For recreational paddlers and kayak fishermen, sit-on-top kayaks make a very sensible and fun way to get started in the sport quickly without having to invest in a load of accessories. The Ocean Scrambler 11 Classic Kayak caught my eye because it’s a more compact and modern version of my first fishing canoe. In fact, if I’d had the money to buy one back then, I would probably not have been inspired to build my wood and canvas fishing piroque. My budget was one hundred dollars, not six hundred. The Ocean Scrambler 11 isn’t quite as creatively unique as my first boat, but the wide three-point hull tracks as well and is nearly as stable. Center of gravity in the OS11 is a little higher. Fishing from a typical river kayak is a lot like fishing from a bicycle, but this wider hull style allows movement without tipping the boat.
The Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11 offers a stable fishing platform and considerable potential for DIY improvements such as extra hatches and rod holders. Positions for some of these things are cast into the hull already, and all you’d need to do is buy the hatch kit or through-the-deck rod holders and do a basic “cut and paste.” If you fish alone, here’s your chance to design your boat the way you want it, set it up either right or left handed, and keep things simple.
The 49 pound Scrambler 11 from Ocean Kayak straps to the car top and pops in the lake for a few hours of paddling or fishing. Strap-eyes and bungees allow extra gear to ride in easy reach. An open well in the stern holds a tackle box or small ice chest, and the Scrambler comes already fitted with a small waterproof storage compartment. Store cameras, wallet and car keys below deck in a waterproof bag — essentials stay in the boat even if you don’t.
Upgrading to the Ocean Kayak Deluxe Seat adds some extra padding in places where you’ll need it, and a minimal back rest. After a few hours with the limited positions a closed-cockpit kayak offers, you’ll be begging for a break on dry land. Fishing from a sit-on-top design lets you stretch. Scuppers in the cockpit which intend to let water out, let water in as well — optional scupper plugs can make the ride drier.
If you’d rather start out with a fully rigged fishing kayak, Ocean Kayak offers several other models of sit-on-top kayaks with angler’s features already installed. The economical Ocean Kayak Prowler Trident 11 comes with paddle keepers so you can swiftly shift from paddle to rod and reel without confusion; a large stern tank well; a bow hatch for storing the items you can’t afford to lose; and two rod holders to port and starboard, just behind the seat.
I don’t recommend the Scrambler 11 for sailing, unless you want to tie on a downwind bubble spinnaker. The problem with sailpower on this type of kayak is that you’ll make great time downwind, and you’ll have to paddle back. Sailing upwind, you’ll need a boat with more keel than the Scrambler 11. Flat bottom boats with high stability don’t tack well when driving upwind. You can go back and forth marvelously but not make any forward progress. For local fishing, paddling a few miles from the put-in point, the Scrambler design works very well. The three-keel hull holds a course on open water and the bow does a pretty good job of cutting through waves. It’s pretty much unsinkable, a rugged sealed bubble of hard poly, shaped like a sensible boat.
Ocean Kayak does manufacture a fishing kayak designed for longer distances with less effort. The Ocean 13 Torque Classic contains a built-in Minn-Kota trolling motor, controlled by an integrated dashboard. For some reason, Ocean Kayak decided to leave installing rod-holders to the owners of this fine angler’s kayak, and you’ll also have to provide the battery that powers the motor. It’s still a fine solution to the problem of getting there, and back, and having fun along the way.