At some point, I need a lighter canoe. I currently have an old town guide 147 w/ a 38" beam. What’s the minimum beam that I should consider for large lakes? Thanks.
You can go lighter, and narrower, but…
…make sure you have a good PFD !! You said big lakes, and big water can get very rough. Just my opinion, but it comes with experience.
^^^what he said.
I fish out of a Mad River Eclipse at 34". I stand and take some decent size waves while standing. I’ve gone through some class 1 standing in this canoe and not flipped.
I’d say ignore the fishing aspect and ask how narrow of a canoe should you take out in a big lake, and ask in the general advice forums. I’m no canoe design/use expert like some will be, but I know that the hull design, and the consideration of primary versus secondary stability will be some points they’ll discuss.
Please report back if you get some good advice. Good luck!
Your Guide is wide…
…because it is short. It needs the extra width to make up for its short length. A longer canoe will usually be narrower, but just as stable. For example, my 16.5" Mad River Malicite is a little over 34" wide (just over 32" at water line) but is quite stable. I take it out on open water in large lakes with no problems. My Millbrook Coho is 15.5’ long and about 35" wide - and that is my primary poling canoe, that I stand in through class 2 rivers. My solo canoe is 28" wide, and big wind waves are no problem for it - although it would be a problem for a novice paddler. I sometimes fish out of all three of those boats.
Length and width are not as big a factor as hull shape. Canoes that are designed for good secondary stability will be safer on big water.
Adding to what Steve said
A boat with a more rounded bottom will be much more comfortable as the waves pass by. Such a boat doesn’t need to be as wide to provide a perceived level of stability, because it doesn’t tend to “tilt to match the tilt of the water” as forcibly as a flat-bottomed boat.
Along with aspects such as this, you should realize that there aren’t any factors about a boat that are independent of each other, sort of like Steve’s other comment about longer boats needing less width. Try not to focus on any single attribute when evaluating boats.
what I think I might do
I’m trying to get an idea of what I might do in the future (after selling the guide). I like the looks of the Clipper “Escape”. It’s lighter than the guide, which is a hassle to move. I’d put a trolling motor on it (which is currently on the guide). For small ponds, and for non-fishing solo canoe activity, I really like the looks of the Hemlock Kestrel. At 5’6" and 150 lbs., I think that it would be great. However, it’s very narrow (max hull width 27.5"). I wonder if this is impractical as a fishing platform in small ponds. I would not be standing.
Kestrel would be fine
I outweigh you by about 15 lbs and I’m just under 6’. My Sojourn is about 28" wide and 14.5’ long and I have no problem fishing from it. Of course, I’m not going after really big fish - just trout and bass.
If you are comfortable in canoes already, it won’t take long for you to get comfortable in such a solo. After a little more time, you will probably be comfortable fishing from it too.
following voyageur47’s thinking…I’ve
tried many canoes when flyfishing and my favorites are the more stable but light. Used to be fiberglass but is now composite, for less weight… There’s a definite split in what one wants for paddling, as opposed to paddling and flyfishing. The wider, stable platform makes for easy casting.
canoe for fishing
Almost any beam will work, depending on your skill level. Fishing from canoes is under-rated, especially trolling. It is stealth fishing. I like big canoes and they are great for fishing.
Big canoes usually are not that beamy in the 35-36 inch class. Some are narrower. A few like the aluminum Grummans and OT Trippers have a 37 inch beam. All work fine if you and your passengers are used to canoes.
I fish out of my hemlock kestrel in inshore saltwater environs. I am 5'-6" and 165 would never recommend it as a "fishing canoe". It is however an incredible tripping canoe and carries quite a load even on my 10 day camping trips. We have to carry our freshwater....
Therefore I make it work for fishing. Lower the seat with enough room to get your feet under it for kneeling should you hook up to a huge fish.