Thursday, 14 August 2014

Simple Ways to Outfit a Fishing Canoe

A post by Scott F

No one is going to debate that having a big ol’ bass boat is pretty fancy. But fishing from smaller vessels, like canoes and kayaks, opens up some opportunities unavailable to those inclined to motorboat madness: access to “virgin” lakes where engines are prohibited, ease of transport, maneuverability to access tight coves and rivers, quiet and serenity, physical activity, and the numerous options opened up by the ability to portage, just to name a few. Fishing comfortably and effectively can be challenging without a properly outfitted fishing canoe. Below are some suggestions for making your excursion comfortable and efficient without going to extreme measures.




Canoe Seats

Whether you’ve been paddling for years or are a “newb,” it’s unlikely that you’ll stand up after a long paddle and not have your back feel like a rusty hinge. Having a seat back allows you to shift positions and lean back to relieve pressure. They make both paddling and fishing quite relaxing. I use the GCI Outdoor Sitbacker, highly recommended (watch for an upcoming Real Man Approved review). Find them on Amazon (buy multiple to save dolla bills).

Canoe seats

Canoe Anchor

The same benefits that make a canoe ideal for a quiet day of fishing - lightweight, engine-free, maneuverable - also make them susceptible to wind. Without a way to hold yourself in place, even the lightest breeze can push you into the reeds; forcing unwanted paddling every two or three casts. Traditional grapple, navy, river, claw or mushroom anchors are heavy, and while you might be able to get away with a 3-5 lbs version, it’s weight you would rather avoid. One very simple and highly effective solution is to use an anchor bag and nylon rope. Simply bring a tough, easy-to-drain bag and fill it with rocks prior to setting off. I use polyester mesh bags, but have seen burlap and other materials used as well. Weight-free during transport, and perfect for keeping you in place while you hunt the big one. A good anchoring system, preferably mounted at the bow of the canoe with a pulley system with which to operate it from the stern, is a wise investment.

Canoe Rod Holder

If you’ve spent a pretty penny on your rod the last thing you want is to have it smashing around in the belly of your canoe while you paddle. A simple road holder system, either store-bought or homemade, can solve this issue. My homemade version (created by my father) is just a piece of plastic pipe attached to a clamp (from an old fish finder) with a pipe clamp. Just make sure your solution fits over the gunnels and gunwales of your canoe. Find the mounting location that works for you; for me, it was behind my seat. Added bonus: having a rod holder opens up trolling as an option while you paddle.

Canoe rod holder

Canoe Cup Holder

Whatever you’re drinking during your paddle, chances are that without a sturdy holder, it’s going to end messy. A good, solidly mounted, well placed cup holder will allow you to keep your mind on what’s important, fish, the beautiful day, or perhaps nothing at all. I found out that double sided tape is not enough to secure my holder, so proper mounting is key.

Canoe cup holder

Canoe Gear Straps and Holders

As mentioned with the rod holder, keeping items out of the belly of the boat will help with comfort, and will also reduce noise and stress. Straps, bungee cords, carabineers and mounted hooks can all be used to secure items such as nets. If possible, suspend your tackle box from the yoke or a thwart to keep it dry and accessible.

Other, more complicated options for improving your fishing canoe include adding outriggers, spray covers, trawling motors etc. Let me know in the comments how you outfit your canoe for fishing, and leave a link to a picture if you have it.

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