Friday, February 27, 2015

Quiet but busy February

It's been a while since my last post, really the longest I've ever gone between posts!  I hope I never go that long between postings again.    But this February has been absolutely terrible.   After enjoying a very rare kayak fishing trip on Dec 28th just 2 months ago in what seemed like balmy 10 degree Celsius temperatures, we have been brutalized since with storm after storm after storm.    The kids have had many snow days, the town has shut down completely several times, and my street is one of many that are down to one lane because of the massive amounts of snow build up.

Also, my day job as a software engineer is in the tax industry, and this is the crazy time for me work-wise.   I'm often putting in long hours and working till very late at night this time of year.   I really don't have much time to put into the blog unfortunately.

Just the same though, I have been able to put some time into off-season fishing activities.   The annual three day Moncton Sportsman Show is only a month away now, and I've been asked to host a booth to promote kayak fishing and sturgeon fishing.     This should be a lot of fun, and a great way to help grow the sport here in Eastern Canada, however it has been a lot of work to prepare for, and I still have a ton of work to do before I'm ready.

Along with preparing for the show, I have been working the phones and e-mails constantly for the last few months recruiting new and returning sponsors for the two paddling tournaments that I organize.   Thankfully, a lot of companies are seeing value in these events and the promotional opportunities that sponsorship provides.   There are a host of new companies on board this year, and from them a lot of new and great prizes to be given away!    It's way too early for me to know what the final prize pools will look like but I'm certain they will blow last year out of the water!

Getting into yet another new venture, 2015 will see me as a published columnist for the first time!   I'll be contributing a regular column to the Ossekeag family of community magazines which serve 40,000 households in communities around the Saint John region.     Though these articles I will promote the sport of fishing, tell stories, give tips and offer friendly encouragement to folk to get out and give fishing a try!

Finally, in 2015 I am going offer my services as a recreational kayak fishing guide.  If you, or anyone you know would like to hire me as a guide for a day or a half day, then let me know.   I expect to start fishing sturgeon in April (if Winter ever ends!) and there won't be a lot of days before they head out to deeper water and the short Spring sturgeon season ends. I already have some days booked up! 

So stay tuned for posts in the next while and if you are in the Maritimes, be sure to check out the Sportsmen Show in Moncton and come by to say hi!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gear Review - BlackPak by YakAttack

With the heavy snowfalls really hitting our area hard this past week, and expected to continue for the next little while, there isn't much one can do for kayak fishing except dream about the Spring and perhaps purchase some new toys. I just received one great new toy that I have been very excited to get my hands on. The BlackPak by YakAttack.
 This is a great utility storage unit designed to add to the standard milk crate that many kayak anglers, including myself through 2014, have relied upon.   Like all YakAttack products, this unit is American made to the highest quality and percision standards which was very evident when I assembled it.   Every single piece and screw hole fit perfectly together without any 'fudging' required.   Once complete, the strength and durability of the BlackPak is obvious.   I fully expect that I could drop it, full of gear, from waist high and there would be no worries of it breaking or the contents getting scattered around.

The first thing I noticed when putting the BlackPak together is that it appears quite a bit bigger than my milk crate.   Cross checking it, indeed it is wider (side to side), but the length of it (front to back) is the same as a milk crate.   Bungee cords both hold the lid in place at the rear, acting as a hinge, and keep the front of the lid closed.    There are all sorts of pre-drilled holes allowing you to place the three rods holders that come with the unit bascially anywhere you like.

In my Predator 13, I was not able to position the BlackPak so the opening faces the rear of my seat, instead I had to position it so that it opens off one side.    As such I positioned my rod holders on one end of the BlackPack, and set them up so the side holders would be slightly tilted, keeping any rod I may place in the middle holder a little further away from any net I may place on a side holder.    Oh, for my dry run test, I picked out a sturdy, expandable net with a big foam handle.   This net does not fit in most rod holders, but it does fit perfectly in the holders that come with the Black Pak.   That is a sweet bonus for me!

Along with the BlackPak, I also order a couple of GearTracs to attach along the top.   This provides all sorts of additional mounting options for any accessories that can fit into a standard track system.    Here is where I found the first and only think I'd possibly improve on the BlackPak.   The holes on the GearTrac doesn't line up with the holes on the top pieces of the Black Pak.   I did have to drill holes here and the screws just barely reached far enough down for me to be able to connect them into the locking nuts.    Slightly longer screws here would have been great.   Alternatively, having tracks built into the top panels placed a little wider would have been ideal.

As you can see, I had to place the tracks fairly close to the opening in order for the drilled screw holes not to go into the side walls.   When I place accessories into the tracks, they can interfere with opening and closing the lid of the unit.    As seen here, with one Scotty track mount near the front of the lid on one side, and the other near the rear on the other, I was able to open and close the BlackPak, but I couldn't if they were both placed on the same side.
Note, the amount of gear I am abel to store in the Black Pak here.    4 Plano boxes, plus another bigger box, a safety pail (for bathroom breaks on the water!), a flashlight, a scale, a Sonarphone, and some paracord.      Not to mention the 2 rods, a net, safety light, camera mount.   That is a ton of storage!   I did try bigger plano boxes as well, and the ones I have does fit into the Black Pak sideways, however they hit the top panels and have to be tilted a bit to fit in and out, so you couldn't fill the box with them.

Finally, one other important thing to note, if you are going to put tracks on your Black Pak and use it for your action camera, be sure it is secured such that it isn't sliding around.  Otherwise you'll feel the effects in your videos.   On the Preadator 13, I can use the build in bungees to hold the Black Pak in place and have no worries about it sliding.

If I had my time back, I may have thought about securing the tracks to the top panels with an epoxy rather than screws.  That way I could have moved them further out to the sides away from interfering with the lid.   Not sure that would have been the right approach or not as I don't have much experience with those types of materials.    Regardless, from my dry run test here in the middle of winter in my driveway, I'm sure the BlackPak is going to be an awesome addition to my Predator 13!