Is Storage Important In A Fishing Kayak?

I read somewhere on an online discussion forum that someone said storage wasn’t important in a fishing kayak. I just wanted to say that I think such claim is totally stupid, and that guy is either in the business of making or selling SOT and Sit-In fishing kayaks that offer too little storage, and in the form of hatches, which are not practical when you’re fishing out there, and can get filled with water if you overturn your kayak, of when you go through breakers in the surf.
Luckily, there are W fishing kayaks that offer plenty of storage, and it’s dry and accessible too.

Have you ever heard a kayak angler saying that storage wasn’t that important in a fishing kayak?

Obviously not, because kayak anglers need to carry so much kayak fishing stuff on board their yaks.

Comments on SOT Kayaks’ Safety for Offshore Fishing

Unlike kayaking, which involves being constantly on the move, kayak fishing is more stationary. This fact is important because when you paddle a kayak that’s partially filled with water it handles differently from a dry one, but the difference is hardly perceptible when you’re not paddling. That is to say that the chances of you detecting a leak in a SOT kayak’s hull while you’re fishing from it are smaller than if you paddled it, or if you fished from another kayak that does not feature a closed hull.

In this post I quote a personal capsize report posted his  on a Connecticut fishing blog by an offshore kayak angler. In his capsize report, that angler explicitly wrote the brand name and model of his SOT fishing kayak, a top-of-the-line, 34″ wide, but these names are replaced in my post by the phrase “SOT fishing kayak” because the problem that’s described is not necessarily typical to that particular SOT brand or model – It is true for all SOT kayaks.

That offshore angler’s report was detailed and well written, and they reflect a general problem that SOT kayak anglers report, but SOT kayak vendors don’t seem to be too anxious to address. The writer took care of adding his advice to the detailed facts he described in his own words:

“· ALL SAILORS SHOULD DO HOURLY CHECKS OF THE BILGE.
· I noticed waves splashing over my bow and around my FWD hatch, then draining into the wet well. Wave frequency was every 4 seconds, or so.
· I didn’t hear any unusual sounds, but the wind was blowing and my hood was up.
· I wasn’t worried because my [SOT fishing kayak] had seen much rougher seas and wind.

· Shortly after… I noticed that my Kayak wanted to tilt to the left twice
· This had never happened before.
· DON’T IGNORE CHANGES IN HOW YOUR YAK HANDLES
· I wasn’t sure why it did this but I decided to make a direct course to the closest part of the island (15º more to the left)
· Now 30 ºoff the seas, the first small wave that hit me capsizing my Kayak.
· I remember saying to my self, “This can’t be happening, my yak is 34” wide…
· When I got back to the surface (Thank you PFD) I said to myself “What is the next step?” I turned my yak over. This was the easiest part of this self-rescue.
· PRACTICE THIS EVERY YEAR IN DEEP WATER
· After righting my Kayak I went to clime back into the cockpit (I snorkel often from my YAK) and noticed the draft was low
· Looking into the cockpit I noticed the water level in the wet well was at the bottom of the upper decal (in-front of the drive). This is about an inch higher than when I am sitting in the YAK. (estimated 35-40 gallons of water.
· DON’T DISPARE WHEN THINGS DON’T WORK OUT, SELECT A NEW STEP IN THE PLAN.
· At this point I realized that I was not going to be able to de-water with the small sponge I had onboard.
· ALWAYS CARRY A KAYAK PUMP.
· (Dude has done this for a long time)
· At this point I started swimming (towing my [SOT fishing kayak]) to the Island that I was heading for. (58º water temp). Current was flowing out carrying me to the left.
· SWIM WITH OR ACROSS THE CURRENT
· I remember that from Boy Scouts!
· As I swam I noticed that I was being set to the left, at one point I remember reminding my self to stay focused on my swimming as not to miss the island.”

After reading the entire report, the first question that comes to mind is -”How can water get inside a sealed SOT kayak hull?”

The answer is that SOT fishing kayaks have a number of typical weaknesses:

1. A Weak Parting Line:    Nearly all SOT kayaks are rotationally molded. This means that molds used for molding such kayaks have a top part and a bottom part, which have to be perfectly adjusted to each other every time before the mold is put in the oven. A less than perfect fit can result in a kayak with a hull that’s weak along the line where its top and bottom parts meet, which is called the Parting Line.  In some cases a poor fit in the mold can result in tiny holes along the parting line. Parting line weakness and holes are not easy to discover. This is particularly dangerous because a SOT’s parting line is close to its waterline, and it’s often below waterline.

2. Weak Scupper Holes:  SOT kayaks have scupper holes molded into their hulls. Because of the geometry of the SOT hull and problems of heat distribution during the rotational molding process, it’s hard to make the walls in the scupper holes’ area very thick. This results in scupper holes whose walls are usually thinner than in other parts of the hull. Strain on the scupper holes can cause cracks along the parting line within them, and get water to leak into the hull. Such cracks in the scupper holes can appear after using them as stakeout pole points, attachment points for wheeled carts, through inadequate storage, and in sometimes just after using them normally.

3. Wear and Tear:   SOT kayaks, like other kayaks, can develop wear-and-tear holes in their hulls in the course of normal usage. Such holes can be caused by cracks, cuts, deep scratches and punctures, but they are particularly dangerous when they occur in this type of kayak because its closed hull makes it difficult to detect them, whether on water or on shore.

4. Deck Gear:   All fishing kayaks are outfitted with deck gear, especially rod holders. This requires drilling holes in the hull, and attaching the gear with either bolts or rivets. Any hole in a Polyethylene hull presents a potential problem because it’s hard to seal effectively. Over time bolts can become loose and make the holes lose their water tightness. This problem is particularly dangerous in SOT kayaks for two reasons: One is because their decks are so close to the waterline, and the second being the fact that the closed hull makes it harder to detect leaks.

Unlike kayaking, which involves being constantly on the move, kayak fishing is more stationary. This fact is important because when you paddle a kayak that’s partially filled with water it handles differently from a dry one, but the difference is hardly perceptible when you’re not paddling. That is to say that the chances of you detecting a leak in a SOT kayak’s hull while you’re fishing from it are smaller than if you paddled it, or if you fished from another kayak that does not feature a closed hull.

What About Those Rudders For Fishing Kayaks?

If you happen to be talking to a kayak dealer, you can be sure they’d recommend that you buy a fishing kayak that features a rudder, or that you add one to the kayak you already own.
Rudders are almost an absolute necessity in modern SOT and sit-in fishing kayaks, simply because most of these kayaks have become so wide that they lost the ability to track, which is essential for any watercraft.

The increase in width is the kayak manufacturers’ response the the demand for more stability, and it comes at a price of lesser speed and poor control, I.E. lack of tracking capability that’s often coupled with lackluster performance when it comes to maneuverability.

Interestingly, no paddler or angler who owns a W kayak has ever felt the need for a rudder. This fact is amazing, considering the W-kayak is not very long, and considering the fact that

people are using it for a multitude of applications in a wide range of environments, including long offshore trips, and trips in big lakes and wide rivers, where good tracking is an absolute necessity, especially under wind.

So what’s the problem with rudders, really?

First of all, they cost extra money, and a top-of-the line rudder system can cost several hundred dollars.

Second, and more importantly, they slow down your kayak, and are often cumbersome and difficult to handle. After all, there are other things you’d like to do when you’re in your kayak, such as paddling or fishing, rather than steering with a rudder.

Third, and that’s really too bad for paddlers and anglers who operate in shallow water – Rudders have a nasty tendency to get stuck in the bottom, or bump into rocks or branches down there, or get entangled in sea weed, so they limit your range of paddling and fishing.

Fourth – In many cases, someone ha to install the rudder for you, which costs even more.

And fifth, like any mechanical device, rudder systems can break, and their cables can get torn. This problem can turn out to be anywhere between unpleasant and dangerous, especially if you’re far from shore and the weather is getting nasty, the wind is picking up, it’s getting dark, the tide is getting strong etc.

In sum, rudders seem to be yet another necessary evil that’s imposed on anglers that own sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks, while anyone who’s used W fishing kayaks – whether a kayaker or an angler, can be thankful for not having to purchase and use such devices.

Are you concerned about tracking and steering your kayak? Understand how to steer your fishing kayak without a rudder even in strong wind >

The Fascinating Kayak Fishing World

The sport of kayak fishing and the kayak fishing industry have evolved considerably in the past decade, and this blog will cover both.

The statistics for this sport are unreliable, and possibly even non-existent, but judging by the number of participants in local kayak fishing tournaments in the US, for which the statistics are reliable, and by other sources of quasi reliable data (E.G. Google), it is possible to estimate the total number of people who fish regularly from kayaks (I.E. kayak anglers) as ranging in the lower tens of thousands.

The sport of kayak fishing and the kayak fishing industry have evolved considerably in the past decade, and this blog will cover both.

The statistics for this sport are unreliable, and possibly even non-existent, but judging by the number of participants in local kayak fishing tournaments in the US, for which the statistics are reliable, and by other sources of quasi reliable data (E.G. Google), it is possible to estimate the total number of people who fish regularly from kayaks (I.E. kayak anglers) as ranging in the lower tens of thousands.

This number is still very small in comparison with the overall number of people who take part in recreational fishing, estimated at over forty million in the US alone, and compared with the total number of leisure boats registered in the US, which attains seventeen million – most of them motorboats.

The United States being the biggest market for boats, kayaks, and fishing gear makes such estimate more compatible with reality.

As for the growth rate in participation, judging from Internet activity, as well as numbers of participants in local kayak fishing tournaments, it is possible to say that the exponential growth rate that characterized the first half of this decade has plateaued, or at least come down to a rate of a few percent annually.

The New Jersey store that pioneered this sport, and played an important role in promoting it through its popular online forums, closed a year ago. On the other hand, major distributors of fishing gear and fishing boats now offer fishing kayaks as part of their regular product offering.

As far as media coverage in concerned, two opposite trends can be perceived:

The first is a slow decrease in external coverage, that is the overall attention given to kayak fishing in the general media (TV and newspapers) has been decreasing steadily.

On the other hand, the kayak fishing market itself has come up with a plethora of online publications, from kayak fishing magazines to websites and discussion forums, and blogs. There is still only one hard copy kayak fishing magazine, and it is not clear if its publishers intend to keep printing it, since its number of issues published per year keeps decreasing.

Kayak fishing has become much more popular in the southern, warmer regions of the United States, and its popularity decreases in a direct relation to factors such as average temperature (weather), water temperature, and the number of sunny days, or ‘fishable days’ in the year. Although fishing from shore and from boats is very popular in the Northern regions, kayak fishing isn’t.

This probably explains why sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks are more popular as fishing kayaks than sit-in (SIK) kayaks are. Simply, southern kayak anglers prefer the SOT over the SIK  due the its being self-bailing, and they are less concerned about being protected from the elements, I.E. cold water and/or cold wind. As for northern anglers, they don’t seem to embrace the notion that fishing from a small, unstable and exposed boat such as either a SOT or a sit-in kayak is fun.