I was growing really tired of my old pontoon boat and decided on getting a kayak again. This time an inflatable one.
As many of you know I have been dependent on using a pontoon boat for fishing the last few years because of my MS and the inability to walk far and keep balance that the disease causes.
For that reason I bought a pontoon boat some years ago, but even though it certainly has widened my options when on the water, it hasn't exactly been bliss to haul around the steel frame and all the gear needed to prepare it for sailing and fishing. And it hasn't brought me any luck in fishing either. I have never caught as little as I catch now, and where you would think that the boat would widen the horizons and bring me to a ton of new fishing water, reality is that it is actually severely limiting my fishing.
It has come to a point where I downright loathe the boat and wish it gone. But unfortunately that hasn't been an option, since fishing without it hasn't been possible.
The net result was that I have staid home and haven't fish much when I was out, and let me explain why.
I have always been packing light when I fished. A rod, a small chestpack with some flies and tippet and a camera and I was off. Walking long distances and roaming banks and coasts to find new spots, being able to move freely and react on whatever I saw, be it good looking water or a fish moving.
That ends with a pontoon boat!
I have to bring a lot of gear - not only the boat, which weighs about 20 kilos or some 40 lbs., but also ores, anchor, rope, dredge, pumps and whatnot.
Preparation takes a ton of time, and to make it worse I can't handle it myself, but get too tired from the strain, and wouldn't be able to haul the inflated boat to the water anyway. So I need help for the task, and even though everybody is very kind and helpful, it would be so much better if I could handle it myself.
Once I'm out on the water things appear to be fine. The boat is stable and easy to maneuver and even pretty fast when moving around. The wind can be a hassle, but mostly it works OK. The problem is not moving, but not moving.
Once I have found a spot that I want to fish, I want to drift over it slowly and in the right direction. That's not how it works in the boat. The drift is as the wind blows - literally - and I turn around like a cork, turning here and there and very rarely where I want to.
I can use the anchor to put myself in a fixed position, but for one who has always fished one step one cast, sitting in the same place for 10 minutes is torture. I can use the dredge (drift anchor), but then I'm still drifting as the wind blows, just slower.
Casting and fishing where I want to is not easy, and in most cases I end up rowing around with a fly trailing after the boat, which is neither efficient nor fun.
...a pontoon boat consists of nothing but line eating protrusions
Once in position, I can start casting, but I soon learned that a pontoon boat consists of nothing but line eating protrusions. No matter how much I try to arrange the loose line, I will inevitably end up snagging it on a split, an ore, a pipe end, the seat or something else. It's a law of nature, and a pest.
I have brought a shooting basket for the loose line and that helps, but I honestly hate using a basket, which limits my stripping pattern severely, and having it stuck on a boat does not make my hatred less. Still it's better than having the loose line stuck all the time.
But all this is nothing compared to the decay of the boat. Rust, leaks, stuck zippers and whatnot - all things that makes using it less satisfactory and makes me deplore it even more.
Considering that it's made for saltwater use and allegedly built out of stainless materials, a surprising number of things are simply breaking down and have stopped working due to the salt.
The stainless frame is rusting, pipe splits are rusting, zippers are totally stuck because of salt and the ores are barely able to come apart due to rust.
I'm not known to be a nitpicker when it comes to gear. Rather the opposite, actually, and a few scratches and a bit of rust has never spoiled my good mood. But this is simply too much! It's not a pleasure to put the boat together or to take it apart, and sitting on a pile of decaying metal isn't what you want to on the ocean.
Add to that that one pontoon is leaking and the zipper that leads into it is so stuck that there's no way I can fix it... not good!
A new boat
So I was on the lookout for something new, and wanted a boat with no or at least as few metal parts as possible.
I looked at frameless pontoon boats, on more expensive pontoon boats, on small rubber dinghys and much else, but found nothing that I liked, could get my hands on or wanted to pay for.
I need something that packs down so that I can put it in my car and bring it on trips where there's lots of other stuff in the trunk - bags, gear, dog and whatnot. I can't fit in a boat anywhere and can't handle anything that has to go on the roof.
So I started looking at kayaks, and discovered a market for inflatable ones, which seemed to offer quite a few good looking models. Looking around I found a Danish seller who had some interesting models at decent prices, and even had a kayak made for fishing. He set up demonstrations during the summer, and I managed to sail one of his kayaks and was pretty pleased.
So I bought a Straightedge Angler Kayak from Advanced Elements through the Danish dealer Oppustelige Kajakker (litarally Inflatable Kayaks), and have now been sailing it quite a bit in my local waters in the harbor of Copenhagen, but only fished from it once, and not seriously so.
It's comfortable, it's stable and it seems to be durable enough - even though it had a couple of very small leaks in the seams. They have been easy to repair and the seller has also followed up with some excellent service on a defect part.
So now I just need to get out for real and try it out on some coastal fishing.
It will never be as productive and efficient as wading and walking as I used to, but it will be better than sitting indoors not fishing.