Setting up a 16' fishing canoe

I am 5’10" 190lbs, run, weight lift, play tennis, etc. My Mohawk Nova 16 has been hanging in my garage idle for a couple of years. I want to outfit it for solo spin and bait cast fishing in nearby rivers and lakes. Can someone recommend some resources to best “convert” this size and width canoe for solo fishing? I need some suggestions on ballast, general gear, paddles, anchor(s)/drag chain, rod holders and chairs. Also would like suggestions for pickup or older Honda CRV carry, including 2-wheeled carts. My canoe specs: Length:15’11". Beam at gunwale:35". Beam at 4" waterline: 35".Depth at bow:20", at center:14.3", at stern:19". Weight approx. 65lbs.(Royalex) I want to minimize fishing and support gear (go light), including no electronics.

Thanks, Craig in Clarksville, TN

“convert” this size and width canoe …

– Last Updated: Oct-26-09 12:31 PM EST –

...... for solo fishing .

If I am understanding correctly , your canoe is presently set-up with tandem seats and you are asking what's the best way to paddle it solo ?? ... you'll need to go and do various test paddles in it solo !!

As for the fishing part , you can go as simple as a rod and reel and some bait/lures ... or deck it out with all kinda stuff dedicated for fishing to suit your preferences .

Perhaps questions like , should I leave it as a tandem and see if I can solo paddle it from some position that way , or should I "convert" it to a center type seat making it a dedicated solo paddle position ??

If this is the case , the questions need to be asked , "have you paddled it solo before" , "what seating position(s) have you done that from" , "how did it work out for you from that/those position(s)" .

If you haven't solo paddled this canoe before , then you need to go and do that from various positions like the normal stern seat , the bow seat (but your demension show this canoe is not symetrical bow and stern) , and sitting (or knelling) in just aft of center solo position (rig something to sit on for this test) .

My tandems are near 17' and I can paddle them solo from the normal stern seat , but too much wind or current and I would have to move to knees or seat in a dedicated solo position because controling the bow swing (because of being to bow light) would be the problem at those times .

I wouldn't want to have to add weight in the bow for ballast , what's the use of soloing if you must do that .

The other thing is , that paddling the wider tandem from a center solo position puts those gunnels an extra 5"-6" out , making you compromise your weight shift and reach for each stroke .

The trade off is you still have a more stable canoe because it's a wider tandem . You want to keep it light because that's the good thing about soloing (as opposed to adding bow ballast equal to a small persons weight) .

So what you end up with is a compromise way to use your tandem for solo fishing . Since using your tandem for solo "fishing" is the objective , which means you want to reasonably move around with "positive" control (but perhaps not precision control as in true solo canoe) , then you would need to try those different seating positions test paddling under various wind and current conditions , to see how you feel about it ... then chose which way you want to set-up seating for your solo paddling . Change the seats out to a dedicated just aft center ?? Move the stern seat forward some ?? paddle from the bow facing the stern (probably not)??

Basically what I'm getting at here is , you need to determine how you feel about the way it handles while paddling it solo from different positions , and then set-up for the way you like best ballance wise and all that .

You may find that there are certain wind and current conditions (higher forces) that are limiting factors which you find it difficult to feel comfortable controling the tandem in ... so this becomes a compromise also , and you avoid paddling the tandem solo at those limits next time . It's all good and it all works out !!

Think of it like this , "all" boats have their limits , you don't take a small limiting boat into bigger or specialized boat weather and water conditions if you want to feel comfortable ... and you don't take a bigger boat into giant boat conditions ... so wind and current forces will determine when you can use it and when you probably shouldn't .

Piece of cake
Canoes are so wonderfully flexible. To “convert” a canoe for solo fishing is as simple as sitting down in the thing without anyone else, taking a fishing rod and a small sack full of 1/4 oz ball head jigs and another small sack full of plastic grubs. Done. Remember to take a paddle and PFD. They could come in handy.

Most folks like to have two or more rods along, each rigged for various applications you may come across during the day. In my canoe, I may take as many as six rods. In my kayak, I take one, plus a pack rod as a spare in case something happens to the main one. I have a small tackle binder loaded with soft plastics and a small tackle box (very small, like about 3.5" x 6" x 2") loaded up with weights and hooks and jig heads. That is my total kayak fishing outfit. When in my canoe, I take great big gobs of tackle. An absolutely ridiculous amount that I could not possibly use in twenty years. Why not, there’s 1,000 pounds of payload and I only weigh 250. That leaves 750 pounds of payload for tackle and food.

The one absolutely essential thing to remember about outfitting your canoe is to be sure that everything can be tied in or affixed in some way. If you fish from a canoe, eventually you will flip that sucker. When you flip that sucker, the amount of fussing you do is inversely proportional to the amount of stuff you tied in.

If you live in the northern Virginia area, send me an e-mail. I’d be only too happy to show off my rigs.

For transportation, just about anything with a Yakima or Thule rack on it will be fine. If you don’t want to pay for a Yakima or Thule rack, then you’ll have to get creative, but foam pads and rope can get you pretty far if you use them carefully and have good tie-down spots.

  • Big D

hey Big D , I just remembered …
… you have done a fair amount of “rowing” solo from your canoes . That might be another good option to set-up for a more centered and ballanced position for the tandem being used solo ??

Good point

– Last Updated: Oct-27-09 3:27 PM EST –

I didn't mention that because it sounded like he wanted to go minimalist and adding a rowing station is kind of labor intensive.

What you want to do to row a canoe (which I find MUCH MUCH easier than paddling for solo in a big tandem canoe) is get out on the water and figure out where you need a central seat to balance. Probably a few inches to a foot behind the center point of the canoe, but whatever it takes for you to have the canoe balance nicely on the water without anyone else along. Then put a seat there. Kind of a low seat. About 8" or so ahead of that you mount oar lock sockets. Old Town makes some that work well. I use Scotty round oar locks. They're sturdy enough as I don't do whitewater in this big rig. I use some Carlisle 7' oars (at your height, 6'6" may work better for you). I mount oar stoppers on the oars so that when the oars are together I can span both oar handles with one hand. Then row.

I set my oarlock sockets by feel rather than measure, but then measured and it was about 8" in front of the front edge of the seat. I was fortunate enough in my newest canoe that there was a seat right where I wanted one and I didn't have to add one. I do use ballast because mine is set up to be able to take my daughters in the front. When I'm alone, I put a couple 6 gallon collapsible/camper water jugs filled with river water. I can fill them as much as needed to balance the load for that particular day, and I can dump them out at the end of the day without harming the local environment because that's where the water came from in the first place. Of course, I don't use them for drinking water any more.

I have found that rowing mellow water (under class II) in a solo canoe is a GREAT way to access some fantastic fishing opportunities.

I usually take a looooooong paddle as well so that I can do correction strokes while standing to sight cast.

Here's a link to a photo album of my now deceased Scanoe rigged as described. This boat was rigged for just a hair over $50. My new boat is of much better quality and it works even better. With a narrow boat like you've got, rowing it would make it a rocket! You could really make headway upcurrent.

- Big D

so graycrait , what do you say about …
… some of these answers . Any of them seem like good things for you try ??

I had asked a few questions about any prior time you’ve spent soloing this Mohawk canoe , and how it went at those times ??

hey D … would you mind if I deleat after Sun. eve. if no response by then ??

As you please.
There’s nothing secret in here though, so I’d vote to leave it for others who may have an interest in setting up canoes for fishing. But if you want to delete, that wouldn’t bother me a lick.

  • Big D

Thanks for the Responses
Hey folks,

I’m not ignoring anyone on purpose, life just gets in the way sometimes. It appears to me that I need to get a seat that is adjustable so that I can find my optimum position depending on conditions/load. Then there is the paddle type/length conundrum. I’m not going to end up owning 3 or 4 canoes for specific purposes. The places where I canoe are not extreme in any capacity, river or lakes, and I suspect with some thought I can make the 16’ Mohawk do what I want it to do. I’m going to print off the responses and study them at during my lunch breaks at work a few days. I’ll get back with you.

Craig in Tennessee

That’s a great boat!
You can surely make it work for what you describe, plus a whole lot more.

It’s a little squirrelly of a canoe, so I wouldn’t recommend anchoring except maybe an above-the-waterline brush anchor.

For paddle, the way I used to teach beginner paddle selection when I was teaching beginner canoeing was to set the blade on your toe and reach your arm straight out so that it was parallel to the ground. Then pick a paddle that your hand gently rests on the handle in that position. As you learn to paddle more and in different circumstances, you’ll learn whether you like a shorter paddle or a longer one.

Also, I would go with a wooden paddle, but that’s a matter of personal preference. There’s nothing wrong with the aluminum or fiberglass shaft paddles with plastic blades, I just like the feel of a wooden paddle.

As far as blade configuration, get a straight blade off the shaft to start. You can get a bent shaft if you find you need it, and you can maybe go out with some folks and borrow other blades. The most popular instead of the square blade is a beaver tail. I’ve never really cared for them, but some who do wouldn’t use anything else. They are good for strong correction strokes, so if you find that you are doing a lot of strong correction strokes the way you fish and paddle, then a beavertail may be well-suited to you.

  • Big D

roof rack
I don’t know exactly what year CR-V you have … you only mentioned “older”.

However, I just bought a new rack for my 2000 model and only paid $108 for the factory unit … not a third party. It looks great AND it is very difficult to steal - unlike the aftermarket racks. Normally, these are $300. The unit I bought fits 97-01 and the dealership does have more.

IF you are interested, send me an e-mail and I can provide the needed info.

Jim -