SA Bass - - Contents - >> John Baden­horst*

“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

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