How to Fish from a Canoe?

Last Updated: 09.07.20


If you’re thinking about a great fishing session in a canoe, you’ll find more info here. However, one has to keep in mind that a canoe offers several challenges such as stability and room to maneuver, offering tranquility and a way to access otherwise-inaccessible waters. 


What is a canoe?

While a true angler will be able to fish from any kind of flotation device which holds him or her on the water, certain types of boats have their advantages.

A canoe is a type of light but narrow boat pointed on both ends and open on top. To move forward, the canoe will require the help of one or more paddles.

In North America, it appears that the very first canoes were used by the natives of the Caribbean region who used it not for sport, like today, but rather as their main way of transportation around the islands. 

While Native Americans had two distinct ways of making their boats, from birch bark or by shaping it with tools, fire, and water, it’s obvious that modern canoes have evolved way beyond that. Nowadays, manufacturers make them from plastic because it is a durable and sturdy material while also not being very hurtful to the body. 

Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that when the Europeans arrived on the continent, they were much too happy to make the canoes their primary means of water transportation when exploring the new lands. The French, in particular, were very adept at using them as the basis of their fur empire in the entire region.



Why canoe fishing?

Just like fishing itself, the canoe embodied a quiet elegance and maybe this is why the two work so well together. For a long time, now, people have been discovering the tranquility of canoe fishing especially since this type of boat is great for accessing remote water, ponds, and portages where a larger boat would be much more difficult to handle.

At the same time, a canoe is not able to provide all the comfort and conveniences of larger boats so this is obviously also something to consider. If you don’t outfit it well from the get-go, it may get uncomfortable after a while. Also, if you are not careful, you can easily capsize while battling a fish, not to mention that many canoes are not big enough to carry a lot of gear.

But this disadvantage is also one of the most beautiful things about canoe fishing. Due to the limited dimensions, you have to minimize, improvise, only take the essentials and make do with what you have. 

If you’re in the market to buy a canoe for your angler needs, just like with everything else, some are better than others for this purpose. You have to look for the ones that will be extremely quiet in water and also have good stability. Remember that the wider the canoe, the higher the stability. 

If you already own one of these darlings but are just starting to fish in it, you can rig it to fit your needs with just a little bit of creativity and some tips from us.


Consider a fishing finder

Just because you are sacrificing some space and stability for the tranquility and effectiveness of a canoe, that does not mean you have to become an enemy of technology. Therefore, you should really consider adding a fish finder to the side of your boat.

This handy tool works by using sonar, which is a technology first developed to help an army detect enemy submarines in times of war. In layman’s terms, it involves emitting sound waves underwater and measuring the echo response. A transducer is clamped to the bottom of the boat and then sends information to the display on board.

Keep in mind that it can be easy to rely too heavily on a fish finder device and forget to enjoy the other effective, time-tested, technology-free techniques out there. However, if used well, the device can help you bring back a bigger haul.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that a good fish finder will not only give you the location of the fish but also measure the temperature of the water and its depth levels, as well as provide other details about the bottom. You can use this knowledge of fish behavior and location to find the best places to cast your fly.

This type of device comes in many shapes, sizes, and prices. For a canoe, your best bet will be a compact model with a display able to clamp to the side of your boat. You’ll also need one with a transducer that can easily slip out of its clamp so that you won’t run into any problems when taking it out in shallow water.


Consider waterproofing options

If you’re new to the art of canoeing, you will also have to master techniques like paddling and balance. Metaphorically or not, it’s likely you will tip the boat over a few times so a life jacket and other similar devices should not be missing from your toolkit.

Since even those with advanced canoe skills can fall prey to dangerous weather and powerful wind, you should make sure you wear a personal flotation device every time you go out in your canoe. 

Since capsizing is a very real danger, outfitting your canoe with waterproofing in mind can really give you an edge on a cold day. Invest in some waterproof bags and cases where you can keep a knife, live bait, and fishing line. Furthermore, an extra set of clothes in a waterproof bag can be invaluable after capsizing in freezing weather.

Even though you can buy cases and bags for pretty much anything from first-aid kits to iPods, an angler on a budget can even use some heavy-duty zipper-top plastic bags.



Consider the security of your items

Carabiners and bungee cords are great things to have for securing items to the side of the canoe, both on the inside and the outside. This can come in very handy when turning the boat over or even when running low on certain things.

It’s also important to keep an extra paddle or two in the boat, just to be on the safe side. Some fishers find paddle leashes annoying because they are so easily tangled in a fly line, so they instead opt for enough paddle clips or bungee cord attachments to accommodate all the boat’s paddles. 

Clipping things is not only great for the security of your items but this will also make your canoe quieter since gear rolling around on its bottom can easily scare the fish away with their sensitive senses. 

Another tip is about positioning: when considering where to secure items in your boat, think about the overall weight balance since good balance will contribute to better performance and maneuverability for your canoe.

First and foremost, however, you will need a rod holder to keep your rod secure and close if a fish happens to bites when you are paddling, while this will also help you avoid a tangled line.  


Consider adding anchors and motors

Because canoes are among the most susceptible boats to wind and tipping, you may find battling a fish in them to be quite a challenge. If you are in a two-person canoe, your partner can paddle while you overpower the fish. However, if you’re out by yourself, it wouldn’t hurt if you’ve mastered the art of staying low and close to the center of the boat.

Another viable option would be to add a small motor to your floating friend, especially for square-back canoes. While it may be helpful in a river with a quick current, keep in mind that it may also scare the fish away so you should choose to employ it once you’re already battling one.

There are plenty of anchor systems available for purchase, even though experts say you can easily make your own. One of the more popular options for this is to use ash wood with anchor hardware and secure it to the handle on the stern.


Consider your comfort

Since fishing is all about patience and taking your time, you may find yours to run quite thin if you are uncomfortable in your vessel. Therefore, while comfortable seating may seem like a luxury to some, serious anglers know that it’s very important if you hope to be out for more than a couple of hours.

If your canoe was designed only with a bare bench, you should think about installing a cushioned backed seat. Since some fishers prefer to kneel, you may also consider getting some adhesive kneeling pads. If you’re into this, a carpet could also be a nice addition since it will also soundproof your canoe.



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