I had to get out and fish. So I did. What better place for quick trip than Chokoloskee island park?
There was no early thunder, the wind was blowing between 5 and 10 mph and the mosquitos were sparse. I got to hit my usual close oyster beds and islands with no fear of electrocution.
I paddled the W 500 which allowed me to stand up and even stretch out and take a short nap under some mangrove shade.
I awoke to no-see-ums feasting on my face. I should know better by now but the chance to snooze a bit was irresistible.
I caught a nice Trout that was well over twenty right off the bat but he jumped ship on me as I fumbled to de hook him in the darkness. I bagged lots of small Snook and two Redfish. One was an over achiever and one was around 22 inches. I used the same T & A Weedless Jig and Monster 3 X Shrimp that’s been tied on for the last three trips. My Monster Shrimp finally gave up the ghost on the last Redfish. I’m surprised that it lasted this long after bagging all those over slot Reds with it at Flamingo.
Anyway this was my day to relax and fish.
I left before noon as the clouds started to look especially fluffy. I used the floating dock to land back.
What a pleasure not being soaked all day. Sitting high and dry is really cool.
Road sign “ENTERING PANTHER HABITAT” on the way to Chokoloskee park
There is a whole other world out there on the Florida Bay Flats that few of us get to properly explore.
I took the W 500 down to Flamingo to paddle the flats and sight fish. I was hoping for a serene day of solitude and tight lines. That’s exactly what I was given.
I arrived pre dawn and quickly set up the W 500. The dreaded mosquitos, like the wind, were light and variable. That is until one got on the sea. Then it was Tora, Tora, Tora on the water.
Once afloat I could see nothing but nervous water. It was Mullet mayhem. School after school of Finger Mullet were throwing wakes and cavorting. This lasted all day.
The calm surface was thick with floating grass as I paddled out toward Snake Bight. Normally I try to avoid getting close to the mangroves at this time of day because of the mosquitos but I could see so many Snook and small Tarpon finning and rolling that I had to start casting.
I was rigged with T & A weedless jigs and Monster 3 X shrimp. The small Snookers were slamming my shrimp and I boated a few right off the bat. I also jumped a bunch of small Tarpon but couldn’t land one. I have a love hate relationship with this ancient species.
It seemed every time that I threw under the mangroves I got something small. With so many mullet running up and down the channel I figured a swim bait might get me something bigger. I switched one rig and “blammo”. My reel started screaming and I was being quickly pulled into the mangroves by a beautiful Snook.
I had no choice but to tighten down the drag and try to muscle the snook and myself out of the foliage. It worked and I boated this fat, 32 inch Snook. Wow! Serenity and chaos all mixed together. That’s why I love Flamingo.
I live in Southeastern Florida, close to the Everglades, and I fish both freshwater and saltwater.
I have been buying and flipping a lot of different boats in my endless search for a car top, light weight, shallow draft, stand up fishing, flats poling, gas motoring, electric motoring, great paddling, straight tracking, comfortable, gear packing, easy launching, rugged fishing boat that I don’t have to worry about scratching gel coat at ramps and Everglades launch sites.
I knew this was a lot to ask from one vessel but I am nothing if not stubborn.
I kept looking and looking and recently got a WaveWalk W500 Kayak. I am not done testing or learning about this boat but I think I may be able to check off the box that says “all of the above”.
I took the W500 over to Chokoloskee for a test paddle I was well pleased with the boat’s paddling, tracking, car topping, comfort and stand up fishing capabilities.
The W500 is not a “barge”. It tracks extremely well and moves quickly through the water. You can put a really powerful stroke on this boat using a long shaft paddle.
There’s a learning curve to paddling a W500. You “ride” this boat as opposed to sitting in it. You can stand up and feel very stable doing so anytime you feel the urge.
This boat is only 29 inches wide. It’s the same width as my [15.5 ft long touring kayak].
I’m nowhere near done messing around or rigging/configging the W.
In my opinion the W 500 is not a kayak, canoe or catamaran. It’s a horse of a different color. I really, really like this boat so far. It’s also a dream to carry and lift. I just tip it up, walk under it and let it fall on my shoulders.
Weight is relative. All my boats have been near to 100 pounds. Most of the fishing kayaks that they’re selling now are near to 100 pounds, and therefore 60 pounds for me is very lightweight.
So the W 500 lets me stand more easily at about half the weight of the barges.
I’m not fully versed on the W paddling yet but from what I’ve done so far I’m impressed with the tracking and speed.
The storage on the W is huge but it’s a different kind of storage space. You just need to rethink how you stow stuff. I carried my 8 foot stake out pole in the bottom of the hull all day and never stepped on it.
It’s going to be fun to rig this boat because you can get to every area like a canoe.
Laying down to rest on the W saddle when the rods are in rod holders is a no brainer. It’s something you can do in a W500 that you probably would have a hard time doing in any other paddle craft. You can lay down at will, completely horizontal with no problem. There’s no gear or seat to move out of the way – just lay down. I’ll be watching the next meteor shower stretched out under the stars I think.
You can also easily use the W 500 and not get your feet wet at all, or your butt or your legs or your crotch.
When I got back the launch I figured I try dis-embarking without using the ramp. I stood up and got out on the floating dock. I grabbed the boat and dragged it up on the floating dock without any effort at all. Then I took it one step further and dragged the boat onto the marina from the floating dock. It was easy as pie. No bull. Drag over possibilities with a W 500 are numerous.
Another thing you can do in a W 500 is move forward or backward to lift or drop the bow. It lets get up on obstructions or anything else quite easily. You can’t do that in a regular SOT. I can’t wait to plow into some skinny and just move backwards to get off the flat without ski poling.
I was really surprised at how well the W paddled. I was looking at some video I took while heading in to the launch and I noticed that the W has a lot more glide than my [fast 15 ft long kayak]. This is from a dead stop. Watch the bow of the boat when I drop the paddle and pick up the fishing pole.
Note that I’m 230 lbs.
View of the bottom of the hull – small draft
30 inch snook
I took the W 500 down to Flamingo to test out paddling seated and standing on the flats. I am really impressed with the way the W paddles. I was going to try poling but it’s so easy to stand and use the paddle that I’ll save that for another trip.
I did some fishing but mostly I wanted to get into some currents and paddle the flats. I really enjoyed the comfort of the W as well. Not being stuck in the L position and being able to stand at will was such a pleasure.
I met up with a fishing buddy at Flamingo. We launched early and paddled out to Snake Bight. The skeeters were nowhere to be found and sorry to say so were the fish. We got a couple of hits and jumps from small Snook and Tarpon but nothing boated.
The day wasn’t a total loss because I got to stand and paddle the flats in complete comfort. The W500 is a true flats machine.
It was fun seeing my buddy Pete again and getting out on the water. The weather was very nice early on but we could see the clouds getting fluffy as we were heading back to the marina. I hit three or four storms on the road back to civilization… if you can call it that.
My fishing buddy paddled alongside me in the boat and I thank him for his first hand opinion. I asked him to paddle at a normal pace in his [16 ft long and 27″ wide, fast kayak] to see if I could keep up with him. Of course his kayak is a faster boat but I was able to stay with him. That’s the true test… not racing but paddling normally with a buddy.
I guess the twin hull cat design is the reason the W boat paddles so well although it isn’t even 12 feet long.
I wound up paddling the W 500 a lot and got to test her in some strong currents and a bit of occasional wind. So far the W has been a dream to fish from and paddle. If any of you ever get a chance to paddle one do yourself a favor and hop in the saddle.
About Wavewalk’s marketing…
Before I got my W500 I looked at everything I could find on the internet concerning the W500. I waded through tons of [verbal trash] posted by people who had never tried a W500, and I read all the marketing from WaveWalk. The two things that convinced me that the boat was a great flats fishing design were the videos and talking to Yoav.
Some of the videos are over the top but they don’t lie. The W500 can do everything that you “see” for yourself in the videos.
The bottom line is…
I really like the W 500. The comfort factor is a giant plus for me. I have no back, butt or leg pain after a trip in the boat. The ability to stand or even just sitting higher on the water is a huge advantage.