The Ocean Kayak Caper was released in early fall of 2002 and a week before they arrived in San Diego Allen Peugh dropped me a line about these new little boats. Our quest to find a combination of affordable, stable, dry and fishable kayaks was taking a while and this was good news.
When we arrived at the shop we pulled out a Caper and Drifter to compare and contrast; Karen took the Drifter and I launched the Caper to start. It became immediately apparent just how true the rumors of the wet ride for Drifter were. Karen found herself sitting in a pool of water the instant she launched into the calm bay and I was paddling around quite dry. The Caper proved to be a lot of fun at first glances. We took the Drifter back up to the shop and pulled down a Scupper Pro T/W the fishermans choice when fishing an Ocean Kayak. By all comparisons the SPTW was a rocket ship compared to anything else. I cruised across the back bay area and in circles around Karen, now in the Caper. The SPTW has its appeal, for sure. Speed and secondary stability are the obvious standouts but the seat is narrow and the cockpit simply too short for my frame (I'm 6'4 and all legs). Additionally the length of this yak would have proven tricky when it came time to store it in our tiny, shared garage back at the apartment complex.
We both paddled the Caper a bit more and took it back to Allens with questions of pricing, warranties, etc. We took a week to really think it over and while we did so we paddled a Cobra Explorer but were not blown away. We called Allen with our order 2 Capers, 1 in the color Sky the other in Sunrise. The fact that OK makes such a fantastic orange color sold me right off, to be honest. Im such a sucker for orange. And before you laugh off this comment think about the importance color plays in your vehicle choices, wall paints or anything else. If you're not happy with the color then you're just not happy.
The Caper has all the great qualities you look for in a fishing kayak with a few fundamental perks that really put it in a class of its own. After paddling this yak for the past 12 months I believe it is the greatest offering for a lightweight (45 lbs), quick, maneuverable, fishing kayak that wont break your budget or your back. It has its shortcomings, of course, but I feel the deficiencies are far outweighed by the pros.
At just 11 it is a short boat by kayaking standards. The same hull shape and body style as the Drifter make this look like a true little brother to the larger offering from OK but the higher seat provides a level of comfort that blows away its older sibling. A very generous front hatch has plenty of room for a spare paddle and several fishing rods. Storing 7 1⁄2 foot rods is no problem and the width and stability of the Caper make retrieving those rods a cinch. The optional round hatch in front of the seat is a smart add-on as it provides a bit more easy-access storage space for small necessities (dykes, scale, tackle, etc). Also, it cant go unmentioned that the cup holder is perfectly sized for your favorite brand of 12 oz canned beverage. A slightly larger water bottle (such as our REI 16 oz. Bottles) fit perfectly, too.
The tank well was a bit of a disappointment at first; its very narrow at the bottom with only 9 inches from edge to edge. The length is approximately 22 inches so upon first looks you imagine a very long, narrow bait tank or crate of some kind for storage. Fate stepped in here, for me, and provided a perfectly sized Coleman cooler that we found in Cabo San Lucas. I do not recommend traveling to Cabo for your cooler, however, as it will cost you well over a grand when you factor in airfare, hotel and mandatory cruiser and panga fishing. This cooler fits as though it were made for the well of the Caper itself. When I discovered this match-made-in-Mexico I immediately affixed a pair of PVC rocket launchers and drilled drainage holes in the bottom. I havent gone the last step and added a pump system but I imagine that will happen in due time.
The Caper is a dream to paddle. The weight and short body make navigating tight areas, such as around docks and between boats, childs play. The first few times you paddle this kayak you may find it to be a bit zig-zaggy, again, this is because of the shorter hull and you will quickly adjust your paddle stroke to push the Caper straight and true (mostly). The hull tracks well and handles moderate wake like a champ. The width of the seat (all 30) will handle even the most well endowed rump with comfort. This width also gives the Caper a stable ride so that even klutzes like me are able to stand upright and balance for a short time.