Stand Up Fishing Kayak in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Says John Castanha: –

We have a house in San Carlos/Guaymas in Sonora, Mexico approximately 150 yards from the water, but getting to it is the challenge: cobblestone streets, rocks, and sandy beach.

transporting fishing kayak to the beach

transporting fishing kayak to the beach

getting ready to launch fishing kayak at the beach

Paddling feels natural – turning is easy.
Paddling standing up after about 10 minutes on the water. I have never been considered overly athletic, but standing up is do-able. This thing is stable! It would not be a problem to stand up and cast.

kayak fisherman paddling with dog on board

kayak fisherman paddling standing

kayak angler paddling with dogsSusie, Lele and Nani – “the girls of the Sea of Cortez”.

In the next 2-3 weeks we will be honing our paddling skills, touring, installing the transom mount and testing a 2HP-4 stroke, installing flush mount rod holders for trolling, and in general, getting ready for Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) season.

Tight lines and calm seas to all,

John & Susie

Stability: The Key To Good Fishing Kayak Design

A new article on Micronautical, the kayak design magazine, discusses the importance of stability in fishing kayaks, and how to design a kayak for greater stability.

It’s an interesting read for elderly anglers, as well as for those who suffer from balance impairement and other disabilities that make paddling kayaks and fishing from them more challenging.

The subject goes also to fly fishing from kayaks, since this technique is best practiced standing up when paddling and scouting for fish, or when sight fishing.

Needless to say that stable kayaks are safer anywhere, whether inland or offshore, and that there is no such thing as too much stability when motorizing your fishing kayak is concerned.

 

 

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 From A Kayak Design Perspective

Bigger, wider and heavier kayaks… more accessories, motors, pedal drives…

The basic idea of kayak fishing is unfolding, and it seems like manufacturers are increasingly opting for the mini-skiff direction. Soon they’ll start offering lightweight kayak trailers… (Oh, they do already??).  Well, all this is to say that kayak fishing is evolving in several directions, and not all of them are particularly inspiring.

In this aspect, it’s interesting to analyze trends in kayak fishing from a professional boat design perspective, and Micronautical Designs is just about that.

Seriously, the sight of all those barge-kayaks out there is not very inspiring. What do kayak manufacturers think, that we’re all athletic and great paddlers? What’s the point in offering more stable fishing kayaks that are so hard to paddle??

And please don’t mention the pedal drive kayaks, because those are a joke, and not necessarily a funny one: Hands free kayaking? – Come on! Don’t tell me you believe that hype. Those yaks are impractical in shallow water, and in any water that has seaweed in it, and guess what?  That’s exactly where yak anglers like to go!  😀  (not funny, actually…)

And I won’t even mention the sore back and soggy bottom, cause that’s enough for this time.

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.