Compared to the plush seating and sophisticated electronics of an outfitted bass boat, canoes are Spartan and utilitarian. Sitting and fishing for extended periods of time in a canoe can leave you feeling stiff and cramped. But as with any boat, after tinkering, modifications, and add-ons, canoes can be transformed into comfortable, efficient fishing machines.
The first step in making a fishing canoe more comfortable is adding seats. A portable foam or padded seat, found in most outdoor stores, provides extra cushioning when fishing for extended hours. The more comfortable you are, the more focused you become on fishing, and the more successful you will be.
Using a lifejacket for a seat cushion is a common and foolish decision for anyone paddling a canoe. A canoe is an inherently unstable craft, and it's unlikely that the lifejacket will be located in a panic if overturned. Wear the personal floatation device and pick up an inexpensive seat cushion for comfort.
After several hours sitting upright in a canoe, you might begin to feel some lower back fatigue. A seat-back clips or straps to the canoe seat and offers essential back support and extra comfort as well. They, too, can be found in almost any outdoor or sporting goods store.
Once you have made your canoe more comfortable, the next step is adding fishing accessories. A small gas or electric motor is a major luxury item, but it can make canoe fishing much more productive by getting from fishing spot to fishing spot more quickly. A small trolling motor can also help hold the canoe's position in the windy conditions.
A small, portable fishfinder is another helpful accessory. Most portable units operate on small, consumer-grade batteries with suction cup-mounted transducers that are ideal for canoes.
A rod holder is an inexpensive, yet essential, fishing accessory that can be attached to the canoe's gunwales. A rod holder keeps your hands free to paddle or maneuver the canoe into casting position. It's also another little luxury that makes fishing from a canoe more comfortable.
Anchors can be used to hold your position over fish, but they must be employed properly to keep the boat from capsizing. Anchors should be tied off to both bow and stern to steady the craft. Do not tie anchors to the sides of the canoes; this could result in tipping if the waves get rough. When tying off anchors, use quick-release knots so slack line can be let out in the event of unexpected waves or boat wakes.
Waterproof cases or dry bags are essential accessories. Valuable items such as cameras, extra clothing, or tackle boxes should be tucked safely in waterproof cases or bags and secured to the gunwales or seat. Every item should be secured tightly, using ropes, straps or carabiners. Loose items or tackle will end up on the lake's bottom if the canoe overturns.
It's important to remember proper safety gear when fishing from a canoe. Wear your life jacket at all times, period. Make sure a bilge pump, signaling device, and throw bag/rope are within reach of your seat. Keep a spare paddle in the canoe, and make sure you can access it quickly if needed.
Getting the canoe to and from your fishing location safely is also important. If you have a roof rack on your vehicle, using tubular foam that's cut lengthwise and placed on either the rack or on the gunwales of the canoe prevents damage to both the canoe and rack. If you don't have a roof rack, foam blocks placed on the canoe's gunwales are an easy way to secure a canoe to a car top for transport. Tie-down or cam straps that lock in place are the best way to hold your canoe to your car top. Secure the canoe by strapping it down from the boat's bow, stern and sides.
Canoe fishing is a great way to stealthily target your favorite fish without investing a boat load of money. With a few accessories, these lightweight boats can be quite comfortable and productive too. They are certainly not ideal for big lakes and reservoirs, but they are the perfect option for smaller lakes, ponds and rivers. Use the suggestions mentioned here for outfitting your canoe, and you will have more fun and less hassle next time fishing your local pond or lake.