While we do occasionally fish from kayaks around Steinhatchee, it’s not something we do frequently. The team representing Hobie kayaks, from California and Florida, took a number of us kayaking on my last day in Stuart.It was a beautiful morning and we had breakfast at the tiki hut prior to leaving.
Organized as always by Jerry McBride, we launched from a small ramp at the Ft. Pierce bridge and headed north. The group included Polly Dean, writer and photographer for Game and Fish Magazine from Atlanta, Cheryl Little, the Redfish Ranger from Panama City, and Hobie reps Ingrid Niehaus and Morgan Promnitz from California, and pro staff Hobie folks Sam Root, J.D. Donohue, Honson Lau, Jose Chavez, and Christina Altman from Ft. Lauderdale. This was my first time at trying the Hobie Mirage Drive system, which has developed a huge following because it is pedal-driven, leaving your hands free for fishing. The kayaks come in a variety of sizes and layouts. I was very interested to see how the pedal drive performed against current and wind, and we got a quick lesson as we pedaled north again the strong outgoing tidal current. In brief, it worked very well. Steady pedaling is the ticket, and it requires very little energy to do the short strokes suggested by the pros. I suspect I would have been a lot more winded had I been paddling.
We worked our way north, fishing alongside some beautiful islands with rocky shorelines and tons of oyster and sand bars with cuts to deeper water. There were plenty of mullet schools and the area looked very fishy. I was a little distracted by learning about how to maneuver the kayak but managed several trout, jacks and ladyfish. Polly was interested in getting a picture of this relatively unimpressive trout.
However, there were some excellent fish around. These pictures were taken by Sam Root, a truly amazing photographer and fisherman. Sam’s most recent business efforts have included some of his beautiful pictures on the backs of mobile phone cases (http://store.saltyshores.com/). Morgan Promnitz nailed this huge trout and Christina Altman had this more modest specimen, but her picture sure looked better than mine.
We pulled into a beautiful cove on an unnamed island that had some benches and unloaded. There was a young manatee playing in the cove for us to play with, while Jerry prepared a fine shore lunch of grilled pork loin marinated in a jalapeno/cranberry glaze which was awesome, grilled fresh asparagus and some fine beans with lots of onions and brown sugar. It was great watching Jerry work while Ingrid, Polly and I waited for him to cook us lunch.
My ride was one of the latest models, the Pro Angler 12. Very wide and stable, with a remarkable seat that could elevate, recline, lumbar support adjustment…it was like sitting in an easy chair. Had some extras I’ve never seen…a pop-up tackle locker with two Plano boxes and horizontal rod holders to keep the rods down when going through low hanging mangroves. The pedaling motion is quite easy as long as you remember to use small quick strokes and not longer ones, which really don’t add any speed. This is what worked well for me.
This is a nice video that shows how the drive works underwater.
All told, it was a fantastic few days. The fishing community in the Stuart area is very different than our relatively quiet area, but the fishing is great and there are lots of people to learn from. And one person that I have to thank (maybe a little gratuitously) is the Master of all Trades and Media, Jerry McBride. Jerry works tirelessly for DOA, conservation, and the good of all people everywhere. Thanks for all you do, Jerry!