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.

Kayak fishing for salmon in the Northwest

Here is the latest update on kayak fishing for salmon in the Northwest, in the states of Washington and Oregon –

First, here is Chris from Gig harbor who shows these beautiful kokanee salmon he caught in Clear lake, WA:

fisher-showing-kokanee-fish-he-caught-in-clear-lake-WA

kokanee-clear-lake -limit-06-2014

Next is a trout caught during a family fun day that Chris organized –nice-trout!

Here’s one of the junior teams that participated in the event:

three-anglers-ishing-out-of-their-kayak

 

And here is a nice coho salmon caught earlier this year in Oregon by Greg.

coho-salmon

New light on kayak fishing in cold regions

When most people hear “kayak fishing” they imagine someone seated on a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak, which is the kayak design that has gained popularity in warmer regions. Not so in colder regions, where most anglers prefer to fish out of small or full size motorboats, and would not even consider fishing from kayaks.
So, until people in cold regions get used to the idea that they can fish comfortably from a W kayak even in cold water and weather, they’d still imagine kayak fishing as associated with SOT kayaks, and they’ll keep rejecting the notion that they could enjoy fishing out of a kayak.

Cold regions anglers who already fish out of a SOT kayak or are in the process of considering it could benefit from reading a new article about the design of SOT fishing kayaks >
The article explains the presence of scupper holes in the hulls of SOT kayaks. This most unique feature is particularly annoying for SOT anglers because of the tendency that scupper holes have to conduct water from below the kayak’s hull onto its deck as the kayak moves in the (cold) water, and even when it is motionless, such as when the passenger is casting fishing lines or fighting a fish.
If having water on your kayak’s deck and seat area is rather unpleasant in warm water and weather, it is not even an option when you fish in cold regions.
FYI, special scupper plugs are available from several vendors, but when you apply them the water that quite often gets on your SOT kayak’s deck has nowhere to go…

Again, if you want to fish in cold regions you want to stay dry and fish out of a dry kayak, and your only serious option is a W500.

Kayak fishing in cold regions – different aspects and different views

This online magazine is dedicated to fishing from kayaks in cold regions. This implies both cold water and cold weather which can affect the angler and even be hazardous, and cold water fish species, although to a lesser extent.

Judging by the number and quality of fishing kayak reviews and trip reports recently contributed to Wavewalk’s website by northern kayak anglers, the message is finally understood – There is a kayak out there that protects you from cold water and bad weather, allows you to wear normal clothes and not waders or dry suit, or worse – a wetsuit, and even offers you to keep your feet dry when you launch and beach.

Let’s see what we can learn from these kayak anglers:

Most people don’t perceive the San Francisco Bay area as a particularly cold area, but the ocean there is cold, to a point where paddlers, surfers and kayak anglers have to wear wetsuits or dry suits, at least when the summer is over. Says Edwin, from Oakland, who’s passion is crabbing out of his new W kayak: -“This boat is amazing and one of my favorite things about it is its versatility. You literally can do just about anything with this boat… -I am amazed at how easy it is to move at a good cruising clip.
-The sitting/kneeling paddling position really affords a strong stroke with very little effort which doesn’t really help with the “workout” aspect of it ;)
-I have been averaging just over 6km/hr over a 7.5km distance in flat water with no real wind to speak of. While not blazing fast the effort required to do that would allow me to paddle all day. -Changing your position fore/aft really changes the behavior of the boat! I’ve found that for cruising neutral balance really speeds things up.
-Beach launching is a piece of cake as well as you just step in and weight forward until you float, then move back accordingly. Getting down to the beach isn’t hard either as I can just shoulder it and carry my paddle, necessitating only one trip. I like that…”
Edwin is a big guy (6’5″ / 260 lbs), and his experience with common kayaks, including a large-size one has been unpleasant, to say the least. They were uncomfortable and not stable enough for him, and they swamped. Needless to say that carrying and especially hauling heavy crab traps on board a kayak isn’t something that any kayak may allow you to perform, especially if you’re such a big guy. In order for a kayak to allow such performance, it has to be extremely stable, and the Wavewalk 500 is the world’s stablest kayak.

Next on this review is Jeff, from New Zealand’s Southern Island. Again, most people don’t associate New Zealand with cold weather, but it gets really cold there in and around the southern island, where there’s even a mountain range called the New Zealand Alps that’s peppered with glaciers and ski stations…
Says Jeff -“The W500 has no rudder but you don’t need one. It tracks beautifully and if you get side on to a wave you just lean into it and carry on, very stable.
When I got out of the sit-in kayak at the end of a long trip I have to walk around a bit to loosen up my ankles and knees as I have arthritis in both and sitting for long periods with legs stuck in the same position causes a bit of pain. When I pulled on to the beach in the W500 I just stood up and stepped out, no pain. . Felt like I could go out again…The W500 comfort and stability were the biggest sellers for me. I enjoy not having sore ankles and knees at the end of the day. Oh and I have slept on it a few times as well with no concerns about falling overboard…
The other selling point is storage. I have bought some long narrow bins and everything on board goes in them. One for bait one for fishing tackle one for food. There is room for up to four good sized kingies, if you get lucky.”

Joe is a river-rat from Pennsylvania, who lives next to the world famous Susquehanna river, which is a big river, and considered as number one for smallmouth bass fishing. Joe and his friends fish in the fall, and when possible even in winter.
Says Joe: -“I’m not much of a story teller but I stood up most of the time which allowed me to wing a crank bait out and run it through the deep water haunts where the breeders lay.
I had no need to stop, cause I could stand to fish and sit down to relax every so often. This is extremely important to me cause I have gone through three back surgeries and I need to be able to stretch out once in a while so I don’t get stiff.
There was a stiff cross wind blowing up river which would be a problem with any other kayak, but my Wavewalk tracked straight and true even in the cross wind.”

Chris is a fisherman from Gig Harbor, in Washington state. He lives near the Pacific ocean, and here’s a quote from his story about catching his first pink salmon out of his W kayak: -“This boat was designed with fishing in mind. It is truly a stand up fishing platform. Comfortable, roomy, and able to be rigged to meet the fish that you are going after – Great fight and the sport of the kayak makes it all the better!”

Maine is known as a cold, wind-swept state, and although it’s known for its great fisheries, you wouldn’t necessarily want to go kayak fishing there. Says Linwood, a local, elderly and disabled W kayak fisherman: -“I’m a little fella at 6 feet and 265 lbs, and I had my left knee replaced.
I venture to northern Maine, where I lived for 40 years, and do a lot of fly fishing in both remote ponds and large lakes, so this kayak is a lot more convenient than towing my 14 foot Jon boat. Thank you for a kayak I feel I can safely fish out of.
I hadn’t been in a canoe or kayak for 5 years, so it took a little getting use to, but nothing major. Easy in and easy out, and my feet stayed dry. Pretty cool, and it sure paddles well… After being out two more times I found that my replaced knee cap causes my left foot not stay in the proper position very long, under me, without discomfort, when paddling.”

Paul is yet another fisherman from Maine, who says: -“I can tell you that the W is much more comfortable to fish out of than my 16’ [brand name kayak]! I can stand up in the W to stretch my lower back while fishing and then am able to step right out of the W after five or six hours of fishing! So, it’s doing what I wanted it to do.
I have taken the W out in some good wind to see how it performed compared to my canoe and my standard kayak. The W is much better! The W is more stable in the wind and easier to handle than my [brand name kayak] or my [brand name] canoe, too.
So far, I’m very happy with my W. I like it!”

A little south of Maine in Western Massachusetts, Robbie, a local, middle aged paddler and fisherman who goes on long camping, paddling and fishing trips in Vermont and Massachusetts, tells about his experience wit his W kayak: -“I love changing positions, standing while paddling and especially fishing from a standing position, again increasing visibility. I understand why you asked that I use it for half an hour before showing it off to friends. A very steep learning curve, I was so comfortable in half an hour and now after what I estimate to be over 50 hours I am a hopeless show off… Oh, problems? I had to transport 90% of the camping equipment when a friend and I went camping on Grout Pond in Vermont last weekend. We only were a half mile from the launch but made it in one trip. With 2 conventional yaks it would have been several trips at best.”

Says Denise, from yet another part of New England – Rhode Island, a.k.a. The Ocean State: -“I love my Wavewalk!! The first trip out was a bit rough. We took it out offshore on Greenwich bay on a pretty windy day. We (Chris and I were in it together) struggled to keep it straight in the strong current and wind. We were exhausted once we finally made it back to shore.
The next trip out we decided to take it to Roger Williams Park and try it out on the lake. We had a much more pleasant experience! Had no problem keeping the kayak straight and no undercurrent to fight so we didn’t have to work as hard.
We have been out on Greenwich bay many times since but we make sure to look at wind and tide factors before we go. I am considering adding a motor so we can go out on the windy days as well. ”

And back to coastal Massachusetts, with Bill, an elderly saltwater fly fisherman, who says: -“I’m a 6′ 3″ 210lb disabled senior citizen (knee) and I knew that the Wavewalk would be perfect. If only I had known about it before purchasing my [fishing kayak brand name].
I got a tan W500 T and a PSP paddle, and I’ve been a good boy and familiarized myself with the W on a shallow pond before taking it in the salt. On my first trip out on the ocean I made a few casts without looking for fish, just to feel the joy to be able to stand.
I don’t like it, I love it. It is all that I hoped for and more. ” Later, after becoming well acquainted with his W500, Bill says: -“There is no place I’d rather be than in my W on the water when it’s calm and the sun is setting or rising… Hickory Shad and Striped Bass help to make it all the more enjoyable.
I’ll be fishing until at least Oct. and then hunting until I’m iced out. Wind has more of an affect than cold for me.”

Paul Malm is a legendary angler from Northwestern Iowa, in the Midwest. In fact, he’s a professional fisherman, since he runs a fishing guide service and manufactures fishing tackle, which is sold in stores in his area and around it. Says Paul: -“I have recently purchased a new type of fishing kayak called the WaveWalk 500 that’s very useful in the waters around here. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying the W. I wish I would have bought one sooner!… I have been fishing out of my new WaveWalk 500 fishing kayak and it has been giving me access to waters that others are not able to get to. As a result, I am able to target fish that are not pressured, and it is working very well. It is amazing how much you can see and learn from such a silent , low-profile craft. Fish swim right under you without spooking. Awesome to see! I am now offering kayak trips and kayak fishing through my guide service.” More about Paul, a.k.a. The Musky Guy >
What’s especially interesting with Paul is that he bow fishes standing in his W kayak, and needless to say that one needs a very stable platform for that.
Paul recently caught a state-record (unofficial) sunfish (Read more >)

Upstate New York is yet another cold place, where Ernie, a middle aged, tall and heavy fisherman enjoys his Wavewalk kayak: -“I bought a W500 and have been very happy with it so far. We have a couple large power boats, several kayaks and some canoes, so I have a good basis to compare the W 500 with other boats.
Now you can show a 290 pound guy paddling around with no problem.
Not wet footing is nice – I really like he fact that I can step in and out of the kayak while at a dock, something that is impossible with my other fishing kayaks and relatively difficult with my various canoes.”

And so the list of cold water anglers’ testimonials goes on with variations on similar themes that this magazine discusses in length and breadth. Some talk about their motorized W kayak, others about how being elderly and/or disabled prevented them from fishing out of other kayaks except the W, and many tell about how their large size made paddling kayak and fishing out of them an impossibility, until they started using a W. Many cold water anglers hold small things such as staying dry in high regard, and getting into the kayak and out of it without having to step in water is viewed as a blessing.

For a broader and better overview of what it feels like to fish out of a W kayak, we recommend reading more fishing kayak reviews >


Check out those great fishing lures >

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: