Fish From a Kayak, a Canoe, or a Portable Boat?

This article is mainly for anglers who fish in the northern regions of the United States, Canada, as well as in colder regions in other parts of the world. To these people, we also recommend reading this broad range, comparative Wavewalk review »

1. What’s the Problem?

For decades, the problem that anglers faced was choosing between different types of boats, all of which come with advantages and disadvantages –

Big motorboats are stable enough, and comfortable to fish from, but they don’t come cheap, and they take a lot of space on your driveway, or your backyard. Most importantly, they limit launching to boat ramps, and the most critical problem with them is that they work only with a motor, be it an outboard gas engine or an electric trolling motor, and their crew is prevented from paddling them effectively. This problem means that even if a big boat has a shallow draft, it is to going in water that’s not very shallow, and where aquatic vegetation is not abundant, and that’s too bad for bass anglers and anglers who go after other fish species that can be found in these productive waters.
In addition, an increasing number of attractive  fisheries are now closed to motorboats, and if an angler wants to fish in them, they need to use human powered propulsion.

Big motorboats include bass boats, large-size Jon boats, skiffs, to name a few, and a broad range of other types of boats.

Portable boats are neither as stable as full fledged motorboats, nor very comfortable to fish from, but they’re usually less expensive. Their smaller size and independence from transportation by trailer saves their owners plenty of space on their driveway, or backyard, which is convenient.
Being trailer-free also means freedom from the absolute need to launch in boat ramps, which is another advantage.
But a portable boat is still a boat, namely a vessel that’s not designed for paddling, whether in a kayaking or a canoeing mode. The operator or crew of such boats may be able to paddle them over small distances, in case of necessity, but overall, the range of paddling for common portable boats is limited.
Being small and not very stable also limits these boats’ comfort for crews of more than one person, and anglers who fish out of them know they need to be particularly careful in their movements, in order to avoid doing anything that could destabilize their boat.
Generally speaking, portable boats are suitable for fishing smaller bodies of water and other protected fishing grounds.

Portable boats include inflatable boats, folding boats, small-size Jon boats, and small dinghies.

Canoes and Fishing Kayaks are not stable enough to allow for worry-free fishing, and to say that they are uncomfortable would be an understatement. In fact, most people who try fishing out of kayaks give up the experiment due to physical problems ranging from back pain and leg numbness to excessive fatigue.
Storing a canoe or a kayak is convenient, and so is transporting and launching it. In general, canoes and kayaks are more stealthy than bigger boats.
However, in the real world, motorizing canoes and fishing kayaks is limited to less powerful electric motors, and this fact coupled with their instability limits their use to ponds, small lakes, slow moving rivers and well protected waters. The last thing you want is to fish out of is a canoe or a kayak on a big lake when the wind starts to blow, and white caps appear over the waves. Powerful, fast tidal currents are unwelcoming too for these small and under-powered vessels.

2. A Perfect Solution?

Perfection depends on the angler’s requirements, and anglers who practice a large variety of fishing styles in various types of fisheries and lack storage space at home put severe constraints on their search, and finding a perfect boat would be harder and perhaps impossible for them.
Some of the more important factors for choosing a boat are the crew size – solo, tandem or more, the type of water, range of travel, etc.
But there are near-perfect solutions, namely boats that more versatile and can deliver higher performance when important factors are considered. These near-perfect solutions are the Wavewalk 700 and the new Series 4 (S4) from this company.
These two patented twin-hull (catamaran) craft are similar in many ways, which are their ultra light weight (even by comparison to some fishing kayaks), extreme portability (both are car-toppers), unrivaled stability for their size, high level of comfort, and the high performance they offer in both motorized and human powered modes. Both are also well suited for solo and tandem crews.
The differences between them are mainly qualitative –
The 700 paddles better than the S4, and the S4 can be outfitted with a more powerful outboard motor and be driven at higher speeds as well as in tougher waters.
The 700 is lighter than the S4, and the S4 can take a heavier payload.
Both offer full comfort and stability to anglers who fish standing up, but the S4 features a stand-up casting platform at the bow, which is typical to skiffs and large-size Jon boats.
Since this article discusses fishing kayaks, it would be inappropriate to mention the world’s best ultralight fishing kayak, which is the Wavewalk 500.

The following collection of online videos (playlist) shows the 500 and 700 driven with outboard motors of various size, and electric motors:

 

 

The following video is a preview of the new S4 –

The S4 is offered in three colors – White, for anglers who fish blue water, Light Gray, for anglers who fish smaller bodies of water, and Mud Brown (dark brown) for anglers who are into stealth and camouflage.

New video, showing offshore motor kayak or microskiff?

In colder regions, motorboats outnumber kayaks buy a higher ratio than they do in warmer climates. Why is that? It’s because anglers in colder regions are naturally more reluctant to expose themselves to the elements in kayaks than they would be had the climate been warmer.

This new video shows the Wavewalk 570 INF 20-15 being deliberately driven in waves at high speed (high for such a small, lightweight craft, that is). Assuming it’s used in a normal way, that is cautiously, this new boat seems to bridge the gap between a motorized kayak and a microskiff, while keeping the advantages of both and offering some more:

The new, extra-buoyant side flotation works better in helping to prevent this boat from flipping, and in keeping it afloat in case it capsized.
The new spray shield stops most of the spray coming from the bow for entering the cockpit.

The video was shot at Horseneck beach, in Westport, Massachusetts.

Hudson River Striped Bass Fishing Derby – April 2014

The annual Hudson River Striped Bass Fishing Derby has been taking place for years, and it has become a local much talked about institution. It is organized by the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association (HRFA), and attracts striper fans from the Northeastern United States, from New England to as far south as North Carolina. This time the tournament will be headquartered in Newburgh, NY.

Participants have two days to fish the cold water of the Hudson, and present their catch to several weighing stations along the river. Proceeds from this striper fishing competition benefit The Hudson River Fishermen’s Association and its’ Youth Angler Programs.

Being a large river where many fast motorboats go, and located in a cold region, the Hudson isn’t a place where you’d expect to see many anglers who fish out of kayaks. In fact, local anglers are far more likely to use traditional motorboats for this purpose, starting from big and powerful vessels such as bass boats and center console boats to smaller craft such as jon boats. However, this year the tournament organizers have decided to offer a Wavewalk 500 F2 fishing kayak as first prize, because it is a good platform for striper fishing in such conditions: It is stable, dry and comfortable like no other fishing kayak is, and it offers good protection from cold weather as well as from motorboats’ wakes.
Interestingly, when the W500 is outfitted with an outboard motor, it can travel dozens of miles a day at speeds going up to 8-10 mph, and thus offer a fairly good range of travel to anglers who get impatient with fishing in one spot and want to try fishing in other locations along the river.

Native Americans who lived along the Hudson river called it “the river that flows both ways” due the the presence of strong tidal currents in it. These currents can flow in and out at the same time in different parts of the river – yet another reason to consider using a motorized kayak.

We look forward to this popular fishing contest that attracts hundreds of striper fishing fans every year!

A quest for the perfect bass fishing kayak: Comprehensive review by a New York fisherman

Some fishermen are perfectionist, and they won’t stop trying to improve the rigging of the boat they fish from, or look for other fishing boats if they’re not fully satisfied.

This is the story of Michael, a bass fisherman from eastern New York, who has owned and tested a broad range of motorboats including a skiff, a jon boat and even a bass boat, as well as motorized canoes and kayaks. Eventually, he found what he was looking for – a W kayak, and needless to say that he took the time to test it before he bought it.

Interestingly, after a successful and pleasurable fishing season, Michael decided to become a local dealer for this brand that he’s learned to appreciate for its unrivaled stability, comfort, dryness, mobility, range of travel, ease of transportation and overall ‘fishability’.
The review he published on his website is particularly interesting for anyone who’s used to fishing out of small motorboats, and may be reluctant to downsize to a kayak, for obvious reasons.

Read the entire fishing kayak review entitled ‘The Journey’ >

kayak bass fisherman from eastern New York
Michael holding a 22 inch long bass.
Another good size bass caught by Michael

Motorized Fishing Kayak or Versatile Personal Microskiff?

Northern anglers are not particularly fond of kayaks, to say the least. Due to climatic conditions, the idea of fishing out of a kayak is even less appealing to them then it is for southern anglers.

Northern anglers fish out of motorboats, period, and the overwhelming majority of them would not even consider fishing out of a kayak, because they perceive kayaks to be unstable, uncomfortable, wet, lacking sufficient dry storage, and not offering enough range of travel.  This is true for all fishing kayaks out there, whether SOT, sit-in, or hybrid (canoe-kayak), and it’s not true when W fishing kayaks are concerned, especially if you outfit one with a lightweight outboard gas motor.

But northern anglers don’t know much about the fundamental differences between W kayaks and other types of kayaks, and although a growing number of them are starting to use W kayaks, with or without a motor, the majority is still totally committed to traditional motorboats: skiffs, Jon boats,  bass boats, dinghies, etc.

But owning a fishing motorboat doesn’t come cheap, and handling one isn’t easy either. To begin with, you need to transport the boat with a trailer, and you need room to store the boat and the trailer. Then, you can launch only from boat ramps, and that might not be the most convenient thing to do. These boats don’t lend themselves to human powered propulsion, except maybe the smaller skiffs (a.k.a. ‘microskiff) that offer poling in shallow water. As far as mobility goes, bigger and heavier boats don’t travel well in shallow water, fast streams, seaweed infested water, or near rocky beaches… and obviously – you can’t use them in no-motor zones (NMZ).

A motorized W fishing kayak provides solutions to all the above problems, except the psychological and cultural one of its name: Kayak… For this reason, Wavewalk created the Personal Micro Skiff concept and website, which present the noticeable advantages that Northern anglers have to gain from using this craft for fishing: www.microskiff.us

And this is the demo video presenting this new fishing micro skiff: