Hobie Mirage Revolution Fish
Courtesy of IFS
Lately I have been thinking about the benefits of the Hobie MirageDrive and having your hands free for fishing. For those not in the know, the MirageDrive is a pedal driven method of propelling a kayak. Hobie calls it a "Revolutionary new propulsion system", and I must admit it certainly is an impressive system. The two blades look like the wings on a penguin. There is a good reason for this too.
The MirageDrive system was modelled on the wings of penguins and the fins of tuna. They borrow the efficiency and effectiveness from what has been perfected and proven in nature, rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. The fins flex at the back edge on the up and down stroke exactly like the wings of a penguin, providing thrust with each stroke. It feels a bit like riding an exercise bike or an elliptical trainer and is good exercise for the calf muscles. The pedals and seat can be adjusted for different sized people to get a comfortable pedalling position.
I have a few mates who own different Hobies, and have had a quick paddle and pedal in the Adventure, and seen the Outback in action. But the one that really got my attention is the Revolution.
I think one of the first things that really appealed to me was that the dimensions are almost exactly the same as my Ocean Kayak Prowler 13. The specifications for the Revolution are as follows:
Length - 4.09 m
Width - 0.72 m
Weight - 29.3 kg (including the MirageDrive)
Capacity - 159 kg
If you compare these specs to the Prowler 13, you'll see little difference. This places the Revolution in prime position to be a great all rounder performer, capable of handling rough seas as well as having a decent enough turning circle for fishing the rivers and snags.
When I had the opportunity to have a go in the Revolution last weekend I was very interested to see how it would handle. The Revolution I tried was fitted with the ST Turbo fin kit and the large twist-n-stow rudder. The ST Turbo fins sure do generate a lot of speed and the large rudder does a decent job of turning the kayak. To really generate some speed, you can push yourself down and back in the seat to get better purchase on the pedals. For those times when you have a large distance to travel to get to the hot spot the Revolution will get you there quick smart. By far the biggest positive of the MirageDrive is that it allows hands free propulsion, allowing you to have a rod in your hand at all times. And the more time spent actively fishing the better your chances of catching fish!
The only way to steer while pedalling is via the rudder unless you pick your paddle up. On a full time paddler I am able to use sweeping strokes in conjunction with my rudder to turn around on the spot. So the extra large rudder was a real benefit for the Hobie when you're pedalling. When you get to more tricky spots, such as snags requiring tight turning, you just push the pedals out to lock the blades up and then pick up the paddle to get yourself around the obstacle.
The seating position feels comfortable while pedalling, and the Hobie seat is nicely padded and has a high back. The only problem with such a high back seat is that it restricts the number of life jackets that can be comfortably worn. You'll need to make sure you get one with a very high back. Hobie do make a high back vest to suit.
One of the things that concerned me about the MirageDrive is how it performs in shallow water, given that I do a lot of fishing in shallow flats as well as over snaggy areas with sunken logs and oyster-encrusted rocks. By using very short strokes with the pedals, with the blades against the hull, you can still move by pedal power in very shallow water around half a metre deep. To tuck the blades right up against the hull to avoid damage from rocks you just need to push one of the pedals all the way forward. If you fish around the oysters and rocks regularly then you may need to purchase a new set of blades every now and then. But the good news is that the blades come as a relatively cheap separate part that attaches to the pedals.
So the MirageDrive Hobies really are a very versatile kayak, with their choice of propulsion methods. The Revolution in particular is a versatile kayak, since its hull is perfectly suited for paddling as well as pedalling. Some of the other Hobies are quite beamy, making them less than ideal for paddling. But the Revolution with its sleek profile similar in dimension to the Prowler is a very good paddling hull. The only area where the Prowler's hull is a better performer is the flared V bow and stern which allows the Prowler to ride over the waves. In large choppy conditions the Revolution has the tendency to push directly through the waves, with water spilling into cockpit. The water will drain out of the scupper holes, so the main problem here is your comfort level while pedalling in choppy conditions.
The only other issues that are less than ideal are that when paddling you have trouble getting your feet comfortable and also problems with steering. With one pedal pushed forward that foot is okay, but the other foot needs to be squished around the MirageDrive, since it's not comfortable to paddle with one foot forward and the other back. The steering issue is that the Hobie's rudder is controlled by a hand control on the deck next to the seat. When paddling you don't have the ability to make constant small adjustments as you can in a standard paddling kayak. But I guess it's just too much to ask to have the best of all worlds. In an ideal world the kayak would have both hand and foot controls for the rudder, and a little extra room for your feet when paddling. Hobie has such amazing ingenuity that it wouldn't surprise me if one day they built such a beast. The reality is that you won't do much paddling anymore with the Revo, since you'll fall in love with the ability to cast lures at likely bits of structure as you peddle along.
The Hobie range of MirageDrive kayaks are some of the best fishing kayaks available. I believe that if you're going to spend the top dollars to get one of the Hobies then you might as well spend a little extra to get some of the luxuries such as the turbo fins and the larger rudder. There is a large range of extras in the Hobie catalogue too, so that you customise it to suit your needs.
Some of the great features of the Revolution include:
- MirageDrive pedal system
- Two piece paddle with paddle storage on the side of the kayak
- Large front cargo hatch
- Two moulded in rod holders
- Carry handles fore and aft and on either side of the cockpit
- Sail mount
- Cup holder
- Two mesh covered storage pockets on either side of the cockpit - great place to store some pliers and lip grippers and a small box of lures.
- Two 8 inch twist and seal hatches - one between your legs and one in the rear of the rear cargo area.
- Padded adjustable high backed seat
- Large rear cargo area with bungee tie downs.
The storage options on the Revo are very well laid out for the angler. A gear bucket with dividers fits in the hatch between your legs. It's large enough to carry just about all the tackle you'll need for a day on the water. The bucket pulls out revealing more room to store extra tackle. Most Hobie owners stick a bit of non-slip matting in the hull to put their extra gear onto, so it doesn't slide away inside the hull. The large hatch at the front will hold any extra clothing you need for the trip. I really like the easy twist and seal hatches on the Hobie, they're much easier than the screw in type of hatches. And there's plenty of room in the rear hatch for the ubiquitous crate or a tackle box.
I've got to say I'm very impressed with the Hobie Mirage Revolution. It's got to be one of the most versatile, comfortable and functional fishing kayaks available. If you're like me and enjoy a lot of diversity in your fishing, from rough seas to calm bays, lakes and flowing rivers then you should do yourself a favour and check out the Revo. There's plenty of opportunity to deck it out with customisations such as extra rod holders, fish finder, GPS or an anchor trolley.
Sustainable Fishery Management
Following three very dry winters in recent years, the State has received a deluge of rain which has been a godsend for fisheries management. Tasmanian inland waters have been inundated with freshwater, filling dams, flooding rivers and flushing streams. Several fisheries have been brought back from the brink of non-existence and others are showing miraculous signs of recovery. The abundant flows have dramatically increased fish habitat, creating extensive backwaters and fertile feeding grounds, greatly improving the sustainability of wild and native fish stocks. The result is that anglers have a plethora of sensational fishing locations to choose from all around the State and a season that promises to be one of the best in living memory.
The records show that the State's winter rainfall was well above average and many sites (mostly in the east) had their wettest winter on record or their wettest winter for many years. There was persistent rain in the north and west from cold fronts in the second half of winter, as well as heavy rain in the north and east. Several sites received over 100 mm in a day during these events, and some sites had their highest winter daily rainfall on record. For the whole of winter, over a metre of rain fell in the western highlands, and over 200 mm fell even at the driest locations in the southern Midlands. Several episodes of flooding were reported in most of the monitored rivers, with major flooding in the South Esk. Further reports show that there was no real let up in the rain in September and this is likely to continue in October.
This wet weather has meant the return of of three very popular fisheries in the southeastern region, Craigbourne Dam, Tooms Lake and Lake Leake which had suffered dramatically over the last few years due to a lack of water from continuing severe drought conditions. All three waters filled dramatically during winter and began spilling in Spring. The Service capitalized on the situation at Craigbourne and began its restocking with fingerlings as well as adult browns and trophy salmon as soon as the levels rose. The planned stockings at the other waters have been put on hold until later in the season when spilling from dams ceases.
Another major bonus of the drought-breaking rains is that several prime fishing waters in the Central Highlands, including Arthurs, Woods and Great Lake are now out of danger from continued low water levels. In addition, these and other premium waters such as Little Pine and Penstock lagoons, Woods Lake and the Western Lakes, will have a chance to rest and recover from the intense angling pressure received over recent seasons as angling options narrowed due to the ongoing drought. Now that there are so many attractive alternative fishing locations available, the angling effort can be spread more evenly across the State. This is ideal from a management perspective since it will automatically enhance the sustainability of these premium highland waters which are the mainstay of the Tasmanian fishery.
Top Waters last season and those to watch this season
Based on results of the 2008-09 Angler Postal Survey, shown in the Table below, the top five waters last season according to popularity, in descending order, were Great Lake, Arthurs Lake, Woods Lake, and Penstock and Little Pine Lagoons. The top ten waters in terms of reward for effort in descending order were Woods Lake, followed by Lake Echo, Arthurs Lake, Lake Burbury, Bronte Lagoon, Huntsman Lake, Great Lake, Little Pine Lagoon, Four Springs Lake and Lake Binney.
Of the top five most popular waters, the standout waters were Great Lake and Arthurs Lake, which shared around 32 per cent of angling effort. The number of anglers at Arthurs Lake dropped by 1,693 to 6,756, while the number increased at Great Lake by 1,571 bringing it into the top spot with 6,964 anglers. The most likely reasons for this shift were the low lake levels at Arthurs, leading to boating access problems,, the loss of fishing grounds and a decline in water quality. A new low level boat ramp was constructed at Pumphouse Bay last winter to combat the situation but the low water levels throughout the season are likely to have deterred a significant number of boating anglers.
Arthurs Lake has held the top ranking position as the State's most popular fishing destination for the past five years at least largely due to its high catch rate and quality of fish. Despite the low levels last season, many anglers remained faithful to Arthurs and continued to be rewarded with high catch rates at around 2.21 fish per day, only a small drop compared with 2.98 the season before. Given the dramatic improvement in lake levels this year, Arthurs Lake promises anglers a bumper season, ensuring that its top reputation continues.
Great Lake is also an exceptional fishery and one which has not been overlooked judging by its popularity last season. It provides consistent rewards, represented by a catch rate of 1.84 fish per day last season, and it offers a variety of fishing experiences. The Service has boosted stocks of wild rainbow trout at the Lake by continuing to stock fingerlings at a high rate since 2000. It is open to all methods of angling - all year round - and hosts large populations of wild brown and rainbow trout.
Of the top five waters last season, Woods Lake in third place was the highland star offering exceptional fishing and the highest catch rate of all the State's fisheries. With improved water levels this season, the fishery at Woods is set to flourish and will deliver anglers great rewards in more sheltered surroundings than at Arthurs or Great Lake.
Penstock and Little Pine Lagoons were both popular waters last season, both offering reasonable catch rates. Although the rewards at Little Pine were greater than Penstock in terms of catch effort, the beauty of the fishery at Penstock Lagoon is second to none.
It is not surprising that the top five premium fisheries in the Central Highlands, Great Lake, Arthurs and Woods lakes, and Penstock and Little Pine lagoons, as well as the more remote waters in the Western Lakes, continue to be the mecca for Tasmanian and visiting anglers and their popularity is only likely to continue.
However, it is easy to become myopic about these fisheries and to follow the crowd, missing the excellent fishing opportunities that are available elsewhere around the State. These include more remote waters such as Lake Echo and Burbury, and those in the Bradys chain, as well as lowland waters such as Huntsman and Four Springs Lake.
Of particular interest from the survey results are the high catch rates reported at several of the less popular fisheries such as Lake Echo and Burbury, and Bronte Lagoon. This indicates that a few shrewd anglers enjoyed the benefits of more solitary fishing with a greater return for effort last season. Lake Echo, for instance had a higher catch rate than Arthurs but less than 20 percent of the anglers.
The reports at the start of this season from Lake Echo, of excellent fishing and catches of well conditioned rainbow trout, add weight to the call that this fishery has been under-rated until now. Last season it was made more accessible with a new road and boat ramp at its northern end and newly installed signage to help direct anglers. This is a fishery on the rise and well worth a visit this season, particularly for southern based anglers.
Other waters that did not even rate a mention over the past couple of seasons such as Craigbourne Dam, Tooms Lake and Lake Leake, are definitely back on the radar this year. The key message to anglers is that there is an unprecedented array of excellent fishing options to choose from this year and there's never been a better time to explore new waters or visit old favourites that have been reinvigorated with the abundant rains. This will also help fishery management by spreading angler effort across the State and enabling the top five premium waters some respite for recovery this year.
Rainbow Season Opening
Although most inland waters open in line with the brown trout season from 1/8/09 to 2/5/10, a smaller number of waters are designated as rainbow trout waters and are open from 3/10/09 to 30/5/10. These include Dee Lagoon, lakes Rowallan, Skinner, Meston, Youd, Junction Lake, Lagoon of Islands as well as sections of the Mersey River, River Leven, and the Weld Rivers in the North and South.
Spilling waters meant that stocking was put on hold. The only stocking undertaken in September were of Curries River Reservoir (3,800), Lake Rosebery (8,000), Big Waterhouse Lagoon (700), Little Watershouse Lagoon (500) and Blackmans Lagoon (1,100) with 100 gram triploid rainbow stock and Clarence Lagoon with 8,000 brook trout fingerling at 5 grams.
Lake Augusta gate closure
The entry gate to the Nineteen Lagoons area at Lake Augusta (just beyond the dam) will remain closed until the weather settles significantly. Not only has there been periodic spilling from the dam but the condition of the road is very poor due to the wet conditions, and driving vehicles on it would cause significant damage to the surface. It will require at least a fortnight of reasonably settled weather to dry out and allow vehicle access. Check the website for updates and notification of reopening.
Courtesy of IFS