Selecting an Old Town for fishing

Please help: For multiple reasons, I will be purchasing an Old Town canoe and have narrowed my choice down to 4: Camper, Pathfinder, Penobscot 16 or Penobscot 17.

My uses would be as following:

40% - fly fishing solo on lakes or very mellow rivers

40% - fly fishing with a partner on lakes or very mellow rivers

10% - low-key camping trips for 1-3 nights

10% - low-key paddeling with girlfriend, family or whoever wants to join in.

As you can tell, most uses will be for fishing, making stability a factor. Because trips will be very few and for short durations, weight capacity is of low priority. Quite a lot of usage will be solo, making ease of use a factor. Your help is appreciated. Thanks

Has to Be an OT?
The Penobscots have a bit less initial stability, and fishing from it will be a bit uncomfortable unless you’ve spent some time in canoes. They paddle better, and are a better hull in rough water. The Pathfinder works as a solo or tandem (although I believe the Mad River 14TT is a better “Double duty” canoe). It’s better for rivers than lakes due to it’s shorter length. The Camper, IMHO, would be the best of those choices if you will be camping and paddling primarily tandem, with the occasional foray solo. If you will be primarily solo with occasionally tandem, the Pathfinder. I think the Pathfinder and Camper are better for fishing out of than the Penobscots because of the greater initial stability. But, when we start talking about 16’ boats to fish and camp from, MY choices would be Wenonah Adirondack and Mad River Explorer. I like OT’s kayaks, but don’t particularly care for their canoe designs. Hope I helped you more than I confused you! WW

Old Town Canoes
I have an Old Town Penobscot 16 that I use for much of the same, quiet water solo, fishing, paddling with wife, and somtimes kids too.

This is a good all around boat, both lakes & rivers.

I find the penobscot has plenty of stability. It is a little narrower than the other boats.

Since a big part of your use is soloing, you may want to watch the weight. You’ll have to put the boat on/off your vehicle solo. At 58 pounds I can do it, but it is a little awkward and requires practice. That said, I’d go with the 16 rather than the 17.

Good luck

OT Penobscot 16
I have one and use it for fly fishing solo and tandem. Good canoe for all around use. It will feel a bit tippy initially if you have not been paddling much, but an experienced paddler will find it quite the nice ride. I find it to feel dead solid stable as a solo. For tandem fly fishing, it’s best to take turns casting to avoid getting hung up in each others lines. I also make it verboten for the bow person to cast straight in front of the canoe. I don’t need any wooly buggers for earrings! Nice boat for tandem daytripping or weekend trips. Quite fast and holds enough gear for 2 people for a week in the backcountry. Light enough to portage pretty easily. I added portage pads to my yoke and it makes a world of difference in carrying it.

I too think the Penobscot 16 would be your best choice, with the caveat that it will feel a little less stable than the others. But it’s the best design for your uses…tracks better on flatwater, handles better solo, does everything else comparably well to the others. I’ve been paddling Penobscots for more than 10 years on lakes and rivers, and have yet to find anything better for MY purposes. But…the same old advice always applies–if you can, try them all out before you buy.

OT Guide
You didn’t say anything about weight so I’ll throw in the Guide. My son has one and it is very stable with a wide beam and a keel that would help on lakes.

Its heavy and it wouldn’t be my choice on moving water.

Old Town Camper
I’ve been using the Camper for about 12 years for fishing and camping both by mself and with a partner. Solo in it is not great as the wind pushes it around so the bow must be weighted or run the canoe backwards. It is very stable with a very flat bottom but this also makes straight tracking harder in it, particular when alone. It’s held up very well but I have replaced the cane seats twice and now have web seats in it.