it would be good for long distances over open water, kayak fishing on calm lakes or rivers it would excel. The first thing I would do after purchasing one, would be to practice a deep water self entry. With the high freeboard, it might be difficult to get back in. Some floatation bags under the bow and stern would be a good idea as well. I found it easy to fish out of, as well as getting in and out while out on the flats. A anchor trolley and paddle holders would be my first rigging installs.

All in all, I really look forward to paddling and fishing more out of this kayak.

Boondoggle 2013, Merritt Island Florida

 

Another Kayak Fishing Boondoggle has come and gone, and this one will certainly go down in the record books as a huge success. Sponsored by Yakangler.com and Kayak Fishing Radio, the event saw more than three hundred attendees descend upon KARS Park, located on Merritt Island on Florida’s Space Coast.

Over 300 kayak anglers from Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, and from as far away as California, New Hampshire, and Maine arrived for a weekend of fun, fellowship and fishing that officially ran Feb. 15-18. With a so-so weather forecast, early birds arriving on the 14th were greeted by a light rain all day. The rains on Thursday gave way to high winds on Friday, which gave way to bitter cold on Saturday. The weather certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of those that attended. However, it did slow down the fishing, with very sporadic catches being reported.

The weekend festivities started out Thursday night with a meet and greet at Handler Fishing Supply. The owners opened the store after hours, and Paul Van Reenen of Unfair Lures was on hand to talk about his new line of baits. There was also an impromptu crawfish boil put together by Russ Pylant back at KARS Park. I think the raccoons are just now recovering from what was left over that night.

kayak fishing boondoggle low country boil

The rains subsided on Friday, but the winds were blowing a bit more than anyone would have liked. That didn’t stop folks from getting out and kayak fishing. As early as 5 a.m., you could hear the anxious kayakers rolling out of KARS and hitting the water.

1000 islands

kayak fishing radio host chip gibson

Friday night the KARS Park crew, led by Kristina Bumgarner, hosted everyone for another meet and greet under the main pavilion. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and cold frosty adult beverages were served while everyone caught up with old friends.

boondoggle food

yakangler.com and kayakfishingradio.com owners

the boondoggle crowd gathers

Woody Callaway from Liquidlogic Kayaks and Jim Dolan from Heroes on the Water were on hand to award a Native Watercraft “Manta Ray 14” kayak to the first Native Warrior Program winner. Each year Native will present three veterans a new kayak in recognition of their accomplishments through the Heroes on the Water chapters. Andres Rosa was the very first recipient. Andres started out as a participant with the Jacksonville HOW chapter, and is now helping out as a guide for the chapter.

native watercraft and heroes on the water

Melita Ganoe of the Jacksonville HOW chapter baked her wonderful cupcakes for all to enjoy. Mmmmmmmm…

cupcakes

Saturday dawned bright and clear and a bit cold. With an uncertain wind forecast, anglers were on the water early in hopes of getting in some quality time fishing the No Motor Zone and nearby Mosquito Lagoon. Around noon the winds really picked up out of the west, so most everyone hightailed back to the campground and got ready for the night’s awesome dinner, catered by Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q.

the crowd for bbq

Once everyone had filled up on the great BBQ, it was time for the door prizes. The first 200 folks in line for dinner received a gift bag filled with assorted items from many of the great Boondoggle sponsors. First up for the door prizes were the kids, and man did they make out like bandits.

kids raffle winners

The winner of the kids kayak was Riley, age 6, from Jacksonville. I think she curled up and slept in it that night!

kids main raffle winner

After the little kids were taken care of, it was time for the bigger kids.

raffle one

raffle 2

raffle 3

After the general door prizes were handed out, things got real serious. A heated game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” determined the winner of a brand new Native “Redfish 12”. It was Woody Callaway against the whole Boondoggle crowd. It came down to just two for the kayak, with Brandon Griffis winning out. He then promptly donated his old kayak to a local chapter of HOW.

rock paper scissors

As the evenings activities drew to a close, many Boondogglers retreated back to their campsites to mingle around warm campfires until the wee hours of morning. Between the high winds and a very active NASA Public Address system, we were reminded throughout the night of the various wind and low temperature warnings.

Sunday morning arrived all too early for most, as many were packing up and hitting the road home. The winds were blowing even stronger than on Saturday, so fishing for most was out of the question. A few brave souls managed to hit Haulover Canal, but the waters of KARS Park were completely blown out with whitecaps. Others who didn’t fish just stayed around the park, enjoying the company of new friends.

boondoggle camping

boondoggle rides

Boondoggle 2013 at KARS Park is in the books. It couldn’t have happened without the tremendous efforts of Charles “Redfish Chuck” Levi, Jr. The YakAngler Nation and listeners of Kayak Fishing Radio thank you, Chuck, for your countless hours putting this event together. A big “Thanks” to all the sponsors who stepped up and donated door prizes for Saturday night, and a huge “Thank You” to the staff at KARS Park for putting up with us during the weekend.

SLAYER INC’s Sinister Swim Tail – SST

Slayer Inc's SST - Sinister Swim Tail

I have been a big fan of the whole line of Slayer Inc’s products for a long time. The Jacksonville Florida company produces some of the finest jig heads, weedless jerk bait hooks and assorted spinner baits that I have used. So when I heard that there was some “Top Secret” research and development going up in northern Florida, I couldn’t wait. Through several telephone conversations, I learned just how difficult it was to produce a swim bait lure. Or should I say, just how much passion owner Chris Cenci has for his dream. In his own words, “It had to be just right”. Well Chris, I think you got it right.

L to R - SST, ZMan, DOA, Bass Assassin

Swim Tail comparison

 

 

 

 

 

 Measuring 3 1/8″ long, you can see how it compares to several other popular swim baits. The difference between all them is the SST’s tail. The larger design, almost double the other brands,  along with the angle, which is almost a 90 degree angle to the body gives this swim bait unbelievable action in the water.

Rigged with either a 3/0, 1/8 oz XXX Penetrator Weedless Wide Gap hook or a Predator or Destroyer Jig head in the same size, this lure can be slow trolled back, twitched and let fall or ripped back. which ever your style of retreive, the fish cant resist it.

 

The following videos demonstrate the action rigged in both fashions. (Sorry for the poor quality, I’m a one man show).

Slayer Inc SST – Jig Head

Slayer Inc SST – Weedless Wide Gap Hook

After just a few trips with this lure, I can safely say that Chris has a winner on his hands. I prefer the weedless set up, slow trolled in and around big schools of mullet I have nailed redfish after redfish with the SST in “Gold Finga”.  With many new and exciting colors coming out, look for the Sinister Swim Bait in your local tackle store, or better yet just visit Slayer Inc and order them on-line.

Slayer Inc SST - Gold Finga

 

 

 

 

 

BLADE Magazine

Being sponsored by Malibu Kayaks, I’m often asked to provide them with articles relating to kayak fishing, recently I was asked to provide one for the Kayak Fishing Journal, BLADE. BLADE is a magazine published in Australia and covers the kayak fishing scene there and in New Zeland. It took some time, but my article on Tampa Bay got picked up and published in the very first issue.

Sorry for the crappy photo’s, my scanner is acting up.

Walt with his first beach tarpon.

 

2011 Hook1 Calendar Cover, Big Bend Drum, New X-13 Kayak From Malibu

Well its been a while since I posted anything here, life’s routine has kept me busy.  I was notified today that I got the cover for the 2011 Hook1 calendar.

My son Andrew during a Fathers Day trip.

I had another photo that made the calendar as well. My good friend Dave Robinson fighting a big Black Drum during our trip to the Big Bend.

We recently went back up there in search of tarpon, they were there just not in the numbers we were hoping for. The Black Drum were still there, right where we left them.

These are some random shots from our recent trip back to the Big Bend.

Being sponsored by Malibu Kayaks, I receieved a new X-13 for this year. It’ll make a great addition to the fleet. Here is a review I did for YakAngler.com

These are some random shots from trips gone by in the last few weeks. Enjoy.

I was in need of a new paddle leash not long ago, and fellow Malibu Kayaks Pro Staff member Donald Drabek makes some great leash’s. Check out the review on YakAngler.com

Until next time……………………

Paynes Prairie State Preserve

I had some business in northern Florida today, so on the way back to Tampa I stopped at Paynes Prairie State Preserve.  I got there around mid-day, not the best light to shoot pictures, but I made the most of it.  As I was walking along the boardwalk that borders Lake Wauberg, a lady came up to me and we chatted.  She asked if I had been to the observation tower and had I seen the wild horses? “Wild horses?”  I thought, no way, these had to be some ranchers horses.  So I headed over to the visitor center and observation tower.  Once there I talked with one of the park rangers and sure enough, the park has wild horses that can be traced back to the Spaniards.  There are also wild Bison and cattle, called Cracker Cows.  Now I have seen wild horses out in Nevada, but I thought how cool would it be to see some here in Florida.  She told me this time of year the best chance to see them is to park at the north entrance and take the trail to another tower.  That’s exactly what I did.  And guess what I found?  Wild horses.  Enjoy the pictures.

If you look real close, in the center of the picture you will see the horses.  I wasnt sure at first, so I watched them for a long time, as they moved out you could clearly see they were horses.  I wouldnt even care to guess how far away they were, but it was a very long ways off.

DOA Lures Paddlers Tournament

  DOA Lures Paddlers Tournament

   June 5th, 2010

   Stuart, Florida

My long weekend started very early as I awoke at 3:30 on Thursday morning. After a shower and loading the last few things in the truck, I was off to pick up my fishing partner for the tournament, Norm Hall. I arrived at Norms house right on cue, (5am) loaded up his kayak and we were off. About an hour into the trip as he was talking on the phone, he shouted out “OH CRAP”. My first thought was he saw something coming at us that I didn’t, but then he muttered those dreaded words, “Did we get my fishing poles?” That’s right; we drove and left them behind. Well, it all worked out in the end as Norm called another pal of ours who was coming over to fish with us. Sully hadn’t gotten too far yet, so he swung by Norms place and picked up his poles. What a way to start a tournament weekend.

We arrived around 8am to our first pre-fishing spot, Round Island State Park. I had fished this spot once before, but had not had much success here. Located on the east side of the Indian River, it has many small coves and back water areas, but since the tide was low, we concentrated our efforts out on the flats. The first thing we noticed was the huge amount of mullet everywhere, big schools of them all over the flats. Now back here in Tampa Bay, we fish the schools of mullet as the game fish will follow these schools. But over here on the east coast that’s not a preferred method. So not having any luck, we moved out to one of the many spoil islands on the river. Here my buddy Norm found some small trout.

I hooked up a couple of times, pulled the hook on something that felt pretty nice but for the most part it was very slow for me. We called it a morning around noon and headed off to one of the local beach joints for a burger.

Friday morning came and we were off to another location, DJ Wilcox Preserve. Located on the west side of the Indian River, this was an area we fished last year. Although we didn’t catch much last year, we did see some really nice fish, so we decided to give another try this year. Once on the water, we both noticed how stained and dirty the water was, they had been getting some really heavy rains in the afternoons which I believed led to the dirty water and slow fishing. What a slow day, I didn’t see a single fish all day. Not wanting to burn ourselves out, we headed back in around lunch time and as we got back to the launch I paddled by a rope hanging from a tree. As I pulled on it I noticed that it was a discarded cast next, so I started to retrieve it. Apparently it had gotten caught on something and its owner gave up on retrieving it.

I figured I could use all the good karma I could get.  So after loading up, it was off to lunch, a nap then the Capts meeting. The Capts meeting, where we signed in and received our DOA lures which we had to use the next day, was held at the River Palms Cottages. If you’re ever in that area, I highly recommend them. Right on the Indian River, they have really nice cottages, a great beach with a good pier, they are dog friendly and just good folks. 

So after the meeting wrapped up, we were off. Just in time too as the heavens opened up and it stormed like crazy. We ended up at a place called Chucks Seafood. Located in Fort Pierce, right on the Fort Pierce inlet it has a great view of the water and excellent food.  After we ate, it was back to the hotel to go over our DOA Lure package, which all anglers had to use.

Saturday, Tournament day!!  Up bright and early with a game plan, we headed back to the preserve where we had fished the day before. This time we went straight out to the spoil islands and worked them. I finally found some fish, as my first trout of the morning was around 17”. Not good enough here as 30” trout are very common. But at least I was on fish, so you never know what can happen. I proceeded to catch around 30 more trout over the next few hours and then the bite died off. So making a move, I paddled back across to the flats looking for some redfish. But once again, nothing. I had never seen an area so teaming with activity but lacking in game fish. Switching locations yet again I did hook a bigger trout and as I got it close to the kayak I could tell it might be something worthy of placing. As I slipped the landing net under it, it made one last flip and just like that, it was off the hook and gone. And all too soon, the day was done and we were off to the weigh-in. After a lengthy raffle, which held some surprises of its own (a young man there proposed to his girl friend) the opened up the chow line and we got to eat some good catered BBQ.

Unfortunately none of west coast boys fared well, although we had hopes for our friend Mark Bellotte who landed a really nice 28.5” trout.

And all too soon, it was time to call it a day. On the way back to our villa, we ran into one of those afternoon thunderstorms that Florida is famous for.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, during tournaments I tend to focus more on the fishing and not taking pictures, maybe it should be the other way around. Oh well, we are already making plans to return next year. This tournament is more about getting away and hanging out with some good friends than it is about winning anyway. Until then……….

Big Bend Kayak Report by Bill Howard

Big Bend Kayak Report

5 – 13 to 5 – 16 -2010

Day 1 “Anticipation”

Wow, where do you start when you spend three days in paradise?  I guess you start at the beginning.  My good friend Dave Robinson had planned a camping trip to the Big Bend area for some time, I met him on the road in Crystal River and we formed our two vehicle caravan the rest of the way to our campsite. A couple other friends, Tom and Justin would be joining us later.

Base Camp

So after getting the campsite setup, Dave and I were off.  Less than a mile and thirty minutes from the launch, we were on the fish.  We working a small cove and I spotted this tail pop up. Since I was shooting pictures I called Dave over. For several anxious minutes nothing happened. I just knew Dave was thinking, “This guy is nuts, there’s nothing over here” when all of a sudden I heard his jaw drop.

On the second cast Dave dropped it right in front of the “Big Ugly” and it was on.

The rest of the afternoon it was one tail after another.

Pulled hook!!

We poked around, never really getting out of sight of the launch, looking for the other species on our list, Redfish.

Day 1 comes to an end.

Day 2  “Un-Announced Breakfast Guest’s”

Day 2 dawned and since we were dealing with a low tide, (low tides up here equal not enough water for a kayak) we decided to have some breakfast before heading out. Our buddy Tom had arrived the following night, so we were just getting ready to grub out when our guest’s showed up. Now we had been warned about them before hand, but these guests almost ended up as part of the meal.

After breakfast we arrived at the launch to find someone has stolen all the water. No worries. Hoping Windfinder.com would be right about the winds dying down later, we shoved off.

Finding some relief from the leeside of an island, Dave took the opportunity to break out the fly rod. His goal of taking a redfish on fly was not achieved this trip, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Once the tide had come up, we went back to an area we hit the day before and the reds were there.

Dave with a beautiful multi-spot redfish.

Tom Coffee

All three of us had really good luck with 1/4oz Johnson Silver spoons.  Not too much later our ole friends who we had to come to refer to as the “Big Uglies” showed back up.

Dave set up on one and waited for the perfect opportunity.

Another great day came to an end.

This area is calm country; they farm them just off shore, so we just had to have some for dinner.

Day 3 “Going to School”

Dustin has arrived the night before, so today we would be following him around to a new area. This is Dustin’s home waters and he has the place dialed in. So off the four of us went on a 10 mile paddle in search of more of the same.

The tide was really low as we headed out, once we came back it had come way up and the area looked completely different.

Dustin is one hell of a fly fisherman and he did not disappoint.

He’s pretty handy with a bait caster too. While I was chasing more tailing “Big Uglies”, he was catching them with a spinner bait.

I had no luck what so ever with the black drum, but I did manage a redfish or two. These are really nice fish, they hit hard, are fat as a cow and just don’t quit.

Tom getting in on the redfish action.

Dustin with an absolute pig.

Like all good things, this day came to end way too soon.  Fellows, I enjoyed it. That’s a special place and we will most assuredly go back. null

2nd Annual Jay “JayB” Brewington Paddle-In by Bill Howard

2nd Annual Jay “JayB” Brewington Paddle-In

On Saturday April 24th, Paddle-Fishing.com held the 2nd annual JayB Paddle-In at Fort Desoto Park. Kayak anglers from all over came together to honor our friend who lost his battle with cancer two years ago. Along with his friend John Callahan, they started the hugely successful website where kayak anglers can share their passion for the sport. The site has grown immensely since its humble beginnings and is the host for the longest running kayak tournament series in the state.

But today we came to honor our dear departed friend, Jay Brewington.

Enjoy the pictures from today.

Barb Foster, Jay was her first boyfriend.

Just a sampling of the great food we had.

Barb Foster brought a single yellow rose and asked if someone would toss it upon the waters in memory of Jay. Tom Coffee paddled out to honor his long time friend.

As the day came to a close, we all raised a “Proper” glass to toast our good friend Jay Brewington.

The rest of these pictures are just random images.

Exude – Cigar Mino by Bill Howard

Exude – Cigar Mino

When Sam called to tell me he had some new Exude lures he wanted me to try, to say I was pumped is an understatement. I have been a big fan and die hard Exude user for some time. My personal favorites being the RT Slug. I have caught more redfish using the RT Slug in Arkansas Shad color than I can remember. In the past year I was turned onto the Exude Dart and it has quickly become my new favorite. Using the Gold Dart, I won a tournament sponsored by Paddle-Fishing.com last year and caught some of my personal best fish.

Exudes have always had that slimy feeling when you get them wet and these new lures were no exception. They are made with the same process designed to produce a scent trail while in the water. The new 4” Cigar Mino comes in 17 different colors, with the main feature being the over sized tail. My first thought while looking at that over size tail was this would be like other “swim” baits. I haven’t used those much, but the ones I have used I had great success with. Designed to be retrieved with a steady or stop and go action, the vibration of the oversize tail would provoke a strike. Most swim baits that I have used in the past are shaped quite different, usually very thick in the front and tapering down to the paddle tail. These new Cigar Mino’s are shaped more like other Exude lures, with an extreme oversize tail.

I did have somewhat limited success at first, but I attribute most of that to the fact we were just coming out of one of the worst winters on record. I was catching trout, but the redfish would not hit it, I think to the fast retrieve. At that time they were, and in some cases still are, keyed in on small crabs and shrimp, so chasing down a quick moving lure just wasn’t in the cards. But as the water has started to warm up and more bait is showing up on the flats, the redfish have been a bit more receptive. Casting out in front of this cruising redfish, it turned and quickly chased down the Cigar Mino in “Chicken on a Chain” color.

While the idea of a swim bait is very appealing, I have to say I was just a bit disappointed in the action of this new lure. With that oversize tail I thought you would really feel more action on the retrieve and that was not the case. I gave a few to some friends who also made the same comments. I even trimmed one down to see if it made any difference and the results were the same. However, I would use this lure a bit more in the coming months as the water continues to warm and the fish in our area key in on greenbacks and sardines.

If you haven’t tried any of the saltwater Exudes before, you need to try them.