Florida Bay Outfitters
Not quite what was promoted...but fun anyway!
FLYC Trip Report 2/8/03
Well we (Susan, Ray and I) attended the FBO "Bogey and Bacall" kayak race and demo days this past weekend in nearby Key Largo. The event highlights were two races (Bogey: 13 miles, and Bacall: 6 miles) across Blackwater Sound, booths and kayaks on demo, kayak test paddles and lots of good people and food.
But I have to say that I was disappointed. The event promoted that there would be reps and kayaks from Perception, Necky, Ocean Kayak, Wilderness Systems and others. Perception and Necky sure were there, but I really didn't see much from OK or WS. And as far as test rides, there were very few yaks in the water: a Hobie, OK Venus and Cabo, Tarpon 120 and 16, and a few others. The promotion left me with the idea that we'd see and be able to test the entire line of yaks.
Just didn't happen. But there was one real highlight for me though, and that was a brand new fishing yak called the "Bimini" by Perception. See the pics above. Features a front and far stern hatch, and a great baitwell (finally wide enough for milk crates!) just behind the seating area. Oh, and a little rectangular cover (not hatch) in the center divider. Cute. And a small screw-in hatch, oddly enough just behind the seat.
I test paddled the Bimini, my impressions: 15'3" (perhaps a tad too long, but turns OK) by 28" wide. Foot wells are scuppered: a long flat bottom well that is always wet. Seat is unscuppered! The well needs to be right behind the seat; the small hatch placement seems a compromise or unfortunate design decision. The deck is flat, and the profile is low; but this will be a VERY wet yak in surf or any real chop. Suspected it was heavy, and checked today: 69 pounds! OUCH!
Bottom line: worth a look and certainly proof that manufacturers are trying to get it right. The profile and design makes this more of a calm water or flats yak. The storage area is NOT impressive. It is HEAVY! If you're into this size yak (and you should be), buy a Scupper Pro TW.
After, we went a bit down the road to launch near Atlantis Dive (ocean side). The launch area was blocked off for some reason, but we easily carried our yaks to the water and headed over to the flats around Rattlesnake Key. The area is mostly flats split by a well marked shallow channel. Ray in his red Drifter, Susan in her Scrambler and me in "Compensation". OK rules.
A local baitshop said to expect bones and cudas in the flats (but deep, say 4 to 5 ft.), snook in the mangroves. The Key is split by a number of nice wandering channels, and the whole place seemed very fishy. During our few hours we saw and landed a few small cuda, but we saw at least one large bone, a couple of large tarpon, and some muddied water. Spooked a couple snook. Some large feeding rays, another good sign.
This was a stunning area, and we all agreed it would be worth returning to. The Key is surrounded by well recommended flats, is full of little coves and mini mangrove islands, plus some wandering deep channels. Key Largo is close and there are many, many great areas to fish. Plus you get that unique keys experience.
Ray split, but Susan and I stayed to have a couple drinks, sit outside and watch the sunset and listen to live Cuban salsa music. Doesn't get any better than this and we have to plan another trip here.
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