paddling in the wind

Help: I have an Old Town Guide. It is 43 inches wide in the center and quite long. I have been having problems paddling against the wind on small lakes. I am ready for any reasonable suggestions. I fish by myself and I have not been in whitecaps but I have had some wind on the small lakes. Help, I want to fish more and spend less time paddling back to my truck. slopedogred

Rudder? Duckboards?I solved that
issue on my Voyager with a cover,but it is a different animal.

get yourself a kayak with a rudder and you will wonder why you ever tried paddling a canoe in the wind by yourself!

It’s the boat, but pay no attention …

– Last Updated: Oct-02-08 11:13 PM EST –

... to kayakers who say you shouldn't be using a canoe in the first place. If you want a kayak, fine, but if a canoe is the right boat for what you are doing, then by all means use a canoe. However, there are plenty of models that will outperform that monster you are paddling now. If you are fishing on small lakes, a dedicated solo canoe of the right style for your needs will do wonders. One example would be the Wenonah Vagabond. It's not a highly refined boat (so it's not difficult to learn to paddle it), but it handles nicely in the wind, and with a double-blade paddle (it's cheating, yes, but not a bad thing to try), it's as fast or faster than any of the common recreational kayaks. Maybe you can sell that behemoth and put the money toward a used solo boat!

gone with the wind
Yeah, that’s an oil tanker of a canoe you got there, but a good boat nonetheless - a good friend of mine had one back when I was running around in a Old Town Pack, and he managed to keep up with me solo, although he was usually working a lot harder.

The above suggestions are better answers than mine, but assuming you don’t want/can’t afford to buy another boat or a cover, here’s some other things you can do.

  1. Get a double bladed paddle. Heading into the wind is much easier if you can get in more strokes per minute and not have to waste time on steering strokes.

  2. Move around in the boat - that old beast is plenty stable enough for you to move around. If you have to head into a strong headwind, and if your knees aren’t too shot (you can use a pad, either 2 pfd-seats or a mattress pad folded in half works), come out of your seat and kneel just slightly forward of center. This puts the nose of the boat down so it won’t weathercock, it reduces your wind profile, and it lets you put your full body into the paddle strokes. In this position and with a double bladed paddle, you can beat almost any wind for a short period of time.

  3. If you can’t kneel due to knee pain, then get out of the seat and sit on a cooler or some other object in front of the seat. When you need to go upwind move the cooler forward to just past center to get the nose down as described above.

  4. Avoid the wind in your planning. Check the weather and go places where you will be travelling mostly at right angles to the prevailing wind, and where there is shelter. You say you fish small lakes - well, they should have a large proportion of sheltered area for some winds, with different lakes being better for different prevailing wind patterns. Thus, if the weather says South winds, go to a lake with the access point on the south side and that’s longer east and west than north and south.

  5. Fish small rivers. Small rivers are great for wind avoidance, assuming they have tree-lined banks like most do.

I started in sea kayaks because I was afraid of getting blown out of control on the rivers and Bay here. I was paddling 16 or 17 foot canoe that had some pretty tall profiles and thought canoeing in wind and waves couldn’t be done. Then I paddled some p-netters boats in the wind up at Raystown, and was hugely surprised how well the boats performed in the wind. I could paddle them in a wind I that would have been tough in my other boats, no problem. So I agree the boat makes a huge difference.

But I don’t know your boat well enough to say that is the problem.

If you do not already do this, next time out in the wind make sure to paddle with the heavy end pointed towards the wind. Move yourself or ballast around so that you are front heavy into the wind, stern heavy with a tailwind. This makes your boat less prone to spin in the wind.

Double blade is most useful into the wind. Side wind, I always end up paddling on one side, and waving the extra blade in the air seems like wasted motion.

Some ballast will get the hull down in the water out of the wind.

The best thing in that boat would be to bring a friend. Their weight will help keep the wind from blowing you around and they can help paddle.

If you must go solo the you might consider water ballast. About 10 gallons(80 lbs) is where I’d start and adjust as you feel is needed.

If you use rinsed out gallon milk jugs you can fill them at your launch site and empty them when you take out. Beats carrying that weight around when you don’t need it. The other nice thing about water is if you go over it won’t sink your boat like rocks or metal would.

Good Luck,


Yup, I like those collapsible
5-gallon clear poly water containers that you can get at camping goods suppliers, as they’re ‘soft-sided’ and don’t slide around. When empty, they fold down for compact storage and they have a convenient handle to help shift fore and aft.

its all weight distribution
When paddling directly into the wind, you want to place all your weight forward. That may mean getting on your knees. This will point you directly into the wind and you can concentrate on propulsion only.

A double paddle is not a bad idea in strong wind.

another thing
Get a drift sock. Some people call them sea anchors.

It will help you fight the wind.

I always fish my Guide
I have removed the molded back from the front seat. Installed a sling type seat back instead so that when I sit backwards on the front seat I can leisurely lean against the back band. Very comfy. I have also tried a stadium seat and that was even more comfortable.

For ballast, I wedge a 5 gallon pail up in the small point behind the normally rear seat. Then have 3 more plastic milk jugs to fill up if needed. Only on a real windy day have I need to fill 2 of those 3 extras.

The ballast does help extremly. I personally went from sever weather veining that was almost impossible to control to not even worrying about wind. Just paddle and fish.

I took a milk crate, screwed a wood board to the bottom front. I lash the crate to the yoke and use the board as a footbrace. I also bunggied a 1x6 across the top of the crate with holes and slots in it to house my fishing tools and the large holes hold the rod very nicely while paddling.

canoes & wind
Spend some more time on your paddling technique & efficiency. Admittedly it IS the canoe that isn’t the most efficient/speedy boat out there, but get the trim right…along with your j-stroke OR the double-spooned kayak paddle wouldn’t be bad in the wind!! Learn how to use the hull to help with your tracking and paddle around the edges until you’re close to your targets.

Takes a little practice, but then there are days when you simply should call it quits… Fishing won’t be the best with heavy wind anyways…imo


fishing in wind
Actually, sometimes fishing on small lakes can be awesome in windy conditions. The wind tends to concentrate all the fish in the lake on the downwind side of the lake. Surface feeders go there because all the food on the surface gets blown there. Then bigger fish go there to eat the surface feeders who are all concentrated there. Boat management can be tough in those conditions, but one strategy is to just let yourself be blown onshore and fish to your left and right from there, if the water is deep enough at the edge of the shore.

yes, I triple agree
I have to do this in my Independence & it makes a world of difference.

Get a kayak


Get a kayak

G_K again

Get a kayak

…You have been warned!!!

G_K finally

Yep, double blade canoe paddle NM

I have that same canoe

– Last Updated: Oct-07-08 8:03 PM EST –

I love my Old Town Guide and fish out of it quite a bit. It is a booger in the wind though! Like Memphis and others have said - Move forward in the canoe to center or just front of center if your heading into the wind. Or stay in the stern but put weight in the bow to bring it down out of the wind.
And if you use a double paddle, make sure the ends are feathered so the up end of the paddle doesn't catch the wind broadside.

Pay no attention to kayakers
They don’t have bad backs yet.

Their day will come soon enough.

(I get so tickled when they have conversations about trying to find comfortable seats)