We’ve seen the future, and it’s electric
Isn’t it time we just say ‘no’ to fossil fuel?
I’m all for “Drill, baby, drill,” but unfortunately the folks in California, Florida and several other oil-rich states don’t share my view. So until they do, we’ll have to seek other means to reduce our dependency.
Puddlers — those of us who fish from kayaks, canoes, and other paddlecraft — are ahead of the curve. Not only are our vessels free of fossil fuel, but the mileage we get transporting our boats atop our vehicles is far better than what we’d get pulling a boat.
For example, take my stinkpot. Yes, I do own a motorboat — a 16-foot bay boat in fact. Haven’t used it much in the last five years. Truth is, I catch more fish — and it’s a lot more fun — doing it from canoe or kayak.
When I do pull a boat, my mileage is about 17 miles per gallon. With any of my yaks or my canoe on top my vehicle, the mileage is roughly 22 to 24 mpg. My Highlander is rated for 25 mpg.
When it comes to fuel and other cost savings, the pros of a paddlecraft must be weighed against the major advantages of a boat: range, seating comfort, multi-person capacity and standup stability.
A canoe built for sport fishing, like my Old Town Guide 147, offers some degree of the advantages of a boat. There’s comfortable seating for two or even three anglers. The front angler can stand up and sightcast to fish. Or the back angler can stand up and pole a flat. But both can’t stand up at the same time — there are limits.
Many canoe owners add a trolling motor to give it added range. It also comes in handy on those 90-degree summer afternoons when the energy of a battery far surpasses the energy left in the body.
My own setup consists of a 30-pound thrust motor and a size U1 AGM battery fitted inside a milk crate.
Size U1 might seem small, but it’s a lot easier to handle than a boat-sized Group 27 battery. And besides, it gives a good four- to five-mile range at full speed. By running at half-throttle, the range is nearly tripled — it’ll just take a lot longer to get to the fishing spots and back.
Unfortunately here’s where Cormier’s 1st Law of Puddling comes into play (“Selecting a paddlecraft is an exercise in compromise”). Most canoes are excellent multi-person craft, but poor single-person craft. Their high freeboards make them very difficult to handle in winds above 20 knots — especially if there’s not enough payload weight for the keel to track.
A kayak, on the other hand, is the better one-person vessel. Its low freeboard makes it wind-resistant and its low width-to-length ratio makes it faster.
But for a yak to have standup stability, it must give up something. Yep, that dastardly First Law again. It must either be quite wide (and slower), or have a specialized hull (less tracking), or use sponsons (less maneuverability).
Still, in the last couple years, most flyrodders on the Gulf Coast have trended toward standup kayaks. The strong sales of newer models with high standup stability, such as the Diablo Adios, Jackson Coosa, Wilderness Systems Commander, Kajun Custom, Hobie Pro Angler and the Freedom Hawk 12, along with traditional favorites like the Cobra Fish-n-Dive, Native Ultimate and Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler, are testimony to the growing popularity of standup fishing.
To overcome the lack of speed that a wider yak suffers from, a growing number of folks are augmenting them with trolling motors.
One do-it-yourself option that is popular is to have a side-mount bracket bolted onto a milk crate that holds the battery, and securing the crate with anchored straps.
Adding a side-mount motor to a heavy canoe (70 pounds or more) works because the canoe’s width and weight provide sufficient counterbalance to avoid boat tilt. To prevent yak tilt, the trolling motor bracket on the crate should extend an equal length on both sides and have a counterweight on the side opposite where the motor will attach.
Rear-mounted motors are the better solution. The Louisiana-made Kajun Custom Kayak offers an optional rear mount.
Perhaps the most popular motor option for kayaks these days comes from BassYaks (bassyaks.com). They make over 60 kayak-specific rear-mounting kits, including for standup models like the Commander, the Adios, the Big Game and soon for the Coosa. The motor can be quickly detached from the mount. It can be raised or lowered from the seat, direction is controlled by foot pedals and power is controlled by a side throttle. Typical cost is $500, and includes motor and controls.
Then there’s the Torqeedo. It’s not for everyone. The cost is $1,700.
Having said that, the Torqeedo may be the greatest thing to hit kayak fishing since the Cajun Anchor. The motor and battery together weigh a mere 15 pounds!
What you’re paying for is the integrated Lithium-Manganese (LIMA) battery — technology so advanced it’s just reaching the consumer market in other applications. LIMA batteries have twice the energy density of Nickel-Metal Hydride and three times that of lead-acid. They also have only a 4 percent loss of capacity per year.
Recently, Pack and Paddle in Lafayette sponsored a “Paddle Demo Day” on Lake Martin near Breaux Bridge. One of the boats for demo, a Diablo Adios kayak fitted with a Torqeedo, was tested continually for several hours. Even run mostly at full speed (5 knots), it showed no sign of “fatigue” at the end of the day.
According to Torqeedo’s technical data, the range for a 13-foot kayak cruising at 4 knots is about 11 miles. If that’s not enough for you, they do make a larger electric outboard that uses standard lead-acid batteries, and has a range of 89 miles!
Who would need a range of 80 miles or more? The kayaker who hooks a 40-pound bull red in the surf and it pulls him halfway to Cuba — that’s who! n
With April being one of the best months for flyfishing in Louisiana, the dilemma is whether to go fresh or salt.
Freshwater anglers will have no trouble finding bream. Submergent beadhead flies like the Cap Spider, Jitterbee and Fluff Butt fished 2 to 3 feet under a small perch float are an ideal setup for bedding fish.
When the fish are deeper, as most redears are, try a beadchain or weighted-eye fly like the Black Boudreaux or Tussel Bug. The use of a long leader, possibly of fluorocarbon, helps to keep the fly near the bottom.
Streamer flies will come in handy for the runs of white bass below dams on the Red River.
On the coast, a flood of small shrimp and crabs should be entering grass-filled ponds, with reds and drum right behind them. When you encounter such a pond, look for the backs to pop out. Target these fish with weedless patterns like the Prince of Tides bendback or a weedless Gurgler.
Big specks will be active later this month in the surf. Try poppers size 1/0 or larger to get their attention.
• Fly Fishing 101 clinic. April 9, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. LDWF Outdoors Education Center in Baton Rouge. Conducted by the Red Stick Fly Fishers. Instruction on casting, knots, leaders, fly tying. Cost $25. Limit 40 persons, pre-registration required. Go to www.rsff.org for details.
• Beginners Casting Workshop. April 16. The Camp Fly Fishing School in Breaux Bridge. Emphasis on casting mechanics, accuracy and distance, taught by FFF Master Certified Instructors. Cost $135 includes lunch. For details, go to www.thecampflyfishingschool.com.
• Caddo Conclave II. April 30. Caddo Lake State Park, Karnack, Texas. Seminars, fly-tying demos, casting demos, kayak and canoe demos, and more. Cost $10. For details, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.
• Federation of Fly Fishers Gulf Coast Expo. May 6-7. Crowne Plaza Riverwalk Hotel, San Antonio, Texas. Programs, workshops, fly-tying demos, product vendors, CCI certification, youth activities, and more. For details, go to www.gulfcoastfff.org.
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Fished the Michoud Substation ICWW at hot water canal Friday. Let me start by saying WOW!!! BIG Trout every few cast. It...
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Capt. Bob fishes out of Leeville Louisiana for Trout and Redfish and also works the coast for those big sow Trout and Bull Redfish. He also does Snapper trips along the coast and will resume offshore bluwater trips in the near future. Rates are flexible.
WORLD CLASS SPORT FISHING! for Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Tripletail & much more "Cajun style" out of Slidell, LA and Bay St. Louis, MS.