It’s not surprising that kayak fishing is fast becoming one of our favourite methods for targeting both fresh and saltwater fish species here in Australia. Dotted with lakes, rivers, reservoirs, billabongs, and extensive networks of mangrove-filled waterways, it’s almost as though the landscape was designed for kayak fishing rather than the other way around.
In reality, kayak manufacturers like Aussie company, Dream Kayaks, work tirelessly to design craft capable of fishing Australia’s enormously diverse on-water environments.
With warehouses in Brisbane, Perth, and Tweed Heads, Dream Kayaks sells thousands of kayaks every year to Australian paddlers. Dream Kayaks' latest offering, the Dream Catcher 4 fishing kayak, looked capable of doing it all: a three-metre yak great for stand-up fishing, fresh and saltwater appropriate, motor-bracket ready, and with heaps of bonus features the list goes on and on...
On a recent trip to Blue Rock Lake, we took the Dream Catcher 4 with us to find out how it performed in fresh water and to see if it lived up to the hype.
Off-water impressions of the Dream Catcher 4
We had arrived at Blue Rock Lake just on the change of light and I was eager to get the kayak in the water. But first, I had to set up. I soon discovered the Dream Catcher had plenty of space for everything you could need for a day's paddling.
Two built in rod holders took care of my rod and a landing net while paddling, and the bonus swivel rod holder looked like it would get plenty of use. The massive rear storage well easily accommodated my tackle box: I was travelling light, but you could comfortably fit an esky or a storage crate in there as well for additional gear.
The dual eight-inch storage hatches offered plenty of room for gear / potential catch, locking tight to keep the water out.
(Bonus) deluxe seat
Installing the seat was as simple as clipping the four adjustable straps to the brass d-rings. Adjusting your seat position is easy as pulling on the straps to lift it forward, or easing the buckle off. This can be done comfortably while in the boat too.
Just one of many bonus features thrown in with the Dream Catcher 4, the deluxe seat also featured a removable gear bag that clipped to the seat back, great for keeping lunch and other frequently used items close to hand.
I should note that I didn’t actually make full use of all the options available with this kayak. The Dream Catcher came compatible with a transom motor, featuring brass motor bracket attachment points directly inserted into the body of the yak – a great feature for anyone interested in trawling for their dinner. The kayak also comes with four inserts ready for RAILBLAZA StarPorts to be bolted straight into the hull. Starports enable you to attach a huge number of accessories and devices: you could attach a camera boom stand, a fish finder or radio, or an additional swivel rod holder for trawling.
Scupper plugs secured, and gear stowed away, I asked our cameraman to help me carry the kayak down to the water’s edge. Fully loaded with gear it was a bit of an effort getting the yak lakeside, a testament to the fact that (if you can) you should always load your gear as close to the water as possible.
The carry handle at the bow is perfect. The cut-out handle at the bow gives you plenty to hold on to; there’s even room to two-hand it if necessary. I can’t quite say the same for the stern, however. The rear carry handle has been moulded into the hull of the yak as well, but it’s just not deep enough. I could only fit the first two joints of my fingers of one hand into the handle making it difficult to keep a grip, especially after a full day’s paddling.
In saying that, the two rubber straps with heavy duty webbing on the port and starboard sides were great for managing the 27kg kayak both in and out of the water.
By this stage, you’re most definitely wondering, ‘how did it paddle?’
I’m pleased to say that all of my reservations regarding the kayak’s weight were forgotten after only a few strokes of the paddle. Dream Kayaks claims the Dream Catcher 4 is rated to 160kg load capacity. I weigh about 80kg and I had approximately 10kgs of gear with me so the yak was well within its limits.
The Dream Catcher’s masterstroke is its stability, and in my mind – even considering the extra length and weight – its performance in this area puts it in a strong position to contend with shorter 270cm kayaks out there.
The Dream Catcher felt well-balanced in the water before I put a foot in, easy to board even in the sticky mud of the lake bed.
In the far corner of Blue Rock Lake, aquatic trees jut up from the lake bed creating the perfect hiding place for Australian Bass. The keel of the kayak tracked well, turning smoothly and precisely with only a slight forward or back stroke of the paddle. The smooth manoeuvrability of the Dream Catcher made it easy to slide among the trees casting hard-bodied lures in the hopes of a hookup.
Stand-up fishing performance
I leant forward and planted my feet ready to stand up for the first time. With a slight bend in the knees, I found my balance quickly, ending up spending a great deal of time standing. The large cockpit makes it a great yak for stand-up fishing, enabling you to get a bit of a birds eye view on where the fish might be hiding.
I wouldn’t be without the bonus swivel rod holder: it’s the perfect place to keep your rod transitioning between sitting and standing up. And if you happen to hit a snag – which I’ll admit happened a couple of times around those trees – it’s nice to be able to paddle towards your lure and reel in line without having to fumble around holding your rod and your paddle at the same time.
Cruising among the trees trying to spot a rise, the kayak felt stable, quiet, and nimble. Throwing lures through the morning air filled with the sound of native birdlife – the Dream Catcher enabled a truly awesome on-water experience.
The lightweight split sports paddle that came with the kayak was of simple design. Three feather positions allowed for ample adjustment. With five foot positions to choose from, most paddlers should be able to find a comfortable position in the Dream Catcher 4. I’m six feet tall and there was ample leg room in the cockpit.
Returning to shore, I thought I'd see how the boat performed at speed. In all honesty, the only thing stopping me from keeping a decent pace was the paddle. The weight of the yak helped it maintain speed and keep a steady course, however, the lightweight two-piece paddle couldn't keep up, flexing and fish-tailing under power. But hey, the paddle is a bonus and if you’re serious about kayak fishing, you’ll no doubt look at buying a paddle separately anyway.
After removing all the gear, we decided to find out how the kayak handled being capsized, because, you know it’s important to test things properly…
I can confirm that it was easy to right the kayak and re-enter without a fuss. Checking the holds back on dry land it was good to see that everything was bone dry, making draining the kayak unnecessary.
Made from UV resistant high-grade polyethylene, the body of the yak felt made to last. After just one day, I can’t comment on its durability, but I can certainly say it looks the part. The ocean camo finish looked the business, and I had no trouble launching and retrieving the yak from the water on account of the boat’s smooth finish.
At first glance, the Dream Catcher 4 looked to be just too big and burly to make it a sensible choice for inland fresh-water fishing. But I was quickly proven wrong. The length and weight of the kayak made it extremely stable and enjoyable to fish from, both sitting down and from a standing position. I would imagine it would perform just as well off shore on account of its stability, making it a great choice for anyone hoping to find a ‘do-it-all’ fishing kayak. To cope better with that added weight, it would be nice to see the stern handle improved, and the paddle thrown in with the yak was a bit flimsy, but I would happily put up with these minor inconveniences to have another crack at those bass.
Extras & upgrades included with this Kayak
Deluxe seat with removable gear bag
Ultralight sports paddle
Swivel Rod Holder
Two Flush Mount Rod Holders
Four Custom mounts to fit RAILBLAZA StarPorts
Two 8 Inch hatches
Length - 304cm
Width – 82cm
Height – 35cm
Weight – 27kg
128cm leg room
Load Capacity – 160kg
Rear storage well – 80 x 50cm with bungee straps
Motor bracket compatible
Five foot positions
Six scupper holes
Padded carry straps along all sides
Rubber net pockets for gear
Rear drain with durable base plate
UV Resistant High Grade Polyethylene
Brass inserts moulded into the hull for additional mounts
Front and rear carry handles moulded directly into the hull of the kayak
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