Rigging a canoe for fishing.

Its been a long time since I fished out of my canoe, a 17.4 ft glass Mohawk from the early '80’s. The thing has basically lead a lonely life on the back 40 feet for 10 years. This week, I got the green monster out and began its rehab and reconstitution as a fishing machine.

I’ve sawed and jigsawed a center yoke thwart and another thwart, replaced the wicker seats with woven rope seats…the wicker is not easy to find and I have to drive 30 miles for it, couldn’t find webbing straps. Besides, the 1/8" rope cost all of $4. Guess I could order off the net, but decided to do the weave, besides, I like that sort of thing,used to do a bit in my younger days.

Cleaned it up and am debating re-glassing an area that cracked years ago when a big limb fell on it during a tropical storm. The crack was repaired, but I didn’t know much about glass repair back then…much more on the net abouthow to do it. I’m also considering reinforcing at least the stern keel. It shows some wear, but the glass is pretty thick there.

Having been a kayak fisherman for the last three years, and influenced by that, I’m considering constructing a removable seat for solo fishing, setting it lower as with a kayak…hopefully, to improve stability. I’ve made a dry paddle in the yard and it appears that I can paddle from the low sitting position without much trouble, but I’m also thinking I may want to use a double bladed paddle.

My kayak paddle is a 240, is that going to be long enough? Think the beam on the canoe at the gunwales is about 37" and the seat will sit inches below the gunwales. The canoe has a pretty high freeboard also.

An alternative for a double blade would be to have a friend who builds kayaks and Greenland style paddles build me a double long enough to be effective. It would only cost me about $20 as opposed to the cost of a decent carbon or even fiber glass double.

My kayak has anchor trolles on each side, very useful for double anchoring, anchoring in various positions, or using my wind sock. Has anyone installed an anchor trolley on a canoe? Any links for a how to?

Why, you may ask, am I going back to a canoe for fishing? I’m not abandoning my kayak, its a great fishing machine. But, I’m running into situations where the canoe would work better. Just last Sunday, a friend and I went to a natural delta lake off a major river. We set out a few jug lines just to see if we could find catfish in the lake while we paddled over to the river, about 4 miles away. Coming back empty handed, we checked the jug lines and, lo and behold, there was a 29 lb blue catfish on one. We had a heck of a time getting that thing onto my friends SOT (OK Prowler 13) and bungee him down in the tank well. It took both of us to haul that sucker in and it hung a foot off the end of the kayak. I saw then a need of a bigger boat to make both getting a big fish into the boat and carrying it easier.

Another application for the canoe is for river fishing adventures a couple of friends, my sons, and I go on several times a year. Last time, my two sons and I each had kayaks, two were 138 Loons (a tandem and solo), the other a 9.6 Necky Sky. We were loaded to the max and it was a tight fit for everything. The canoe would be easier to freight our stuff down river.

And, three more reasons: the canoe can be a much more comfortable boat to fish rom if still fishing…the legs don’t get as cramped and I can move around more; I can take along a buddy who doesn’t have flotation (my wife, for one, she’s afraid of kayaks, my grandson, for another, too small to paddle yet); and, I can easily add a trolling motor (own a good one) for easy cruising to more distant fishing areas on the lake near my home.

Canoe fishing
Look out, using that canoe can become addictive. I haven’t used my Loon in a couple of years. Fish mostly out of a small solo canoe but also use my 16 footer for all the reasons you mention. I think you’ll find the 240 double blade a little short. I use a 270 double in both the solo and the bigger canoe. Spring Creek Canoes has 18" extensions that fit both the 1 1/8 and 1 1/4 paddle shafts.


On same track
you are on but a few years experimenting with solo canoes instead of kayaks for fishing. A couple of thoughts: Are you ever going to kneel in that canoe? If so, be careful how low you set the seats. I like to alternate between kneeling and sitting so only lowered mine 4" made a world of difference in stability. For sitting and using a kayak paddle I really need my foot brace which you could make or order from Wenonah or Bell. Makes a big difference in how much power you can transfer for paddling even with a straight shaft sit/switch style.

Anchor trolley: It would be safer to drill some holes a few inches below the canoe at bow and stern and install Tugeyes to hook the trolley to.


Paddle: a heavy long paddle is not pleasant to use. I have to paddle long distances to fishing sites so had Onno paddle make me an adjustable carbon full tour kayak paddle that goes from 240 - 250 so I can see which works best. The shorter length has worked well so far but still experimenting.

Let us know how else you’ve rigged your canoe so I can borrow some ideas.

Seat will be removable, so I’ll be able
to stow it if I want to kneel or otherwise. I need to make it removable to allow for as much cargo room as possible. I haven’t decided about the trolley. sometimes, they can be a pain, but that’s partly because mine on the Loon run almost full length both side. But, with a 17 foot canoe, its not easy to move about to adjust the anchor where you want it.

Played with the old fiberglass patch and part of it peeled up, revealing some of the clothe from the original layup. So, have bought a patch kit for that and reinforcing an old repair of a crack. It started raining, though.

Removable Seat
I got one from Campmor for $20. It’s basically a sling with hooks that go over the gunwales. Nothing to it, but it’ll do the job. Especially if you put it close to thwarts.

Try rowing!

Otherwise, I understand Cannon makes 270cm and even 290cm wooden double bladed paddles. Canoes and wooden paddles just go together. If you got a carbon fibre paddle to use on a 20 year old sort-of patched canoe from time to time I’d have to reassess my thought that you usually make sense.

Good luck and keep us informed. Tinkery is fun.

  • Big D

Got it patched, put it up on my truck,
found the rack height is too short. I’m gonna have to put extensions on the posts…they’re homemade,

1 1/4" conduit, with 74" Yakima crossbars. They were too short anyway, probably just get 1 1/2" conduit tubes and slip them over the posts, double bolt each extension, and re-install the Yakima bars.

So far, I’ve invested $20 into getting it ready to go. The extensions will cost another $10. To get it to the lake (2 miles), I’ll just slip a couple of pool noodles on the gunnels and strap the sucker down.

Milk Crate
Don’t forget the milk crate.

Now can we forget about carbon fiber paddles?

  • Big D

Think I’m going w/Greenland stye paddle
if I can get my friend to build it for me. It will probably have a bit wider blade to help push the wide bodied canoe a bit better. I never realized how bit the canoe is. After paddling around in kayaks for the better part of 3 years, the canoe looks like a battle ship.

If its doesn’t rain Monday, or at least nothing more than a light rain, I’m going to put it in the water. Fortunately, the lake is 2.5 miles from my home so I can slip pool noodls on the gunnels where it rests on my truck cab. This is the first time I’ve had a vehicle longer than my canoe. My F150 is a long bed.

Dang it, wish I could find my Sawyer bent shaft paddle. That paddle really pushed the canoe along.

Sounds like an experiment I did with an old Indian River canoe many years back. I tried hard make that thing a good solo fishing canoe but it was too wide, deep and long for me to control it in any kind of wind. It actually worked best when I turned it around and sat at bow facing stern then put the cooler and gear up front to level the canoe out. Did use a long Cannon 270 with it but found the single blade worked just as well.

If you can get your hands on a used solo canoe like a Wenonah Vagabond it will then be the perfect replacement for a kayak to fish inland waters.

Side note about mentioning a carbon paddle: With my Bell Merlin 2 solo canoe it is appropriate to splurge. Especially since I paddle 8 - 10 miles one way to fishing sites. Also, use the same paddle without the extension to power my kayak so the big expense was having an extension made and now the paddle can be used for both boats. I mentioned this as an option if anyone was thinking of upgrading their kayak paddles and also had a canoe. Onno paddles can be custom made for under 300.00 with the extension.

I consulted with my friend the paddle
builder. He’s an experienced marathon paddler of both kayaks and canoes, as well as a kayak builder. He seconded the single paddle. As for the Vagabond or similar canoe, I’d love one, but the old green beast and my two kayaks are what I have. On less than $18K a year, its difficult to splurge on a new fishing vessel.

I’m hoping with a drift sock, I can slow the canoe down in the wind, direct it better. From mid-April until late October, I spend long hours on the water drift fishing and the kayak does get tiring. I want to see if the canoe can help there. Probably going to have to buy a bigger sock. Hell, I may even look at lee boards to help keep the canoe on track, or maybe a tiller style keel. How about a skeg?