Kayaks designed for fishing are a relatively new topic in Estonia. However, this kind of equipment is quite popular elsewhere in the world and the producers contribute a good deal to the development of new and better products. The kayak discussed below has been designed by Swedish kayak craftsman and expert on the development history of kayaks, Björn Thomas-son, who is mostly known as a representative of the so-called Greenland style. The key words for the SeaBird Fisherman 12 are simplicity and mobility, and its recommended places of use are inland water bodies. In the beginning of June, the SeaBird Fisherman 12 was used by Kalastaja and a test took place at the mouth of the River Reiu. The weather was sunny, with a wind speed of between 3-5m/s. To start with, a little more about the kayak in question.
The SeaBird Fisherman 12 is made of polyethylene plastic and is essentially maintenance-free. The model that was tested was coloured a shade of rush that helps it to blend into the surroundings if necessary. The boat is 3.66 metres long and 76 centimetres wide. It weighs 25kg and can carry a fisherman of about 145kg along with his equipment without significantly changing its performance and functionality. An open deck and a 36 centimetre high board may at first make you cautious and raise questions about wave resistance, but we were pleas-antly surprised when testing the kayak close to sporting waterskiers and racing water scooters. With large waves created by a passing speedboat or similar, the boat simply has to be turned towards the oncoming waves and calmly driven through them. The most dangerous waves are those that are fast-breaking in shallow water, especially when they happen to come from the side. The risk may also be compounded when the kayak is overloaded.
A catamaran-style bottom makes the boat more stable when compared to other similar water vessels I must admit that I could even stand up in the kayak for successful trolling and for the other things that sometimes need doing.
There are six rod holder positions in the kayak for fishing equipment, including one for a scoop net and other facilities. Other fishing equipment may be placed in the stern behind your back or in the bow. The paddle may be placed to your side or in front of you while you are fishing. A beginner may also tie the paddle to the boat so that it can be easily caught when it falls overboard for whatever reason. A piece of string may be needed for tying the boat to a reed, and a bailer and sponge should also be taken with you so that you can remove water that may get into the kayak, during showers for instance. If your plans include passing over longer distances, paddling gloves may be helpful, as well as a special nylon apron that is sold as an accessory and which protects the boat against splashing water during heavier showers of rain. Of course, all the equipment may also be packed in watertight bags for a longer trip. As for life-saving applicants, it is recommended that you use an automatically inflated or ordinary lifejacket.
There is enough space for sitting in the kayak in question. As you sit a little higher than usual in a fishing kayak, there is no need to worry that your back may become stiff or that there will be too little space for your legs. The SeaBird Fisherman 12 is easily paddled and obeys the driver perfectly. It can take you very quietly and unnoticed almost everywhere you desire. What I especially liked was the fact that I could paddle almost unnoticed into an area in which pike, perch or chub jumped out of the water and these characters also often took the troll. The kayak contains especially great advances in terms of its operational abilities and in searching for fish in small rivers and shallow waters (on rapids or in shallows, for example) where an ordinary rowing boat tends to get into trouble.
To transport the kayak, I used a car with a roof rack onto which the boat could be lifted with-out help from anyone else. As the Fisherman 12 has a catamaran-style bottom, the car needs no special canoe holders and ordinary crossbars are sufficient. I have also transported the kayak in an estate car, leaving the boot slightly open. I recommend that you use quick release straps instead of load belts with tighteners for fastening the kayak to the roof rack, so that you do not damage the kayak while transporting it if the straps are too tight.
On dry land, the kayak can be handled by one person alone. As we could not drive right to the riverside with our car on the day of testing, we had to drag the kayak a few dozen metres over rocks and stumps. Such imprudent behaviour was certainly not our usual style, but the manufacturer’s representative said that the hull was made of thick plastic, and it was able to withstand shocks and scratching without any problem. It is also possible to buy a special addi-tional canoe trolley that can be quickly packed and unpacked and also taken into the boat when necessary.
I would dare to hazard a guess that the Fisherman 12 is, in terms of its dimensions and func-tionality, currently the best fishing kayak available in Estonia. Campaign prices start from 290 euros. More information on the boat can be found on the website at www.eastpole.ee, while the time and date for a test drive can be agreed by e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org or by tele-phone on 5191 0090.