But the reality is there are three current factors that make boat ownership unpractical for many — boat cost, fuel cost and the lack of storage.
This doesn't mean fishermen have to landlocked. It just means they need to reconsider their options. Instead of tens of thousands of dollars tied up in 15-year loans, more and more fishermen are looking at spending hundreds of dollars and learning to fish from two-man boats or fishing kayaks.
Primarily considered an option on smaller waters, fishermen can get into a small craft for $300 to $1,000, maybe $1,500 if you want to go the Cadillac option.
Before discussing the virtues of the small boats, let's get the negatives out of the way. They aren't family friendly. They aren't the best for open water. The kayaks are people powered. Fishermen have to learn to do more with less gear. It can be harder to cast sitting lower in the water. You will get wet.
Actually, that is a pretty short list.
Granted, the small boats are best at use on private lakes and smaller lakes like state park waters, but they can also be used on the biggest lakes in Texas under the right conditions, and in some instances on the coast.
Jacksonville's Michael Banks has been fishing out of Hobie Quest kayak for about five years. Three years ago he caught a 13.6-pound Toyota ShareLunker fishing from it on Purtis Creek State Park Lake.
“The advantage that I like is that you can go places the big bass boats can't go,” said Banks, who fishes area public lakes, the Neches River and coastal bays. “I am surprised how comfortable a kayak is. I am an older man and I can fish out of them for hours.”
Banks said when fishing bigger lakes from a kayak, a fisherman needs to do some pre-planning so he can launch as close as possible to the location he wants to fish. Still, he's had days of paddling four and five miles without getting tired.
“I have been able to get to the places I have wanted to go, but it is critical to put in close to where I wanted to fish,” he said.
Onboard, Banks is able to carry multiple rods, a tackle box and an ice chest. Although some kayaks are equipped with a livewell, his isn't and that created an interesting situation when he caught his ShareLunker and had to paddle the fish across the 300-acre lake.
“I had to stop every once in a while to make sure the fish was still on the stringer,” Banks said.
During the fall he also fished Nacogdoches County's new Lake Naconiche out of his kayak. Because he wasn't using a big boat, Banks didn't have to wait to get on the lake because the number of smaller boats on the lake aren't restricted like the bass boats.
While some would see the smaller craft as restrictive, the kayak has actually opened new waters to Banks. Since getting it he has become a regular on the Neches River. He had duck hunted the river out of a flat-bottomed boat over the years, but never fished it.
“I guess it did open the river to me to fish it. It is different than lake fishing because you have the current. It is the only place I have been able to catch spotted bass. They are fun to catch,” he said.
While he knows a kayak can flip, Banks has yet to turn his over. That isn't something he can say about a canoe.
“A lot of people when they think of kayaks think of faster water competition where you are down inside them. There is a big difference when you sit on them,” he explained.
Paddle power isn't going to be for everyone. Neither is the lower casting position. That is where two-man boats like those made by Pelican mini-pontoons are good. Although not designed to cross open water at all, their wide footprint is more stable.
The boat's deck has room for a lot of gear and a trolling motor provides plenty of power for a day's fishing.
The two-man boats are going to be heavier than a kayak, but will fit in the back of a truck or on a small trailer.
There is one thing to remember about either the kayak or two-man boats. Both require registration with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department if they are powered by a motor.
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