The Pelican Bayou is the latest incarnation of the hugely popular Coleman Scanoe and the changes have been for the better.
With three keen anglers jumping in and out of the Bayou 160 over the last two months, we thought it would be great to get their thoughts on the canoe from an angler’s point of view.
“I first jumped into a Coleman Scanoe four years ago while fishing in Victoria’s Snowy River chasing bass,” said Marc Ainsworth, editor of Victoria Fishing Monthly.
“The first thing I noticed in the Scanoe was the excellent stability and when I got into the Bayou, nothing had changed. Even with a heavy payload and another angler in the boat, I could still stand and comfortably cast lures from the back of the boat in slow moving pools. It gave me a freedom to cast more accurately and allowed me to stretch my legs when the need arose.”
“I agree,” said Greg Livingstone from Fishing Monthly Group. “The metre-plus beam of the Bayou is a real asset when you are casting lures or changing your weight distribution as you try to get into the best casting position. Boats with a narrower beam can make you feel unstable and don’t offer this level of security in terms of balance.”
“Take it from me,” said Steve Booth editor of Queensland Fishing Monthly, “when Livvo is in the boat you, you want all the stability you can get and the Bayou offers just that”.
Marc also said the wide beam allowed eskies to be stowed sideways rather than longitudinal, keeping room for more gear or allowing anglers to kneel when they go through some rough or fast water. Greg added that the wide beam also allowed a couple of swags to be carried in the boat easily, as well as your standard waterproof drums. And with 53 cubic feet of cargo space, the Bayou really is the aircraft carrier of the canoe world.
Transporting the Bayou around is pretty simple. As it weighs in at 51kg, most people can lift the front end up onto the roof racks and then slide the Bayou into the best position before strapping it down. With two people it’s a piece of cake.
“The first time I put the Bayou on my Patrol was a breeze. I use three Rhino Racks to support the canoe and tie it down bow and stern, and I run a single strap over the middle for long trips. I can stay at the speed limit with this set-up and get to the water on time,” said Greg.
“Being that I am the oldest and most beat up of us, I reckon I’d always need two people,” said Steve. “My wonky knee and shoulder mean it feels safer for me popping the Bayou on my Commodore wagon with someone helping, and it’s a lot lower to the ground than Greg’s Patrol.”
All three of the boys recommend using good quality ratchet straps for the bow, stern and middle tie downs, but you can also feel safe tying the canoe down with good rope and tying truckie’s hitches.
You need to make sure the canoe is centred and balanced on the roof racks to ensure your vehicle’s centre of gravity is not affected too much.
“I found the canoe really did extend the height of my car getting down steep, bush descents to fish the Snowy, so you’ll need to be aware of this. Be especially careful of overhanging branches that can snag on the tie downs or scratch the craft,” said Marc.
Because the Bayou is flat backed you can choose three power sources: paddle power, electric or combustion outboards.
“My experience is with paddling,” said Steve. “I really like the stealth factor of paddling quietly into position and firing a cast into a snag. You’ve done all the hard work and the reward is yours.”
In contrast Greg prefers the quiet power of an electric motor. “I’ve fitted the Bayou with a transom mount Minn Kota RT40 and power it with a 105 amp hour Trojan battery. This gives me an easy day’s fishing under electric power and allows me to concentrate more on the fishing rather than the paddling.”
“Long pools on the Snowy were the perfect place to strap on an outboard,” said Marc.
“We decided on an outboard for our Snowy trips because we were carrying two eskies that were acting as live wells, we had plenty of other gear and the return trip against the current would have drained an electric’s battery or almost killed my old man if we had to paddle. One up, with a 4hp Honda on the back, the canoe felt like it was getting on the plane and was good fun to blast around in,” finished Marc.
The choice of power is your own. Paddle power will keep you fit, but the paddles will need to be stowed somewhere when you’re casting. Electric power is stealthy, but the battery takes up a bit of room and adds plenty of weight to the rear of the craft, especially if you’re one up and the weight is at the back. This can be easily solved by extending the power cables to the battery and placing the battery forward of the middle. If you choose an outboard, you don’t lose space with batteries but you do lose a bit on the stealth factor. So there are pros and cons for each mode of power and it will end up being a personal choice as to how you power the craft. One safety tip is to always make sure you have your paddles in the boat somewhere. Paddle power will always get you to the bank or home if your electric runs out of puff or your outboard stops working.
Being that the Bayou is a new model of an old favourite, the new features really separate it from its Coleman Scanoe predecessor.
The first major change was the incorporation of an internal skin. Made from the same impact resistant and UV resistant Ram X polyethylene as the rest of the craft, the internal skin is moulded for some very specific reasons.
“The rib-like moulding serves a few purposes,” said Greg. “Firstly it gives structural strength to the hull and means you do not see the hull flexing under load like you did with the Scanoe. Secondly, the ribs act as water baffles. Any water you drag in when loading up or storing paddles, pools in the bottom of the ribs. As you rock around changing position, the water weight does not rock with you and the boat is far more stable. The ribs also keep stored gear out of the water in the boat. I can transport my swag in the boat without risking it getting too wet, which was a drama in the old model. Lastly, the new internal skin has had some knee mouldings put into it. These are fantastic for negotiating fast water or rapids as you can kneel down, lower your centre of gravity and balance better,” Greg said.
“The middle seat is a great addition for three up fishing on short trips and makes this a true fishing machine,” said Steve. “It allows a few mates to enjoy the trip rather than restricting it to two anglers. Plus it means there are more people to share the paddling!” he finished.
The Bayou also has aluminium gunnels with protective sleeves that add a great deal of strength to the rig and there is also extra storage space generated by the relocation of the flotation, which is incorporated under the second skin and inserted into the seats.
If you’re into getting into tight spots and fishing where others can’t then the Bayou may well be the craft for you. It’s relatively light for its size; it’s very stable, has a number of power options, is tough and durable and really is a refined version of an age-old industry icon in the Scanoe.
They are worth checking out if you’ve got a hankering to get back to nature and do some one on one fishing. Pelican Bayous retail for $2347. They are available at most major outdoor retailers or you can check out the Bayou by logging onto www.pelicansports.com.
Length: 495cm (16’3”)
Beam: 109cm (43”)
Weight: 51kg (114lb)
Max. Payload: 432kg (950lb)