Kayak Fishing Market Trends 2000-2010

The notion that kayak fishing is booming has been repeated for years by various interested parties, but a search in Google News archives revealed these intriguing facts:

1. From 1990, the number of news articles about kayak fishing kept increasing, and it peaked in 2007.

2. Since 2007, the number of published news articles about kayak fishing has kept decreasing. In fact, the number of news articles about kayak fishing in 2009 was lower than its level in 2004.

This chart was taken from a screen shot of the Google page above:

Kayak fishing news trends 2000-2010

Interestingly, the number of websites and blogs related to kayak fishing has visibly gone up in the past decade, as part of the media explosion brought by the Internet. In addition, big and small kayak manufacturers have focused on the kayak fishing market in every way they could, and tried to bring the public’s attention to their products by all means.

So what’s the reason for this decrease in media coverage of kayak fishing in the past two years?

The first explanation that comes to mind is that it could be related to the economic recession, but does it make sense? The recreational fishing boat market has been severely hit, but what kayak manufacturers and other vendors and affiliated professionals have been saying is that now, more then ever, a kayak offers a the cheap way to go fishing, and consequently, they expected sales of fishing kayaks and to go through the roof, and interest in kayak fishing to explode. They even promoted the idea of stand-up kayak fishing from their obviously inadequate kayaks, thinking the public would go for it.

However, we think, as we’ve stated in the past, that many kayak anglers quit practicing kayak fishing after some time, as they find it to be less rewarding than they had initially hoped it would be. Usually, the kayak angler’s expectation is to be able to spend a few hours on the water, having fun catching fish, while the reality in many cases is that doing so results in a sore back, an aching butt, and numb legs – on top of being wet, especially if you fish from a SOT kayak.

In other words, a significant proportion of kayak anglers drops from the sport, and it could be that their numbers are now equal to, or exceed the number of new kayak anglers who enter the sport. Consequently, the public’s level of interest in kayak fishing has begun to decline, and the lower level of media exposure reflects this trend.

At Wavewalk, we’ve experienced a totally different reality, with sales increasing year after year at a faster pace, and 2009 being a boom year. Read more >>

This success has to do with the fact that our W kayaks offer a truly good user experience, less fatigue, no back pain or any other physical pain and discomfort, plus they’re stable enough to offer stand-up kayak fishing in confidence and safety.

Related article: Read more about web search trends for kayak fishing >>



16 Comments

  1. Marco

    Wavewalk’s mission is to revive to sport of kayak fishing! 😀

    Marco

  2. Pete

    [A well known kayak fishing store in New Jersey] went out of business recently. They pioneered and promoted kayak fishing through their influential forum, and by close contact with kayak manufacturers. [The store] was known among kayak fishermen worldwide.
    The original founders of [that business] sold it a couple of years ago. I wonder if they saw something coming before others did?

    Pete

  3. ekmek

    [That store] was known worldwide. How can a market leader in retail of fishing kayaks and accessories go bust in a booming kayak fishing market? That’s fishy…

    E.K.

  4. April Leder

    From what I can see, the situation with kayak touring is similar, or may be even worse, because the decline began earlier.

    April

  5. Tony H

    Interesting, and not too surprising…
    Shallow Water Angler closed too, and it used to be the leading magazine in Florida and the South when it came to covering kayak fishing.

  6. Gary Rankel

    I’m curious as to whether that same trend holds true here in Florida where the weather is much warmer than up North, where you can catch big, big fish within a few hundred yards of launch areas, and where getting to these fish requires a good amount of stealth. My understanding is that the large kayak fishing clubs in Jax and Tampa are doing fine, and we’re starting a new one in the Crystal River area.

  7. admin

    Hi Gary,

    Since its early days, kayak fishing has been mainly a sunshine belt phenomenon, and so far it’s much less popular the further you go north, although there are considerable efforts being made up here by local stores, who join efforts with anglers, and often get support from kayak manufacturers.
    The Jax kayak fishing club is the world’s biggest and best organized, and so is their kayak fishing tournament. Nothing up north even comes close.
    The world’s biggest and most active online kayak fishing forum is in Texas.
    However, there’s certainly no exponential growth felt anywhere, that is no ‘explosion’.

    I hope your new club in Crystal River will be a great success – It should be, since among its founding fathers there are W anglers 🙂

    Yoav

  8. Tony h

    Kayak fishing is the best idea ever, but only in principle, because in reality siks and sots are just too uncomfortable to support the average angler in any serious fishing. Maybe Marco is right, and w kayaks would become the next platform that’s going to take kayak fishing forward, both in warm and cold water.

  9. Jeff McGovern

    We saw this growth in the paddle sports market in canoes from the mid 80s till kayaks took off in maybe 2000 or so. Sure it was southern based with loads of us here in Florida participating. What helped fuel it was the famous “No Motor Zone” on the east coat of Florida near the space center. You could use nothing but manual powered craft, a motor, electric or gas could not even be on the boat. With the shallow clear waters canoes ruled but they handled badly in the wind blown flats, their construction materials were noisy, and getting out to wade could be difficult in waist deep water.

    Then around mid 2000 kayaks started showing up, easier to transport since they were a touch lighter, tougher but silent hulls, you could just slip out easily for wading, and they were cheaper. Kayak companies soon realized anglers loved anything touted as an “Anglers Edition”. Suddenly holes and penetrations in the hulls of old beach toys became angler friendly. People flocked to them and the rush began. When I bought my last canoe, a Grumman 13 in 1996, there were only two places in Orlando to buy a quality paddle craft. Mohawk whose owner was Darrell Leidigh (later Yoav’s first client) and Travel Country Outdoors who marketed against Mohawk by selling much more expensive canoes and a few kayaks. They were after the top 10% market who buy stuff only because it’s the most expensive. Mohawk owned the paddle craft market in the entire southeast and had for years. Their 9 to 12 Saturday hours at the plant were always crowded with folks looking for a deal on a blemished factory second. I picked my Grumman at the time since although more expensive it’s aluminum hull was like a tank and the way I fished at the time I needed it.

    By the time late 2000 rolled around canoes were dying off and kayaks ruled. Shops were opening all over and anyplace that even sold bait had a rack of some brand of kayak for sale. There was even an article in Florida Sportsman at the time showing an older man using a cheap little 10 foot sit inside fishing all over the state. Sales of kayaks were off and running, canoes sales crashed. I remember my first head to head with a fishing kayak in my Grumman. That guy was fast, it took everything I could do to keep up with him in his sleek skinny boat, but he was tippy. Anyway kayak clubs started popping up and more “serious” anglers headed into the sport. People with more money than brains sometimes but they bought stuff, lots of it.

    By 2004 kayaks were entrenched and I guess some of the makers thought they had found the gravy train. From 2005 till 2008 each new model year brought all sorts of new ideas, frankly just fancier holes with real cool lids but that is about it. Oh yeah and they made them wider, much wider, so now you had fake stability but could not paddle worth a darn.

    Foolish stuff came out too, attached split hulls, big fat thick bodied boards, and add on pontoons. Of course the sitting position was never changed by much so the back issues and numb legs were just part of the fun. I guess that gave folks in Florida and other warm places a reason to stop for a rest and walk around some, fellowship time they call it. Funny how through all this garbage a certain fellow in the Boston area came up with something better. Without knowing it at the time he created the best fishing paddle craft ever made. Genuis comes in funny ways, but Yoav gave us a boat that does just about everything you could want to do while fishing in a compact easy to use form on the water. The worst moment for kayak anglers devoted to their beach toys with fancy holes right now is the first few strokes they make paddling a W. At that time they realize they have got to find a sucker to buy their current boat so they can purchase a W. Just watch a big stud macho kayak angler whose girl friend or wife sees your W and says “hey that’s cool”. The fear on their faces is just so worth it.

  10. Pepe

    Kayak fishing seems to have lost some steam, and it’s looking for a new direction.
    Manufacturers are offering all sorts of new designs like narrow canoes denied of minimum freeboard called ‘hybrid yaks’ that can work only on perfectly still water, outrigger yaks that aren’t stable enough for fishing standing, seaweed harvesters in the form of pedal driven yaks that you need to steer with a rudder, sots that are as wide as canoes, and other goofy ideas.
    As far as i can see, the w500 stands out as the only accomplished human powered solo watercraft for fishing.

    Pepe

  11. Pete

    The latest trend that I find hilarious is that some kayak manufacturers have are now offering paddle boards while actually calling them boards – and not “Sit-On-Top-Kayaks”

    Pete

  12. Marco

    The editor of kayak angler magazine posted on their blog a reply to this news article.
    He doesn’t seem to agree with what’s being said here 😀

    Marco

  13. Marco

    [first name, last name], who’s a rod for hire on [big kayak brand] payroll made a really dumb comment on that blog, and I just had to report it here..
    According to him, the less media coverage you get, the more mainstream (that’s successful, I guess) you are… at least that’s what he appears to be saying 😀

    BTW that dude doesn’t like Wavewalk, to say the least. He must really love the feeling of a wet butt in combination with a sore back – maybe it makes him feel he’s a real tough guy? 😀
    Maybe it’s just what his employers told him to say?

    Marco

  14. Dr. Fish

    Just got back from the magazine’s blog, and that rod-for-hire was foaming at the mouth there 😉
    I couldn’t help teaching him the facts of life, or at least some facts that are relevant to the kayak fishing industry he says he knows.
    I’ll bet some of the fish he caught have more brains than he has.

    Dr. Fish

  15. Marco

    “I’ll bet some of the fish he caught have more brains than he has.”
    ————————–

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, but that’s something you’ll never be able to prove, because those fish were either released or eaten.

    😀 😀 😀

    Marco

  16. admin

    Just for the record, in case some visitors to our blog missed this information we posted here in the beginning of the year (quote):
    2009 was a spectacular year for Wavewalk kayaks – Our sales this year grew by 64% compared to 2008, which was our best year so far.

    See this blog:
    http://wavewalk.com/blog/2009/12/31/thank-you-for-a-great-2009-and-happy-new-year-2010/

    Yoav

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