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About the Wavewalk fishing kayak

Note: This is the first review that Jeff had published on his Wavewalk 300, a series that was produced between 2004 and 2010. Read more recent fishing kayak reviews »

By Jeff McGovern

My nickname in the pest control industry is “Gadget” since I am always looking for the latest, greatest thing or making improvements to what is already out there.  My favorite part of the job is speaking to large audiences across the country and I always bring lots of “Show and Tell.”  I am no different when it comes to my passion-fishing.

Long before kayaks hit the fishing world here in Florida, canoes ruled the shallows in many areas.  When I started canoe fishing here in the 80’s, there were a number of folks doing it, but it wasn’t well publicized.  Then we discovered outriggers for canoes and things started to change.  I could stand up in my canoe and see the fish I was stalking.  Plus, I could go into water that was too shallow for a motor or into zones that were designated “no motor zones” like the ones near Kennedy Space Center.  I love my canoe, but I wanted something I could just toss in the back of the truck and go.  So we started shopping for kayaks.

Jeff casting standing in his W fishing kayak

Photo: Jim Green

We looked at sit inside, sit on top, rudder, no rudder, big, small, skinny, HEAVY.  My wife, Kate, is small and wanted something small and light.  I am not small.  I am 6’3″, 245 lbs. and have size 15 feet.  We started with two small sit insides.  I enjoyed fishing from them-even won a fully loaded 13′ sit on top kayak catching a winning flounder during my club’s tournament-but I missed being able to fish standing up.  My quest for a stand up kayak began.  Then one day, surfing the web, I found a video clip of a guy jumping up and down in a kayak.  I knew that I had found my dreamboat-The W.

I am not small. I am 6’3″, 245 lbs. and have size 15 feet.

The W has ruined me for other kayaks.  My wife will tell you that the fleet (did I mention we now have 5 kayaks?) stays on the porch and the W goes fishing every Saturday morning.  I do need to mention that there is a learning curve similar to learning to ride a bike when it comes to handling and fishing the W.  I was discouraged the first couple of outings-but then I got the feel of it.  Now I use it exclusively, even in tournaments.

When other yakkers stay home because of high winds, I’m out paddling around.

Jeff standing up in his fishing kayak

The W allows me to fish virtually all the time.  When other yakkers stay home because of high winds, I’m out paddling around.
In the W, your lower half is protected from the wind and the spray shield keeps water off you as well.   A set of Frog Togs ensures that you stay dry and comfortable all day.  I’ve spent as much as 5 solid hours in the W in cool weather and lots of wind.
Padding is easier and requires less effort than in a regular kayak.  I use a long stroke at a slower pace and have no trouble keeping up with longer kayaks that are using double the amount of short strokes.  The W’s height allows that and helps me.  Also, I “push” the stroke rather than “pull” it.  The high hand and arm push the paddle through the water with the lower hand only pulling enough for guidance.  This allows you to paddle longer because it’s less tiring.

The W also handles waves much better and far drier than other small boats and kayaks.  We have a number of large yachts on the Intercoastal that kick up huge waves.  Other kayaks and small skiffs get spun around or tossed badly.  The W rides it like my CraigCat-up and down without a problem.  Last week I found it also slips up and down over the backs of very large and too curious manatees.  The boat tipped to one side, but remained upright and we both went home with a story of the one that got away.

Fishing is a sport of tactical knowledge and a feel for the area you are fishing.  I own hundreds of rods and reels and have designed a few kayak/canoe rods. I also test new rods and reels for a number of companies before they go onto the general market.  The more you fish, the more specialized your gear gets.  The most important thing is to understand the area you are trying to fish.  I envision the travel patterns the fish use to get from place to place.  I think about where they can ambush a meal with the least effort or how the tidal patterns affect where they rest and feed.  I have to understand how the light hits the water and how I might be exposed or hidden by it.  The W allows me to move into their house and position myself to the best advantage.  I wish I could come up with a way to describe the feel of the W.  Sitting down, it’s like riding.  Standing up-well, until I figure some way to put floats on my size 15 feet and walk on water,
standing up in the W is the next best thing.

I would venture to say the W offers improved casting with any gear. From the riding position, I get more power with my casting and spinning because I can put my whole body into the cast and use my legs.
The solid feel of the boat gives you a great sense of security.
Netting fish is also easier because you can bring the net handle up and across the noodles and just hold in until you net the fish alongside.
This allows you to compose yourself and arrange things to remove the hook without tangling your gear or hurting the fish.  WARNING:  It is very important to fill the handle of your net with spray foam.  This is
so that when manatees and sundry aquatic creatures borrow your net, you can get it back.  I know from personal experience these critters are very inconsiderate and will leave it on the bottom where you can’t find it.
I would venture to say the W offers improved casting with any gear.
It’s a great exploration kayak and there’s a great sense of adventure for the user.

My favorite scouting position in the W is standing up.  I can spot fish and then move in stealth mode with a push pole or paddle blade.
There is a serious advantage to being able to stand and see over grass or oyster beds.  Being able to peak over cover is a big deal.
Sometimes, like when I was working my way along the Ocklawaha River, I was moving through snag (and gator) infested waters with logs, bed pads and deep, dark places you might not want to get into.  The W handled that
type of paddling better than our other craft.  You could stand quick to see ahead, duck and move around things.  It’s a great exploration kayak and there’s a great sense of adventure for the user.  No craft is perfect for all things, but sometimes I have so much fun with the boat, I forget to fish.

 

Copyright © Jeff McGovern, 2007-10

 

Read more about Jeff’s kayak fishing trips and observations »

What fishing gear to carry on board

By Jeff McGovern

A kayak is not a bass boat, bay boat, or a flats boat when it comes to hauling equipment. While a kayak can fill most boating roles, space is limited– so serious thought is needed as to what to carry. You outfit your boat according to the needs you have in your own fishing area. My fishing time is split between saltwater and freshwater in Florida. The gear is similar, except for the tackle changes normally associated between the two types of fishing.

Safety gear is first. You need to be safe in the water and there are some things that are mandatory and might be required by law. A PFD or personal floatation device is very important and should be worn at all times while in the kayak. A whistle is required as a signaling device and should be carried on board. Hat and sunglasses add protection and comfort from the sun. Proper clothing, either rain suit or sun protection, needs to be accessible for when the need arises. Fishing gloves protect the hands from sunburn and can aid in the landing of fish. Sun block should be worn at all times to protect the skin. I prefer at least SPF 30 or higher. Foot wear needs to be nonskid and of a type that can be worn in the water. Here in Florida, shoes with a sturdy sole help prevent cuts and slashes from oyster beds and shells. I also carry a sponge or towel to wipe my hands after a fish, as well as to soak up any water I get into the boat.

You need some way to secure your kayak while still fishing. An anchor or stake out pole is ideal for this. My preference is to use a small folding anchor on an anchor trolley rigged to the side of the kayak. If the water is shallow enough, in the W you can simply change your position on the seat to pin the hulls to the bottom–a great method for stop and go style flats fishing. In deeper water, a drift sock or small bucket can be used to slow down your drift. In addition to securing the kayak at times, you’ll also need a place to keep the paddle out of the way. You can either place it across the cockpit, resting on the cockpit noodles or on paddle hooks (as seen on the W website.)

Fishing tackle needs a place to be kept out of the way until needed. A fishing vest with multiple pockets is fine for small terminal tackle and packages of plastic baits. It also gives you a place to carry a small camera, line clippers, dehookers, and other small fishing tools. I use small gear reels or lanyards to keep the gear close at hand but out of the way while fishing. Larger lures in tackle packs and other tools can be placed in a small plastic trashcan and slid under the deck on whichever side is most convenient. A net is handy and a small one can be kept under the front deck opposite the side with the trash can. Another great tool for landing and controlling fishing at the boat is a pair of fish grabbers.

I keep drinks and snacks in a small soft cooler behind me in one of the hull spaces. If fish are to be kept for dinner, they can be stored in a cooler bag in a hull space as well.

Rods and reels are placed in the flush mount holders, if the W model you have is equipped with them. My F2 has two holders, while my standard W boat has a three-tube crate rig mounted on the deck behind me. If I need extra rods, I use multi-piece pack rods stored below the decks. Some folks like to troll while paddling and the new Ram rod holders are ideal for this purpose.
Remember that, even though space is limited compared to a powerboat, there is more than enough room for a day of fishing in a kayak. It just takes a bit of thought and planning.

Jeff's kayak fishing shoes
Editor’s note: Jeff’s shoes seen here are size 15

Jeff's fishing vest and gear

Jeff's lure boxes

Jeff's fishing rod

Plastic Fish Grabber

Plastic Fish Grabber

Jeff's fishing gloves and sun protection

Photos: Jeff McGovern

Copyright © Jeff McGovern, 2007

 

Read more about Jeff’s kayak fishing trips and observations »

Two Fishermen’s Knots

By Jeff McGovern

Knot tying is an essential fishing skill and there are entire books written about fishing knots.  I am going to concentrate here on two lesser-known knots that I use constantly in saltwater, as well as freshwater fishing.

 

1. Surgeons Knot

I use this for attaching a leader to my main line.  It works for both mono and the new super lines.  For best results when using a super line (such as Fireline, Power Pro, Spiderwire, etc.), double the line before tying in the leader.  This will give the connection more bite and it will hold much better. I normally use 10lb to 30lb leaders (mono or fluorocarbon) and tie to either 8 to 20 lb mono or 8 to 30lb super line.
With a properly tied leader, you can fish with less connection hardware such as clips or swivels.  It creates a connection point to the fish that is tougher to break than the main line and, in some cases, is less visible to the fish, and is a great handle when landing the fish.  I depend on this connection and it has not failed.

1_Surgeons_knot

1. Lay the two lines side by side.

 

2_Surgeons_knot

2. Tie an overhand knot pulling the leader line (green) through the loop.

 

3_Surgeons_knot

3. Make three more passes for a total of four

 

4_Surgeons_knot

4. Wet the knot and pull it tight.

 

5_Surgeons_knot

5. Trim the tag ends.

 

6_Surgeons_knot

6. Done!

Photos: Kate McGovern

 

2. Canoe Man’s Knot

 

This knot is credited to the late Merrill Chandler, known for his pioneering efforts saltwater canoe fishing in Florida.   It is a loop knot for connecting a hook, lure, or jig to the leader.  Loop knots allow the bait or lure to move more freely in the water column making them more attractive to fish.
This one is super easy and does not use up long lengths of leader each time it is retied.  I use this knot as my leader to lure connection most of the time and, as with the Surgeons Knot, it has never failed me when properly tied.

Both knots should be wet before being pulled snug.  This allows the knot to seat better and be more secure.  It also protects the line from heat friction damage during tightening.  This is especially important when using fluorocarbon leader material.

The pictures show how to tie the knots.  Practice makes perfect and these two knots are well worth the time and effort.  Master them and they will be simple and effective additions to your fishing knot arsenal.

 

1_Canoeman's_loop

1. Put the leader through the eye of the lure about three inches.

 

2_Canoeman's_loop

2. Form two backwards loops toward the lure in the leader.

 

3_Canoeman's_loop

3. Push the second loop through the first.

 

4_Canoeman's_loop

4. Put the tag end from the lure through the loop that passed through the first loop.

 

5_Canoeman's_loop

5. Wet the knot tighten while holding the tag end this allows the loop to be sized

 

6_Canoeman's_loop

6. Trim the tag end.

 

 Copyright © Jeff McGovern, 2007

Read more about Jeff’s kayak fishing trips and observations »

Wavewalk 300 Kayak Big Game Bow Hunter

This is a review of a Wavewalk™ kayak from the 300 series manufactured between 2004-2010
Go to the updated list of recent fishing kayak reviews »

By Scott Johnson,

Minnesota

-“I got the W out the night received. I took it to a small lake. It was windy.  Really liked being in it – felt safe and easily stood and paddled. It took me more time to get used to lean turning.
The second time I had the Wavewalk out for a short paddle though on a small lake I landed along a steep rocky drop-off, had the Wavewalk in water sideways to the edge, extremely impressed how stable it is getting in and out, this would have been a nightmare landing in a kayak.

I have owned a fishing and diving sit-on-top kayak, a sit-in recreational kayak, canoes and a small plastic bass boat, so I know what their shortcomings are. I got rid of them all.

Safety first always – I take dry clothes, towel in waterproof bag. I also have a wetsuit I either wear or have with me. To begin with I just float along with the current and I don’t try going over any submerged logs or anything risky.  The reason it is practical to hunt with the W is because the deer like to bed right along the edge of the river and they are not used to any predator or hunters on the water.
I planned to catch a big whitetail buck snoozing, taking a shot most likely in the riding position, but it’s nice to know you could stand if necessary.

I tell people the W is genuine fun, and how many things are actually fun anymore anyway?

I wasn’t sure I’d shoot a deer right away but I knew it would be fun to try.
Trophy whitetail hunting is a pretty tough sport, in average one big buck about every six years, so they aren’t easy to come by.

Along with bow hunting my license allows me to hunt with a muzzleloader, starting the weekend before Thanksgiving and running 15 days, that’s when it’s starting to freeze along the edges but not the main channel.  By then the river level gets quite low, thus making it much safer.

I like to go down a few miles of river with my recurve bow, no sights. A recurve bow can be shot very quickly, just relying on your instincts for aim.  With a little positive thinking anything is possible.

My dad said when he was a boy you could skip a rock across the river, some of the places now are over a hundred yards wide.
The high water has really eroded all of the banks and what’s left is very muddy in most places.  The W tracks great in the current and holds its own against the strong northwest wind.

I take my W paddle and a push pole.”

Dammed_river_Scott_01

Fallen tree across river stream

-“I came around a bend and heard water rushing, once again I was able to work my way on top of the obstacle, walk forward and slowly slide the WW off the dam and safely on my way!”-“This tree across the river was no problem, all I had to do was paddle up on it as far as I could, slide forward and away I went!”

“What a way to hunt, the deer have no idea what’s up.  This is where the Wavewalk outshines all other crafts you can hunt of.
My last outing was 4 hours and my back felt great.  If I’d been in either of my old kayaks, I would have had a hard time just trying to stand up straight.”

Scott's hunting and fishing cabin in the woods by the river

Scott's trophy room

-“Twenty years ago when I was young this was my cabin in the woods down by the river. At least 30 feet has eroded just in the last five years, unfortunately it got flooded and it’s full of mold.  The old farmer who hauled the granary down in the woods told me -“Johnson, It will never flood that cabin”, he was wrong.”-“My better half won’t let me have my deer heads upstairs, so here is my ‘room’…”

Hunting Kayak - Scott Johnson, MN

Scott’s Deer Bow Hunting W Kayak.

Note the rod holders’ role as quiver.
Hunting bow kayak cockpit

-“There’s  plenty of room for my bow, and it’s right there  in reach, cockpit is long enough  that I can easily keep my paddling from interfering with  my equipment.”

Perfect spot

-“I found a spot where you could smell the rutting whitetail buck, they absolutely stink when they are breeding. The river once made a big loop and the water cut through the banks and made a large bayou with an island in the middle, there was a channel leading to it through the willows..”

W fishing and hunting kayak by the river

-“The wavewalk opens up a lot of spots for hunting that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible.  It’s easy to land on a sandbar, step out the front, pull it up so it won’t drift away, all very quietly.  Then sneaking up the bank looking over the edge into the woods, bow in hand ready to go.  Can’t get any better than that! ”

Deer

-“The deer never even knew I was there.  Didn’t see any deer with antlers but had a great time!”

Landed W kayak - Minnesota

-“The W is great for sneaking down small creeks and rivers”
Scott's launching and landing spot by the river

-“This is my pickup truck, near the bridge. This would have been a tough landing with a kayak or canoe, not so with the W, and its light enough for one person to drag and fits in my shortbox…”