Panama Adventure on the Hobie Outback

Cornwall Canoes Team Paddler Kyle has recently returned from an epic kayak fishing adventure on the wild coast of Panama! Kayak Fishing from a Hobie Mirage Outback, Kyle was able to land some amazing species and huge fish! Check out the full blog post, the pictures really are incredible!

 

 

 

Having just returned from another crazy week on the Pacific Wild Coast of Panama I thought I’d share some of my kayak fishing experiences along this rather special bit of coastline.

 

This particular part of Panama really is a magic place and the landscape itself almost doesn’t look real, such is the breathtaking beauty of it! The coast has a ‘Jurassic Park’ feel to it and the rolling, forested hills instil a sense of tranquillity that only this untouched oasis seems to give. Time pretty much stands still there and being so remote, it offers world class kayak fishing for a huge array of tropical species.

Getting to camp takes nearly two days from the UK and involves two aeroplanes, a 6 hour mini bus and a two hour boat ride. Thankfully, the kayaks themselves are provided by the camp as getting one there would prove near impossible. The boat of choice here is the Hobie Outback and although I’ve kayak fished for over a decade, my trip at the camp last year was my first experience on a Hobie and I have to admit to being a bit sceptical about them to begin with.

I considered myself some kind of paddle purist and didn’t really like the concept of pedalling as it seemed a bit odd to begin with. That prejudice was very short lived and after a week of fishing out of one and enjoying my kayak fishing more than ever, I actually went and bought my own as soon as I got home!

 

Hobie Outback Kayaks lined up before launch. The boat that inspired me to take the pedal plunge!

 

I haven’t looked back since and it was the Outback kayak that inspired me to look into the Hobie range to begin with.  At the camp it was great to get back into one and as we planned another week of fishing all the great memories from last year came flooding back and I couldn’t wait to get it afloat. Just like last year, I was instantly impressed with the layout of the Outback and being more compact  than my current kayak, everything feels nice and neat in the cockpit. Back home I now fish a lot from my Hobie Revolution 16 and though the two boats are very different in size, shape and purpose I do find they both share many of the same features that made me fall in love with Hobie.

The Revo 16 is designed for distance and all-out speed which suits me well at home though in Panama you need stability more than you need speed, and the Outback has heaps of it. Stability becomes very welcome when you’re tired from a long days fishing and especially so when fighting big aggressive fish.

I find the 12ft Outback is also much more manoeuvrable than my 16ft Revolution, which I guess is mainly down to the fact it’s significantly shorter. The Outback won’t run quite as fast and it doesn’t feel quite as sleek through the water as the Revo though it does change direction very quickly and sits a bit higher too. Both are great features to have on the wild coast as you often have to act quick to avoid the swell and rocks and sitting a bit higher makes things a bit more comfortable.

 

My friend Paul fighting a decent fish on light tackle

 

It’s quite a unique style of fishing in conditions that you wouldn’t find back home and the only thing I can relate it to is chucking lures for bass along the north Cornish coastline when a big Atlantic swell is running. Even that seems much tamer than the Pacific swells you get in Panama so having full confidence in your kayak’s stability and manoeuvrability is very important.

For us we were again treated to some phenomenal fishing and though it started off a bit slow we soon turned it around in our favour and notched up some impressive specimens. Cubera Snapper made an appearance once again and these powerful fish give you a real test on the kayak. I was fortunate enough to get a couple off the kayak and even one off the beach during an evening bait fishing session! I’d never tire catching these and what a moment that was on the beach as none of us had any idea they’d feed among the surf like that, so it was a real treat when that fish came ashore!

 

The mighty Cubera Snapper! Also take a look at the awesome NRS varial hoodie I’m wearing. UV protective clothing is essential in the tropics, note the hood and thumb loops in the sleeves to protect your neck and hands, very nice features!
Another one, though this time off the beach and I think my shocked expression says it all!

 

Most of my fish came to jerk baits this year though one of my favourite catches of the week has to be this Dorado which hit a surface popper in no more than 10ft of water! I’d seen a bit of activity near an island so threw my popper in for a look and it was a real surprise to see this fish engulf it. It went airborne right away and I instantly knew what I was attached to which made me sweat a bit as it’s a big trophy fish for a kayak angler! It’s a fish you would usually associate with offshore blue water fishing so to hook one like that in such shallow water was something else and I’m so glad it stayed on as it was the only one we saw all week!

 

A vibrantly marked Mahi Mahi took a fancy to the Feed Popper 150. Somewhere underneath this crazy looking fish you can see my NRS Castaway gloves poking through! Another great product from NRS and they pretty much held my hands together by the end of the week 🙂

 

As far as fishing goes I think this trip will be hard to top, though I remember thinking the same last year so who knows what the future has in store. One thing I do know is that if you put the hard work and preparation in then you will get rewarded. It’s quite a cliché thing to say but it’s certainly true with fishing and I’ve had it happen way too many times now for it to just be coincidence!

As the week drew to a close we were all exhausted, bruised and beaten though little was I to know that a final bit of perseverance was to produce a fish of a lifetime! My last cast on the final day of our wild coast adventure produced this fish, an insane 60lb+ Roosterfish. Words fail me to how surreal it was holding this fish for the camera and it took 40 minutes to land as it towed me from the shoreline behind me where I hooked it! What a crazy sport this kayak fishing can be sometimes…

 

60lb+ Roosterfish and the last fish of the trip!

 

Tight Lines,

Kyle Waterhouse
(Cornwall Canoes Kayak Fishing Team Member)