Tough question, especially if you’re a Canadian kayak fishing fanatic! 🙂
Common kayaks are lighter than canoes, and they’re less difficult to control under wind, and for these reasons they’ve replaced canoes as fishing platforms for the individual angler in some regions in North America, but not in Canada and similarly cold regions in the United States.
The inhabited parts of Canada aren’t that much different from most northern regions in the United States. Well, maybe they’re a little colder, but there are still enough places in the Northeast and Midwest that are about as cold as southern Canada.
Interestingly, anglers in those northern US regions haven’t adopted kayaks as fishing boats nearly as much as southern anglers have, and that may be a clue that could help provide an answer the the above question.
I’ve heard a theory saying that Canadians are more conservative about their canoes and canoeing, because those are part of the Canadian tradition and cultural heritage. While I believe it may be true, to some extent, I must say I don’t tend to accept this explanation, for a number of reasons, which are:
1. Kayaks are part of the Canadian cultural heritage as well. There shouldn’t be a ‘cultural barrier’ preventing Canadian canoe anglers that feel like switching to kayak fishing from doing so.
2. Canoes have been a part of the American cultural heritage as much as they’ve been so in Canada, and yet, some US regions have become markedly more kayak oriented than canoe oriented, as far as fishing goes.
3. Anglers are known to be practical people, with a developed sense for what works best for them. With all the hype around kayak fishing in recent years, Canadian anglers have had plenty of opportunities to think about the idea of fishing from kayaks, and try it in real life.
4. Even in the old days, native people of North America did not use kayaks for fishing as much as for hunting, and only in the very far north, in the arctic regions around the polar circle. Other native American people who lived south of the arctic regions didn’t use kayaks at all, although they had been exposed to their northern neighbors’ kayak designs for thousands of years. Interestingly, Inuit and other far-north peoples used canoes called Umiaks, as well as kayaks. The word Kayak means man’s boat, which ties it to its basic usage as a hunting boat.
So, if we rule out the cultural explanation, what are we left with?
In my opinion, we’re left with reality, and in reality, canoes offer their passengers better protection from the elements than kayaks do, whether those are sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, or more traditional sit-in kayaks (SIK). And why is this fact important with regard to fishing in Canada? Obviously because SOT kayaks and Sit-In kayaks are less practical for fishing in colder climates, where both water and weather require that boaters stay as dry as possible. Well, the writer assumes that most people prefer boating, paddling and fishing while wearing regular clothes rather than dry suits and wetsuits…
Having said that, if you’re willing to accept the W watercraft as member of the kayak family of boats, and call it “W Kayak”, you’re likely to see a growing interest in kayak fishing among Canadian canoe anglers, as well as among northern US anglers, because the W kayak offers as much protection to passengers as canoes do, plus advantages that are typical to common SOT and sit-in kayaks, such as smaller size and improved portability.
On top of that, the W kayak offers a significantly higher degree of mobility, namely easier launching paddling and beaching, excellent ergonomics, in contrast with the common kayaks’ poor ergonomics that makes many kayak anglers drop out from the sport, and last but not least – improved control under the ever present wind, and a degree of stability unequaled by either canoes or sit-in and SOT kayaks, as well as by some other small boats.