■ Words & Images by Grant Dixon
While you might not call it quite a ‘midlife crisis’, after 12 years working in the horticultural industry, Bay of Plenty’s Ryan Hampton started looking for options more in line with his passion – fishing.
Ryan had been born and raised in a fishing family growing up around the Bay of Plenty and Waihi. He had always been keen on sharing his knowledge and this morphed into his YouTube channel after he started videoing his trips, initially for TikTok and other social media platforms.
Living in the Coromandel, Ryan was a basic huntergatherer, putting food on the table grassroots Kiwi style.
“There was an abundance on my doorstep – everything from snapper, squid, and flounder through to shellfish, so I filmed myself and friends targeting various species either landbased or from a small tinnie I set up to do the job,” Ryan says.
While he soon built up quite a following on social media among like-minded Kiwis, his efforts were noticed by John Donald, owner of Catch! Tackle.
“John saw my videos on TikTok and got in touch. Catch! Tackle complimented, in many ways, my varied fishing styles and now are a major part of what I do.”
The idea of doing a boat giveaway had been in the pipeline for some time. Ryan and John saw the perfect opportunity to build a small but well-appointed trailer boat. The project was pulled together and now Ryan will show it and Catch! Tackle off around the country over the next eight months, after which it will go to one deserving angler.
“I am calling it a Kiwi Road Trip, and don’t have any firm plans. Each place I go I will put up a post looking to hook up with locals to fish with and create content.”
Ryan has a roof tent on his Rav 4 so he will never be short of accommodation. Looking at the boat, there will be no shortage of crew wanting to test its fishability – and they won’t be disappointed.
The boat chosen is a 390 Powercat, built by Kingfisher Boats in Tauranga. It is powered by a Yamaha 40 HP Four Stroke electric trim-and-tilt motor and carried on a custom-built GFab trailer. The Lowrance electronics were not fitted at the time the boat was put through its paces.
Apart from a couple of short runs to PD the motor, Ryan’s first ‘serious’ outing was to have been at Mangawhai, but a strong NE wind and swell put paid to any thoughts of a bar crossing. Being confined to the harbour gave me a good opportunity to shoot some running shots as Ryan put the new rig through its paces.
It was only when I started poking around with the camera that I realised just how many ‘moving parts’ this boat, christened Donna in memory of his mum who passed away earlier in the year, had.
Muddy Feet presenter Ryan Hampton puts his promotional rig, a 390 Powercat, through its paces.
1) Donna is easily towed by Ryan’s Rav4.
2 & 3) Having livebaits extends the angler’s options.
4) U-Dek covers most of the flat surfaces.
5) The lighting switchboard incorporates a USB port.
6) The forward casting platform.
7) The battery box is placed as high as possible.
I am familiar with the performance of the Powercat range having tested and written up several models in the past. I found them sea-kindly and very stable. The 390 is no exception.
Donna features a forward casting platform that is easily accessed via step. It, like most flat surfaces aboard, has been given the U-Dek treatment that offers both excellent grip and is soft to stand on. The U-Dek has been customized with the boat name and Ryan’s ‘handle’ – Muddy Feet – embossed into the covering, along with some of the key sponsors. Very smart!
Set into the casting platform is the anchor locker with the navigation lights port and starboard. Stepping down into the cockpit there are two dry storage lockers on either side with a simple switch panel set into the bulkhead. Having an electric start outboard means there is power to run lighting and electronics. The Lowrance sounder, the last piece in the puzzle, was not fitted for the test run but the Railblaza mount was there waiting for it. Railblaza product features prominently throughout the boat allowing Ryan to set up a variety of functions from baitboards to cellphone and rod holders via strategically placed starport or slide rail mounts.
One of the better ideas added to the setup is the inclusion of Narva forward-facing floodlights, located just below the casting platform. This position results in little or no glare and Ryan anticipates being able to spear flounder using them as they are fully adjustable downwards. Other lighting includes under-gunwale lights that illuminate the deck but don’t shine overboard, anchor lights, and underwater lights at the stern, the latter to assist with bait catching. The battery is set as high as possible in the stern in a lidded box. Two Icey-Tek bins – 70 and 40 litres – double as seats without impinging too much on the fishing space.
1) The IceyTek bins double as seats.
2) The Narva spotlights illuminate the way forward without the glare.
3) A handy little step up.
4) The Yamaha’s electric tilt and trim enables Ryan to get into the shallows.
5) Launching and retrieving is a one-person job thanks to the customised GFab trailer.
6) Dry storage is located under the casting platform.
7) Railblaza product features throughout the boat.
8) An example of Ryan’s ingenuity is this ‘net float boat’ made from an old mussel buoy.
Tauranga firm GFab Trailers custom-built an alloy trailer for Donna, which is easily handled by one person at the ramp. It was the first one built for a Powercat and looks very smart; mag wheels are a nice finishing touch. Ryan tows the rig with a Toyota Rav4 which is AWD, making it suitable for beach launches when necessary.
One of Ryan’s goals this summer is to catch a billfish livebaiting. A HiTech Plastics tank sits on the swimstep, the pump fitted to the inside of the transom.
A 3M wrap, created by Auckland firm Writeon, is a nice finishing touch. Others who have contributed in various ways are Hutchwilco and Sword Knives. And the moniker ‘Muddy Feet’ ? Ryan says growing up fishing in and around harbours, he always seemed to have muddy feet at the start and end of each trip. Makes sense to me!

Win this boat

After the 2024 Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show next May, Donna will be handed over to a suitably deserving new owner.
“It would have been easy to have given away the boat as a prize draw, but you run the risk of it going to someone who already has a boat. We want this to go to an angler who deserves and will cherish it,” John says.
The exact process will be published in the magazine and online, including a call for nominations.
“Readers should start thinking who might make a good recipient and why.”
In the meantime Ryan will continue on his road trip, posting progress as he travels around NZ meeting, greeting and fishing with the locals. Watch this space.