Canoe and kayak fishing is getting more and more popular on lakes and rivers. We call it Going Mobile. In certain situations, a portable and quiet fishing vessel can make the difference between catching fish and going home empty-handed. Whether you are sneaking into creek channels or floating an ultra-shallow flat, canoes and kayaks have their place in modern fishing. With recent advancements in technology and features, you really aren’t giving up much in terms of comfort and functionality as compared to traditional boats.
Today’s canoes and kayaks can be, when used and setup correctly, absolute fishing machines. Check out our rundown of what you need to consider when rigging a canoe/kayak for fishing, what situations are best suited for a quiet approach, and how you can use Going Mobile characteristics to your advantage on your local lake or river.
Fishing in a standard canoe, with no prior setup, can be done but it’s not ideal. Having rod holders, proper seats with backrests, tie downs, coolers, tackle storage, and organizers all make for a better trip. A good tip is to include a dry box whenever you head out in a canoe. The likelihood of you flipping the canoe is low, but if it happens, a dry box can really save you a big headache.
Regarding rigging, you will want everything set up for functionality and silence. Covering the rails with foam will prevent unwanted paddle noise if you happen to bump the canoe. Take into consideration the amount of people you want to fish with. More than one? A canoe is best. But if you normally fish alone, a kayak is fantastic. They are much easier for one person to maneuver and are extremely comfortable. Canoe length varies greatly from situation to situation but we recommend looking in the 12ft range. You will have plenty of storage and room to comfortably seat two people. We like the idea of molded canoes and kayaks over aluminum. They are much quieter and are more durable in the long run.
As far as tackle and equipment go, in a kayak or canoe it is common to use slightly different rods than you would normally fish. In a canoe/kayak, go with a shorter (6 foot) medium rod. The slightly lighter action will allow you to cast easier with less effort by using the natural bend in the rod. With a compressed length, it’s much easier to maneuver around a canoe and if you like to bring multiple rods the chances of them fitting is much higher.
Approach and Targeting
The primary advantage of canoes and kayaks for fishing is the ultra-silent approach you are afforded. Sight fishing and canoes are a match made in heaven. You are able to sneak within feet of cruising fish without a trolling motor or prop alerting them. If you have a lake with heavy shore vegetation or a bay with thick pads, a canoe/kayak shines. Rather than chopping cabbage with a trolling motor, slip seamlessly over the top of the weeds and reach fish that you would never be able to get to under normal circumstances. Pack a medium-heavy action rod with a reel with tons of torque to get fish out of some of the heaviest cover you have fished. Trust us, dragging a bass out of heavy cover in a canoe makes a two-pounder feel like a giant.
On a river, canoes are ideal but when you are dealing with lakes, particularly those of some size, canoes need to be used strategically. Of course, if canoe travel is your primary means to treading water, you already understand this. For those who are normally sitting in a boat, motor equipped, you are probably wondering what situations a canoe can actually be beneficial. The quick run down is super shallow bays, heavy cover, shallow rocky flats, narrow channels, and thick weeds. Anywhere you could have trouble getting your boat back to. Remember, if you find areas of fish that haven’t been pressured and overfished, your odds just went up.