Fishing larger lakes - first canoe

My primary fishing lakes are large, 1,000 to 18,000 acres. My son and I would like to fish these in a canoe. We’ve rented canoes up to now and are ready to buy our own. I was hoping folks could help me with 4 questions:


I’ve considered the following Kevlar’s: Wenonah Minnesota II, Champlain and the Souris Quetico 18.5. Any comments on these for fishing big lakes?


Any other Canoes that I should consider?


Would a shorter canoe work well on a big lake too? If so, then I’d definitely consider one of these.


I also was considering the Wenonah Champlain in Royalex, but at 70+ pounds is that a weight that it is impractical to use regularly?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Actually, those are small to medium
size lakes. Of course, I’m from Texas where 35,000 acre lakes are the norm.

I’m not sure why you think you need a 18 foot canoe. A 17 footer is more than adequate for two people fishing. You might want to look at the Wenonah Kingfisher even, at 16 ft. The Spirit II is a nice stable 17 footer. An 18 footer is a high volume canoe usually, more for carrying a lot of freight. Its going to be more difficult to maneuver for the most part.The smallest fishing canoe to consider may be the Wenonah Fisherman if considering Wenonah.

When you talk about fishing lakes, one has to consider where on the lake you’ll be fishing. Open water on windy lakes may require one type of boat. But if its mainly coves, feeder streams, and the upper parts of the lake you’ll fish, then another type may do you well. Frankly, if fishing open water, you may do better with kayaks for each of you.

Should you be considering fishing solo also, an 18 foot boat is not going to be fun to paddle. Check out the Wenonah Fisherman, its a nice looking boat and, while I don’t normally suggest getting a canoe under 15 ft for two, the width of the Fisherman makes it pretty comfy.


– Last Updated: Jun-23-07 4:22 PM EST –

Thanks. That's helpful advice. The only reason I thought about the longer canoe was thinking it would be faster to cover more distance on the lake on a given day (jumping from one fishing spot to another one that might be distant on the lake). You are right though, in that I will be putting in and fishing coves and shorelines a lot (but not always).

For a 17 footer, what about the Souris Quetico 17?

Expensive. If you have the bucks,
it looks fine. As for the length of an 18, any speed gained would be negligible over an 17, even a 16. The question with the Souris is whether you are paying for the hype or a real improvement over one of the Wenonah’s or another brand.

Fishing canoes
I agree an 18 footer isn’t needed. These days since my son is older we each fish out of solo canoes, but when he was a young lad we used a tandem. Mostly 16 or 17 footers. The Wenonah Spirit 2, Adirondack and Aurora spring to mind as well as Old Towns Penobscot 16 or 17 and the Camper. Bell’s Northstar and Northwind are pretty nice too. I had my eye on the SR Quetico 16 but they are pretty pricey and you can get into a kevlar Wenonah for a lot less dinero.

Is Royalex a big performance step down?

– Last Updated: Jun-24-07 9:20 AM EST –

How big of a difference in a given canoe design?

I'm searching through the archives on this messageboard and reading everything I can about Royalex vs. Composites. So far, I've read that Royalex is quieter for fishermen. I have also read that Royalex is very durable, which is appealing to me. I'm not too concerned about weight issues due to the fact the places I go will not require a portage.

But is there a big difference in performance Kevlar vs. Royalex, given the same canoe design? Is there a particular 16' Royalex canoe that I should consider?

Roylex vs Kevlar
My canoe is made of Roylex and I can say it is quiet,easy to paddle,and tracks well. I use mine mostly for fishing. Some for nature watching. Kevlar is going to be lighter, but I haven’t had the opportunity to try one.

Royalex oil canning a problem?

– Last Updated: Jun-24-07 10:41 PM EST –

Thanks pack06 for the input. May I ask what Royalex canoe you use for fishing?

I've also been searching the archives on Royalex canoes and found a few owners mentioning "oil canning" being a problem with some Royalex canoes, one being the Wenonah Kingfisher in Royalex. Is this a "big deal" problem that I should rule out a canoe that has this problem, or is it more like something minor that a person "just lives with" and it's a minor thing if the rest of the canoe is satisfactory?

Kevlar vs. Royalex
I own both types and don’t see alot of paddling difference. The kevlar hull is stiffer and lighter, also presents a narrower bow and stern. The royalex is the opposaite. A bit of hull flex and maybe a tad slower. I don’t think it is any quieter. There seems to be no difference in durability, although the kevlar shows less wear than the royalex. It’s also more easy to resurface and repair scratches, gouges, etc.

Roylex canoe
I have an OT Pack, solo canoe. I haven’t had any problems with it as of yet. I’ve used it on lakes,rivers and waterways in my area. I have taken it on some of the back waters on the Chesapeake Bay and it handled well in the currents.

What problems have you heard of the roylex having?

Larger Royalex canoes have had
problems with oil canning according to posts I’ve read on and other forums. But, it seems its more an aesthetic problem than one of performance.

Antecdotal evidence
When I was purchasing a canoe a few years back we tried out a Wenonah Spirit 2 and an Old Town Penobscot both in royalex. The Wenonah oil canned very badly and the hull flexed enough that the stern seat squeaked with each paddle stroke. We went with the Penobscot as the hull has foam sandwiched in it and the hull was considerably stiffer.

Choose a quiet material
All kelvar, fiberglass, and aluminium canoes are noisier than plastic canoes. Dragging the tackle box and banging the paddle inside the canoe may spook fish if the canoe is made of those materials. Just my 2 cents after owning a fiberglass-wood canoe, a kelvar canoe, and a royalex canoe.

I’ve read about UV rays breaking down
some hull materials.

#1. What do they mean by “breaking down”? Is this a structural weakening or just a cosmetic degradation of the surface? One of the manufacturers that I was considering was the Souris River canoes that have a clear epoxy over fiber. Would this be a “big deal” vulnerability?

#2. I’ll be using my canoe a ton, so I can’t help but have it out in the sun a lot (car topping too would expose the canoe to the sun for countless hours to-and-from places). How fast do the hulls break down? Is it like 5 years or are we talking about something that probably takes 20 years or so?

#3. If this IS a big deal, then what can you do to slow or stop this process? I’d be sick if I spent a chunk of money on a nice canoe, only to have it become a 5 year investment. That doesn’t make sense.

oil canning
Well, I’ll let you know. I use mine a great deal. If I experience any of these problems I’ll let you know.

fishing canoe
Owned and fished from MRExplorer 16. Quiet-yes, stable-yes, heavy-yes, fast-no, good GP boat-yes.

Hemlock Eagle. quiet-no (simple piece of indoor/outdoor carpet solves this), stable-after getting used to it, light-yes (50#), fast-pretty good, seaworthy-yes.

Souris River Q17. Quiet-no(see above), stable-extremely, heavy-no, fast-not so much, seaworthy-extremely.

In general (MHO) anything 16’+ will be fine for fishing the waters you describe (in terms of length). You say you plan lots of use so go with lighter weight. Generally royalex is heavier, more durable and slower than composite. UV effects either layup but simple protective coating (303 or thers) solves that problem.

Currently I own only solo canoes, Bell Magic, Swift Shearwater and MR Guide. I fish from all three each under different conditions. The Magic is the most tender boat but I use it in the BWCA in wind blown chop and have managed to land Pike in the 36-40" range.

Its all in what you get used to. You’re on the right track.

Hope this helps


Thanks for all of the input.

– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 10:16 AM EST –

After the feedback here, and reading a lot of posts from the archives on (man, what a GREAT resource to have this message board), I've made up my mind.

For my needs and wants, I'm thinking the Souris River Quetico 17, in Kevlar or Duralite would be a good all-around choice for me.

My second choice would be the Souris River Quetico 16, in Kevlar or Duralite.

Thanks for steering me away from the 18.5' canoes. The only downside I can see to the SR Q17 is price. I'm definitely going to have to continue renting canoes for a bit longer, but I'd rather do that and get the canoe that I really want, rather than compromise. Canoe rental through the local college is pretty cheap. A benefit to this is that I'll be able to rent & paddle a number of canoe models and get a better idea of the differences. I'll just have to "save my nickels" awhile longer :-)

I have one last question. What about used canoes? I noticed that the SR Q17 used, does save a BIT of money. Maybe not a ton, but it would make it a bit more affordable. Is this a good option? Or is it pretty risky buying a used Kevlar or Duralite canoe?

Thanks again for your help.

Used canoes can be a good buy.
With a quality canoe, you should save at least 30% over the new price. If the canoe is under 10 years old, you probably will find no problems with a Kevlar or other composite canoe, especially if its been store out of the weather. Just look carefully for damage, patches, and possible delamination. Even older canoes, properly cared for can be very good buys. I’ve a 25 year old fiberglass canoe that still does fine.

Patches are not necessarily a bad thing, if applied right. And, it can mean even bigger savings. Check to make sure that they are not coming up at the edges and are tight and smooth. Be sure to find out how the seller used the canoe. If it was used to paddle rivers with lots of rapids and rocks, and its Kevlar, you may want to steer clear.