A Look Back at the Original Ocean Kayak Big Game

A Look Back at the Original Ocean Kayak Big Game
By Paul Lebowitz

With Ocean Kayak’s Prowler Big Game II just hitting the water, I thought it would interesting to look back at the original version introduced for the 2007 model year. The Big Game was a record breaker, the first solo kayak to boast a then-astounding 600-pound weight capacity. It was no slouch when it comes to fishability either, debuting the transducer compatible scupper and a battery tray.

The Big Game II is new from the deck up, but the hull is the same – why change what works? If you’d like an idea of how the Big Game II paddles, this should give you a good idea until we can all get out and test fish the new version.

Keep in mind as you read this old review that the stand-up kayak fishing movement was in its infancy at the time. The Big Game was a departure from the norm, particularly for West Coast open water kayak anglers who favored quicker, distance-eating boats. These days most kayak anglers prefer stability and comfort to the wet bottoms and sore backs that come with quicker fishing kayaks. As much as I like a fast mover, I don’t think I’d go back.

The original Ocean Kayak Big Game was a record breaker, the first solo fishing kayak to offer 600 pounds of heavy hauling.
The original Ocean Kayak Big Game was a record breaker, the first solo fishing kayak to offer 600 pounds of heavy hauling.

The Prowler Big Game from Ocean Kayak – A Fishing Platform for Big Boys

Big. The word is right there in the name. Ocean Kayak's newest addition to the Prowler line-up of fish-worthy kayaks is no wispy lightweight. This is a bluff, chunky beast, a real meat and potatoes fishing machine.

The 12-foot 9-inch long Big Game bulled its way through the slop. A full 34 inches wide, when it was time to paddle against a smoking current our crew faced a real workout.

In fighting trim, Ocean Kayak reports it weighs 69 pounds. Cargo capacity is tops for a single kayak, 550 to 600 pounds depending on conditions. No featherweights ourselves, we didn't come close to pushing its limits. Anglers come in all shapes and sizes; this kayak can comfortably carry the big boys.

The high-volume hull provides tremendous floatation, supporting the paddler high and dry above the water's surface. Normally such an elevated seating position would compromise stability, but not on the Big Game. It has stability to spare. Ocean Kayak even designed the deck to facilitate standing.

The Big Game comes with a couple of flush-mounted rod holders and acres of deck space for mounting accessories. There are some real surprises here too, like a front scupper that doubles as a mounting point for fish-finder transducers. Good job!

A unique below-decks shelf is hiding beneath the bow hatch – that's a battery tray. The center console provides additional, easy to reach storage beneath a removable lid that is itself a convenient mounting spot. And in a first for Ocean Kayak, there's room for an optional rectangular hatch just in front of the seat for the ultimate in easy to access below decks storage.

It's clear the Big Game was designed from the ground up as a stable, easy to rig fishing platform. Its novel features place it tops in the fishability category.

Maneuverability is good if not quick. The bow and stern are slightly flared to deflect splash and lift the boat over swells. There's noticeable hull slap as the boat splashes through the water. But putting it in proper perspective, the Big Game is much quieter than anything with an outboard on the back.

Speed: **
Maneuverability: ***
Stability: *****
Comfort: ****
Fishability: *****

A version of this story originally appeared in Canoe and Kayak Magazine in 2007.