The Saltwater Magazine for Gulf Coast Fishing!



Take a Ride on the Wild Side...

by Gary Ralston



lunar phases

Stealth is a small flats boat with a quiet trolling motor or push pole. Super stealth is a kayak.
Put the two together and you have a long range fishing machine.

(Author's Chiquita and Ocean Kayak onboard)

At 14-1/2 ft., the Chiquita is a low profile flats boat that has more useable deck space than bay boats many feet longer. This is due to the generous 7 ft. beam that gives this boat a ride that's incredible for a boat this size. Also, because of the low profile, there's virtually no surface on the deck that's wasted. A 15' kayak can be placed on one side of the deck (with minimal effort) leaving plenty of room for up to two anglers to still fish comfortably. You'll also not have to squeeze between the hull and console to move from the front to the back of the boat. There's plenty of room to easily walk past the console in normal fashion, and both sides of the console even have built-in rod holders.
The Chiquita & Your 'Yak
The advantages of being able to transport a kayak into the back country, instead of paddling it there are numerous. Time and distance become compressed allowing much further forays to better fishing grounds. And once there, chances of catching something improves greatly due to the stealth of the kayak.
Launching a kayak from a Chiquita is effortless and quiet. Release the rope loop pulling it against the console and with a 1/4 roll it's over the side and into the water. To get aboard the kayak, just bring it against the Chiquita, sit down on the deck of the boat and then slide your butt over into the 'yak, steady yourself and bring your legs in. Try this from any boat other than a low sided flats boat and you're likely to get very wet. To get it back on the boat, just slide it on deck and tilt it against the console. Then get onboard and tie it on. My Ocean Pro 'yak has four drain holes in pairs of two spaced about four feet apart. Perfect for looping a nylon rope through one end and going around the console to do the same in the next two group of holes. Snug the yak against against the console and use a good knot to secure it.
Prowling the Flats
The 7 foot beam of the Chiquita is key in making it capable of handling water much rougher than you can ever imagine for a boat this size. This is one of those things you have to experience to appreciate. It handles like a much longer boat due to the wide beam which provides a very smooth, stable and dry ride.
The Chiquita's tunnel hull also allows it to run in extremly shallow water - like three to four inches, when necessary. It will definitely run in water shallower than it can float. I've found I can raise the jack plate to its max which places the prop well inside the tunnel. Even at this level the engine still picks up cooling water and produces a steady stream out of the tattle tail.
The low sides of the Chiquita are another advantage you will appreciate when wadefishing. Whether the boat is anchored in three feet of water or one, it's three inch gunnel makes getting in, or out of the boat, a breeze. Either just step in or and sit down on the deck and swing your legs in. It's that easy.
If you are considering a Chiquita...
No. 1 - This is not a boat for anyone that wants a family boat, unless it's for you and the wife... This is a one or two person boat.
No. 2 - Anything on the deck not tied down will go over the stern when you accelerate or run for any distance. Never put a rod and reel on the deck because one time you will forget to put it in a rod rack before taking off. I was only spared from a very expensive lesson once by the rear cleat on the gunnel that snagged the line on one of two rod and reels just as they were exiting the boat. The other rod and reel was snagged by the first.
No. 3 - Decelerating quickly into oncoming waves will result in a deck washing. Another reason to only put things on deck that you can afford to lose.
No. 4 - Expect to get your feet wet occasionally - not when running, usually, but when anchored, drifting, poling, or using a trolling motor. The sides are low but no matter how much water taken in, the boat quickly sheds it out the stern scupper holes.
No. 5 - Launching and sometimes loading, will often result in water coming over the low stern depending on the ramp angle. Not to worry though as it drains away quickly.
No. 6 - A jack plate is a key part in making this boat perform as intended. Don't try to save a few hundred bucks by eliminating this feature.
No. 7 - As a jack plate is an indispensable tool for the boat, so is a trolling motor. I have a 55 lb. thrust Minn Kota Riptide trolling motor mounted to the deck and it provides plenty of power. It's fast enough to really move the boat at its top speed and quiet enough on the lowest setting to move within striking distance of fish on the flats.
No. 8 - Add a "whale tail", or similar product to the outboard. Boat performance will improve dramatically. The boat's manufacturer, Marine Service, produces their own version of this device and that's the one I use. (The one in the above photo is barely submerged but the boat is capable of a hole shot at this position.)
No. 9 - As for motor size, a 50 hp is recommended but some go with a 40 hp. The 50 hp Nissan that Marine Service installs is still extremely economical on fuel and pushes the boat close to 30 mph.
No. 10 - Go with a 3-bladed stainless steel prop instead of a 4. The difference in take-off acceleration (hole shot) is dramatic. Keep the Nissan prop that comes with the motor as a spare. Custom stainless props are manufactured locally.
Marine Service is a custom boat builder located on Hwy 87 in Port Lavaca, Texas. To find out more about the Chiquita or other boats manufactured there, give Forest Canion a call at 361-552-4975.

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