With Missouri's diversity of water, from the country's largest rivers to enormous reservoirs to tiny farm ponds, it's nice to have a form of watercraft that can be fun to use across the board.
Canoes, kayaks, jon boats and more will work, but I recently picked up a unique boat called the Pro Angler made by Hobie that combines the best of all three.
The Hobie Pro Angler first gained national attention when it won the overall "Best of Show" award in 2009 at ICAST, the largest trade show for the fishing industry. Since then, if you watch any of the outdoor networks, chances are you've seen fishing celebrity Hank Parker peddling around in a kayak-like boat. That's the Hobie Pro Angler. St. Louis Cardinals football Hall of Famer Jackie Smith is another spokesperson for Hobie.
In the spring of 2010, on Lake Taneycomo near Branson, I had my first chance to fish from one of the Pro Anglers. What I instantly liked so much about the boat is the fact that you use your feet to power it, thus keeping your hands free for fishing, which is especially helpful when fly casting. My experiences with fly fishing from traditional kayaks on moving water have been frustrating because of constantly having to put down my rod to use the paddle. The Hobie Pro Angler and its patented MirageDrive system eliminate that problem.
The MirageDrive system consists of two pedals that drive a pair of underwater fins. The system was designed to imitate the way a penguin moves through water. Just like on a bicycle, you control the speed by how fast you pedal. There is a single retractable rudder for steering, which you move left or right with a simple lever.
The Pro Angler can hold up to 600 pounds, it's 13 feet, 8 inches long by 38 inches wide, making it extremely stable and a popular standup fishing platform.
It's large for a kayak, at 138 pounds, but can still be transported in the bed of a pickup truck or on roof racks. Hobie does offer a trailer built specifically for the Pro Angler.
The boat also boasts a comfortable, highback mesh seat, more than enough storage, rod holders and a number of other impressive attributes.
Rivers are my favorite place for using the Pro Angler. What I like most about using it in moving water is being able to hold my position. When I come upon a hole I want to fish, I can point the boat into the current, and then paddle with my feet to stay in one spot until I'm satisfied with the spot and ready to move on. In a canoe or traditional kayak, as soon as you stop paddling to pick up your rod, you're left to the mercy of the current.
I also fish the boat quite a bit on farm ponds around my house, and have taken it on a couple of larger reservoirs. I haven't made it to the ocean yet, but I hope to take it down to the Gulf of Mexico red fishing sometime this fall.
Finding ways to exercise outdoors is always a positive, and the Pro Angler will work out your legs.
If you're interested in a fun way to experience any of Missouri's many waters, take a look at the Hobie Pro Angler. It's a neat new twist on watercraft. For more information, visit the Hobie web site at www.hobiecat.com.
See you down the trail ...