When I was only 12 years old I was fishing full time in Lakeland, Florida. My neighbor, Bill Johnson, a Pro Bass Fisherman who owned his own tackle shop, was my mentor. Since my parents worked full time I had to figure out how to get to the local lakes and ponds with my best friend, Bill Callia, to go fishing, and with a boat. Bill and I looked for years to find an easily transportable boat that we could fish out of. None were available other than a small john boat and that is what we got. Not very stable, and not a great fishing platform, but it got us on the water, nearly 365 days/year for three years straight.
40 years later, I have still been looking for the right personal fishing platform. The fishing kayak serves me well for many situations on rivers and smaller bodies of water, and my 20’ Ranger with a 250hp Evinrude on the back serves me well for the big lakes and tournament fishing. However, my childhood dream of a boat that fished like a bass boat, but was small, easily transportable, and could go just about anywhere the fish were was still unfulfilled.
Today, a childhood dream has been answered! The Blue Sky Boats, Angler 360 is a walk-around, roomy, stable, fishing platform that fishes like a big boat, but it isn’t a big boat. With the included wheels that are positioned well up towards the middle of the boat, it makes walking this boat to the water easy. The tongue weight is minimal and anyone can walk it around. If I had this boat when I was a kid in Florida, I would have been seen daily walking through the neighborhoods of Christina Woods and Christina Lakes to the various Phosphate pits that held big bass and crappie, with my Angler 360 in tow. While I can’t turn back time and make that happen for my younger self, I can make sure that others with the dream of having the ultimate personal fishing platform can own one and live the dream.
If you were in Lake Country Florida (appropriately named!) in January, you would have seen me cruising the banks, grass beds, and bays of the lakes there in my prototype Angler 360. I caught lots of fish and reminisced my youth and even gave myself a high-five in celebration of 40 year dream come true. I am sure if anyone saw that, they would wonder what was wrong with that guy on the cool looking boat.
In my time on the water, I seemed to spend an equal amount of time explaining my new boat to onlookers as fishing. I had an 84 year old guy trying to buy it from me for his dock on Lake Harris, while several fishermen in bass boats stopped to say hi and see what my boat was all about.
Rest assured that we are thinking of the important features, creature comforts, performance needs, and fishability levels that each of us would want to have on this entirely new kind of fishing craft. The prototype I have with me in my RV is prototype #4. The hulls have more volume, the new hatches are recessed into the hulls for rod and tackle storage, and the new swivel seat prototype is nearing perfection.
There are still bugs to be worked out, and lots of work left to make this ready for prime time and able to be mass produced by us at the Jackson Kayak factory. Our R+D team is working overtime on this boat and improvements are being made daily.
I recently had the pleasure of getting Tim Fredrick in my Angler 360 prototype. Tim is an FLW Pro from Lake County Florida (we would have been best friends growing up if we had known each other!). Tim is fresh off of his big win at Lake Okeechobee for the FLW Tour opener. This guy lives and breathes fishing and I wanted his input on the boat and any ideas he might have. Tim was all smiles and laughs as he got the boat out on his home lake and put it to the test. Tim’s friend, and “Power Pole FLW Pro” Darrell Davis came out to see what it was about as well and he too was fired up. I had the first prototype of our “E-Drive” with me. It is a lithium battery/electric motor substitution for the pedal drive. It takes 30 seconds to switch out the pedals with the motor. When Tim and Darrel throttled up to full and took off, they were giggling like school girls and you could see the lightbulb going off in their heads.
Sometimes things take their sweet time, like the Blue Sky Angler 360 coming into my life. 40 years it took before the boat I wanted as a kid, is finally a reality, and it is much more than I originally imagined it could be!
This new fangled kayak will be an epic tournament fishing platform as well, just FYI… 😉
Bring it on!