Kayak Fishing one of the fastest growing segments of boating and fishing is being fueled by a paddle. Kayak fishing, specifically. Florida Sportsman Editor Jeff Weakley traveled well beyond his local home waters of Florida researching the latest rigging and manufacturing techniques for this book and DVD.
I got this email question from a subscriber and past kayak fishing guiding client.
Can you spare another minute of advice? I’m finding that my Jackson Coosa is a
little too big/cumbersome/heavy for what I need. It’s great once you get it on the
water but it’s a pain to load/unload on the vehicle (Suburban) and is hard to cart
down to a landing. I took it out on Sun at Kephart’s Landing on Goose Creek and it
just takes too long to get in the water. I’ve got rollers/cradles on the Suburban
roof which means 4 straps and I’ve got a cart with straps which didn’t work very
well. I think they sell a cart that fits into the scupper holes so maybe I’ll get
one of those. I guess it could fit in a cradle type roof carrier but it’s too big
and the car is too tall to easily lift it overhead into the cradles. It took more
than 45 min to cart it up from the creek and load it on the car.
My question is what kayak do you recommend or prefer? I would be using it mainly on
the upper Potomac and waters around here. It seems I need something I can carry,
can easily transport but is big enough to be comfortable, and is well-equipped.
With a smaller kayak I could even fit it inside the Suburban or could even haul two
smaller kayaks inside or on top.
Got any advice? Thanks.”
I think we all go through phases. We start out with little. Then we end up with a bunch of gear. Then it’s too heavy/cumbersome. Then we have to play the ultralight game. That’s true with the fishing gear, itself and all the accessories.
Actually, the Coosa is a great river boat that I’d recommend for the waters around where we live especially the Upper. And I think it’s pretty light without any gear on it. Getting it on a roof is another story. But, I can totally understand your concerns. That Kephart launch has exhausted me several times with and without a cart.
Let me start with the boat. A lighter boat will likely be shorter. That may not be a bad thing on the river, but I think you’ll find any boat less than 12 feet will be a pretty big compromise in tracking. You’ll be going side to side all the way upstream. The only shorter boat I’d recommend would be the Native Slayer Propel 10. I think this will be my next boat. Being peddle driven and having a rudder should make up for the tracking issue. I believe it is 57 lbs. The only concerns I have are the keel. If dragged, it could wear a hole in that spot. But, it sounds like your carting it mostly. The other is the placement of the rudder. In a river environment, I could see it getting beat up by rocks going over ledges and things. I hope future models will have the flip up rudder. But, otherwise, excellent boat.
The scupper hole cart is not a bad idea. Just make sure it’s compatible with your’s as not all scuppers are in the same place. You may be able to get away without a strap doing that. There aren’t many ways around some kind of securing mechanism. There is also this one that uses sort of a leverage system with only one bungee on a hook. Just hook it on and pick up the bow and go. The weight and angle of the cart should hold the hull in place relatively well.
Now, getting it on top of the car. 4 straps is a lot. I’m assuming you do each of the two cradles and then bow and stern tie downs? If you have a roof rack, you should be able to get by with just the two straps across the width as long as they are cinched or ratcheted tight and connected to a secure part of the rack. I even got to a point where I would carry 2 kayaks on my truck rack with one 16 ft. ratchet strap per boat. I’d run it front bar side to side, diagonally over the hull of the boat to the back bar and then side to side and pull tight. The less you have to do that the more time you can save. But, 2 straps across the width is normal and shouldn’t take too much time.
For assistance in getting it up there, there are several options.
Loading bar. This one is neat as it allows you to side load and it slides away inside your cross bar. You’re only lifting about half the boat at a time. Put the bow up on the bar, lift the stern up onto the rack and settle into place to tie down.
DIY approaches. Most of these are ways to go on through the front or back of your vehicle with some kind of homemade apparatus, usually PVC. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=kayak+loader+suburban
And the last thing I can suggest is organization. If at all possible, try to get a little ready the night before. I got my whole system down to a 5 min. put in and 5 min. take out. It’s a kayak. No sense taking as long to launch a bass boat. I would have my pfd, rod holders, anchor, and dry bag in the front hatch at all times. I unstrap and take the boat off. I set it at the edge of the ramp or water. From the truck I get my kayak crate and rods chosen for the trip. Each is already organized with the baits and rods for where I’m going and what I’m fishing for from the night before. I put the crate in the tankwell and bungee it down. Rods in rod holders. Take out pfd, etc. Put it on. Stash my stuff in the dry bag and secure it. Secure my soft cooler behind the seat. Park the truck and I’m ready to go. I really only had 4 things to do in order to launch.
The only step you would need to add to that would be to strap on the kayak to the cart if that’s even necessary if you go with one of the two potentially strapless options. When at the water secure your cart to the boat and go.
I think you could get that down to an efficient system with a little practice and prep the night before if possible.