The mangroves went on seemingly uninterrupted until we noted an opening that led into a narrow tidal river. We moved in and started casting to the roots jutting underwater along the edge of the mangroves. As a small snook burst out from under the roots to ambush my fly, I had two thoughts: I’m glad we made our way to this little river, and that we never would have made it to this little river if we weren’t fishing from kayaks.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to fish the backcountry of Pine Island Sound, on Florida’s southwest coast, from a Hobie Pro Angler 14. The Pro Angler is a wide, stable platform that lends itself well to standing to fly fish or cast with light tackle. It also has Hobie’s foot-powered propulsion system. You basically get from point A to point B on the water by pedaling, like on a bike. This has two major benefits. One, your leg muscles are generally stronger than your arm muscles, so the pedal system affords you increased range. Also, using foot power lets you keep a rod at the ready while you’re underway, a difficult thing to do while handling a traditional kayak paddle.
I started out in the morning with a crew of outdoor writers, all fishing from kayaks. We left the Tarpon Lodge on Bokeelia Island and immediately moved along the shoreline. Within seconds, one member of our flotilla had hooked into a large, aggressive snook that jumped as he attempted to pull it from the mangroves. The water along the mangroves’ edge was so shallow, no motorized boat could access it save for a technical flats skiff with its engine trimmed out of the water and a guide working atop a poling platform.
We were able to glide along to our fishing destination without worry of dinging a prop on bottom. The Pro Angler has a 13'8" LOA and a 3'2" beam, widening in the center to maximize stability around the angler's seat. From there I could stand up to survey the grass flats and mangrove edges without worry of tipping over. Standing and casting from it, I saw a baby tarpon roll along the mangroves, and watched that snook explode on my fly. It was then that I decided that, even though I am first and foremost a powerboat guy, a pedal-powered kayak would be a great addition to a personal fleet.
Check out the video below of Hobie's new Full Power Reverse pedal system: