I HAD JUST RETURNED from an afternoon of pre-fishing in my 145-pound tourna- ment kayak. It is 14 feet long and impossible for me to load on the roof, even if my racks were rated to carry as much. Backing in my kayak trailer I noticed a box about the size of a bar fridge left on my back porch. The Sea Eagle Fish- SUP 126 had arrived. My young-but-achy back welcomed the convenience of a 45-pound fishing boat.
Sea Eagle has been producing and shipping inflatable kayaks and boats since 1968. Its first boat was a two-person inflatable kayak called the Pyrawa. In 1982, the designers created the Motormount fishing boat, a multi-purpose inflatable used for fishing, yacht tending or just about anything else you can throw at it. And, of course, they now make standup paddleboards. What arrived to my house via UPS is 50 years of Sea Eagle innovation stitched and glued together and ready to fish.
I unpacked the 12-foot, six-inch FishSUP to make sure I had all the pieces and then neatly folded it back into its backpack and hiked the mile to my se- cret fishing hole. Filled with the board and paddle with the pump strapped to the outside, the backpack is bulky, no question. I wouldn’t want to carry it any farther but then caught myself… Hey, who am I kidding, I wouldn’t be carry- ing my plastic kayak anywhere. This is just fine.
The dual-action hand pump fills the FishSUP 126 on both the push and pull. I was able to get the recommended 15 pounds of pressure in about 10 minutes. If I did this all the time, I’d order one of Sea Eagle’s optional electric pumps and jump it off the car battery or the battery for the trolling motor— more on that later.
On the water, I immediately noticed the stability of the FishSUP. The 40- inch beam gave me enough room to really walk around and fish like standing on the bow of a bass boat. When I felt my first bite, I set the hook hard enough to pull the lips off a fish. Oops. The good news is that I was still standing with no worry of falling off. It’s a big, stable and portable fishing platform.
The deck of the FishSUP includes 14 stainless steel D-ring attachment points for all gear that you can imagine. The johnboat swivel seat with rod holders attaches to the D-rings with simple cam buckle straps. Okay, so now we have a kayak with a huge deck to stand and fish. I found myself grabbing this boat more often than not just because it was light, easy and accessible. Fishing on an inflatable SUP on a windy day would normally be the farthest thing from my mind, but I really wanted to test the Watersnake Venom 34 trolling motor included in Sea Eagle’s Pro Motor Fishing Rig. The 34 in Venom 34 means it’s a 34-pound thrust motor. The unit weighs 15 pounds, so the whole setup of board, seat and motor rig is still only 60 pounds, not including the battery. The Watersnake attaches on a transom, which is fastened to the stern of the SUP. The motor plugs into the battery box anchored behind the seat.
When I cranked up the trolling motor to full blast—because that’s what guys do—my GPS said the SUP skiff zoomed along at five miles per hour. I was a kid again getting to drive my dad’s bass boat for the first time. It was fun. The drawback of going wide open is draining the battery too quickly, and too far from home. When the FishSUP 126 first arrived, I grabbed the only spare battery that I had in my shop, a small riding lawnmower battery. And so I paddled home. Going the distance? Sea Eagle recommends using a 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery on which the Watersnake will run for days.
As the wind blew waves over the nose of the FishSUP 126, the mesh multi- purpose storage box kept my gear from falling off, but didn’t do much to keep it dry. I would advise bringing a drybag for your warm cloths and valuables. To keep the lightweight FishSUP tracking straight in the wind, Sea Eagle shipped three removable fins for its three fin boxes.
My time fishing on the FishSUP made me realize inflatable SUPs aren’t just for recreational paddling anymore. The Sea Eagle FishSUP 126 is a powerful fishing vessel. While the lines differentiating SUP, kayak and skiff continue to blur, one thing is for certain, the cohort of first generation kayak anglers isn’t getting any younger and according to Sea Eagle President Cecil Hoge they are taking notice. He says the FishSUP 126 had a great reception at launch and he expects to sell even more as this new category grows.
“I expect as anglers get older…they may want a larger boat that can hold more people and go farther,” says Hoge who hints he has something else up his sleeve. Anyone in the market for a 16-foot inflatable tandem FishSkiff with a six-horse motor? JON RUSSELBURG