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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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November 01, 2013

The Best of Big and Small

by Bob Banfelder

With a length of 935.6 feet and a beam of 105.8 feet, the MS Eurodam is a cruise ship for Holland America Line. We left Manhattan on October 2nd, 2013 under clear skies, setting out for a full ten day Fall Foliage voyage through New England and on up to Canada. The ports of call we visited included Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Saguenay, Quebec; and Quebec City. Along the way, between Sydney and Saguenay, we were to have stopped at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; however, 50 mile an hour winds prevented us from safely landing there. It was our prudent captain's call. Better to have spent an additional night at sea aboard the vessel than in life boats, I'm sure you would agree.

It was Donna's and my first cruise. I had promised her that I would not bring any work with me as I am a workaholic, writing mystery and psychological thrillers. Too, I write many outdoor articles, the majority of them geared toward fishing. Therefore, I decided to clandestinely channel my downtime into some surreptitious research. In Bar Harbor, I had picked up a copy of the Bangor Daily News, turning to the OUTDOORS section, in which its staff writer, John Holyoke, covered two new Old Town Predator fishing kayaks for this and the coming year.

"Wow," in a word says Luke LaBree, marketing communications manager for Johnson Outdoors Watercraft (parent company Old Town Canoe, Old Town , Maine), referring to the new 12-foot Predator MX Tri-hull design as well as the 13-foot Predator kayak. Wow, is my response to readers after having followed up with further research once back home. These two yaks have been designed with a single purpose in mind: Fishing.

The Predator MX model has an overall length of 12 feet with a width of 34 inches.

The Predator model 13 has an overall length 13'2" with a width of 33.5 inches.

Both yaks are stable fishing platforms, with the 12-foot Predator MX model being the more stable because of its Tri-hull design. LaBree boasts that he can stand with both feet on its gunnel without tipping it. He has not only tested the Predator MX, he owns one. One can walk fore and aft and even turn around. Wow, is right! There is no question that you can stand and fish from it as seen during a photo shoot in Veazie, Maine, as well several promotional videos. The men featured were not ninety-eight pound weaklings fighting and pulling in two-pound fish—quite the contrary.

The seat is a well thought-out design that can be set in three different positions: low for "lawn chair class comfort" when paddling; a higher four- to six-inch position for better visibility; or a fold-out-of-the-way position, which allows the angler to stand comfortably. Also, there is what is termed the Exo-Ridge deck, a design that carries water through it and out via one-way scuppers. Hence, no more sitting or standing in a puddle as experienced on many a yak—most, actually.

The basic cost for the Predator MX is $1,200, while the Predator model 13 runs $1,300. In choosing between the two yaks, there are important considerations: speed, maneuverability, and the fact that the MX does not have a built-in transducer scupper. The model 13 does, which provides for built-in mounting to accommodate Humminbird Side Imaging technology (unit optional, of course). I have a Humminbird GPS/Fishfinder unit on my Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler, which I bandy back and forth between yak and center console. This, I feel, is a must-have accessory for the serious angler as it offers important information such as surface water temperature, depth, thermoclines, bottom structure, speed, lat./lon., compass bearing, waypoints, routes, tracking and fish symbols—to name but a few of the functions this system performs.

In addition to these three considerations referencing the Predator MX and Predator 13, their weight, 82 and 86 pounds, respectively, should be of paramount importance. For example, my hefty Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler weighs 69 pounds. That's a heavy vessel when thinking in terms of transporting. The Predator MX and Predator are 13 and 17 pounds heavier, respectively. Seriously consider where you are going to be using either behemoth. If weight is not an issue, meaning that you won't be car-topping or portaging these weighty platforms very often over unconscionable distances, you may want to consider these serious paddling-power fishing machines.

Both the Predator MX 12- and 13-foot models come in three different colors plus a camo pattern: grayish (called urban), yellow, tan, and camouflage. For fishing, I'd opt for yellow for safety's sake as it offers high visibility; the fish won't mind. They just love my yellow plastic plugs and other yellow lures. Perhaps my yellow yak serves a prodigious attractor. Of course, for waterfowl hunting, what could be better than that camo pattern? Wingshooting waterfowl from the Tri-hull model, for better stability, would be the way to go. Try before you buy are words to the wise.

The two models come loaded with standard features such as six removable mounting plates (which means not having to drill into the hull of the vessel) that accept rod holders, GPS/Fishfinder, et cetera; retainer bungees to secure rod and reel, in addition to rod -tip holders; large capacity tank well; side-mount paddle storage holder; additional molded paddle rest for prompt, hands-free placement; large bow hatch and click-seal cover; duel tackle holders; center console pod cover with drink holder and molded in ruler [Predator model 13 only]. These features will cover most of your angling needs.

Walking back to the ship with the Bangor Daily News newspaper in hand, opened to that kayak photo shoot, those sizable yaks were suddenly dwarfed as I lifted my eyes to the 935.6-foot, 11 passenger-decked, 86,700 ton vessel! I smiled up at her, torn between October fishing back home on Long Island and my new experience of cruising from port to port and dining in lavish style. I knew it would be futile to try and convince the captain to reduce his average speed of between ten and seventeen knots down to two so that I might try my hand at trolling off the stern . . . perhaps shoot skeet in order to hone my skills for ducks and geese when Donna and I returned home. I assume that after 9/11 all bets were off in that latter regard. Anyhow, I made it my business to ingratiate myself with the captain of the MS Eurodam, Captain Henk Keijer.

But all was certainly not lost concerning a daily outdoor dose as harbor porpoises, eagles, snow geese, eiders and gadwalls filled the seascape en route. In fact, our shipboard cabin stewards, Hairul and Anto, added to the evening mix with fresh towel-folding creations of fish and animals set out on our turned-down bed, nightly: stingray, sea robin, octopus, crab, lobster; rabbit, turkey, elephant, hippo, duck. Of course, local markets displayed their catch-of-the-day, too.

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And when we weren't eating, which is very difficult to do on a cruise, Donna and I attended virtually every single seminar given by culinary hostess Samantha (Sam) and Chef Michael, who whet your appetite by preparing dishes (predominately seafood) before your very eyes—dishes to die for—then handing out samples. Talk about eating between meals!

From Quebec City, Donna and I traveled by train to Montreal, where the fall colors peaked in full splendor. Upon return home, I heard that the bite was a bit off for keeper bass, although monster blues kept the action going. My friends from Riverhead, Tom Gahan, beached his first keeper bass; Larry Epps and his cousin, veterans that they are, had no trouble bringing albies, bass and chopper blues over the rail this fall. To close out the month of October, Donna caught and released an 18½-inch schoolie, while at the same moment I took an 28-inch—on the money—keeper from our center console using Kastmasters on which I epoxy eyes.

Whether angling from a bantam kayak or canoe in a nearby river or bay, to fishing from the largest ocean-going Viking vessel in the Montauk fleet, or anything in between, remember that we live in an outdoor mecca, folks. Take advantage.

Meanwhile, I've got to work on how to convince the captain of the MS Eurodam to slow down his mega-vessel to two knots so that I might troll those northeastern waters as well as others on our next cruise. Yes, I want the best of both worlds. Yes, I want to lead a charmed life. Yes, I wish to push the envelope. :o) :o) :o)

See you on the water this November.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

New for 2013: Bob's The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water available from []

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