GRAYLING, Mich. -- If you visit ocean coastal areas, where kayak fishing has been hugely popular for a decade, 99 percent of anglers paddle sit-on-top (SOT) models.
They're more stable than sit-insides, much easier to get in and out of to wade, better for mounting gear like rodholders and GPS units, and they let anglers sit sidesaddle to fish or reach gear on the decks.
For six months, I've paddled an Ocean Kayaks Prowler Trident Angler 15, a 15-foot-7, 60-pound boat designed from the keel up as a fishing machine. It's the third SOT I've owned and my favorite of a dozen I've tried.
I bought a Trident 15 because I fish offshore in big lakes or the ocean, and in a 2-foot chop, big boats paddle better.
I recently fished inland lakes with kayak guide Lucian Gizel, who owns a Trident 15 but paddled a Trident 13, another SOT designed for fishing but better for smaller lakes and rivers. Ocean Kayaks also makes the 13-foot Big Game (wider and good for people who weigh 250-300 pounds or carry heavy dive gear), and an 11-foot Angler that has had excellent reviews.
Other good SOTs I've fished from include the Wilderness Systems 14 and 16, Heritage Redfish 12and 14, Hurricane Phoenix 14 and 16 and Freedom Hawk 14. But fishermen should paddle several to find a personal preference.
The Trident 15 has deck hatches fore and aft. A third hatch in the cockpit offers under-deck stowage for a half-dozen rods and is big enough to get a 9-foot rod in or out while underway.
My 6-1, 220 frame fits the cockpit nicely. I replaced the standard seat with one that offers better back support for long hours in the boat.
The Trident Angler 15 lists for $1,100, the Trident 13 $1,000, the Big Game $1,050 and the Trident 11 $900.
With everyone from big-box stores to drug stores selling kayaks these days, those prices may look steep to people who've seen boats advertised for $199. But a fishing kayak is one tool in which you get what you pay for.