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Salty Roots Founder and BOTE Ambassador Ryan Hambel reports on the new BOTE Rackham and the early tarpon season that is upon us!

In seasons past, tarpon usually don’t show up on the Space Coast in large numbers until the summer months. Some would say April is a little early to be counting on bait showing up, let alone an abundance of tarpon.

Between purchasing my first house and planning my wedding, finding time to get on the water has been harder than normal. I have had two beautiful BOTE Rackhams hanging in my garage since January and have been eager to put them to the test. Previously, I had a BOTE HD and loved it, but the look of these new Rackhams is unreal.

Last Monday I got a call while I was at work from a buddy who said he ran the beach on the way in from offshore fishing and saw a good amount of bait.  Deep down I was itching to go check for myself, but thought maybe it was a fluke or he was pulling my leg. Tuesday I was beachside when another buddy called and said, “Dude there’s a lot of bait on the beach but I haven’t seen any tarpon!” On my lunch break I drove as fast as I could to the closest beach. Running up like a little red headed schoolgirl, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw three murky balls in the water being dive bombed by pelicans. I instantly called my brother and told him he was going on his first paddleboard trip on his new Realtree Rackham. I sat there for five minutes or so and saw two fish come out of the water, busting baits.

After calling the office and telling them I was going to have to leave for the rest of the day, my brother rushed over to my house, we put the fins on our boards, loaded them in the trucks, and hauled ass to the beach.

My brother, Doug, got a little “crash” course on how to beach launch using a paddleboard opposed to a kayak and wasn’t too worried about getting back in. I was thinking in my head this isn’t going to be good since it was far from calm and he didn’t even get a chance to get used to the board in the river. However, due to the stability on the new Rackham, Doug found himself hooked up to a tarpon in less than thirty minutes on the water. Leadered the first fish and we were back to chasing down the pod. I hooked in to a mean sized pelican and as I was unhooking the frolicking bird I heard my brother screaming, “I got another one!” I looked over my shoulder to see another tarpon going bizerk, jumping out of the water four or five times. He landed the fish; it was on the smaller side, got a quick picture, and chased down the pod again. Sharks started to become a nuisance as the sun began to disappear and we paddled back to our launch spot.

The following day we found the bait two beaches north. The fish were actively rolling but not spraying the baits. Even though the action wasn’t as hot, we still managed to land one and jump one before the east winds pushed us off the water.

Thursday my good friend and BOTE Ambassador, Sean Strahlo, got out on the action with us. Tarpon were thick but not as abundant as Tuesday. Sean is known for his camera skills and boldly decided that he would bring his Nikon D5200 out on the boards with us. He’s doesn’t have much going on between the ears. We were fishing a very large bait pod that was continuously being ravished from the edges. I pitched a bait in the middle of the action and before I could do anything the line was screaming from beneath my thumb on my Accurate 500. The fish did its typical acrobatic act before putting a real ass whooping on me. Most fights are around 15 minutes, however, taming this beast took 35 minutes and felt more like an hour. Sean snapped a couple pictures with his precious Nikon and we were back to chasing down the pod. Doug and Sean each jumped fish and like all good things, the sun disappeared and our trip came to an end.

The past couple days we had a brutal west wind that laid the surf down.  Catching a fish would be dangerous, due to a paddle back against over 20 knot winds. We did manage to make it out for a couple hours Saturday and jumped two fish before common sense took us off the water.

Overall, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the ride, feel, and look of these new BOTE Rackhams. I feel like my brother Doug is a good example of how someone can hop on a BOTE board and be comfortable. The guy landed two tarpon on his first trip! My BOTE HD always got a lot of attention, but the reaction when people see these new boards is pretty cool. I’m pretty sure BOTE is going to take over the Space Coast. Everyone loves the boards!

- Ryan

Check out more on Ryan on his BOTE Ambassador page.

Published on Friday, May 01, 2015 in News, Road Trippin', Stories