I'm a Believer
Within the 25 years I have been fishing the Tampa Bay area, I have fished out of just about every type vessel one can imagine. My collection included; one canoe, six kayaks, and two flats boats. As far as fishing from other boats, I have fished from inner tubes, rubber dinghy’s to the largest head boats. I am not an expert, but I have experienced fishing from many different platforms.
Recently, I was invited out to fish with Jeff Lizzio, owner and inventor of the Ultraskiff 360. I jumped at the chance with no hesitation. Once I began researching this strange creation, I was skeptical to say the least. I promised myself, I would go into this with an open mind and give it a chance. I was actually worried that I would go out with Jeff and then have nothing but negative things to say or write about his skiff.
When Jeff and I met at the launch area, both of the Ultraskiffs were setup and ready to “roll”. This initially made me suspicious that maybe he did not want me to see the difficulty loading and unloading the boats from the back of his truck. I also was very conscience of where we were launching and going to fish. I suspected he was going to keep us in a secluded (wind free) area. I collected my gear, Jeff gave me a five minute “how to” course and we were on the water. Let the test begin.
With three large compartments, all the gear I use for a full day of kayak fishing fit with room to spare. I brought three fishing rods and with the fishing rod holders behind the pedestal chair and the flush mounted holders on the boat, I could have easily brought more. My first big test, in which I thought I was going to be checking the “fail box” was boarding the skiff. To my surprise, it was a piece of cake, climbing in from a foot of water, I placed my knees over the gunwales and slid right into the chair. We were on our way.
The ultraskiff I used that day was equipped with a trolling motor, two batteries, safety gear, a mounted Go Pro, and an anchor. I have used trolling motors for 25 years, but I thought this was going to be difficult because of the shape of the skiff (gonna go round in circles). It took me all of five minutes to effortlessly steer the boat, another hurdle I did not think this boat could jump. After observing me for a short period of time to make sure I had a handle on his creation, he set me free.
We immediately set out for open water, another theory of mine out the window. The pedestal seat was very comfortable and unbelievably stable. As I started fishing, my initial trepidation of standing, kneeling, or any maneuvering was put to ease immediately. All of my tackle, water shoes, and bag cooler were incredibly easy to get to. The skiff has four large cup holders, I used them all for beverages, artificial baits and tools. This created a clutter free environment and easy access. As I fished, steering was a breeze and with 4 nylon cleats, anchoring was no problem whatsoever.
Another test was about to happen, I am not the most graceful person by any means. I was fairly sure that the first time I set the hook on a fish, I was going to eject myself. Not only did I not, but catching fish from the skiff was easier than any kayak I had ever fished out of. This is due to great designing. The inclining outer deck and the flare and prow work in harmony with a shock absorbing, detachable seating system and a lowered transom. Trout after Trout, if I could not release without touching them, I would bend over and wet my hands to preserve the fish with absolutely no tipping.
We fished for over six hours, the winds had kicked up to 15mph plus, this was the true test. With the combination of six skegs, the flare and prow, and the weight distribution design, the boat tracked great. We anchored the skiffs at a spoil island, stretched our legs and had lunch. At this point in our journey, I realized I didn't even have “yak back”, my whole body was feeling really good. As we returned to the launch, the winds were even worse, whitecaps everywhere. The Ultraskiff handled well and took on no water at all. Even if it would have, there is a drainage system built into the detachable seating design.
I had done a complete 180 on the the UltraSkiff 360. I was not forced to drink "the Kool-Aid" and had no prior affiliation with Jeff or his company. As far as my misconception about loading and unloading, I helped Jeff load the skiffs into his truck. With a strategically placed XXXrubberXXX bumper, numerous strap guides, handles under the flare, and a tow ring I quickly realized that the boats loading and unloading can be accomplished with one person. It was a great day, the skiff was a pleasure to fish out of and I made a new fishing friend. I'm a believer, inshore. Now, offshore is a whole different story!
Footage by Jeff Lizzio
Check out the footage of the test HERE