No Launch Ramp? No ProblemArticle by Dam Armitage
"You looking at me?" Fishing from his AquaQuad, guide Hayne Smith tries to avoid eye contact with a black rhino that appears a bit protective of a stretch of Lake Jozini shoreline that is famous for producing prized tigerfish. (Dan Armitage photo)
“What’s the black thing on the shore over there?” I asked while stepping aboard the small outboard-powered craft I was to jockey for the six-day African fishing safari.
“Likely a rhino or a hippo,” came the casual answer from guide Hayne Smith. “’Want to go see?”
For a second, I wasn’t really sure. I had been in South Africa all of 14 hours, and was about to take the handlebar-controlled helm of a combination personal watercraft/rigid hull inflatable boat atop waters in the hinterlands of a wild-looking region named Zululand.
With a nod to crocs sunning themselves, I had already been advised not to rinse my hands in the water beside the boat, and on the drive down to Lake Jozini I was warned not to step off the road to photograph a distant giraffe, in deference to the rhinos that were protective of their well-disguised personal space.
“Time to fish or cut bait,” I thought, before following Smith’s wake toward the beast on the far shore.
Developed in South Africa where there are few improved launch ramps and lots of avid fishermen, the AquaQuad is an outboard-powered hybrid PWC/RIB built for fishing in areas requiring surf launches or put-in and take-outs without the benefit of a traditional ramp. The easily trailerable watercraft weigh less than half that of comparable-sized jet-powered PWC, and are twice as stable, thanks to inflatable pontoons that flank the fiberglass hull.
The stability factor was paramount when we tested the AquaQuads on their home ‘turf’ in waters teeming with tigerfish, crocs and hippos inland and off the Indian Ocean coast famous for its shark population. The nimble boats handled incredibly well, while allowing us to fish waters not accessible to traditional powerboats.
The AquaQuads can be rigged with everything from baitwells to bait tubes for offshore fishing, and are offered with a variety of rod holder and rocket launcher configurations, and in sizes accommodating one to three anglers powered by outboards from 9.9 to 60 hp.Now available in the U.S., the AquaQuad CLX model shown, with a 15hp Suzuki EFI outboard, retails for $8,065. For more information, visit aquaquad.com.