Canoe and Kayak Fishing


Outfitting For Fishing


A fishing canoe should be outfitted to keep anglers comfortable whether sitting or kneeling since standing in a canoe is not an option (unless you have outriggers). To outfit a canoe for kneeling, a permanent option is placing adhesive cushioning pads on the floor. While non-permanent knee pad options include placing a spare piece of carpet, a non-adhesive pad, or perhaps your sleeping cushion (if on a camping trip) on the floor of the canoe.

For sitting, canoe seats in a range of designs (from bench to bucket) and many aftermarket additions are available to increase seat comfort. A portable foam or padded seat provides extra cushioning when fishing for extended hours. Carrying a cushion is better than sitting on a lifejacket, an innocent, but dangerous, maneuver many anglers make, transforming life vests into cushions instead of their designed use as personal flotation devices.

Other great accessories to outfit canoes are seat backs or chairs. A seat back provides a back rest and most mid- to high-end models fold down when not in use. Seat backs clip or affix with straps to canoe seats. Chairs are "L" shaped and usually cushioned, giving you the support of a back rest as well as a padded seat. Most chairs come with clips and straps to securely fasten to the canoe's original seats. They come in various designs (from basic plastic mesh ones that clip onto seats to high-end padded ones) in a range of prices. Durable seats also double as great campsite chairs for when you're sitting by a fire instead of paddling on the water.

For Fishing

Carry plenty of rope, straps, shock cords, and carabineers to keep your gear in place and secure when canoeing. Your mind will be slightly more at ease when padding in rough water knowing that if the canoe gets swamped or capsizes, your tackle box is secure and won't end up at the bottom of the lake. Keeping items secure also helps you properly balance the canoe for the best performance on the water, so you can focus on fishing.

Waterproof bags and cases are handy accessories to use to keep clothes dry and valuables (like cameras) protected. I also find water bottles with loop-top caps can easily be clipped to the canoe's seat with a carabineer. This keeps water at Your fingertips for when I need it, which is especially important when it's hot. You can also clip pliers, scissors and other often-used fishing tools to a carabineers or straps to keep them close at hand. This clip-trick also prevents items from moving around on the floor of the canoe, aiding you in keeping your canoe fishing quiet.


Once you've taken care of cushioning your body and securing gear, the next step to outfitting a fishing canoe is adding the angling bells and whistles. If you have an electric trolling motor like I do or small gas motor (such as a 4HP), there are a few mounting options. Square back canoes are designed to be outfitted with a small motor at the stern, while for other canoes side motor mounts are the best option. Side mounts fit across the sides of the canoe behind the stern seat. Having a motor makes canoe fishing a lot easier and less stressful. I find their biggest advantage is that they allow you to maintain boat control when fighting a fish. Otherwise in heavy winds or waves you can drift a significant distance off fertile fishing grounds when playing a fish.

A drink crate is a great way
to store your gear
A crate fitted to the canoe
Attached to outrigger pole with straps

To compliment a motor, a portable fishfinder is another possible add-on. Most of these compact, sonar units come with transducer suction cup mounts, which work well on most canoes. Outfitted with a motor and fish finder, a canoe can be an excellent fishing machine. Dozens of other accessories can be added to canoes to increase their fishing functionality, but after the above big ticket items, the simplicity of a rod holder is a must. With a rod holder I can focus on the fishfinder and maintain proper boat position without worrying about losing a rod when a fish strikes.

A canoe trolley is very useful
Mine started life as a furniture trolley

To See How To Make The Trolley


It's important to remember the proper safety gear when operating a canoe. Wear your life jacket at all times. Its also good to have a small bucket or bilge pump, a signaling device, and a throw bag/rope are within reach at all times. Keep a spare paddle in the canoe as well and make sure you can access it quickly when needed. I have a handheld two way radio and my mobile phone onboard in case of emergencies.


No matter how great the fishing was, a good day can turn bad if you're not equipped to properly transport the canoe. Tie-down or cam straps that lock in place are a top choice for securing a canoe to your car top. 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 paint scratching on both the canoe and rack. Without a roof rack, four foam blocks placed on the canoe's gunwales are a simple but extremely effective way to secure a canoe to a car top for transport. Secure canoes to cars by strapping it down from the boat's bow, stern and sides.


As mentioned earlier, both canoes and kayaks are inherently unstable water craft. Paddlers of both should learn the techniques required to right their craft after a capsize. However, there is a way to make them both far more stable. The addition of outriggers, either single or double, can turn a canoe or kayak into a craft 'more' stable than a conventional 'tinnie'.

Give It A Go

Canoe fishing can be a good way to target your favorite fish and with the right accessories and add ons, these lightweight boats can be quite comfortable. Although not always best for big water, canoes are my favorite option for accessing small lakes and rivers. Try the above suggestions for outfitting your canoe and you'll find a new appreciation for the fishing functionality of these basic boats.

For More Info and Videos About 'My' Canoe

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