Friday, September 28, 2012

NuCanoe Frontier: Swiss Army Kayak by Ric Burnley

As written in Kayak Angler Online Magazine NuCanoe Frontier: Swiss Army Kayak

NuCanoe Frontier: One Kayak That Does it All
NuCanoe's Frontier pushes the boundaries of kayak, canoe, and boat.
NuCanoe Frontier
Ric Burnley

It was still dark outside when I crept into my daughter’s room and gently poked her sleeping shoulder.  “Let’s go fishing,” I whispered.  “Ok,” she mumbled.  Saturday morning, an hour before sunrise, isn’t the best time to propose a fishing trip to a pre-tween girl, but Dasha was ready to go before she was fully awake.I packed lunch and Dasha grabbed warm clothes then we sneaked out of the house without waking her comatose mother.

A week earlier I had received NuCanoe’s new and improved Frontier and I was anxious to put the hybrid canoe-yak to the test.   Dasha agreed to be the crash-test dummy and the first cool days of fall signaled speckled trout and puppy drum to serve as target practice.  We headed to Little Creek Inlet in Norfolk, Virginia where I planned to find open water and cooperative fish for a proper boat test.

With the sun lifting off the horizon, Dasha took the front seat of the Frontier and I pushed us away from the bank then settled into the back seat.  Our Frontier came with custom Surf to Summit seats that clipped easily onto the elevated multi-seat base.

The lime green Frontier is only 12 feet long but 41 inches wide – making it extremely stable yet surprisingly maneuverable.  As a hybrid between a canoe and kayak, the boat has a 70-inch long deck that is 20-inches wide with a small hatch in the bow that houses a tackle locker and gives access to the inside of the hull.

We paddled in tandem to our first fishing hole using Frontier’s super-long 275 cm paddles that reach the water without banging the sides of this super-wide hull.  We were traveling light. Dasha had stashed lunch in the bow hatch and I wedged a standard 9 by 14 tackle tray on the crate space behind me.

At our first stop, my first cast was met with a steady thump and a stubborn pull – the calling card of a feisty puppy drum.  The mean little booger even pulled Dasha and me around the marina in the Frontier.  That’s a tough little fish.

I swung the bronze fish into the boat and Dasha got a quick picture.  Her next cast resulted in the same dogged fight and short sleigh ride.  She swung the fish in and I took the picture.  The
Frontier is so wide and stable that I was able to scoot to the front and help Dasha unhook her fish.  A few more casts went unanswered and we paddled on to our next spot.

 The elevated seats kept my old legs from cramping and seizing up. Dasha felt so comfortable, she took to paddling and fishing like a duck to water.  I was even able to stand and fish while Dasha paddled me along from the front – man, I could get used to this!

Because I could move from the bow to the stern, there was no need for an anchor trolley.  I simply chucked the anchor over and tied it to a cleat.

We continued to work our way down Little Creek then headed out the inlet towards the
Chesapeake Bay.

The rock jetties that border the inlet were lined with boats and kayakers, everyone catching puppy drum on almost every cast.  We worked our way around the crowd and headed to a hole that I hoped would hold glory.

The tide turned and started to flood as we worked our way down the jetty picking up more puppy drum.  Then Dasha hooked something bigger.  The fish grabbed her jig and shook its head madly. When it came to the surface swinging its orange mouth in the air I yelled, “Speckled trout!”

Dasha worked the silver and spotted fish to the boat as gingerly and carefully as possible despite me yelling and shouting instructions and encouragement from the backseat.  My excitement didn’t help. She got the fish to the boat and lifted it out of the water, but she hadn’t left enough line to grab the fish.  The fat trout swung from the rod tip like an amusement park ride.  It hit the deck, the gunnels, flew through the air, went back in the water and back around our heads with me shouting and Dasha panicking.  Finally, it hit the deck and Dasha pounced on it.  I tested the Frontiers stability with a happy dance and we both started laughing.

Fishing sure is fun!

That’s when the wind started to blow.  The steady breeze kicked up to a gusty headwind and we beat our way back down the inlet and into the creek.  Although our progress was slow, the boat handled the steep chop and wind-blown white caps well.  Dasha and I hooted and hollered as the boat slammed through waves and threw up spray.  As we cut across the inlet to hide in the lee of the rocks, the Frontier barely rocked through the two-foot slappers.

It was a long, slow paddle back, but working together and singing Katie Perry songs, we made it to the launch site tired and safe.

Riding home, Dasha asleep in the passenger seat, I reflected on the pros and cons of the Frontier. 

The two of us were able to fish comfortably and safely from a stable and ergonomic platform.  The boat is laid out to accommodate a variety of rigging options only limited by the creativity and budget of the angler. 

The elevated seats kept us off the deck, out of the water, and very comfortable.  The Frontier’s biggest attribute is stability – this boat is rock solid.  I could confidently move from the bow to the stern and gunnel to gunnel and fish 360 degrees with barely a wobble.   Even in snotty seas, the Frontier solidly blasted through the chop.

Of course, the width of the boat and the height of the angler make the boat tougher to paddle into the wind and waves compared to a low, narrow kayak.  The short length and relatively flat bottom does affect tracking, but the Frontier is designed with four deep channels running down the bottom and a short keel in the stern to keep its crew on course.  The Frontier may not be the fastest horse in the barn, but the boat will get you to the fish and back in comfort and style.

In short, Nucanoe’s Frontier is perfectly suited for the angler who is looking for a comfortable, ergonomic and stable platform to fish flats, backwaters, and hidden fishing holes solo or with a partner.  This is a perfect boat for older or larger anglers looking to get on the water with confidence and ease.  As we proved, it makes a great tandem for father/daughter fishing trips and will even accommodate two full grown adults.  Limitless options for mounting electronics and accessories means the boat can be rigged with everything from a depth finder to a trolling motor.  Rod holders can be sunk into the hull, mounted on the deck, or affixed to the long track system. 

  NuCanoe supports the Frontier with a long line of aftermarket bells and whistles; I recommend the 275 mm paddle and Surf to Summit seats.  The boat can be configured to fish solo or tandem, hunt, and even outfitted with oars for rowing.

While no boat can do it all, NuCanoe’s Frontier combines the best attributes of kayaks, canoes, and small boats, making this hybrid the best of all worlds.

Chronicle of an Outing By Luke Clayton

As published in North Texas E-News on September 24, 2012

This past week’s outdoor adventure was a month in the planning. While setting around an aspen wood campfire at elk and bear camp in the mountains of northern Colorado earlier this month, my longtime friend and frequent hunting partner Mark Balette invited those present to his ranch in Trinity County for a teal hunt. The assemblage consisted of Larry Large, my partner in the elk hunting operation, Billy Kilpatrick, our camp manager and cook, Bob Hood, longtime Texas based outdoors writer, myself and of course Balette.

Mark’s invitation was instantly accepted by all and the date was set for last week. You would really have to spend a bit of time around my group of ‘running buddies’ to get the full impact of their vast experience in the outdoors. These old boys know how to do it all when it comes to hunting and fishing. For grins one evening, we did a rough estimate of how many years combined, that we all had enjoying the outdoors. Between the five of us, it tallied somewhere around 255 years! That equates to a great many sunrises, sunsets and short nights in hunting and fishing camps. When you do the math, you can readily ascertain that several of us have reached out sixtieth birthday!  We might not have quite the ‘go’ we had thirty years ago but what we lack in energy we more than make up in experience! 

Large spent his early life hunting and fishing in the Pacific Northwest and for the past quarter century, guided bass trips on Lake Fork and for elk in Colorado and New Mexico. Balette grew up hunting and fishing on his family ranch and now hosts hunters from across the nations on hunts for hogs, deer and exotics. Kilpatrick grew up camping and fishing and for the past many years, guided crappie trips on Lake Lavon. He can kindle a fire and have supper ready by the time hunters have time to change out of their hunting clothes for the evening meal! Hood is a well known outdoors writer with more than 45 years spent writing about the outdoors and is one of the most well rounded outdoorsmen I know.  My group of buddies is never at a loss for hunting and fishing tales around the campfire; they all have plenty of past experiences to reflect upon!  

We arrived at Mark’s ranch in early afternoon with plenty of time to get a couple dozen decoys out and blinds brushed in. In a little over an hour Mark and Larry had the elk quartered and the meat chilling in the walk in cooler, the rest of us were busy bass fishing. I had thrown my little Frontier 12 boat by Nucanoe in the truck and as always, found the rugged little craft ideal for getting me into tight areas that were holding fish. We caught bass on everything from top water plugs to spinner baits to Texas rigged worms. The recent cool down of the water temperature had put the fish in the feeding mode. 
After a few hours of chunking baits and fighting bass, Mark asked if we thought it a good idea to break into two groups and go for a late afternoon teal hunt. 

“I know it will be a banner shoot in the morning but with all these birds present and two lakes to hunt them on, I don’t see why we can’t enjoy two hunts. What do you think?” asks Mark, knowing that we would be ready to go. 

We settled into our blinds an hour or so before sundown and after the first shot, teal were buzzing our decoys from every direction. Teal are suckers for decoys and they will readily decoy to anything from magnum mallard decoys to those made specifically for teal. Back at camp, we quickly turned the evening shoot into the makings of one very tasty duck dinner. Teal breasts, with a slice of jalapeno and wrapped in bacon are very tasty when grilled over hot coals. 

Teal hunting was great in East Texas for Luke and a few of his best friends but memories were made that will last a lifetime. photo by Luke Clayton
We debated on whether to enjoy grilled duck breasts for the evening meal or stick with the original plan of fried crappie. Billy had brought enough crappie fillets to feed the entire crew….twice! The teal breasts would freeze nicely for another meal. Teal are the tastiest of waterfowl but we all know how good those snow white crappie fillets are when fried crispy in hot oil!

The after dinner conservation went from recapping our recent hunt in the mountains for elk and bear to the upcoming white tail season. As we all joke, it doesn’t take long to spend the night at hunting or fishing camp but we managed to turn at a decent hour.
Morning’s first light found us back in the duck blinds, eagerly awaiting what we hoped would be a banner teal shoot. The birds took wing at first light and, as is usually the case, flew well for the first hour or so; long enough for us to add plenty of ‘new’ birds to the freezer bag of duck breasts back at camp. Bass again beckoned and we cased out shotguns and broke out the bass tackle. Fishing equaled that of the previous evening. 
By nine a.m. we headed back to camp, broke out Mark’s homemade wok made from a plow disk with two horse shoes welded on the side for handles. About 15 years ago, Mark made a couple of these very useful outdoor cooking utensils, one for himself and one for me. We’ve packed them along on many, many outdoor adventures. Our morning meal consisted of breakfast tacos made from elk sausage, eggs and potatoes, all cooked in the wok. 

Does it get any better than this? I think not, at least not for a bunch of outdoor types that have learned how to make the most of their “banker's holidays.”

DUCKS UNLIMITED BANQUETS - Ducks Unlimited banquets are being held across the country. For a listing of events closest to you, go online to and click “events.” 

For many years, I’ve been present at the annual Dallas Ducks Unlimited Banquet. If you have never attended, I strongly advise you go this year, even if you might have to do a bit of driving to get here. This huge even it well worth your time and thousands of dollars are raised to held to benefit waterfowl. This year’s event is the 75th Anniversary Banquet and will be held at the North Texas Banquet Center at 677 W. Campbell Rd in Richardson. For more information, go online to I’ll see you there! 

Listen to Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Campfire talk with Larry Weishuhn at Email Luke via the web site with outdoors news from your area.