|My NuCanoe Pursuit is a fishing machine with clean lines and loads of comfort.|
I have been doing this kayak thing for quite a while now. To give you an idea, when I first started fishing from a kayak, I most often was the only one on the water doing so.
That was in 1986. I fished from a kayak while doing articles for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on the subject. I used kayaks from Intracoastal Kayaks in Venice and from Economy Tackle in Sarasota.
|Client Todd Dawson battles a nice fish out of the Frontier.|
I enjoyed it immensely. I love the feeling of freedom and independence that kayaks gave me. I also enjoyed that I could go fishing when I wanted, where I wanted, for which species I wanted and I could fish the way I wanted. I could also fish as long as I wanted and I could leave when I wanted.
As a bonus, I didn't have to stop at a gas station on the way home to fill up the tank for the outboard.
I've been the powerboat route. I had one of the first flats boats in Sarasota, Fla., where I reside. It was a great boat, but it continuously cost me money. If it wasn't one think, it was another.
What I learned many years ago is that I was catching more fish out of the kayak than I did in the powerboat. And that made a whole lot of sense to me. If the fish didn't know I was there, they were easier to catch.
|Vinny Caruso fights a shad on fly on the St. Johns River.|
Granted, I was limited where I could fish. I was only as good as where my paddling arms could take me. But I realized that was a bonus, too. If the fish weren't cooperating where I was, I couldn't simply turn the key and speed off to a hot spot 10 miles away.
I was there for the entire time. So, I got to know each and every spot intimately. I eventually discovered every nook and cranny in every spot I fished.
Take Buttonwood Harbor, for example. Buttonwood is a popular spot located on the west side of Sarasota Bay. It's comprised of nine mangrove islands, grass flats, channels and sand holes. It's about a mile long and half mile wide. Within that area, I have about 60 spots I can fish, depending on the wind, season and weather.
|Standing and poling the flats at dawn in Charlotte Harbor.|
Simply put, fishing from a kayak has made me a better angler.
I co-founded the CCA/Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers annual All-Release Fly Fishing Challenge (along with Capt. Rick Grassett) in 2004. For the first few years, I fished with a buddy out of his powerboat. Six years ago, I decided it was best for me and my business (www.kayakfishingsarasota.com) that I fish out of my kayak.
I've done well. I have won a division of the tournament nine out of the 11 years. I've won the Snook Division five times and Spotted Seatrout Division four times. On three occasions, I've caught more than enough snook and trout to win both divisions. However, tournament rules limit each anglers to winning just one division.
|A.J. Menard fights his first permit.|
I've also caught Slams (snook, trout and redfish) three times. My slams haven't been enough, but I've won a division two of the three times.
You might have surmised that I like to fly fish. Yes. And I do it as often as I can.
Early on in my kayak-fishing career, it was a tough go. Most kayaks aren't designed for fly fishing. There's no place to stow fly rods safely. And most kayaks have plenty of line-snagging equipment and/or accessories scattered over the deck.
Then came NuCanoe. I was introduced to NuCanoe by fly-fishing guru Joe Mahler (www.joemahler.com) of Fort Myers. Mahler is a fly-casting instructor, author, illustrator and world-class fly angler.
A couple of trips with Mahler had me convinced that NuCanoe was the way to go.
When I decided to make the switch, there were just to models: the Classic and Frontier. I opted for three 12-foot Frontiers. The Frontier is a spacious, wide open kayak that arguably is the most stable watercraft of its kind. Standing in the Frontier is no big deal.
|Menard's permit made him smile.|
It's so easy, in fact, that I've had anglers as old as 84 standing while fishing.
I have discussed with NuCanoe owner Blake Young that we need to change the designation of the Frontier from kayak to personal fishing craft.
By any name, it's a winner.
About a year after I joined NuCanoe (www.nucanoe.com), the company came out with the Pursuit, a narrower, longer, sleeker version with similar stability. The boat also features four rod tubes in which you can stow four fly rods safely and out of the way.
That sealed the deal for this fly-fished enthusiast!
The Pursuit also has a spacious, uncluttered cockpit. There's nothing for my fly line to catch on.
Simply put, it's a virtual fly-fishing machine.
I'm a minimalist when it comes to rigging and accessories. But that's the beauty with any of the NuCanoe models. The integrated track system allows you to add as many (or as few) accessories as the want.
For me, it's as few. I added an anchor trolley system to my Pursuit. I also mount a GoPro video camera in the track system. That's about it.
I carry tackle in a milk crate behind my seat. I've added seven rod holders to the milk crate.
I fish all over in my Pursuit. I fish saltwater bays and estuaries. I fish freshwater lakes and streams. I fish from Tampa Bay to The Everglades and points beyond.
And best of all, I always catch fish.
I'm a fishing fool in the best fishing kayak on the market.
I'm a versatile guy, so I need the most versatile fishing kayak available.