Kayak Fishing with Children E-mail
Monday, 14 December 2009 09:56

Kids love fishing and they can go along in the kayak too.  Each summer I try to go up to Vermont to take a young cousin of mine fishing.  I introduced him to fishing when he was 4-1/2.  Now he’s 13.  I’m not sure who likes it more.  I’ve got another cousin the same age and he lives near me.  A little over a year ago he got the fishing bug big time.  When he’s off from school and doesn’t have some sports activity going on we go fishing.  He told his mom he loves when we go off fishing because he doesn’t have any idea what I’ve got planned.  It’s always an adventure for him.  As he gets older we’ll be able to do more and more interesting stuff.  When my cousins were younger I put them in front of me in a kayak.  Now they’re old enough where they paddle propel themselves in a separate kayak.  It all depends on the child and where you intend to fish but 10 is a good age for them to start using their own yak.  Ryan, the cousin who lives near me, and his friends regularly fish a small pond in their neighborhood.  Ryan even keeps his kayak over at his friend’s house.

My cousin in a gator seat

My cousin and brother about to go fishing JoshuaSolo Essentially there are two styles of kayaks I recommend for this type of fishing: either a tandem or single model with a forward jump seat.  Let’s look at tandems first.  These are kayaks with seating for two adults.  There are also tandem models that have a third option for a seat in the middle.  This is very important because you’ll most likely be using the kayak solo at some point and oftentimes a lot.  So you need to have a comfortable place to sit when going alone.  Most tandems don’t have this feature.  There are a couple models that I recommend which fit the bill nicely.  They are the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130T and the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 and XL.  (All kayaks mentioned in this article can be seen in our kayak  http://www.kayakfishingmagazine.net/gear-guide/fishing-kayak-guide.html All are very stable and offer similar but different features.  The Tarpon comes with two integrated seats.  The third seating position requires an additional seat.  The Tarpon also has two 5” hatches with bags, two paddle keepers, a tank well with bungee, ample storage up front and a center array for mounting a rod holder or fish finder.  The Malibu’s come with two conventional seats so when you wish to paddle solo one of those seats will be used.  There is very little storage on the kayak but there are hatch platforms.  You can add 3 small round hatches to the Malibu 2 and the XL will accommodate a couple small rounds and a larger oval. The large oval is a practical hatch and by adding one a lot of below deck storage becomes available.  So the Tarpon offers more above deck storage and the Malibu 2 XL has much more below deck storage when you add the additional hatches.

The other style of kayak is the singles that offer rear-facing jump seats.  The venerable Cobra Fish in Dive has been around for years and handles the task well.  The new kids on the block are from Malibu Kayaks (not to be confused with the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL).  The Cobra utilizes the same hull as the company’s tandem and until recently was the only option.  The jump seat area is set up to accommodate a back band or seat.  The first time I took my cousin out this is the kayak I used.  It’s incredibly stable with tons of storage.  The Fish in Dive is 12.5 feet long and with 2 hatches weighs in at 70 pounds.  You can have as many as 3 hatches in the kayak; a large rectangular and two 10” rounds.  Malibu Kayaks rethought the jump seat and actually redesigned the front hatch by adding a built in seat.  They call it the Gator Hatch.  It’s available as an option and comes with a built in tank well with bungee array.  There are even platforms to mount two flush mount rod holders!  It’s a great design and can be used with any of the Malibu models that have the ability to add the large hatch up front, which is most of the line.  One of the models, the X Factor has a set up to accommodate a seat in the rear tank well too.  This seating will easily handle a small adult and with its 500 plus pound capacity it makes a great family kayak.  All the kayaks in this class have tremendous below deck storage via large hatches.  You could literally put a child below deck in the Malibu’s!

All of the above are SOTs.  Another great option for more protected waters where a SOT isn’t required is the Native Ultimate tandems.  They come in 14.5 and 16 foot configurations and have very comfortable seating and tons of storage.  The 16 is a dedicated tandem but the 14.5 is designed so one seat can be removed and another to the center for optimal solo performance. Due to their open design the Ultimates swallow gear and Native has an extensive line of model specific accessories so you can customize the kayaks in all sorts of configurations based on your needs.

There are a couple more options.  I’m a big fan of pedal drives and there are a couple offerings to consider.  Each only offers 2-person seating and for solo excursions its best to put some ballast up front so you’re not doing a wheelie. They are the Outfitter from Hobie and the Native Ultimate Propel.  The reason I like it is it’s a pedal drive and by leaving my hands free it’s easier to do things with a child.  The Hobie is a SOT and the Native a SIK.  The other difference is the Outfitter uses two drive units while the Ultimate only one.  So in theory the Hobie should provide more propulsion.  A big difference is in storage.  The Outfitter has three 10” round hatches whereas the 16’ open design of the Native swallows gear.

The last option is an electric kayak (EK).  You have several options should you choose to go electric.  Bassyaks can motorize tandem models for you.  Native Ultimate comes in an electric tandem series called the Volt.  It’s the same model as the Propel except with a motor in the middle instead of a drive. Also Hobie now has the Evolve and one can be added to the Outfitter.

So which style should you choose?  Your initial choice is a jump seat kayak or a dedicated tandem.  Which one depends upon the circumstances of your needs.  Here’s how I’d do it.  If you were looking at taking adults or larger children along regularly then I’d get a tandem.  If the children are small and you’ll be using it alone often then the single’s the best choice.  So if you want a kayak to fish from and you have a family, then consider one of the above models.  They’re a lot of fun.

 

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