December 9, 2010

New Watercraft - Wayne Kirch

Adams McGill bay area, looking southwest
BEFORE READING THIS BLOG, READ THIS ONE: North Fork Outdoors: Not Responsive to Warranty Claims

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time you know I prefer to use a Fish Cat float tube to navigate and fish stillwater lakes and reservoirs. As much as it makes stillwater fishing fun, I always had a couple complaints about the Fish Cat. My most significant complaint about that style watercraft is that your lower legs are always under water which is uncomfortable after six hours fishing in the late fall or early spring. My second complaint, although less serious, is that kick-paddling is too difficult against winds in excess of fifteen miles per hour.

In the spring of 2008 I purchased a framed pontoon boat in an attempt to remedy some of the complaints I logged in my April 2008 blog. After using it once, though, I decided it was too large and bulky for use on the reservoirs I frequent. The pontoons were nine feet long, and fully assembled it weighed about eighty pounds. Furthermore, assembly of the pontoon took about thirty minutes, as did disassembly (which translated into one-hour not on the water fishing).

The past few years I’ve been searching for a better solution on the Internet. Dave Scadden’s North Fork Outdoors (NFO) seemed to be leading the pack, and his latest series of Outlaw designs really caught my attention. The Outlaw Renegade, a nine-foot watercraft weighing less than thirty pounds and capable of navigating Class V whitewater, was a design that really caught my eye because it was frameless. Still, its nine foot length was a lot for me. But, last year Scadden came out with a shorter Outlaw Escape… six feet in length and a scant twenty-five pounds. And although there’s not much whitewater near Las Vegas, it is comforting to know that the Escape is Class III rated. If you want to see the Outlaw Escape in action check out these videos:
Recently I received a Cabela’s catalog and noticed that they had a NFO Renegade on sale at half price. I logged on the NFO site and discovered that they were selling off their 2010 demo models. So I called NFO and actually got Dave on the phone. Last year’s demos were sold out, but Dave was able to let me pick up a demo of his latest Outlaw Escape model that had only seen carpet… also at half price. I couldn’t resist. (As an aside, Dave revealed he was in on the design of the Fish Cat which I was so endeared with.)

New NFO Outlaw Escape nestled in Trout Truck, 
Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area
Upon receiving the NFO watercraft I will say that I was disappointed in that it did not come with an acceptable valve adapter for filling the tube. When I called Dave back he said they were not using the more common Halkey Roberts valves, but rather new Bravo valves manufactured by Scoprega out of Italy. My initial search uncovered some blog writing by a disgruntled NFO customer who was having trouble getting Bravo parts for his watercraft. However, my search turned up a great source for Bravo parts at a very reasonable price. Defender, a marine outfitter, carries Bravo valve replacements and tools. So, I would not let the new Bravo valves become a reason to avoid the NFO Outlaw watercrafts.

And so, after storing my new Outlaw Escape in the garage for a few weeks I decided I needed to get away before the trout lakes and reservoirs froze over for the winter. The prior week’s report from Wayne Kirch indicated skim ice, and this Thursday’s report said it was iced over but un-walkable. Being of stubborn mind and ever hopeful I reasoned that the ice may have softened enough with the recently warmer weather, and so last Thursday after a mid-morning meeting I took-off for Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area. The temperature upon arrival at 1:30 PM was forty-five degrees with no wind, but still the Cold Springs and Haymeadow reservoirs were indeed frozen over. Not to be disappointed I drove over to the Adams McGill reservoir and to my pleasure found that the bay near the boat dock was not yet frozen. I was able to launch the Escape and christen her first water voyage.

Frozen Cold Springs boat launch area
Another view of Cold Springs ice-over
Now Adams McGill is more of a bass fishery, and the un-iced bay area was very shallow with no sign of trout. Still, I was able to run the little Escape through its paces. With the oars in their oarlocks the watercraft kick paddled easier than my Fish Cat, likely because of the better rocker design that makes it track higher and straighter in the water. And when I put my feet up on the cross-bar and unfolded the oars I could locomote quite easily and quickly through the water (…bring the wind on!). Although it’s not possible to love an inanimate object, I could tell this Escape was already my favorite watercraft and I had yet to catch a fish from it.

Inflated NFO Outlaw Escape propped against Trout Truck
Escape ready to be launched on Adams McGill
Finned feet resting out of water on cross bar
Well, after playing for about ninety minutes I had to get home for a dinner party. Some might think of a trip like this as crazy (five hours of round-trip driving for ninety minutes of fishless float tubing)… but I know better. It was a maiden voyage full of promise of good things to come at ice out next spring.

Am I a little excited... yes
(note Escape's rocker curvature that gives excellent tracking in water)
No fish, but happy NFO Outlaw Escape owner 

19 comments:

Devin said...

What is the best time of year to fish Wayne Kirch? I have been late spring before and the weeds were too tall to do any productive fishing. I continue to enjoy your blogs though. Thanks for any information you have.

FisherDad said...

Devin --

I think the best time is April into May, and late October into early November. In May I have found the weeds to be problematic, although workable. I’ve never fished Kirch in the summer; I’m afraid I’d find it too hot. The Nevada DoW reported that the ice had melted last week due to warmer temperatures, but family and Christmas were my priorities so I may have missed an opportunity to fish it in December. I’m sure with this recent weather “normalization” it’ll freeze over pretty quick.

Hope that helps, and best of luck.

-- Mark

FisherDad said...

By the way, Devin, when you were there in the late spring were you fishing from a boat or tube, or from thre shore? A tube or boat will greatly expand your fishing possibilities on the Kirch reservoirs.

-- Mark

Devin said...

I went a couple years ago with my grandfather in late may to mid june. We were in his 14' aluminum boat. Trolling was the only productive method we found. Only Largemouth were caught. Although I have just recentley picked up fly fishing, which would be nice to try out there. I have seen you at Cold Creek pond before. You make fly fishing look so easy! Hope to you out there again sometime.

FisherDad said...

Devin --

I could see how trolling in June could drag a lot of weeds. Obviously I'm not into trolling, but casting from a boat to pockets of open water can be very productive even in late May or early June. Casting from a float tube might even be better.

-- Mark

Anonymous said...

FisherDad:
Bless you, as your blog led me to a US source for the Bravo Valve that NFO uses in their pontoon boats.

FisherDad said...

Bravo! You made my day by letting me know my blog was of some service to somebody. By the way, you might need to search the Defender link using the manufacturer’s name (Scoprega) rather than the product name (Bravo), but I did just check the link and replacement valves are still available at Defender.

Thank you!

FisherDad

Richard said...

I've enjoyed reading your posts about fishind in and around your area. How are you liking that Scadden Escape--do you still have the Escape? Do you still like it? Would you buy it again?

I'm contemplating buying one, and would like to your thoughts on your purchase.

Thanks.

FisherDad said...

Richard --

You bet I still have the Escape. Not sure you could get me to go back to the Fish Cat except in warm weather (bass fishing). The Escape has surpassed my expectations. The only modification I made was gluing four D-ring patches to suspend the stripping apron higher and tighter. This was easy since it is PVC fabric… sprinkler pipe glue is all that’s needed. Having a float-tube landing net is best as it rides higher on the water and it is difficult to land larger trout without the extra reach. The integrated oars are great to move and cover large reservoirs (Wayne Kirch & Panguitch being obvious examples), but especially when the wind kicks up (I detested kick-paddling in the Fish Cat into 15 mph winds… gruesome). I know it’s pricy, but I think it’s the best thing on the market today.

If you do buy, please post back over time what you think of it.

All the best!

FisherDad

B222 said...

Can you email me some pics of how you modified the stripping apron? Buckley222@gmail.com

FisherDad said...

Sure, will do that tonight.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me what valve adapter you purchased from defender to replace the hose to fill the escape up with air. Just purchased an escape and would like a better valve option than a piece of hose. Any help would be great and thanks for your time.

FisherDad said...

Try this link for the valve adapter. It says it’s for Halkey Roberts valves but it does indeed work on Scoprega’s Bravo valves, too. Let me know if the link doesn't work:
http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?path=-1|215570|294|2345874&id=1319194

Speaking of NFO, check out this new product (very pricy, but cool concept):
http://www.northforkoutdoors.com/christmas-sale/

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the help.

Michael Yu said...

Fisher Dad,

First thank you for the wonderful posts. I am also the proud owner of a nfo outlaw escape. i also think it is a great boat. my only complaint about it is that my stripping apron either slants down or interferes with my rowing. so when you mentioned you had modified your escape with some added d-rings i was curious to see what you have done. from your later posts i know you obviously still use the apron. would it be possible to email me pics of your modifications? mikeyu72@gmail.com

thanks again for the great posts. keep em coming!

FisherDad said...

Response on its way, Michael. Thanks for the interest and kind words.

doug said...

Can you tell me what model # Scoprega (Bravo) air valve from Defender works on the your NFO outlaw escape? and have your actually replaced one? Did you use a valve wrench and if so which one?
thanks

FisherDad said...

Doug --

Cut/Paste this link in your browser to find the valve:
http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?path=-1|215570|294|2345895|2345898&id=1564260

Cut/Paste this link in your browser to find the valve wrench:
http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?path=-1|215570|294|2345874&id=1564300

I have not yet had to replace a valve, but I have used the wrench on the existing valve on the Escape and it does fit the teeth pattern. You should be ok.

Do you have a failed valve on a NFO product (just curious)?

All the best.

-- Mark

FisherDad said...

NFO Readers -

I am having difficulty getting Dave Scadden and NFO to respond to my Outlaw Escape warranty claim. For further details please cut and paste this link into the browser:
http://www.fisherdad.com/2015/07/north-fork-outdoors-not-responsive-to.html

- FisherDad