As the savage lows and cold fronts formed way out west of the country, Jo Starling decided it was time to “man up” and take up the offer to test run the new-to-the-country Native Watercraft Slayer 13 Propel… before the water got too chilly and choppy.
I felt somewhat like a telly tubby (you know, those oddly shaped alien-critters that drive parents crazy on daytime television?) when I slid the new Slayer 13 Propel into the chilly waters of Tuross Lake last week. The mercury was struggling to reach 8˚C, but the tide was about to turn and I wanted to get out there to greet any fish that were riding that first wave of warmer water. So I donned my new Lavacore exposure protection gear (purchased through Capacity Sports in Melbourne) and braved the conditions… luckily, this is Fishing Monthly and not Fashion Monthly! For the record… I was sweating.
The Slayer 13 Propel had been touted as Native Watercraft’s answer to the Hobie Pro Angler, a well-established and highly regarded fishing ‘yak. I’d taken delivery of one of the first Slayers to hit our shores, but had been side-lined by health issues… and so it was months before her covers came off.
I could tell she was a beast to be reckoned with as soon as I pulled her out of her shipping wrap! Her sleek lines and low profile had me visualising slipping through the water like a hot knife on butter. To say I was enthusiastic would be an understatement… I was positively pumped!
I was champing so hard, in fact, that I couldn’t be bothered transferring my Lowrance sounder across from my Mariner… too much fiddling around, I reasoned… I was just taking her out for a couple hours run.
As I slid the Slayer off the beach and into deeper water, I weighed up my pedalling options: I could follow the channel markers for about a kilometre; or I could try to cut across the flat for 200 metres. I decided to bow to my lack-of-fitness and traverse the flats.
It was a good exercise (in more ways than one). I didn’t get far before my propeller touched sand, demanding to be lifted through the hull until I found deeper water. This proved simple and quick. I pulled out my paddle and started my upper body work-out. I was confused for a while as the bow kept skewing right, despite that being my stronger arm! At first I thought it was the last of the run-out tide giving me a touch-up… but then I realised I’d neglected to straighten my rudder. Such a newbie!
Rudder straightened, I was paddling effortlessly and listening to my internal dialogue about just how “skinny” the “skinny water” would be that this craft could access. I found out pretty soon, running aground and finding another use for my paddle, pushing myself back in the direction I’d come.
Without my sounder I couldn’t be sure of the depth, but my Makos told me that my knees would remain dry if I stepped off.
As I reached the channel marker I’d decided to start fishing from, I took some time to survey the area. Without my sounder, I was going to have to read the water. My hope was that the fish would fire up as the flush of warm ocean water brushed their backs… I was really hoping to catch one last flattie before they tucked themselves in for the winter.
With a few cycles of my pedals, the propeller whirred me over to the western flat where I knew there was a good drop-off. I sent my Squidgy Fish probing into the shallows, hopping it naively down into the drop-off, hoping to convince a waiting dusky that I was a bait fish making a last dash at the bottom of the tide. They weren’t fooled… or they weren’t there.
Perhaps I was just a tad late for that strategy to work. The flow had stopped and the water glassed off. Without the sound of any form of motor, no breeze, no-one else on board, I had a few moments of complete serenity.
The fish had to be somewhere, right? So I headed out into the deeper channel and pitched my lure at the channel marker. I figured it was as good a spot to start my drift as any. As soon as I lifted my little puppet for it’s second bounce back towards me, I had weight! And it was heavy!
I knew by the way the fish was doggedly holding the bottom and shaking its head that I’d found the dusky I wanted. I was so excited! This would be my first fish in a ‘yak and probably one of the biggest flatties I’d caught! Ahhh... the age-old art of counting chickens.
As the fish towed me away from the marker, I was careful to keep only enough pressure on to stay connected. I was fishing light tackle and I knew my only hope was to wear the fish down. Alas, with a determined head shake, my rod straightened and my line went slack. The lure had pulled through my loop and left me bereft… that was my last Revhead jighead!
By the time I’d selected, threaded and retied my next Squidgy, the tide was pushing in nicely… and the bait schools were starting to tremble on the waters surface. Whilst I didn’t have my sounders, I had the best possible polarised sunnies around… my Makos cut through that wintery glare like it wasn’t there. Thankfully, the conditions had the fish in the top layer and so the sounders proved unnecessary.
The first slashes and swirls that heralded the arrival of predators erupted on the opposite drop-off. It took no time at all to pedal the Slayer to within casting distance. I waited, ready to pounce… and when the next boil erupted, my lure flew. It landed right beside the disturbance and was taken on the drop!
Fortunately, it was a solid take and I reacted quickly, hooking a solid tailor in the corner of the mouth and avoiding another disappointment. The fish and I battled for a few minutes—I fished gingerly so I didn’t help the fish saw through my leader. I didn’t count this one until it was in the kayak, but when it was… I whooped and hoorayed like the girl I am!
Landing my first fish out of a new kayak was momentous for me… I’m sure it is for anyone. The fact that it was a challenging and chunky tailor was even sweeter. I didn’t take too long to savour the moment, however, because the Lake had come alive!
I spent the next hour pedalling from one boil to another, trying to predict movements and lead the fish. It was an amazing session that saw me land two cracking salmon (for our estuary, anyway) and discover a whole lot about the Slayer.
It’s still very early days in my relationship with the Native Watercraft Slayer13 Propel, but I must say that I’m feeling confident that the relationship will last. It manoeuvres effortlessly and I actually found that I was more able to move from one patch of surface feeding fish to another more efficiently than the boats that I was sharing the water with.
I can see that the lightness of the vessel would be a great help when fighting fish that outclass my tackle. The mobility decreases the strain on your line and allows you to tire the fish, while the Propel system allows you to pedal backwards if you’re getting into dangerous territory.
Whilst I haven’t set the Slayer’s top deck up yet, it shipped to me with handy bungy strapping that allows for convenient net stowage behind the elevated seat, as well as bungy strapping across both fore and aft wells. The groove track system allows for easy attachment of desired accessories, including sounder mounts in front of the angler, as opposed to being off to the side.
The floor space is generous, making casting from a standing position easy. I’ve since taken the fly rod out and waved that around to test the stability without any problems at all! No fish either, but that’s my next challenge…
More information can be obtained from www.inmotionaus.com or call Natalie from Capacity Sports on 0412 046 451.
Native Watercraft Slayer 13 Propel
|Depth at Beam:||33cm|
|RRP:||$2,960 (plus the options you choose)|