Kayak Fishing

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Kayak Fishing Forum: Methods, Gear, How-to   Boats: Before you buy, Modifications, Carrying, Storage, Safety Photos Resources

There are a few resources out there for kayak fishing. Many are full of great information, but the majority of sites focus on saltwater action.  This page is meant to be a resource for information and discussion about all types of kayak fishing, as well as canoe and float tube fishing, but with a primary focus on freshwater action.

As always, feel free to comment on any section or aspect–discussion is what makes this forum really work.

How I Acquired My Kayak

by John Kirkland

In late 2008, I ran across an article about kayak fishing.  In my younger years, I had spent a fair amount of time paddling canoes around lakes, and a few trips paddling rafts through whitewater, but I had never considered a kayak.  The article showcased the sit-on-top type of kayak, stable and open, and decked out with rod holders, a hatch for storage, and space to store gear.  Focused on a saltwater application, the article discussed the stability and utility of fishing in bays, marshes, and open sea.  Indeed, I was a bit surprised that this was really something that people would actually do; much less feel stable and upright.  My experience with kayakers before that time primarily had been steering a whitewater raft around them as they bobbed and rolled in mountain rivers.

Novel as the idea was, I was suddenly struck by the possibility of actually being able to afford, transport, and store one of these craft.  Those three factors—cost, being able to handle it alone, and the ability to store a boat out of the way in my garage—were issues I had not been able to overcome in my previous considerations about getting off the shore.  A lifelong fisherman, I had never effectively gotten away from the water’s edge without hitching a ride or paying to join a party boat.  Over the years, I found places to go where I could be on foot—and still seek out new places to do so.  The kayak seemed to be the obvious answer for me.

 Price was an important factor; I could spend a few hundred dollars on a “toy” like this, if well-planned, but I couldn’t just drop a credit card on a major expense.  After researching various makes, models, and customer reviews, I found that kayaks ranged anywhere from $200 to over $2000, depending on a number of details, including size, weight limit, installed features, and brand.  My plan was to be conservative, and focus on boats with a total delivered price of $500-$700.  There were several well-rated models in this category.

 The size and weight of the boat definitely was a real consideration. My younger brother had a nice 16-ft canoe that he paddled the boundary waters of Minnesota in back in the 90’s.  Sturdy and hard to tip as it was, the boat weighed nearly 90 pounds empty.  Two people could easily lift, move, and maneuver it.  I could pick it up, and with real effort, flip it over my head to carry.  These actions were difficult, though, in my early 20’s.  I knew that things would be no easier after a decade in a cubicle. 

 The kayaks I looked at weighed between 45 and 65 pounds, a range I could comfortably heft and handle. With 15 pounds of gear, I was reaching the maximum weight I could transport by hand for distances of up to 200 yards.  But this was fully doable. Also, I needed a yak with at least 275-300 pound weight limit, to support my 210 pounds, plus gear, any water that might be taken on, and of course, a 50 pound cooler of fish.  In considering boat weight, I had to think about lifting the boat up on top of my Jeep, off again, and then up to a storage rack on my garage wall.

 Storage was a very significant issue.  Our two car garage was already full of gardening supplies, woodworking tools, lawn machinery, outdoor furniture, fishing equipment, and, or course, two vehicles.  The boat would have to go either on the wall or on the ceiling.  One of the main reasons I had never bought a johnboat and trailer was the lack of storage space.  Commercial storage started at $30/month and went up quickly.  Boat slips are nice, but, aside from the $1000-2000 expense each year, you are limited to using one lake. A canoe was just too bulky to fit on the wall, and I didn’t trust hanging that much weight from above.  So, a pair of J-hooks from Home Depot, six feet up the wall, with two bungee straps fit the bill (and cost about $20 for everything).

 With all the research and careful consideration complete, I was torn between two options: the Pelican Castaway 116 and the Ocean Kayak Angler XT 116.  Both had their perks; the Pelican came with a seat cushion and rod holder, and the Ocean Kayak weighed a bit less and had a nice forward hatch.  The Pelican was available at a local store for $499 (no delivery charge), and I was finding the Ocean Kayak online for $450-600 plus freight.  I decided on the Pelican-but when I got to the store, the model was gone.  They didn’t think they would receive any more (indeed, the store went bankrupt and shut down a few months later).  So I decided to go with the Ocean Kayak. After comparing websites, I discovered West Marine, their sale, and their flat shipping rates.  They delivered the boat for about $520, all in.  Still cheaper than the Pelican, after sales tax was added.  This all happened in February, 2009.  It was like torture waiting until April and the first warm days to try it out.

 To haul the boat around I bought a pair of Thule J-hook kayak cradles, about $75 on sale, that could be attached to the factory crossbars of my Jeep Grand Cherokee. Add a paddle, PFD, and a nice seat back ($69 from Ocean Kayak, completely worth it), and I had put about $700 into this decision.  Not cheap, per se, but affordable for me. 

 Of course, I’ve modified the yak, added accessories, and upgraded to a Yakima rack and cradle system to reduce noise and increase security.  Oh, and I picked up a second, 8 foot yak on sale for under $200 off season; my wife tried my boat out last year, and decided that she would like to join me this year.  She said she doesn’t plan to fish, just paddle.  We’ll see how she feels about that after a fish pulls her around on the boat once or twice…I can’t wait for the season to start again.

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