I’ve always thought about owning a boat, but always made excuses — too much money, too much maintenance, too much aggravation. So I got a kayak and have fished out of my Native Ultimate ever since I started fly fishing the salt.
I never EVEN thought about a boat. Fishing solo, I figure why bother? If I had a boat, I’d still have to have someone to pole it because traditional sight fishing dictates you fish or pole, you don’t do both.
During the past month, I’ve fished out of a few boats, mainly out of necessity: My fishing partner had one and asked if I wanted to go. One trip was to Stuart, the other to Flamingo, in the heart of the Everglades. Both were Gheenoe-type setups. Small and durable, each floated shallow, but neither could handle chop. That’s fine if you’re not in open water, or if you’re so young that you don’t feel as if you’ve been shoved in a washing machine. For the price, you can’t beat a Gheenoe or one of the knockoffs. They’re convenient and they float shallow, but they’re a young man’s boat. I, for one, appreciate space and comfort.
The need for these attributes became apparent when I fished with Karla George on her Maverick Mirage recently. I was scared to death as we approached a decent chop, but the Mirage cut through the foam flawlessly. I prepared for a bone-jarring ride, but settled in once we breezed through the waters near Sansprit Park. In all, we tried five, six spots of various depths. Two anglers can fish easily and the bow is completely uncluttered, which made line management very doable, even in the wind. Gheenoes — and kayaks — are so small that your fly line always seems to snag something.
So, I ‘ve been converted. Kayaks have their place. You can’t beat them for cost, convenience and getting shallow. But, as far as a casting platform and speed, they’re limited. In a kayak, you can usually only fish one maybe, two spots. If the fish are there, you’re golden. If they’re not, you face the possibility of a fishless day.
A good skiff, on the other hand, offers a good casting platform, quality visibility and speed. You can not only cast to fish and see them, you can hunt them down. Money’s an issue, obviously, but a good skiff is worth it.
Karla leads the way in style in Stuart.