How to Sink a Native Ultimate and Still Have Fun
<p>The trip was with my friend Martin Wenick, of Washington, DC. The forecast was for S/SE breeze at 10 to 15, with a slight chance of showers late in the day. It was beautiful and breezy when we left the ramp at around ten o'clock. Before we'd gotten half way to our destination the wind had kicked from the southeast. On the water it felt like a steady 20 to me.
Once we arrived at our destination I staked on a hole and then had Martin stake next to me, to be sure he was fishing in the right place. But, with the wind up he was already at the next hole by the time he got staked out. After catching a few trout at my hole, the bite went away, and I moved on to another hole beyond Martin. After another couple of trout there, I moved to the next hole down, and caught a couple more trout.
The wind had come around to the south and was blowing. I was surprised the fish weren't biting really well. Martin called me on the radio and said he had a lot of water in his boat. Damn! I looked over to him, perhaps a hundred yards away, and could tell he was sitting low in the water. I told Martin he needed to get the bilge pump out and start pumping. It took a couple of minutes for him to get it out and get going. I watched for a minute to see that he was pumping OK. It appeared from where I was he had the situation under control.
I had no more than turned my head away from him when I heard Martin's voice ring across the wind without the help of the radio. "Butch!" It was the sound of panic. I spun my head around to Martin to see his head up out of the water, and the custom fit cooler, his lunch in a plastic bag, my VHF radio, paddle, and lipper tool on a big float, all gliding across the water away from him on the wind.
I yanked my stakeout pole, turned my boat and put the trolling motor on #5. I was to him in seconds. It was quite a site. Martin was still sitting in the boat at that point, and his PFD and the floatation in each end of the boat were keeping him suspended. Martin confirmed that he was OK Thank God. I told him he could get out of the boat and stand up which he did. It was barely waist deep. I think Martin was relieved at that point.
With Martin OK, I told him I needed to go retrieve all the stuff before it became lost forever up in the mangrove shoreline. Everything had spread out by that time, and I went for the $150 cooler first. It was sitting high out of the water, and was scooting right along on the wind. Then I recovered the rest of the stuff in order as I headed back toward Martin.
Martin had been walking the swamped Ultimate toward me, as I had steered him to shallower water. I took my boat to where we had less than a foot of water, and staked it out. Then, I got out and walked back to Martin so I could help him with the boat. I figured he was getting tired by now. When we finally got it back to my boat in the shallows, it was indeed a strange looking site. Full of water she was.
The next thing was to get everything of any weight out of Martin's boat. So trolling motor, seat, pump, and rods and reels, which had all been submerged, went to my boat. We were pondering how best to get the boat emptied and floating again. We managed to lift one end and get enough water out of it so that we could pump the water out with out pumps faster than it would be coming in. Once we got it down about half way Martin grabbed one end of the boat and lifted it up as high as he could. Water flooded out of the boat. When he sat it back down on the water she was floating tall, and the lion's share of the water was out. We finished it off with the bilge pumps.
Piece by piece we put the boat back together; seat, trolling motor, rods, cooler, lunch, paddle, etc. We were ready to go see if we could catch some redfish. The water had come in a lot in the time we'd been getting the boat floating, again. To my amazement the battery was still up and the trolling motor still worked. At least for now. Perhaps even more amazing was that Martin still had his fish on the stringer.
There was a good lesson in this. What had happened is that when Martin first anchored with his stakeout pole, he had not pulled the anchor trolly all the way to the rear, which swings the boat quickly around with the bow straight down the wind. He said it felt like it was hung up or something, and left it where it had stopped. But, in fact the pole was just past amidships, and had his kayak at about a 45 degree or greater angle to the wind, AND CHOP! Anchoring any boat sideways to the wind and chop is a recipe for trouble. So, he had been taking on just the splashes that would occasionally come over the gunwales with the wind, at first. But, over the course of a couple of hours it began to accumulate without him realizing it, and putting him lower in the water. The lower it sat in the water the greater quantity of splash that came over the gunwale. At that point it was all but a done deal without some quick pumping, and without getting the boat straight to the wind so that the water stopped coming over the gunwale. But, at that point Martin didn't realize why the water was coming in, and I had not been able to tell how he was anchored from where I was.
We were ready to get back to fishing, and headed a short distance to a great flat that had about two feet of water on it. I had Martin stake out next to me, and then I put about the distance of a cast between us and we went to work. I struck first blood with a 17" redfish, establishing that the fish were there. I continued to try different baits trying to get a steady bite going. The bait that pushed them over the edge was the Gulp jerk bait in New Penny. Once, we changed to that we started catching pretty steady. Problem was, the wind seemed to be building pretty steady, as well.
At this point we had 14 or 15 redfish between us, and a limit of trout stringered. I was not comfortable with the wind and ever increasing chop and asked Martin if he agreed we should cut it short and head in. Martin shared my concern, and agreed. So, I instructed him to pull up anchor first and quickly turn his kayak around and head straight up the wind to the shoreline. There we would be out of the wind and chop for the rest of the ride home.
To say it was an exciting day would be an understatement. To say that Martin is a sport model would be, as well. For those of you who think you might be too old to think about kayak fishing, I'm soon 66 and Martin is 72! We caught fish, swamped a kayak, and caught fish. And, had fun. It was a day neither of us will forget. I joked with Martin that he should call his brother, who had just had a serious brain surgery a week earlier over in Orlando, and tell him, "Your surgery wasn't a bid deal. Guess what I did today!"
Believe it or not, I got the whole day on video. It was my first trip with my new GoPro Hero helmet cam, and I was pleased to find I hadn't made a mistake and missed something. But, I have 6 files that total nearly 18GB, and Windows Movie Maker won't even play them. Most of the files are just under 4 GB each. I can play the smaller ones. Anyone out there with any ideas? Video editing is new to me.
I slept on it that night and the next day decided I was going to research bilge pumps and see if I could find a pump suitable to put into a kayak. The Ultimate is a tunnel hull design, which makes it extremely stable. So, I'll need one for each side of the hull. Well, I found what I think will be perfect. It's the Whale SS5012 (B) or SS5212 (B). It's a very low profile pump that lays flat against the hull, instead of stood up like most pumps. It's only about 2 inches around, and has an electronic water sensor. No moving parts. You can get them through West Marine. It's a new item, and not likely to be in stock. Just thought there might be some other Ultimate or similar owners who might want to do the same thing.
About The Author: Captain Butch Rickey
Company: The Bar Hopp'R
Area Reporting: Backcountry fishing and flats fishing in the waters of Pine Island around Sanibel Island, Captiva Is
Bio: Capt. Butch Rickey spent much of his youth growing up on Sanibel and Captiva, near Ft. Myers, and has fished the waters of Pine Island Sound for much of his 60-plus years. Capt. Butch specializes in light tackle live-bait fishing for snook, redfish, tarpon, and trout in Pine Island Sound, but will be happy to accomodate any other type of fishing you want to do. You'll enjoy fishing the beautiful clear water of the shallow grass flats, mangrove keys, potholes, and oyster bars. You'll marvel at the wildlife on, in, and above the water. You'll see Florida as you always imagined it would be. A Barhopp'R trip will satisfy the fisherman, hunter, and sightseer in you. Capt. Butch is an instructional guide, and gives you only the best Shimano Stella reels and St. Croix Legend and G. Loomis rods to use. Butch is U.S. Coast Guard licensed, insured, experienced, and provides fishing license, bait, ice, digital camera, cell phone, and lots of advice and coaching when needed. He will work hard to put you on the fish.