One of the favorite pastimes for canoe and kayakers alike is wetting a line and trying their luck at catching fish from their personal craft. While there can be a few more challenges to catching a fish via this method, there are also advantages.
For example, big boats usually need a good spot to land the boat and deep water to run the motors. With a canoe or kayak? You can put in just about anywhere and do not need much water at all. Hard to get to fishing hole? No problem in a kayak or canoe. Of course the wind plays a much more prominent role in canoe fishing then boat fishing which is probably one of the biggest challenges to the sport.
Outside of the obvious differences, however, most paddlers point out that there is something wholesome, primitive, and tranquil about pushing off into the water in your personal craft.
While there is an entire industry (booming industry at that) for kayak fishing, canoe fishing can still provide what you’re looking for if you’re not wanting or willing to invest in a new boat, etc.
This article is focused on canoe fishing or more importantly what can be done to make canoe fishing a more enjoyable, comfortable, and hopefully successful endeavor.
Thanks to Tim Allard from sportsmansguide.com for this great list of ideas!
You can purchase rod holders as a clamp mounts or as permanent installations. I recommend a clamp style so you can easily adjust the position of the holder. Rod holders are also good for storing rods when not fishing. You can use horizontal rod racks along the canoe's thwart and yoke. Mount racks with Velcro strips if you do not want a permanent installation.
Simply put, a seat will increase your comfort in a canoe. Many seats are available, ranging from permanent installations to temporary ones. Try to get one with padding and back support, but remember: just because you are comfortable does not mean you are safe. In rough water, kneel to lower your center of gravity and increase stability.
A small strip of carpet placed on the canoe floor will: cushion your knees when paddling; reduce noise when items are dropped; and protect fly line from getting damaged if stepped on. If camping, reuse the carpet later as a fireside seat or a mat outside your tent. Look for scrap pieces at carpet or home renovation stores.
Portable Fish Finder
Portable fish finders will enhance your understanding of the water you are fishing. Portables require batteries, with newer models using AA batteries, and the transducer mounts to the hull with a suction cup. If the cup is not maintaining its hold, a tip is to wet it and stick it on the boat above the water line. Next, slowly slide it down below the water for a tight seal.
A trolling motor increases your traveling speed, allowing you to cover water faster than paddling. If fishing alone, a motor will help with boat control when playing a fish. Without one, it is difficult to simultaneously maneuver a canoe and fight a fish. If you do not have a square back canoe, a transom trolling motor will mount to the canoe's gunnels.
The disadvantage to trolling motors is the battery size. Deep-cycle batteries take up precious space in the canoe and need charging once drained. Also, be cautious when using a trolling motor in a canoe. For instance, do not use full thrust from a still position as it will strain, and could bend, the mounting bracket and be cautious if attempting tight or sudden turns.
Whether you are fishing or not, you always should have navigation equipment. Be it a map, a compass or a GPS unit, you need tools to know where you are on the water. A canoe route map, listing access points and portages, and a hydrographic map, displaying structure, are both important to have when canoe fishing. To keep maps dry, put them in a plastic zipper-type bag or purchase a watertight map holder.
Bike or weightlifting gloves will pad your hands from the paddle, reducing blisters. You will likely not need them for an afternoon trip, but in multi-day treks they will pay off -- especially if you get caught in the rain.
Anchoring can keep you on biting fish. When anchoring a canoe, use two anchors to minimize the boat from swaying and run these directly off the bow and stern. Do not anchor off the sides of a canoe. Two mushroom or river anchors, between 8- to 15-pounds, coupled with nylon rope will suit most canoe fishing situations. You can purchase anchoring systems consisting of pulleys and line guides to lower and raise anchors for small boats. For a frugal anchoring system, use carabiners as rope guides and clamp them around to the canoe's handles and thwarts. Once anchored, use a quick release knot to secure the rope. Keep the knots within arms reach so you can undo them, and let out rope to avoid being swamped by a large wave.
Tackle, Gear Organizers
When canoe fishing, consolidate your tackle in one bag or tackle box. Also, have your gear for releasing fish organized. A pair of pliers, or a hook remover, a line cutter, and a camera should all be within reach. A travel bag with various compartments or an organizer you can mount with suction cups are two options for storing releasing gear.
Do not leave the dock without the required equipment for safe travel in a canoe. An extra paddle, life jackets, a throw bag, a bailer and a sounding devise, such as a whistle, should be brought on every trip. While you are at it, make sure you have a first-aid kit.
Hopefully this list will give you some ideas as to how to perhaps "reinvent" your canoe as a good option for your next fishing adventure!