“Kickboating… Here to Stay” Many anglers start off their adventure into the different aspects of our sport by beating the bank or walking and stalking. I’m sure not many anglers started out from the beginning with a shiny new boat and enough rods and tackle to stock the average tackle shop – John Badenhorst
Many anglers start off their adventure into the different aspects of our sport by beating the bank or walking and stalking. I’m sure not many anglers started out from the beginning with a shiny new boat and enough rods and tackle to stock the average tackle shop. As all bank anglers know, when bank fishing, one is kind of limited by the amount of rods and tackle you can carry and hence some planning needs to go into every outing. As we progress through our learning and desire to catch more and bigger fish, there is naturally always a yearning for something better. It’s human nature.
Way back when the idea first emerged of a floating devise that could support the average angler, kickboats were rather crude devices made mainly from disused vehicle inner tubes. As anglers became more determined and creative, it spawned a new dawn on what we see today as kickboating. From adding a seat of some form or another, to adding a simple, yet crude rod rack, to the manufacture of dedicated vinyl swim bladders strapped together with aluminium support bars and the capabilities of adding a small trolling motor, we can all agree that this aspect of our sport has grown incredibly from its infancy. In the beginning, kickboats were more of a V-shaped inflatable bladder with a sling between the two arms for the angler to sit on. This realm of fishing was first explored by trout fly fishermen on their explorations of larger bodies of water and has from there become more and more popular with new and even salted bass anglers.
One simply needs to look on the internet to see the fantastic craft available to anglers in the form of kickboats. As with all aspects of our sport, there is constant development in this branch of bass fishing. Not only here in South Africa but also on a growing international level.
More and more, bigger and better tournaments are being held specifically for this branch of bass fishing and the number of anglers joining kickboat clubs are growing by the day. At some social events, it’s not unusual to have around hundred anglers or more. With the advancement of technology the price of these units have also come down, making it way more affordable for the angler starting out. Some kickboats are so advanced that they can seat two anglers in total comfort and still be fitted with a trolling motor, fish finder and even a portable live-well for competitions. Oh and a decent rod rack to hold a host of differently rigged rods.
Speaking to veteran kickboat anglers at these events will give you a sense of their camaraderie and it soon becomes apparent that there is a different social aspect at play amongst this dedicated group of men and women. Tournaments are being held in all provinces but mainly during the months of September through to April, although there are comps taking place during the cold winter months but this is not for the faint of heart.
There are very distinct advantages and disadvantages to this method of fishing just as with boating or beating the bank has its pros and cons. One of the advantages of this method of fishing is the ability to get into spots holding fish that a boat angler either cant or has to approach with caution due to weedbeds, submerged trees or thick reed cover. A kickboat also has the advantage of being very quiet and as we know, sometimes stealth results in better fishing results. With a small trolling motor fitted, the angler can also widen his or her fishing area with less time kicking their way to a spot and more time spent actually fishing.
As I’ve said before, Africa is not for sissies and choosing your pond or dam to fish using a kickboat is very much dependent on what other creatures besides our beloved bass lurk in the deep. Let’s just say that kickboats, hippo and crocodile don’t make good fishing. The other disadvantage of using a kickboat is getting a puncture while out on the water and having to do a repair while floating. Something such as a small puncture can surely ruin a good day out on the water. With a kickboat there is no need for a 4x4, trailer and all the other goodies. Units are simple to put together and within a few minutes the kickboater can be out on the water. Upon returning, the angler simply deflates and packs away the unit into a carry bag or can in most cases pack the entire unit into the boot of an average vehicle.
As with every sport, there is always a progression towards bigger and better. More space relates to more comfort and more tackle. Even the top of the range units don’t cost an arm and a leg and you won’t have to be nice to the bank manger to afford one either.
Moving to a float tube or kick-boat is a natural progression and with more anglers joining the bass community each day, more anglers are experiencing their own evolution from beating the bank and bush to being out on the water. More professional tournaments are being held and pretty soon tournaments on a national level and even international level will be on the cards. It’s affordable, simple and gets an angler out on the water to hunt those that dwell in the deep. Kick-boating is also a healthy way to spend a day in pursuit of bass especially if you’re kicking your way around using a set of flippers or fins. Even boat anglers sometime go back to using their faithful kick-boats as some dams don’t allow larger craft or it’s simply impractical to even try and launch a bass boat.
Having a browse on the internet will put you in touch with a variety of local and international brands at different prices and with different capabilities to suit everyone. There are even some very good second hand units available at the fraction of the cost. A further search on the internet will put you as angler in touch with anglers in your area or a local social club where you can explore a different aspect of catching bass. Many of these clubs and groups also have strictly private access to bodies of water where no other anglers are allowed. Private waters mean less pressure and always better fishing in the end.
Look around, find a kick-boat that suits your needs and budget and get out on the water. Summer is almost here and I think the fishing will be good this time around. See you out on the water.
*John Badenhorst is assistant editor of SA BASS magazine and a keen angler himself. He is also a regular contributor for SA BASS and a custom lure maker for Wolf Lures, Flies & Feathers.
The advantage of fishing from a kickboat is the ability to get silently into hidden fishing spots