Took the travel trailer, canoe, wife, two kids, and dog down to the state park this past long weekend. Camping with kids and a dog is VASTLY different from camping with fellow adults. Had a great weekend although out of 4 days I only managed to steal away for 4 hours to go fishing. Caught a little cat, some rockbass and a white bass. No keepers but still better than not catching anything!
Lake was too windy for canoe. It took me an hour of frantic paddling to figure that out (and I've got knots in my back to show it). Paddled across the cove and fished on the rocks and caught 3 bass.
Well, here's the dilemma - I've come to realize that a canoe, while enjoyable, is not "the answer" for getting on the lake and fishing. Thinking about a kayak but I hate to limit myself to one-seat. So, thinking about a john boat. I'd have to get a ladder rack and winch and rig up a top-load setup since my hitch is already occupied by the trailer.
Any insight on johnboats (if you're on the west coast, a johnboat is a flat bottom aluminum boat)? Any experience with top-loading? My preconceived notion about john boats is that I'm going to hate lugging around the trolling motor and marine batteries and that they're constantly going to be dead when I need them. Plus leaky rivets and I need to check into registration requirements.
My buddy invited me to go crappie fishing on the river this coming weekend. I knew once I put my pole in the water for the season, I'd be chomping at the bit for the next opportunity!
John boats are usually like 4 feet wide, so narrower than a pickup bed. I've seen them top mounted on pickups and thought that would be a pretty slick setup, apparently this is a thing:
There are a good handful of videos on youtube, and there are companies that market this rack/winch system as a product. So it must work even if it's not really commonplace. The boat would have to be pretty well empty to do this. Which means, lugging the trolling motor and batteries from your truck bed to the boat every time. Plus cooler, life jackets, oars, anything else you don't have secured onto the boat.
As far as canoes go, I'm no expert angler but I've caught more from my canoe than standing on the bank.
I had a 8'6" john boat and it sucked. My wife and I got in and went fishing ONCE. Very unstable, not enough room and with my fat ass in it... it only had about 3 inches before the water would start pouring over the sides... I then started renting a small aluminum v-ish bottom like in the youtube video. I think it was a 14'. It was a LOT better. Very Stable, more room and I could stand up and cast.
Bring along an electric trolling motor and a marine battery. If you don't need them, don't use them. When you run into trouble, clamp the motor to the side/rear of the canoe, and putt on back. You might be surprised how fast one of those little things can propel a canoe. I certainly was. If you leave the battery on a tender, it'll always be ready for you.
One of the GOOD things about growing up and living in Flatistan is the fishing. We have scads of reclaimed phosphate pits that are open for public use. (Ever watch Bill Dance catch ginormous bass on his show fishing "private ponds" nudge, nudge, wink wink)those are ALWAYS phosphate pits. Private ones, but still phosphate pits.
Jon boats are the "go to" for small lakes. Most of the small ones are 42-46" wide at the top. A 12 footer is very fishable. Toss in a small trolling motor and battery along with all the required safety gear.
I have caught bass over 13 pounds from my old 12 foot jon boat. Lately, I have simplified it all a lot. I carry one rod and reel, an ultralight with 4 pound test, a handful of 1/32 ounce jig heads and some 1" and 2" curly tailed grubs.
You can catch dang near anything on those, but I target specs (crappie to you nartherners) and various other sunfish. This time of year is spawning season for bluegill and shellcrackers, and bass. I also catch a lot of bass, channel catfish, and tilapia on them also.
Crusty I couldn't afford that trailer, let alone the rig to pull it!
Hootowl I've thought about the trolling motor. It is an option I'm willing to consider although it's kinda like shooting a recurve with a caliper release. I think I'll try an anchor first - it'll be cheaper and more to the point. I really just want to be able to paddle out a ways and hang out in deeper water while I cast.
Grandpa used to take us grandkids fishing at the strip pits in Kansas. I was too young to really appreciate fishing then but it must have been good enough for him to choose strip pits over the lakes and creeks that were closer.
Ratbuell... i hate zode's! They're huge even deflated, and heavy to man handle, and slow to roll out, air up, insert floor panels, man handle motor onto transom... there's really nothing easy about a zodiac. And I don't even want to know how much they cost.
Anybody here kayak fish? I don't like the idea but I could probably be persuaded.
Those porta botes look awful cool but they're pricey. Seems like their niche would be for military/SAR/emergency applications.
I'd never thought about the size of the water having any bearing on what watercraft you can use but I guess it makes sense. The lakes I fished in Washington were rather small and surrounded by giant spruce. Even when it was "windy" it was still manageable.
Jordan Lake here in NC is quite a bit bigger and the trees are shorter and thinner. More wind, more waves, more drift. It's also "blackwater", you can't see a foot down it seems. Drives me crazy. I don't know how the fish can see anything.
We got a couple of the small water kayaks - both about 10'. One open and the other closed. They make great fishing rigs. Quiet, shallow draft, aren't affected by wind as much as a canoe, and very stable. Can be had for little money. My kids fight over them. I've been pulled around by fish as small as two pounds, which may be the only drawback - canoe or John boat has another person or motor to keep you from getting pulled all over by a good fish - well that and canoes/John boats are way more comfortable, not an all day on the water type of rig, like a canoe or John boat can be but they can go about anywhere...
Kayak, 10', great for fishin', paddles different from the canoe. Used an 8' flat bottom for floating rivers with a set of oars in it. 2 hp outboard made it great for traveling up river. I had a 13' black canoe with a 24 volt trolling setup that I used for running White river in Indianapolis after dark. Sneaky little boat. Solo person can fish out of any of them.
Thanks for the input, all. I'd love to get a john boat but the more I think about it, it's going to require more money, time and maintenance.
Trolling motor for the canoe is sounding pretty darn good, and a kayak is sounding better and better. I'm estimating ~$200 for a used trolling motor/battery combo, and $300-500 for a used kayak....
This is the canoe I originally wanted
aluminum hull, foam inside is supposed to keep light reflection and noise to a minimum, bumper pads along the gunwales. This one has a flat stern for a trolling motor setup; standard shape also available. I missed one on craigslist by a day.
This is what I have (stock photo not mine)
I enjoy it. The only thing I don't like is that the RAM-X plastic gets spongy if it sits in the sun. I can't capsize it unless I grab a side and pull while leaning all the way over. Besides maybe a trolling motor, the only major mod i need to make is making it more bouyant to aid recovery in open waters. Filling the hollow seats with foam, adding foam at the bow/stern. I've intentionally capsized and tried to recover it in semi-open waters a couple times and, if I can't touch the bottom, I just can't do it.
I guess I'd probably enjoy any watercraft that puts me out on the lake.
2 to 4 hp outboard on a square stern moves pretty good. I put a 5 hp outboard on my 13' once and it worried me something fierce. Looked like a wall of water following me. I will likely go with a 2 hp on a 17' square stern grumman next.
I bought my first canoe from an elder neighbor when I was ninteen. It was an eighteen foot Sawyer square stern fiberglass canoe in excellent condition.
I never motorized it, but he did. He ran a seven horse gas outboard on it. He said he would set the throttle with the tiller set straight, then climb forward to plane it out then steer simply by leaning on the gunwales.
He had no idea how fast it actually was, but he came home with a speeding fine and it's paper trophy from heading out to one of his favorite spots on Kinzua Lake. He found out that motorized boats were limited to forty mph!
I did a lot of river canoing in the Allegheny River. I did not fish much back then, but I found out about just how my quality built fiberglass canoe was superior to aluminum and plastics. After having a few other boats over many years and another fiberglass canoe that was a cheap one, I feel that I can attest to a quality canoe being so much more stable, controlable, fishable, and passenger friendly than you might believe. Not unlike comparing a Blast to a Ulysses.
Problem with camping with a bigger boat is towing it when you have a camper to tow. I tried a big slide in camper with wife and two preteens in a diesel dually towing my 15' fiberglass bass boat. The fishing was fine but the camping sucked. Then we went to a fifth wheel camper and a new Durango 4x4 to tow the boat. But the wife did not like towing the boat and travelling separately.
This whole program is an exercise in compromise. I now have a motorhome and a 19' cuddy that it tows easily, but I will be damned if I am going to back a boat into the water with a 36' motorhome on the steep ramps of the TVA dam system.
Heck, when I lived in Florida I even towed the bass boat behind the fifth wheel camper behind the desel dually. Yes, double trailers can be legal. That was an exercise in working out with hooking -rehooking several times to set it up. The wife was happy that she did not have to drive but it was nerve wracking on the Interstates and always sucked when off the Interstates!
Vern, I'm glad you hit on those items - while I'm unable (and unwilling) to get an RV at this time, I wondered about towing a boat with a motorhome. Hadn't thought about the difficulty of actually putting in or taking out of the water. I've also seen tandem trailers on the highway but very seldom, and I wouldn't volunteer for it. I've got plenty of stress in my life already thank you!
I've tinkered with composites - fiberglass, carbon, kevlar. I'd like to play with a composite canoe - I imagine a carbon/kevlar canoe (or kayak) would be the Ducati or EBR of small watercraft. Fun to dream about making my own but I'd need to gain some serious experience before I'd take on laying up a water vessel.
I have an Old Town RoyaleX, it weighs about 33#, I can easily pick it up at place it on the roof of my pickup truck. I have never put a electric motor on it but could only imagine that it would be very fast on the water even with a 2 HP motor. It's only 11'6" but I find it pretty stable and have not to date tipped it over, it's pretty much a one person canoe since the wife is deathly afraid of the water. It gets around great !
Just lost my 1963 Airstream last year to a clumsy driver, taking it out along with my pick up truck, it was a great little trailer that I was restoring and I would buy another in a heart beat but now I'm going to look for a closed utility trailer that is also a toy hauler this way I can take a bike or two with me or easily help a stranded biker but, I'll miss my airstream.
That's around 20 pounds lighter than my 13.5' Pelican canoe. Must be super easy to carry/transport.
Sorry to hear about your trailer. Mine is far from fancy but I enjoy it. In 5 or 6 years I'd like to upgrade and have the luxury of slideouts.
In a couple months I should have the funds to get a couple "toys". I'm thinking a trolling motor for the canoe... AND a kayak. The only problem is, I want 3 of them. A sit-on for fishing lakes, a sit-in for sport paddling, and a sea kayak.
I'm thinking the sit-on angler kayak would be the most versatile, but I've also seen folks fish out of sit-in kayaks. I think it'd be fun to get a cheap sit-in, a plastic welder and some HDPE stock, and modify to taste.
I've been hunting for the perfect kayak, I think I found it. The only problem is, it's $1700 MSRP.
14' or 15'6", would be home on any lake or in saltwater. Massive internal gear storage; supposedly fast and stable.
Here's a much more affordable, somewhat similar kayak built by Pelican Products (an American based company that gets my vote for making a plethora of quality, rugged gear for US military, law enforcement, etc).