My brush breaker, the Pelican Catch 100
Well, at least this is how I felt when I purchased my first kayak. Like I am sure many of you, one does their research, looks at reviews online and does their homework. You go on Facebook or any online kayak forum and you ask the question “I’m looking to purchase a kayak, What do you think of this one?” You have heard all of the typical answers. “Buy once and cry once” “You will not be happy with the rod holders bud”. “Don’t buy from a big box store”. “It’s thermoformed plastic so it’s not durable bro” You have just come to the conclusion that the kayak you have been saving for is….well...crap.
So what is one to do? Let’s take a look at the value of a kayak, canoe or any inflatable device that gets you on the water. When I was a young man in the early 90’s I purchased my first watercraft. A green Coleman Scanoe with the flat back stern. It was used and purchased from a friend of mine’s parents. At $200 it was a dream to me. Add another $50 for a used trolling motor and another $50 for a marine deep cycle battery, I was set up to fish anywhere. Well, almost anywhere.
The old flat back green tank. the Coleman Scanoe.
Fast forward five years, and I loaned my green Scanoe to my brother who decided to drag the bottom of the stern on a gravel parking lot. A long way…. that was bad…. I now had a hole in the bottom of my green Scanoe. Not knowing about plastic welding, I put the green Scanoe up for sale. $50 and literally three hours later, someone was a proud owner of a plastic barge with a hole in it. So here I was thinking of what to purchase next. When you have a past problem, you try not to repeat the problem.
I graduated to a jon boat, and eventually a 17’ walleye boat. Many years later I eventually caught the itch to fish those back waters again, the places where people had a hard time getting back to, where I cut my teeth on some awesome fishing many moons ago. So enter the kayak.
My dads kayak that I was able to try out on a stream in Northern Wisconsin.
I was able to try out a few high end kayaks such as a Hobie and a Wilderness Systems that my friends let me borrow. They were awesome fishing vessels, and I especially enjoyed the Hobie. I was ready to purchase my first kayak and I really liked that Hobie,
When I was young lad we had an old aluminum canoe that we used for duck hunting. It taught you how to stand, sit and more importantly.....how to be quiet. That old aluminum canoe still resonated in the back of my mind when thinking about the direction I wanted go next. That canoe taught me what I needed -not necessarily what I wanted.
Looking back I wanted the durability of the aluminum canoe and I also loved the idea that aluminum holds onto its value compared to plastic. However, it became pretty clear that an "aluminum kayak" was not going to happen. (Although there was a company called Osagian Canoes that made them for a few years and is now discontinued)
When I looked at all these new kayaks, all I saw was well crafted plastic and the memory of the hole in the bottom of my green Scanoe still lingered in my mind. Sit-in vs sit on top, pedal vs paddle, and everything in between. However, those old canoes taught me everything I needed in regards to my future kayak purchase.
Being older now I wanted something very lightweight. Kevlar would have been great, but I have that cheap friend, who buys cheap cars and over the years his frugality has worn off on me. So Kevlar was off the table. I began looking for something plastic, light, as short as I could get away with, a touch of quality and as many options as I could afford for my backwater fishing adventures. Enter the Pelican Catch 100.
A beautiful day chasing back water trout.
Pleased with my purchase I went back to the forums to show off my new ride. I got a lot of “atta boys!” however, I got a lot of snickers and jeers as well. The gist of the nay-sayers argument was that I had bought crap because it wasn’t an expensive kayak like some of the "other" brands out there. Some said that I would regret my purchase because it was thermoformed and not rotomolded. That it didn’t track real well and they are known as box store kayaks. If I was 20 again I may have been persuaded to return the vessel, but I am in my forties now and I’m getting OMS -better known as “old man syndrome”. OMS is when you reach that point in life where you don’t really care what people think of you anymore.
By the way, that Catch 100 has been awesome! It’s easy to load in my truck, light and versatile, and most importantly it gets me on the water! If I was to purchase a super expensive kayak, I would have been kayak-less for at least another year. As you get older you appreciate an element most do not talk about, and that is time, or more importantly, time lost. Those who have spent a few years of saving for that perfect first kayak will never get that time back.
The whole point of this article is that the value of any kayak is that it gets you out on the water. It's not about what, where or how it’s made. As long as the kayak is safe for the waters you fish and gets your butt to your favorite fishing spot, that is the kayak for you.
The same can be said going the other direction. Living in the Midwest, I can’t go and tell someone who fishes off the coast of Florida that they should purchase a Catch 100 when a high end pedal kayak is what they need. There are few things that are certain in life, death, taxes, and somebody telling you that your kayak is crap. My stringer would disagree.
A fine stringer of walleyes from the Turtle Flambeau Flowage near Mercer WI.
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