Gary’s new book is a most comprehensive guide for kayak fishing enthusiasts.
Gary Rankel is a biologist who worked for decades in research and management of fisheries across the United States. Years ago, he retired in Citrus county, Florida, and became an avid kayak angler. Since then, Gary founded the local Nature Coast Kayak Fishers club, and published dozens of articles on fishing and conservation in local newspapers.
Gary’s new book is a most comprehensive guide for kayak fishing enthusiasts. It includes a wealth of valuable information on kayaks, local fish species, fishing gear, and angling techniques. The book is edited as a guide for kayak anglers, and it features dozens of local maps with suggested launching spots and directions to productive fishing areas.
Gary suffers from a sensitive back, which is why for the past decade he has been fishing from a Wavewalk 500. He summarized his experience with his Wavewalk 500 in a review of this kayak that he published on his website.
The new world speed record for motor kayaks is 17 mph. This world record holder is Captain Larry Jarboe, a retired businessman and county official from Maryland, who settled in Key Largo, Florida, where he runs a Wavewalk dealership and a fishing and diving business. Visit Larry’s website »
When Larry broke this motorized kayak speed record, he was driving his Wavewalk S4 powered by a 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard motor, on flat water. The S4 is a twin-hull (catamaran) watercraft designated as a kayak, and it can serve as such, namely as a paddle craft, as well as a portable boat for fishing the flats (I.E. microskiff) and for offshore fishing.
Note that Larry prefers to drive his S4 facing sideways, in the side-saddle position in which he’s used to drive dinghies. Another position that the S4 offers is riding, namely with a leg on each side of the saddle seat, similarly to the way personal watercraft (PWC), ATVs and snowmobiles are driven. Riding is the most stable posture for driving, and the combination of the balancing capabilities that it offers the driver and passengers with the catamaran hulls, delivers unrivaled stability. Without this extreme stability, such speed would have not been possible.
The unique, patented saddle seat featuring in the S4 is back-pain free, unlike other kayak seats that force their users to sit in the notorious L position, with their legs stretched uncomfortably in front of them, and their lower back exposed to continuous pressure.
Larry driving his S4 side-saddle in the ocean chop
The above photo shows the motorized S4 kayak catamaran kayak driven in the ocean, in choppy water, with the driver facing forward in the riding position.
For decades, Captain Larry Jarboe owned and ran sawmill in Maryland, and served as a county commissioner there, and all this time, his passion was fishing and diving.
When Larry retired in Key largo, his plan was to keep fishing out of a commercial fishing boat that he owns named the Line Dancer, and offer guided fishing and diving tours from this boat. At that time, Larry was already a fan of the Wavewalk 500, which he had used in Maryland, and he became a Wavewalk dealer.
Then came the Wavewalk 700 series, and Larry discovered the potential for using it for guided fishing tours in the mangroves and for diving tours on the reef. He also discovered motorized kayaking. Both discoveries led Larry to reassess the business potential of the Wavewalk 700, and put a greater emphasis on this small watercraft, in combination with the Line Dancer, serving as a mother ship.
Larry also discovered the option to use a motorized W700 for driving clients into the mangroves, and as the creek becomes narrower and tortuous, continue in a paddling mode.
The advent of the S4 changed things for Larry and his business. He found that he could use a motorized S4 to tow two Wavewalk 700 kayaks, each one attached to each side of this versatile boat. This innovative setup is extremely stable and comfortable, and it allows its passengers to chose between paddling autonomously or being towed by Larry’s S4 skiff.
Larry developed a climbing ladder for the S4, which allows practically anyone, including big and heavy clients, as well as elderly ones to get back into the boat easily.
In addition, Larry found that practically anyone could drive the S4 and fish out of it, and this includes people who simply cannot used any other kayak, and would feel uncomfortable in a conventional small boat such as a Jon boat or a skiff, such as this 330 lbs guy –
As Larry keeps finding new ways to use the Wavewalk S4 and 700 to better serve the clients of his burgeoning fishing and diving business, he’s very excited about advising others who may benefit from the versatility and high performance of these skiff-kayaks that practically anyone can use, including people with a sensitive back, back problems, back injuries, arthritis, sciatica, excess weight, and other limitations and disabilities.
And let’s not forget couples who just want to paddle in tandem, or go motorizing in the mangroves –
Elderly fishermen welcomed the kayak fishing trend that became popular about a decade ago, mainly because they felt jaded with having to deal with big motorboats and cumbersome canoes, and they welcomed the promise for physical exercise that came with paddling kayaks.
Nowadays, many senior anglers perceive the reality beyond the hype, and they are not as enthusiastic about kayak fishing as before. The reasons for this are primarily ergonomic, namely the discomfort and fatigue associated with staying seated in a kayak for long hours, and the risk of developing sciatica and other back injuries as a result.
Pedal driven kayaks have failed to provide solace to senior anglers, and in fact they proved to be harsher on the operator’s back and legs than regular, paddle propelled kayaks.
Electric trolling motors proved to be a good solution for ponds, small lakes and slow moving rivers, as far as shorter fishing trips are concerned. Whether trough assisted paddling or as an alternative to paddling, electric motors have become quite popular with older anglers who can tolerate being seated in the L position, or similar uncomfortable postures.
Wavewalk is a manufacturer of patented kayaks that solved the back pain problem in this field, as well as a host of other physical problems that plague kayaking and kayak fishing. Wavewalk also solved the motorizing conundrum, namely the insufficiency of electric trolling motors as means of propulsion for long fishing trips and for traveling in fast currents and in choppy water – something that only outboard motors can do.
Wavewalk offers three products lines of different sizes, all of which can be easily and effectively paddled and motorized with either electric motors or outboard gas motors.
The Wavewalk 500 is a lightweight (60 lbs) super stable and back pain free twin-hull (catamaran) kayak that anyone can car-top, launch paddle and beach anywhere, including people in the late seventies and even early eighties, as well as people with serious disabilities.
The Wavewalk 700 series is a lightweight (80 lbs), super stable and back pain free twin-hull tandem kayak and portable skiff. Anyone can car top a W700 on their own, as well as carry it and launch it. It can take powerful portable outboard motors, and it’s fun to drive, even in choppy water.
The same skiff serves as a fishing kayak in places that can be accessed only by the smallest and most nimble paddle craft:
Wavewalk is now offering a third line of small craft named Series 4 (S4). This portable (car-top) skiff can take on board two big and heavy anglers, a strong outboard motor, and plenty of fishing gear. It can also serve as a paddle craft (canoe, tandem kayak) when its crew needs to go in extremely shallow water, or in no-motor zones (NMZ). Being more stable than bigger boats makes it an ideal solution for elderly anglers who fish in a variety of waters, and do it either solo or together with a fishing buddy.
Gary Rankel, from Hernando, Florida, launched his kayak fishing club and website in 2015.
Since then, his website has become a useful source of information about fishing Nature Coast and Citrus County, kayak fishing techniques and rigging tips, the Nature Coast Kayak Fishers Club schedule and activities, and the Wavewalk 500, from which Gary has been fishing for the past seven years.
Gary offers lectures and advice on these subjects, and he organizes fishing trips, mainly to the Ozello wildlife refuge, where he and his friends fish for snook, redfish and seatrout, as well as other species. He is also active in campaigning for wildlife and fisheries conservation, following his decades long work as a scientist in this field.
Many seniors who would like to go out there and fish are prevented from doing so because handling and driving a regular size motorboat is too hard for them, while fishing out of a common (SOT or Sit-In) kayak is too uncomfortable for them, mainly because of back pain problems, leg circulation, difficulties in launching and beaching, and the need that some have for an extra source of power, namely a motor, due to the fact that their range of travel as paddlers is even more limited than that of younger anglers. Some elderly anglers, such as Gary himself, who’s in in seventies, no longer enjoys a perfect sense of balance, and appreciates the extra stability offered by the Wavewalk.