2014 Kayak Angler's Choice Awards Winners

Well the final round of voting finished a week ago and all votes have been counted and the final results published. I’m quite amazed that I won the ‘Blog of the Year Award’, many thanks to all of those who took the time to vote for me, much appreciated.

Awards 2014

Joel Abrahamsson took top angler award with The Hobie Outback being voted the No.1 fishing kayak. Every year sees a greater participation on this award scheme, which can only be a great thing. Yes, it’s a bit of fun at the end of the day, no prizes, but it’s good to see how strongly this sport continue to grow, both at home and abroad.

2014 Kayak Angler’s Choice Awards Winners

Angler of the year

  1. Joel Abrahamsson        
  2. Aaron Stiger
  3. Steve Lessard

Kayak of the Year

  1. Hobie Outback
  2. Jackson Kayak Big Rig
  3. Wilderness Systems Ride 135

Product of the Year

  1. Wilderness Systems Phase 3 Air Pro Max Seat
  2. Feelfree Gravity Kayak Seat
  3. Hobie MirageDrive with Glide Technology

Paddle of the Year

  1. Bending Branches Angler Pro
  2. Werner Camano: Hooked
  3. Bending Branches Angler Classic

Magazine of the Year

  1. Kayak Angler Magazine
  2. YakAngling Magazine
  3. Kayak Fish Mag

Location of the Year

  1. The Keys, FL
  2. Devils River, TX
  3. Grand Isle, LA

Retailer of the Year

  1. Austin Canoe and Kayak - TX
  2. HOOK1 - TN
  3. Pack & Paddle - LA

Blog of the Year

  1. Angling Addict by  Rob Choi
  2. Paynes Paddle Fish by Chris Payne

Online Video of the Year

  1. Just Beyond the Breakers #2 by Ty Southerland
  2. Kings On Kayaks by Teddy Wozny

Forum of the Year

  1. Texas Kayak Fisherman - TX
  2. Kayak Bass Fishing - TN
  3. Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club - LA

Kayak Trailer – Mk3 (work in progress)

Over the past few years I’ve had a couple of attempts at making a kayak trailer, there was the Mk1  which was a beast, bought as is and basically not up to the task. Little time was wasted on it and it was moved on rather quickly. Mental note: don’t buy blind of Ebay without having seen such items in the flesh. Then I progressed and put a lot of work into the Mk2, a much improved beast, though it’s too heavy and the massive storage space was under utilised.

I wanted something lightweight, something that could carry my Hobie Outback and my soon to arrive Hobie Adventure Island. ‘Off the shelf’ kayak trailers don’t really cater for this, not with fishing kayaks generally being much wider than traditional kayaks and canoe, plus the AI is a beast in itself. After giving this some thought, I purchased a motorcycle trailer (3 bike model) that had a well built galvanised frame with a maximum capacity of 750kg.

One thing I also liked about this particular trailer was the extendable light board, though it turned out that it didn’t extend nearly as much as I would have liked. It also had rear support legs to enable the trailer to be stable when unhitched from the vehicle.

I was also thinking ahead, I also wanted to have some removable storage capability on the trailer as well as the option to fit a roof tent in the future, something I’d need to consider when designing the frames.

Most kayak trailers tend to have two main frames to support the kayaks, I decided to fit three, partly to spread the weight, though mainly to permit fitment of a roof tent and a aerodynamic roof box as required. I also needed two of the frames to be 67” apart to permit the correct fitment of the cradles for the Hobie AI. A distance of 67” was too big to fit a roof box or roof tent, so the third frame was a must.

I gave a lot of thought on how to fix the frames to the trailer’s main frame. I really didn’t fancy bolting them (lots of drilling required into  a nicely galvanised trailer) and welding was a no go for the same reasons. Hence I decided on U-bolts as used on trailers. High tensile items, more than capable of clamping the frames firmly into position, permitting them to be re-positioned if required.

For the frames I used 30mm box section steel, 3mm in thickness. Some may consider this over-engineering, though add 80-90kg of kayaks, a roof tent and two adults and it should make a lot more sense. These would be welded for strength and neatness. I welded short sections of 50mm steel angle (6mm thickness) to the base of the frames that permitted the frames to ‘sit’ onto the existing trailer and to be securely clamped into position.

The above photo was taken during early assembly, the roof box was placed onto the rear two frames just to get it out of the garage whilst the front frame was awaiting fitment, though for normal use if will be placed on the forward to frames to improve weight distribution. The centre frame is positioned forward of the trailer axle for the same reason, frames weigh in at around 40lb (18kg) each.

As mentioned earlier, the trailer features an extendable lighting bar, though it only extended about 50cm. The main trailer frames are 200cm long, so I welded 220cm steel tubes (2mm) in place of the originals, permitting me to extend the bar comfortably up to 150cm out to the rear.

I have fitted so 25mm galvanised steel mesh sheet (2.5mm gauge) to the base, it’ll enable me to easily attach items for carriage as required, it’ll also enable the trailer to be used for household duties when needed.

So what’s left?. Well I’m extending the drawbar by a metre so it can effectively carry my kayaks when they’re positioned centrally on the trailer. The extension has already been manufactured and galvanised, I’m just waiting for of a bag of bolts to finish the job. The jockey wheel will also be moved forward by about a metre to improve weight distribution and the spare wheel will also be positioned towards the front. The trailer is still light and easily manoeuvrable, with suitable nose weight it should be a pleasure to tow.

I’ve been researching roof tents that are suitable for the UK & European climates for some time now, most tend to be designed for warmer countries and I fear they wont have the longevity that I require. Weight is also a major consideration.

I should have the trailer finished in the next 3-4 weeks, I’ll post an update with photos of the finished item soon.

Kayak Anglers Choice Awards 2014

Yup, it’s that time of year again!.

Kayak Anglers Choice Awards (KACA) is a joint venture between YakAngler.com and KayakFishingRadio.com. Each year kayak anglers from across the globe nominate and vote for their favorites in various categories like Kayak Angler of the year, Kayak of the year, and more. The KACA are the only kayak fishing specific awards driven solely by kayak anglers.

Current KACA categories:

  • “Kayak Angler” of the year
  • “Kayak” of the year
  • “Kayak Paddle” of the year
  • “Kayak Angler Forum” of the year
  • “Kayak Angling Journal/Magazine” of the year
  • “Most Innovative Kayak Angling/Fishing Product (non kayak)” of the year
  • “Kayak Angling Retailer/Outfitter/Bait Shop” of the year
  • “Kayak Angling Location” of the year
  • “Kayak Angling Online Video” of the year
  • “Kayak Angling Blog/Blogger” of the year

So what are you waiting for?…. getting voting!. If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog over the past year, please take a moment to vote for this blog, it’d be much appreciated.

Hobie World Championships 2014 (part 5) – Final comp day

Ahhhh, the dreaded ring of the 0500 alarm, just whose great idea had it been to go drinking last night?!. It was the usual routine of breakfast, briefing and rigging, before getting afloat in anticipation of the 0730 stating horn.

The big questions of the day, could I continue my run of the last couple of days and find at least one fish to submit. I wasn’t feeling overly confident if the truth be known. Could Steve Lessard find fish again today to take the title of champion?, he certainly seemed to be looking confident coming out from the briefing.

The competitors lined up one final time, waiting for the horn to sound… though first it was time to play the Dutch National anthem one last time.

We were soon heading out into the lake once more, with many anglers peeling off to the right to fish the ‘South lake’, somewhere that I’d yet to venture. I stuck firmly to my game plan and worked my way around a few marks, pausing occasionally when fish appeared on the sounder when moving between marks. It was slow, very slow.

I’ve honestly never fished so hard in my life. I fished every mark that looked as though it could hold fish as I moved around the lake. By late morning I was definitely concerned, I’d not had so much as a bite, nothing. I moved into waters that I’d not fished previously and caught sight of Daniel van der Post catching some Perch. He moved on so I slipped into his position and cast a few times, though despite a couple of brief hook ups I couldn’t land a fish. I fished that area for an hour and despite numerous takes and fish visible on the finder, I couldn’t catch… despair was starting to take hold. I had no idea what other people were catching, but it didn’t feel good.

I briefly found myself trying some deeper water after seeing several shoals of fish on the sounder.


I decided to take a gamble and head under the bridge to the South lake. I knew that a lot of fish had been caught there, I felt as though I had nothing to lose.

I could see several anglers in the distance and after checking out the Insight Genesis charts on the Lowrance Elite 4 HDI I could see that they were fishing a shallow area of around 3 metres. They were all lined up, fishing on the drift. I worked my way over and it quickly became apparent that the drift speed was going to be too fast, so I deploy a drogue from the side of the kayak which did the trick and slowed me down quite markedly.

This area looked really fishy, clear ground with regular weed patches. I drifted for 300-400m at a time, blind casting, confident that I was covering a large amount of ground, though my efforts proved fruitless. I moved back 50m each drift, repeating the drift 3-4 times, still nothing. The clock was ticking and I was quickly running out of time. I knew that I’d blown it and I’d be extremely lucky to maintain a top 10 position, I was definitely disappointed. With that I headed back, nothing to check in.

With the kayaks de-rigged and all gear stowed in the car we headed off to the presentation and evening meal. The results were kept quite secret until they were officially announced later in the evening. Much to my surprise, despite blanking on the last day I’d managed to secure 7th place overall, something that made me more than happy!

Along with a Daiwa landing net I took home a voucher for a Rhino-Rack T-Load!, what a result!

However, attention deservedly turned to the top 3 and of course the overall winner. Steve Lessard from the USA secured a well deserved first place, becoming the 2015 Hobie World Champion!. Kyle Moxon from Canada took second place with Kevin Varty from Australia taking third.

Where had those three days gone?, where had the fish gone on the final day?. As I said much earlier, to be successful in a 3 day competition you have to catch every day, or at least getting plenty of fish to cover a poor day.

What a brilliant event, I thought it had been extremely well organised and provided a huge amount of enjoyment both on and off the water. Many thanks to Hobie of course for organising the event and providing the kayaks, amongst many other things!. A big thank you must also go to the sponsors, Lowrance, Daiwa, Rhino-Rack, RAM Mounts and Power Pole.

Though as much as the fishing had sadly finished, the socialising continued!, with several of us heading in to Amsterdam for a well earned night of relaxation.

Last, but far from least. A photo of all the competitors from the Hobie World Championships 2014. A great event which saw new friendships being made and a lot of memories being taken away, just brilliant!

Hobie World Championships 2014 (part 4) – Comp day 2

The alarm clock sang out at 0500, let competition day 2 commence!. With breakfast out of the way and final rigging touches to the kayak completed, I soon sound myself afloat and manoeuvring into the start line….  deja vu?

Despite the lack of sizeable Perch on the previous day, the game plan seemed to have worked fairly well. Why change something when it’s not broken?. So I headed out again with Ian Harris and fished the same marks as yesterday. It had been clear talking to various competitors that many of the Pike that had been caught yesterday were caught quite early on, mine included. I was really hoping for an early Pike so I could concentrate on the Perch, perhaps even target the highly elusive Zander. None had been caught on Day 1.

I tried a few marks and couldn’t find a Pike, in fact I couldn’t even get a bite. I felt as though I was perhaps flogging a dead horse so I chose to move on to the mark that had produced Perch for me the day before. After trying a few more marks en-route, I was back in a familiar location casting a small crank bait.

Guess what?, no Perch, not even a few tentative nibbles. I was beginning to feel a little frustrated and allowed myself to drift into a small harbour area, further than I had previously. Bang!, I was hooked up to something rather lively.

Taking care not to rush the fish I edged it closer to the yak and was grinning from ear to ear when I netted a small, but much needed Pike!. I drifted alongside a wooden jetty where I untangled everything from the net and managed to get a couple of photos of the fish… must remember that tag!.

It wasn’t a monster at 76cm, but it was much needed!. I could have continued to try for a bigger Pike, but I made the decision to go for Perch, you never know, I much just hook up into a Pike again!.

So I commenced the hunt for Perch and it proved extremely frustrating. I tried a multitude of marks and despite missed a few hits I just couldn’t hook into a fish. I eventually did catch a couple of perch, both measuring in at 22cm!!. I could have screamed. I fished margins, drop offs, around structure, where were the big Perch?.

Perseverance finally paid off when I hooked into what felt like a better sized Perch. I was all ready to lift it into the kayak until it hit the surface. It was bigger than I’d thought, perhaps 40cm. I really didn’t want to lose the fish so I fumbled around with the the folding landing net, I just couldn’t get the thing to open up!. All the time I had a nice Perch swimming around the yak. Eventually after some cursing the net opened sufficiently for me to use it so I swung it over the side. I eased the fish towards the net and ‘twang’, it threw the hook!. One things almost guaranteed, I taught every non-English speaking person within 200m of me several new swear words!. I was absolutely gutted!.

I kept on trying, though I failed to register another bite for the remainder of the session. I headed back once again to the start line to check in. Confidence was quite low, I’d really struggled to find any fish, the Pike was ok, though a lot smaller than yesterdays fish and after hours of trying for Perch I lost the only good fish I’d seen to date.

My Team mate Ian had been fishing hard but lady luck was clearly eluding him.

After checking in and chatting to a few anglers to see how they’d got on, I headed back and got changed ready for the evening meal and the Day 2 results.

After another enjoyable meal at the clubhouse the Day 2 results were pinned to the board. Again, it’d been another day of tough fishing and my single fish had actually be a good result. I’d risen from 5th to 3rd place, I was quite amazed to be honest. Steve Lessard from the USA had increased his Day 1 first place lead and was potentially going to be impossible to reach if he caught on the final day, but I found myself only 6cm behind 2nd place. It really was all to play for!


Tomorrow was the going to be the third and final day, I needed fish to maintain my placing and I wanted them badly!. However, it was time for a few beers so we headed off to the local pub to enjoy a little much needed refreshment.


Part 5 sees me head into the final day of the Hobie Fishing World Championships.

Hobie World Championships 2014 (part 3) – Comp day 1

So began three days of early morning starts!, up at 0500 every Championship day, right through to evening socialising… it was a tiring three days that’s for sure!.

Daily briefings started at 0630, followed by some last minute rigging as required, prior to slipping into the water from 0700 onwards with the competition horn sounding at 0730. It was well organised and things ran smoothly.


There was always a few bits to sort out prior to launching, Hobie H-Crates were carried across from the accommodation with final rigging and tweaks required daily before launch. The competition start was held back to 0730 due to lack of light, with some early daylight required before the organisers were happy that it was sufficiently safe for the Championships to commence.

We all lined up at the ‘Power Pole Start Line’, waiting eagerly for the start horn to sound. It was a great atmosphere, anglers chatting, good humour and wishes of good luck.

With the horn sounded the line surged forward and we were off!.

I fished with Ian Harris and we tried along a promising looking drop off, first cast I missed a hit!. There was a light wind pushing me along a favourable drift though it proved fruitless. I tried it again a couple of times and was finally rewarded with a hook up… or was it?. The line just went solid, though it seemed to be moving under pressure. I was unsure for a few seconds before the line started to head off towards deeper water, yup, fish on!.

It came to life and it quickly became apparent that it was a decent fish, so I took my time, not rushing the fish to the kayak. Eventually is came towards the surface and sure enough it was a good sized Pike, quite lightly hooked as well!. I fumbled a bit with the folding landing net before getting it deployed and the fish safely netted.

Now came the tricky bit, measuring and photographing the fish without screwing it up!. Top of my ‘must do’ list was to ensure that the ‘token’ was place visibly on the fish. It’s not easy to photograph a metre Pike lying across your lap on a large measuring board. I took a few shots and also called in my Team mate to get a couple just for good measure.

It was a cracking pike of 98cm, a great start to the Championship for me. Something had clearly taken quite a large chunk out of it at some time!. With the Pike quota for the day fulfilled I turned my attention to Perch, leaving my Team mate chasing Pike.Well that was until I notice a lot of blood over the kayak deck, had I damaged the Pike somehow?, after all it had been lip hooked. It was then I noticed that the blood was increasing and a quick body check highlighted a cut thumb. It was bleeding heavily but didn’t look like much. I gave it a light squeeze and fat bulged out.. ok, deeper than first thought!.

A closer look revealed it was close to the bone, thank you Mr Pike!. I always take my first aid out out with me, though in 7 years it’s never been used in angler. Today I left it out of the first time ever, talk about sods law!. A tissue paper, a piece of plastic bag and a small length of Velcro produced a make shift bandage. I managed to get it bandaged up a little more professionally when I call a safety boat over sometime later, it really needed a couple of stitches but I wasn’t leaving the water for that!. Lesson learned, always take a first aid kit, however unlikely the chance that you’ll require it.

I switched over to my light spinning rod and secured a small crank bait to the trace. I returned to the spot where I’d caught numerous Perch during the practice day and started fishing.  The weather deteriorated, though the wind was still light.

Sure enough I started to catch some Perch, though they we all too small. Most were averaging around 20cm, the biggest I could manage was 23cm, 2cm short of the minimum size!. If I’d had a rolling pin to hand I’d have been very tempted to flatten that fish somewhat!. I managed nine Perch in total, all too small. I moved around and tried a few more marks though I just couldn’t catch a sizeable Perch to save my life, it was extremely frustrating!

With the competition time drawing to a close it was time to head back to check in. Being late would mean getting a time penalty, something I really wanted to avoid. With one Pike in the bag and no other species my hopes weren’t exactly high, though word from the safety boats had pointed to somewhat difficult fishing across the lake.

My Team mate Ian Harris had struggled to find any sizeable fish, though he had been catching. The weather had once again deteriorated with the wind become quite blustery at times,… conditions were certainly challenging.

I checked in and returned to the accommodation the get changed, later heading over the the clubhouse for the evening meal and to get updated on the results. With everyone checked in, photographic submissions checked and approved, the first day results were posted up. I was amazed to find myself in 5th position, especially considering the calibre of the anglers taking part.


It was a great start, though I was under no illusions. To have a chance of success in a three day competition you really need to be catching fish everyday. A poor result in Day 2 could easily seem me slip down to mid-table or below, the big question was could I keep the momentum going?.

Part 4 sees me head into day 2 of the Hobie World Championships.

Hobie World Championships 2014 (part 2)

With the navigation day completed the next event was Practice Day. Here we had a few hours in which to fish the water and try as many techniques and lures out as required. Again, I certainly found the sheer size of this venue so daunting, just where does one start fishing?!.

Well my game plan was to keep it simple. I’d taken a fairly small selection of lures out on the water with me, some shads, spinner baits, blades and a handful of small crank baits. I had three rods rigged ready to fish (minus lures), these were a light, medium and heavy spinner. Some of my lures were pushing towards 100g in weight, others as light as 10g, hence the variety of rods. A collapsible landing net was provided as well as a large measuring board to ensure that even the largest of Pike could be effectively measured.

The competition would allow anglers to fish for three species of fish, Pike, Zander and Perch with permitted lengths of 45cm, 42cm and 25cm respectively. One fish per species per day was the maximum sized bag (3 fish total max) with total length used to put together the leader board. Methods were cast-and-retrieve only,  with trolling, live baits and dead baits not permitted Only artificial lures and flies were to be used during competition.  Drift fishing was allowed, though anglers could only drift up to 50 meters between casts.

All qualifying fish had to be photographed using the supplied measuring board with the anglers ‘token’ being visible. It was the photographing of the fish (should I catch one!) that worried me most, failure to photograph it correctly would result in that submission being disqualified, something that did unfortunately happen to some competitors over the three day competition.

The weather forecast was extremely poor, with strong winds expected allied with frequent rains showers. It was one of those rare occasions when the weatherman got it right, or perhaps even unstated it somewhat!

The Pro Angler 12 kayaks were all outfitted with a Lowrance Elite 4 HDI fish finder/GPS. I currently have the Elite 7 HDI rigged onto my Outback so I was pretty confident in being able to get straight into using this unit as the menu configuration is almost identical. At first I found the smaller screen a bit of a step backwards, but it’s surprising how quickly you adjust. The screen is considerably taller than my previous elite 4 DSI, though it’s needed on this combination unit that can display up to a triple split screen.


The units were loaded Insight Genesis mapping information gathered from boats used prior to the Championships. This proved invaluable as Navionics online provided no useful information for this venue. It’s  highly detailed providing the user with a very accurate underwater picture of the venue. If that wasn’t good enough, the individual kayaks recorded sonar information each day and the Lowrance representative updated the map sets daily so the available information was continually improving!

So did I have a game plan?. I planned to fish noticeable drop offs as well as areas with patchy weed in the hope of primarily finding Pike with a good chance of a Perch. The Zander were going to be difficult and were likely to be found in the deeper water. As they were expected to be very difficult to catch I placed them bottom of my wish list, placing Pike at the top followed by Perch.

I worked my way around a few of the suggested marks with Ian Harris and tried this and that, with little success. I eventually found a piece of water that was holding some Perch, though despite being small, at least I had started to catch some fish. I caught around ten small Perch during the session, though all were under the require qualifying size of 25cm, hopefully I’d find some bigger fish when the competition was finally underway.

I eventually hooked into something far better, perhaps a big Perch or a small Pike, though I’ll never know as it threw the hook after a good tussle lasting but a few seconds.

The weather conditions had began to deteriorate and the ever increasing wind had began to produce white caps across the lake. I decided to head back in and took the shortest route directly across the lake, taking me over the deeper water. Yes, it was choppy and rather uncomfortable, but it was perfectly doable and I was making decent progress. Looking over to my right the sky darkened and thunder and lightning made an appearance and was heading all too quickly in my direction!. Before I knew it a squall came down the centre of the lake and I was getting pounded by large breaking swells. I pretty much lost control of the Pro Angler at one stage, though I managed to get it turned into the waves and swell where I intended to ride out the weather. Unfortunately I heard some shouting over the sound of the wind and rain and I soon found myself heading over in the direction of a capsized kayak. To say it was an exciting few minutes going across the swell is an understatement, though thankfully the angler and his kayak were safely recovered, no harm apart from some dented pride no doubt.

I was just happy to have made it out of the weather, finally taking a more sheltered route back to the start line via the more sheltered ‘canals’ that went around part of the lake… interesting times!

I think it’s safe to say that the fishing during the pre-fish day had been rather difficult, though there were some decent fish caught as can be seen below.

So with pre-fish out of the way the three day Championship was ready to commence. So who was the favourite to win?, well that honour was bestowed upon my friend, and current Hobie European Champion, Daniel van der Post. He certainly catches one specimen fish after another and is an extremely experienced local angler, though I’m not so sure that I’d like to have that pressure placed on me… though I can’t see that happening anytime soon!

With a whole evening to ourselves, what do you do?…. socialise of course!!

Part 3 will see me fishing the 3 day Championship itself.