My buddy Bob first introduced me to Hobie kayaks many years ago. When he’s not fishing Bob spends his time on a bike. The fact is he’s a bike nut. Bob has a racing bike for competition, a mountain bike for the woods, a fat-tire bike to ride on the beach, and a recumbent bike just because. His upper body, while ripped, is narrow and thin. His legs? They’re bigger than my middle-linebacker tree trunks. I kid him that he needs to wear baggy bodybuilder pants with his blazer, button-down shirt, and tie. He’s a tailor’s nightmare for sure.
Because of his athletic preference, I wasn’t surprised when Bob showed up for our kayak-fishing trip with a ’yak with pedals. My own open-cockpit, hard-chine model was a paddle-and-fish approach, while his was more of a pedal-and-fish. And when he put those piston-like legs to work in his Hobie, he left such a wake that I swear a lightweight child could have water skied off the stern. As an angler, there was a significant benefit to his approach. At a nearly perfect trolling speed, Bob fished a lot of water on his way out.
Bob didn’t let me fish out of his boat, and I can’t blame him. His was a new boat, he was getting used to it, and he liked it because it fit his lifestyle. What he liked best was that he got to go fishing and get in a workout. His road bikes saw little use that year, and that meant I had to wait a year to demo my first Hobie.
My first sortie with the pedal boat was for sight fishing on the flats of my home waters of Cape Cod Bay. I splashed the boat behind my house, strapped my feet into the pedals, and leisurely cranked out to the expansive white sand.
Hobies are interesting kayaks, and in a way they’re more of a performance boat. They weigh around 90 pounds, which makes for a stable ride that cuts through the chop associated with onshore winds and 12-foot tides. Navigation comes in the form of a steering handle similar to the rudder on a sailing dinghy. Their beams are between 30 and 38 inches, and their three-foot width means they’re easy to stand on to cast flies to schools of fish. A trolling motor and 12-volt battery could be added to this James Bond type of vessel.
Cape Cod means different things to many people, but to me it’s about beaches, salt ponds, flats, and rips that hold fish. Right now, with the fall run in full swing, there are big schools of migrating striped bass. The Gulf Stream hasn’t fully retracted yet, and the warm water brings in pelagic fish. This time of year the Upper and Mid-Cape have bonito, false albacore, bonito, Spanish macks, juvenile king macks, mushmouth tuna, and more. Bluefish are all around, and, depending on the weather, the fishing can be the best of the year. So it came as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to attend this September’s Hobie Demo Day to try out some of the new 2018 boats.
The event was based at the Bayside Resort Hotel in West Yarmouth. Anglers are well acquainted with the hotel because of its proximity to so much excellent water to fish. The resort is near Vineyard Sound and in close proximity to Lewis Bay, Craigsville Beach, the Centerville River, the Bass River, and all of the southside salt ponds farther west. My day to fish was Thursday . . . which was also the day that Hurricane Jose lobbed 35-mph NNE winds with gusts to 50 mph. Rain accompanied those heavy winds, so, unfortunately, my trip got scrapped.
As we all know, pre- and post-storm bites can be red hot, and they were for Eric Harrison, Shawn Barham, Jerry McBride, and Matt Smyth. During pre-event scouting trips they fished on Monday and Tuesday and caught ’em up. They launched their Pro Angler 14s, Revolution 16s, and Outbacks and tonged bass and albies until their arms were sore. Juvenile king macks, those tasty speckled fish, showed up, too. Theirs was an epic mixed bag, and there is no telling what kind of fish blipped on the screens of their electronics.
The hurricane has passed and I’ll be back on the water soon. It’s a bummer that Hurricane Maria is currently rumbling around in the Atlantic, possibly preparing for a run up the East Coast. When and if she hits we’ll be off the water again, but there’s a beautiful gap between the storms that’s been super sweet. The water is calm, and the fish are hungry.
Anyway, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. Maybe I’ll call Bob to see if he’ll bring his Hobie. And maybe this time he’ll let me use it.