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.
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.
It’s as simple as that: Thanks to a new generation of fishing kayaks, which are lighter, stabler, and more comfortable than common kayaks are, anglers in their sixties and even anglers in their seventies can spend long hours on the water, and enjoy paddling and fishing without suffering from wetness, instability, back pain, leg numbness and cramps, or premature fatigue, which are all symptoms that are commonly experienced by people who fish out of kayaks, especially if they happen to be middle aged and elderly. They can even motorize their kayaks and by doing so travel long distances, and fish in remote locations, without being constrained by the limited physical power they have when paddling is concerned.
Gary is a retired biologist who worked for decades assisting Indian tribes throughout the country in managing their fish and wildlife resources.
He’s in his seventies now, and he lives in Florida.
Says Gary –
Fishing has been my passion since I was young, and I prefer to fish in saltwater, where I go for redfish, sea trout, snook, and other popular local fish species. I practice catch and release, unless someone close (wife or neighbors) orders a particular fish from me for dinner. I fish alone and with other kayak anglers.
Over the years, I’ve owned various fishing boats, and I stuck to the Wavewalk for several reasons; its unmatched stability, comfort and dryness, and the fact that unlike other kayaks it doesn’t hurt my back even if I spend the entire day fishing in it. I can stand up and unkink anytime I want, or lay down on the saddle and stretch.
It’s also lightweight, and that makes it easy for me to take it from my pickup truck to the beach, and back, even with all my fishing gear loaded inside its hulls.
Paddling my W is easy for me, even in harsh weather as it tracks perfectly without the need for a rudder.
In recent years, I’ve discovered the pleasures of wildlife photography out of my W kayak.
I’m planning to add a motor at some point so I can cover even greater distances. I had first opposed the idea of motorizing my kayak, but the numerous videos posted on Wavewalk’s blog have changed my mind.
All in all, it’s the most comfortable and functional fishing kayak I’ve seen.
Here are some pictures of Gary and his senior fishing buddies Bob and Dick:
Took my WaveWalk out this morning for my first paddle and decided to take a trip thru some of our marshes down here. According to a google earth retracing of my steps I covered about 5.7 miles in 2 hours at a leisurely pace (as would be expected from a Retired Gentleman of Leisure).
The wind was blowing about 8 mph when I started and picked up to 15 to 20 towards the last half of the trip. We had a thunder storm moving in with the usual increase in winds, cloudiness and slight drop in temperature. Literally “no sweat.”
This gave me a chance to compare how the WaveWalk handled the wind as compared to my experiences with both sit in and sit on top kayaks. I think that I can sum it up as WOW! All I had to do was shift my position to raise the bow or stern enough to give me enough weather vane effect to keep me pretty much on a straight course. It took a little experimentation, but I picked up on it pretty quick. I also think that the wind being channeled between the 2 hulls helped me stay on line to a degree. The main point is that I did NOT have to paddle just on one side to keep my heading in a quartering or broadside wind, even when crossing open water. Just scoot towards bow or stern and keep on truckin’.
I had a tug pushing a load of barges up the Neches River throw a pretty good wake at me when I was fixin’ to cross on my way back to the launch. I was pretty nervous, but I shifted my weight all the way to the back of the cockpit and took the 1.5 to 2 foot wake head on. No problems once I got over the initial “oh crap” moment, and the boat took the waves just fine.
I got caught in the rain for the last 40 minutes or so, but I was having so much fun that I decided that if Indians didn’t have ponchos then I didn’t need one either. I wonder if Hyawatha got as nervous as I did when the lightening started popping…
I had a great paddle.
Snuck up on birds, fish, a boat full of fisherman and the one small gator who wasn’t paying much attention. (choot ‘em, Lizabet) Got a few blisters and my muscles are a little sore (hey, I’m 60) but no yak back and my shoulder with arthritis feels pretty good. I was kind of surprised when I stepped out onto land at the end of the trip and staggered around for a few minutes. It’s true – you do use the muscles in your thighs when you paddle a WaveWalk, you just don’t notice it.
Being able to change positions while paddling also helped my knees tremendously. Years ago I shattered one knee cap twice (full of screws now) and tore cartilage in the other, so that was a big plus for me.
I only have one question – how come nobody thought of a catamaran hull concept for paddling craft a long time ago? Ok, so the Polynesians may have figured it out first on a larger scale. It needs less energy to paddle than a sit in, is much more stable than a SOT, your back doesn’t hurt and your butt stays dry! What more could you ask for?
I want to thank both of you for the amount of time that you spent giving me and my friend a test drive and a few tips. The only thing that I would suggest so far is a couple of tie downs inside the hull to tie a small dry box or whatever to securely keep your ID, cell phone, fishing license and maybe a few bucks from going swimming if you get swamped or capsize. Just a thought…
Anyway, thanks guys! I’m having a blast! I’m gonna infect my son with WaveWalk fever the first chance I get, as he is still using a SOT. I think Village Creek would be a good place to start him out.
I did a lot of research on the W500 – read all of the blogs and watched most of the videos – before I started saving the funds to possibly purchase one. I had the “book knowledge” on the W500 but not the practical experience. The purchase was totally dependent on a test drive to see if it was as advertised. It didn’t take long to get the basics down.
Although I do plan on doing some fishing from the W, I realized that I need to get more practical experience learning the boat before I do some inshore fishing in it. Plus it’s really great to get back to cruising the marshes & bayous like I used to do years ago. If you’re going into unfamiliar territory, especially back in the marshes, take the time to use GoogleEarth to print a map of the area. A compass is great, but the bayous twist & turn quite a bit and you often can see where you want to be but can’t get there without a map on board. Man, do I love GoogleEarth!
So I’m looking forward to spending some more time just wandering around and getting better with the W and enjoying the sights before I actually go fishing. I’d rather be in a narrow twisting bayou than just about anywhere. Thanks to the wealth of info at the W web site, for making retirement even better than it already is.