Elderly Couple Fishing Offshore, In Tandem Out Of Their Motorized Fishing Kayak. December, South Korea

This is a most unusual, yet most revealing story.
It says a lot about kayak anglers and the sacrifices some of them are willing to make for their love of fishing.
It also shows that propelling fishing kayaks with outboard gas engines is picking up, has a future, but it also faces certain limitations.
This story also shows that pedal drives for fishing kayaks simply can’t substitute a motor – any motor, in any way, and that when push comes to shove, they can’t replace the paddle.
And last but not least, it shows that two elderly people can go out for a long, offshore kayak fishing trip on a cold day in December, catch fish together, and enjoy each other’s company while doing so, without suffering from back pain, leg numbness, discomfort, wetness, or any other undesirable phenomenon that elderly anglers suffer from when they attempt to fish out of kayaks.

Members of the South Korean Sea Dreamer Kayak Fishing club, who are all courageous and avid anglers, outfitted their fishing kayaks with outriggers and outboard gas engines. These unusual people went out for an offshore kayak fishing trip December 31st, in cold weather. The fishing expedition included a few traditional SOT kayaks, and a W500 kayak, which unlike the other kayaks, was operated by a crew of two: And elderly couple who loves fishing, and enjoys fishing together.

Elderly South Korean couple fishing in tandem, offshore, out of a w500 kayak outfitted with an outboard gas engine and outriggers

Sungjin Kim, Wavewalk’s distributor in South Korea, published this story (in Korean) on his Korean kayak fishing website, and his post there includes a link to the kayak fishing club’s website.

Here are the fish this tandem crew of kayak anglers caught in the ocean:

fish caught in the ocean near the South korean coast, by an elderly couple fishing in tandem out of a W kaayk outfitted with an outboard motor

The reader should be aware that imported fishing kayaks are expensive in Korea, and so are outboard motors and outriggers. For the cost of their motorized W kayak, this couple could have gotten a nice small motorboat, but not necessarily one that they could car top:

beached motorized kayaks ready for fishing in the ocean, South Korea

Another inconvenience with a bigger boat could have been the need to launch it from a boat ramp, which is neither easy nor convenient.

But let’s not forget that winters in south Korea are cold, and so is the ocean there. This means that elderly people can’t go fishing offshore out of regular SOT, sit-in or hybrid fishing kayaks: They need to fish out of a kayak that keeps them dry, which wouldn’t be the case if they used anything else than their W500:

fishing kayak with outboard gas engine and outriggres in the ocean, South KoreaAnd last but not least, elderly people need a level of comfort that can’t be found in kayaks other than the W kayak: They need to stand up easily and whenever they want to stretch, change positions, be free from any pressure on their lower back, and be able to fight and prevent leg numbness.

The reader has surely realized that fishing in tandem out of a kayak can be problematic, due to the small space available, and the reduced range of motion of the crew. But this was not the case for this tandem crew, obviously – They managed just fine.

In other words, while the other anglers who participated in this cold water and weather, offshore expedition practiced kayak fishing as an extreme sport , this elderly couple practiced traditional, cozy fishing – as it should really be. The only difference between their motorized W500 and other motorized W500 kayaks is the fact they outfitted it with outriggers, like all the other participants in this fishing trip did. This safety measure is understandable in view of the hazardous environment and the risk of hypothermia in case of an accident, the fact that two people were on board the W500 and not just one, and the fact that these were elderly people whose sense of balance might be impaired by age: Seniors are usually more cautious than younger people are, and rightfully so.

Interestingly, the other motorized kayaks that participated in this expedition were of the type that features a push pedal drive, but all the other anglers carried a paddle on board as a safety measure in case the motor stalled, and in order to propel their kayaks in shallow water, when launching and beaching. In other words, out of the three propulsion devices (paddle, motor and pedal drive), the drive was redundant. The fact they didn’t count on their pedal drives for such a long, offshore trip also shows that such devices cannot be counted on as means to extend a kayak’s range of operation, and cannot serve as a substitute for some kind of motor when currents and wind are to be dealt with.

The Future Of Kayak Fishing Is Not As An Extreme Sport

For most anglers, kayak fishing is an extreme sport. Extreme in the sense that an angler fishing from a kayak is compelled to give up the two essential things that any regular fishing motorboat provides, which are adequate stability and elementary comfort. The third requirement, storage space is important as well, but less than the first ‘must have’ two. Indeed, fishing kayaks are not stable enough, and they are extremely uncomfortable, when compared to regular size boats. As for storage in fishing kayaks, the situation is as dire as it is with regards to stability and ergonomics.

The Promise vs. Reality

Kayak fishing promised a cheaper, hassle free, low maintenance, lightweight, car top form of fishing craft, and a direct, sporty experience. However, today, out of tens of millions of Americans who fish from boats, merely one in every thousand fishes from a kayak, and this is after a decade of promises that ‘kayak fishing is the fastest growing outdoors sport’, etc.  The bulk of US anglers have followed neither the kayak fishing pioneers nor the fishing kayak manufacturers’ hype, and since growth in kayak fishing participation is no longer as fast as it had been several years ago, it is safe to say that the US kayak fishing market has matured. This is partly a result of decreasing enthusiasm from new participants, as well as a high dropout rate that has been typical to this sport since its early beginnings.

Yes, but…

But kayak fishing feels extremely uncomfortable only if you’re fishing from the old fashion, sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks and sit-in kayaks. In contrast, when you fish from a W kayak, you experience a level of comfort that’s equivalent to that of fishing from a regular size boat, and some W fans would argue that you feel even better.

When stability is concerned, the level of stability an angler experiences while fishing from a W500 kayak is on par with what they’d feel fishing in a regular size fishing boat, in the sense that they are not required to constantly address the issue of balancing, and they can fish standing up with ease, comfort and confidence that are outside the world of fishing kayaks.

The W500 is the only kayak offering storage space that’s dry and accessible any time, and as much as any kayak angler may need, even if their fishing trip includes camping, and therefore carrying on board numerous and bulky items that so far only canoes and regular size boats could carry.

The Future Of Kayak Fishing

This is to say that kayak fishing has a future, and a bright one, but not as the extreme sport it’s been for most kayak anglers so far. The future of kayak fishing as a broad base sport and leisure activity depends on the participation of regular people, who care about their personal comfort, and demand a performance level in stability and storage that is not sub-minimal.  In other words, the future of kayak fishing is W kayak fishing.


The Barge Yak: A Not So Cozy Fishing Kayak

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

A common fishing kayak is essentially a broad, clumsy recreational kayak, in most cases a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak, which is another name for a paddle board. Sea kayakers call these types of kayaks ‘barge’, since they although they are stabler than sea kayaks, are also hard to paddle.  
But barge kayaks are hazardous to paddle and fish from
Seriously, they can be, and that’s because fishing kayaks are used by real, everyday people like yourself, in real, everyday conditions. Life is neither a commercial video, nor a glossy ad.
Everyday people are not particularly fit, and they’re often both overweight to some extent.
The typical kayak angler is middle aged, and many kayak anglers are elderly folks. Unfortunately, these are the same people who would normally purchase a barge yak, because they are concerned about the instability of narrow sit-in and SOT kayaks, and may not want to pay for a W kayak.

So why is a slow and hard to paddle ‘barge’ fishing kayak potentially hazardous for such people?

It’s because in the real world, where real people paddle and fish, you’re bound to get into unfavorable circumstances – sooner or later, unless you paddle and fish in a tiny pond, preferably close to home. Such circumstances usually involve changes in the weather –
When bad weather happens while you’re seated in your kayak, you’d rather not overturn it, of course, and it is assumed that barge kayaks can normally handle this challenge – not always, and not as well as W kayaks, though… unlike other kayaks that are too unstable for that. If you happen to be away from shore in bad weather, being in a barge kayak could turn out to be a bad experience for you, and it may even lead to an accident, because you could find yourself unable to get back to your launching spot, or worse – go back to shore in any part of it. If back to shore means getting back to a beach, and the place you’re paddling and fishing in is the ocean, or a big lake, you could be in trouble.
This is because big bodies of water (E.G. ocean, lake, big river) also have currents in them, and the combination of wind and current is just too powerful for you to deal with when you’re paddling a barge kayak. Waves would likely swamp you. You won’t be able to direct the kayak to safety, and you’d be drifting somewhere you don’t want to go to. When this happens, you may find yourself in an even worse situation as night comes.
So try to imagine yourself wet, cold and exhausted from useless paddling efforts, your back sore, your legs are numb, and you’re drifting somewhere in the darkness.
The heavier, older, and less fit you are, the higher the chances you’d get yourself a barge yak, and at the same time the heavier, older and less fit you are, the more likely you are to get in trouble, discomfort and pain just because you’re paddling such a kayak.
Well, life is unfair, sometimes, especially to those who don’t take it seriously, and don’t imagine worse case scenarios that unfortunately are part of many outdoor recreational sports, including kayaking and kayak fishing.
It doesn’t make much difference if you paddle your clumsy fishing kayak or propel it with a pedal drive– You’s better not venture too far from shore with it, especially in unfavorable weather circumstances, or when there’s a good chance that the weather could change for the worse, because such change may very well be unfavorable, and even dangerous to you.

Faux Comfort in Fishing Kayaks

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

Whether you’re paddling or pedaling a kayak, any combination of footrests with a backrest would eventually cause you discomfort of some kind since you’re sitting in the infamous L position, and eventually that could lead to a condition called ‘yakback’ or yak-back, with different variations including leg pain, leg numbness, butt pain (a.k.a. ‘yakass’) and so on.
Whether you paddle or pedal your kayak, or fish from it, the constant pressure your legs exert on your lumbar spine is an unhealthy thing that should be avoided.
But it can’t be avoided in any kayak that’s either a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak, so what do manufacturers of such kayaks do? – They can’t ignore the problem, obviously, since doing could hurt their sales. So they advertise their faulty products as being comfortable, ergonomic etc., and they assume that even if you took one of those kayaks for a 15-20 minute test ride, you’d be unlikely to notice the problem, as it usually takes longer than that for the passenger to start perceiving it.

They’ll advertise faux-features such as ‘new ergonomic design’, ‘improved lumbar support’ and any other combination of words that could convey a false sense of comfort, and get people to believe their problem is solved.
Some kayak manufacturers would even go further, and tell the world that their kayak is as comfortable as a real fishing boat, hoping that maybe some people would fall for this illusion of comfort.
But since kayaking and kayak fishing trips take longer than average test rides, sooner or later you’re likely to find that faux-comfort is not real comfort, and you’re having ergonomic problems, as you feared you would. In such cases you’ll probably end giving up kayak fishing, as many have done before, and for similar reasons, or switch to a W kayak, as a growing number of kayak anglers do.

What Happens If You Suffer From Back Pain and You Keep Kayak Fishing?

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

If you’re suffering from back pain that’s not properly diagnosed, you should stop paddling your kayak and fishing from it, and consult a physician without delay.
Don’t start playing with foam in your kayak seat or under your knees, or hope that a new, fancier and more expensive kayak seat would solve your problem, because it won’t.

Different sports can cause different injuries, and kayaking and kayak fishing can cause injuries in the shoulders, elbows and wrists, but are they known to be especially hard on the back, and this is why you should be cautious and attentive to any signs of a potential developing back injury.

Paddling a traditional kayak, whether it’s a sit-in or a SOT won’t help you, and it may very well be the cause of your back problem, or at least a factor contributing to it. Therefore, don’t procrastinate, and seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Delaying treatment and keeping paddling and fishing from those kayaks could aggravate your condition, and make it more difficult to treat your problem.
Similarly, leg pain, leg numbness, tickle in your legs, butt pain and other unusual physical symptoms in your lower body shouldn’t be taken lightly, because they could be linked to a developing back problem, such as sciatica.