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Fishing offshore – the next frontier

Fishing offshore – the challenge

Let us define Offshore Fishing as fishing in the ocean or in the Great Lakes, away from shore, beyond the breakers. Such fisheries are characterized by currents and wind that are hard to overcome without adequate propulsion, and therefore hazardous to fishers who venture in them in small, human powered vessels such as canoes and kayaks.

Typically, people who fish offshore from kayaks tend to do it in more protected areas such as bays, or stay within a short distance from shore.
While these fisheries are relatively safer in comparison to distant and deeper ocean fishing grounds, they still present considerable challenges to kayak anglers, as well as to those who fish from other small, light, non-motorized craft such as canoes and dinghies.

Offshore kayak anglers know that traveling out there in a human powered vessel doesn’t grant them that they’d be able to go where they want or even get back to shore. For this reason, some anglers venture on long distance fishing trips with a mother ship, I.E. a large size motorboat that carries their kayaks into the ocean, and enables the members of such expeditions to return safely to shore. Typically, the kayaks used for such trips are sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks.

Comfort and safety factors

Those who fish offshore from a kayak can be exposed to wind and waves from the moment they launch.  Sitting in the L posture isn’t easy to begin with, but having to deal with the waves’ rocking motion and the constant wetness and  makes it even harder, especially  for anglers who fish in colder regions, where low water and air temperatures can be a critical factor.

Some kayak anglers outfit their ride with an electric trolling motor, and while this certainly adds an element of safety and increases their range of travel, it still doesn’t offer them the freedom to go on long fishing trips, or overcome fast currents.
Outboard gas motors are more suitable for this purpose. However, there are no kayaks out there except Wavewalk’s that can be outfitted and used with this type of powerful and reliable propulsion in a way that makes sense to the user. The problem isn’t just the poor stability of the mono-hull kayak design and the lack of effective means for its users to stabilize it, but also the fact that outboard motors are rather heavy and they work best when they’re attached at the stern, which is too far behind the area in which the kayak’s user is seated – Anglers who try to outfit their sit-on-top, hybrid or sit-in kayaks with an outboard motor soon discover that they can’t easily reach its controls, and they can steer neither safely nor conveniently, even when they use a long and articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension.

Unlike kayaks, small fishing motorboats (e.g. Jon boat, dinghy, small microskiff) are designed for motorizing, and their users can drive them without experiencing the safety and ergonomics problems that occur in motorized kayaks.
The users of such small fishing boats sit either facing forward on benches stretching across their deck, or facing sideways on benches located along their sides, or on a raised seat or swivel seat.
The problem with those small craft is that they feature flat bottomed hulls that work well on flat water, but offer neither good stability in waves nor much comfort to their users in the constant rocking motion created by the waves.
The same is true for the three above mentioned seating solutions – Sitting on a bench is fine as long as you can stand up from time to time and stretch, but it’s uncomfortable when you’re constantly struggling to balance yourself, and you’re prevented from standing up in confidence.
As for raised seats, they are great for comfort as long as you can stand up whenever you wish to do so, and as long as you don’t have to balance yourself while sitting in them. However, this is not the case when your boat is being rocked by waves, and in such cases you’d be likely to experience discomfort.

Most small fishing motorboats are not designed for car topping, or are just too hard for one person to car top. Therefore, they require transportation by trailer, which means launching and beaching in boat ramps, with the time loss and aggravation that entail…

For all these reasons, small flat-bottomed motorboats offer limited offshore fishability.

As for ergonomics, the W570 offers its users to travel facing forward while riding a saddle similar in size and shape to the saddles commonly found in personal watercraft (PWC – jet-ski). The riding position is unmatched as far as the power, control, comfort and balancing capabilities it provides, which is why it is so well suited for small, high performance, personal, offshore motorboats. No wonder that other high performance personal motor vehicles such as all terrain vehicles (ATV), dirt bikes, and snowmobiles all feature similar saddles.

The new W570 series

A few weeks have passed since Wavewalk announced its new W570 series of kayaks that are ready for motorized offshore fishing. During this period we’ve obtained substantial input about this new concept from W clients, fans and dealers who fish in different parts of the world.
It’s possible to classify their reactions to the W570 series into three categories – negative, mixed and positive.
Those who reacted negatively argued that there’s no real need for a spray shield and large-size inflatable flotation tubes, and consequently, these new accessories might reflect poorly on the W product and brand.
Those who had mixed reactions said that although personally they don’t see the point in either using or offering these new accessories, there may be a demand for a such a car-top boat among fishers who are looking to fish out of a small motorboat in the ocean or in large size bodies of water such as the Great Lakes, big and fast rivers, and other challenging fisheries.
Those who reacted entirely favorably to the new W570 series are mainly people who already fish offshore or in bays and large estuaries, and are familiar with the challenges that anglers face in such fisheries. Incidentally, there’s a higher percentage of motorized W kayak anglers in this third group compared to the general population of W angers.

All three points of view are legitimate and interesting –
Those who argue against the new accessories stress that as far as motorizing goes, Wavewalk has already shown in a most convincing way that its W500 series was perfectly suitable for driving while outfitted with an outboard motor at speeds that are similar to and even higher than the typical speed for other small motorized fishing craft such as Jon Boats, motorized square-stern canoes, dinghies and various flat-bottom watercraft classified as small-size microskiff. Therefore, adding large size inflatable tubes and a spray shield to a W kayak is overkill.
This argument is correct, obviously, but only so in the context of traditional fisheries where these other small motorboats are commonly used, which are inland, flats, small and medium size lakes, slow moving rivers, and generally speaking, in areas that are not particularly challenging in the sense that anglers who fish in them are unlikely to overcome either powerful and fast currents or waves while launching, driving and beaching their fishing boat.
It goes without saying that these relatively protected fisheries correspond to areas where the majority of fishing kayaks and canoes are used, as well as most other small, flat-bottomed boats. This fact puts the new W570 series at the edge of the current market, for better and for worse, in the sense that while the current market for it doesn’t seem to be big today,  there could be a substantial yet unfulfilled demand for such innovative, high-performance personal boat, whose offshore performance surpasses that of mono-hull fishing kayaks as well as traditional small motorboats when comfort, stability, ease of transportation, and launching & beaching are taken into consideration.

Keeping the cockpit dry

W kayaks offer several effective means to keep their cockpit dry on offshore fishing trips –

Typically, launching and beaching are the events that produce more spray, and are likely to get some water in if you don’t take any precautionary measure to keep the cockpit dry, which is easy since all W570 models come outfitted with a spray shield that blocks water from getting in from the front.
In addition, you can launch while riding the saddle aft of the middle part of the cockpit. Doing so would raise the kayak’s bow and further decrease the likelihood of spray getting into the cockpit.
And last but not least, all models from the W570 series feature a preparation for cockpit cover, which allows you to attach a small-size tarp over the front and middle parts of the cockpit, and thus prevent any spray from getting in. Once you’ve passed the surf zone and you’re out in blue water, you can easily detach the cockpit cover within seconds, and store it in one of the hull tips behind you.

These three defensive measures work effectively, and in addition, if any spray got in, dealing with it is very easy – All you need to do is take a couple large-size towels on board and drop them on the bottom of the hulls behind you, near the hull tips.
If any spray gets in, it will be drained to the bottom of the hulls, and the water would normally flow backwards, since the kayak’s stern is usually a bit lower than the bow.
The towels would soak the water, and if you see that a towel has reached its soaking capacity, all you need to do is grab it and squeeze the water outside the cockpit, which takes just a few seconds. This method is commonly used by canoeists and sit-it kayakers who travel in moving water.
If you’re into gadgets, who can replace the towels by an inexpensive hand-activated bilge pump. These pumps are popular among sit-in kayakers, canoeists and other small boat users. Their disadvantage over towels is that they become effective only in case a considerable amount of water has accumulated at the bottom of a hull, which isn’t likely to happen.
Another simple and effective accessory that kayak, canoe and small boat anglers use for bailing water out of their craft is a small-size bilge bucket. While this accessory is highly effective for this purpose, it’s not as easy to use as towels and bilge pumps are.

Watch the W570 in action -

Related articles

 The New Wavewalk 570 Series (W570) 2015 Models

 Motorized Kayaks

2.5 HP Lehr outboard propane motor mounted on my W500, by Robert Eller

I thought you might like to check out my W500 so here’s a picture of one of them. It is a Lehr 2.5hp propane fueled outboard.

Robert Eller

Florida

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W500 kayak rigged for fishing and outfitted with a TMM 15 motor mount and 2.5 hp Lehr propane fueled outboard motor

 

New products launched in 2014

When observing fishing kayak design developments in recent years, it’s impossible to miss two main trends that seem to have gone out of control: The first is an increase in size and weight, and the second is over accessorizing.

These days, the typical high-end SOT fishing kayak is a barge that weighs around 100 lbs, and requires a trailer for transportation, which is enough to defeat the purpose of kayak fishing even before you hit the water and find out that paddling such barges to a noticeable distance is either hard or impossible…
One company recently launched a tandem fishing kayak that weighs 185 lbs in the basic version, and 230 lbs when fully accessorized. And if you think this weight includes a powerful outboard motor, you’re wrong – We’re still talking about a human powered boat, (although not a paddle craft) that’s too wide for paddling… At such weight, a crew of two strong anglers couldn’t car top this kayak, and they’ll even have a hard time loading it on top of the trailer that’s offered with it.
The thing looks like it came out of a shipyard rather than a kayak factory… Good luck with moving that object out there, on the water!

The new SOT and hybrid fishing kayaks’ decks are so overcrowded and over accessorized that some of them severely limit the user’s range of motion in fishing, and they restrict even their legroom. Some of those fishing kayaks look bizarre, or comic, with such a plethora of useless objects (e.g. leaning bar), semi-useless objects (e.g. cup holder) and overly complex ‘systems’ (e.g. double-cover storage hatch) crowding their decks and getting in the way of their users’ arms and fishing lines.

And since this article is about innovation, we feel obliged to mention the new, award winning electric fishing kayak that features a motor installed in its middle. Its propeller shaft comes out of the water between the angler’s legs, with the propeller appearing at a couple inches distance from their crotch. Good luck with that too!

 

New products from Wavewalk

Wavewalk launched three new products in 2014: High-buoyancy Inflatable detachable flotation modules, a detachable, transparent Spray Shield, and a dual use Transom Motor Mount.
These accessories strengthen our advantage in high performance motorized kayak fishing, which is significantly different from traditional motorized kayak fishing involving outfitting SOT kayaks with weak and unreliable electric trolling motors for short distance, flat water trips.  A W500 outfitted with proper flotation and a powerful outboard gas engine offers a solution to the problems of strong tidal currents, wind, and the need to travel long distances in moving water, including offshore.

 

1. Inflatable detachable flotation modules

This new accessory transforms the W kayak into a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), an increasingly popular high-performance class of watercraft used in a variety of motorized boating applications ranging from tendering bigger boats to high speed travel, diving, fishing, and rescue operations.

The new inflatable float provides twice as much buoyancy as the large size Polyethylene foam modules we offered so far. Thus, it improves the motorized W kayak’s performance in terms of both capsize prevention and recovery.

A W500 can be outfitted with either one or two pairs of such floats. In the two-pair configuration it isn’t suitable for fishing, and you need to stop somewhere and relocate the front pair – either by reattaching them at the rear, or just storing them in the kayak’s hull tips behind you.

Another great feature these floats have is that you don’t need a pump to inflate them.

inflatable-side-flotation-modules-motorized-kayak-640

 

2. Detachable transparent spray shield

This accessory works to prevent spray from getting into the cockpit of the W500 while motorizing at high speed in choppy water, or in waves.
The reason it’s detachable is that you may want to have it out of your way when you fish – Casting and landing fish from this kayak’s front is not only easy, but it also has some advantages, so you may want to quickly detach this spray shield and store it (flat) in one of the hull tips behind you.  Reattaching it is easy, and takes less than a minute.

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3. Dual use transom motor mount

Outboard gas motors and electric trolling motors come in two basic configurations – Long propeller shaft (20″ and above), and short propeller shaft (15″).
This can be a problem in case you have a long-shaft outboard motor and a short shaft electric motor, or vice versa, and you want to use them in different conditions. For example – travel fast to a distant fishing area using the powerful outboard, and once you get there troll slowly and quietly using the electric motor.
You may also want to use the outboard motor when you fish offshore, and the electric trolling motor when you fish inland, in smaller bodies of water, or in no-motor zones.
Either way, you’re fully covered now and in the future with the new TMM 20-15 Transom Motor Mount.
This new motor mount is not only more versatile – it also weighs less than the old mounts.

Click the images to enlarge -

 

 

Note that a W500 kayak outfitted with high-performance inflatable flotation and a powerful outboard motor still weighs less than some of the mammoth ‘barge’ fishing kayaks out there that feature no motor at all.

In sum, while Wavewalk keeps expanding the performance envelope of its already superior products and solutions, other fishing kayak manufacturers still have nothing interesting or sensible to offer, but they seem to put more effort into it in recent years.

Transom mount for long and short shaft outboard motors

TMM 20-15 Transom Motor Mount for Long and Short Shaft Outboard Motors

The TMM 20-15 is a versatile transom mount that fits both 20″ long propeller shaft outboard motors and 15″ short ones –  Just flip and relocate it, and it’s ready for the new motor.

  • Price:  $138.
  • Shipping:

No extra charge when shipped together with a W kayak
When shipped separately: $20 S&H in the continental US (48 states)
When shipped separately: $25 S&H to Canada and Alaska

Materials and Construction

The TMM 20-15 is made from 3/4″ thick Medium Density Overlay (MDO), a composite wood and polymer resin (a.k.a. plastic) material developed for outdoor use such as signs and marine applications.  The front and back of the MDO panels come coated with a waterproof polymer-infused layer, and the sides of the parts that form the TMM 20-15 are waterproofed with polyurethane. Unlike the TMM 20 and TMM 15 specialized motor mounts that are made from Trex, which is a heavier material, the MDO used in the construction of the TMM 20-15 makes it considerably lighter.

The parts from which the TMM 20-15 is made are cut with a computerized router for maximal precision, best fit, and optimal strength. They are assembled and glued together with waterproof adhesive. The tab-and-slot technique and ‘caisson’ design applied in this product give it additional strength.

There is no need to paint this motor mount, but in case you want to, it can be painted with special paint for outdoor plastic, such as Krylon Fusion spray paint. Regular paint doesn’t adhere well to its surface.

The bolts, washers and nuts used in this motor mount are made from zinc plated steel.

Dimensions and Technical Specifications

  • Width:  21.5″ (54.5 cm)
  • Height:  5.5″ (14 cm)
  • Depth:  7.5″ (19 cm)
  • Weight:  2.5 lbs (1.14 kg)
  • Horsepower Compliance:   This design was tested with small outboard gas motors such as commonly used with Wavewalk 500 kayaks. It is unknown whether this product fits heavier and more powerful motors in the 4-6 hp range, which aren’t recommended for use together with this watercraft in any case.

How to attach this motor mount to your W kayak

In the 20″ position, just put the mount as close as possible to the rear end of the cockpit, as seen in the picture below, make sure it is centered, mark the two spots where you’d need to drill 3/8″ holes for the blots, and drill.

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TMM 20-15 Transom Motor Mount in the 20″ (long) position

 

In the 15″ position, the distance of the motor mount from the rear end of the cockpit will be determined by the bolts that attach the motor to the mount, and the position of the motor when the propeller is. You’d need to make sure that the motor can tilt all the way down and lock, as the propeller shafts rises up from the water. You’d also need to make sure you can fasten and release the bolts that attach the motor to the mount.
Once this is done, make sure the motor mount is centered, and mark to two spots whee you need to drill the 3/8″ holes for the mount’s bolts.

motor-mount-for-15-short-outboard
TMM 20-15 Transom Motor Mount in the 15″ (short) position
Bolt the motor mount in its place by tightening the nut knobs with their Tee nuts facing down.

Why a dual purpose motor mount?

The problem starts with the fact that only a handful of small outboard motor models feature a 20″ shaft, which is the preferred length for the W500.  This limit in choice forces some W owners to use a 15″ (short) shaft motor. If later they find a 20″ (long-shaft) outboard, having a dual motor mount would save them the need to get a new motor mount for it.

Other users may want to use an outboard gas engine for long drives, or when they go through rough water, where electric motors aren’t recommended (see article » ), and use an electric motor when they fish in flat water and in no-motor zones (NMZ). Having a mount that can accommodate either type of propulsion can save them the need to carry and install two motor mounts on their W.

We also had our dealers in mind when we designed this motor mount. It’s easier for them to have one type of mount in stock rather than manage two different items. In the long run, this would improve the service our clients get from our local dealers and distributors.

More about motorizing your kayak »

My Wavewalk fishing kayak with a 2.5 Suzuki outboard motor, by Robert Buck

I have had the kayak out twice so far. The first time was for about an hour and did not go too far. I went out on Friday to a lake and was on the water for about 4 hours and went about 4 1/2 miles. It was a beautiful day on the lake.

It does not take long to get used to using the kayak. This is going to be great for what I bought it for and that is fishing. I can carry all my equipment and move around and change hooks and lures easily.
Had to paddle into a little wind on the way back on Friday. No problem as the kayak cut through the waves and no bouncing over the waves.
I am happy with my purchase and plan on getting out even more now.

When I picked up the Kayak and we had it in the van, I could not see out the right hand window so when I arrived at my friends I strapped it to the roof. I was worried that I would not be able to see vehicles coming onto the highway from entrance ramps. I have now got it down pat to strap to the roof. The eye hooks on the motor mount work great for strapping down one end of the kayak.

I had the motor on the Kayak for the first time today. Must say it takes a little getting used to but did great.

Just one point though, the mount for the short shaft motor should be placed to the rear a little more as the motor will not tilt up and lock in place. I think the tension screw will be enough to hold it up so it does not fall back into the water. I had no problem with it staying in place.

I do have a video from yesterday as this was my first time with the motor:
I was impressed with the way the kayak cut though the waves. There was no bouncing around going through the waves.

It takes a little getting used to using the motor. I like the fact that I have the option of using a motor. It just makes the kayak more versatile.
I do like it better without the motor, but the motor will have its time and place when using the kayak.

Thanks.

Robert Buck
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

my-fishing-kayak-without-the-motor-on
My Wavewalk fishing kayak and tackle box

 

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More fishing kayak reviews »