No Engine? No Problem: Canoes


There are many anglers who, like myself, do not own a boat equipped with an engine that allows us to fish an entire lake at our leisure. If you’ve been an avid visitor to this site, then you’ve no doubt read one of my first articles, where I highlighted fishing from shore and all its associated tackle and techniques that have allowed me to catch many fish over the years, all from the confines of the bank. Now I’d like to highlight some ways you can still get out onto the water to fish, without the costs, labor, and maintenance that accompany owning a boat. I’d like to illustrate the benefits of fishing from a canoe, a kayak, or a float tube, all of which can be purchased from any outdoors retailer and perform very well on the water. In this first part of the series, I’ll delve into the pros and cons of canoes, which I have some years of experience fishing from, and which anybody can easily learn to use.

Let me preface by stating the obvious: unless you live near smaller lakes or rivers, or yearn for the exercise of rowing a canoe across a large body of water, canoes really are optimal for smaller fisheries, and should never be used on major lakes or oceans where large waves or large natural predators are prevalent. That being said, the main advantage canoes have over boats is their lower cost. With prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to a thousand dollars, canoes will always be merely a fraction of the price of owning a bass boat, and that isn’t even accounting for the maintenance, repairs, and insurance that owning a boat entails. Canoes are also great exercise. The consistent rowing motion and fighting the occasional current is great for your arms, back, and stomach muscles, and if you take your canoe out regularly, you’ll surely see the effects of such a workout before long.

Furthermore, canoes are like owls when they hunt; they’re silent, in fact, nearly inaudible, on the water. This will keep you from spooking the fish. They’re also smaller and sit higher in the water, which will allow you to reach locations that would otherwise be inaccessible with a larger craft.

Fishing from a canoe isn’t difficult, and there are tactics that don’t even require you to constantly maneuver the craft while you try to fish. Calm waters are perfect for canoes. Trolling is a popular technique, and only requires you to drop your lure in the water and row at a steady speed. Lures such as Rapalas, spoons, and even topwater baits if you find that magic rowing speed, will produce numbers all day long. Of course, you can always stop, or even drop an anchor, and fish with whatever bait you choose.

Obviously, you aren’t going to be able to cover as much water with a canoe as you would with a large bass boat, but if you don’t need to fish the deeper parts of the lakes, then you’re not at a complete loss. More often than not, cruising just off the shoreline and making your way up and down the lake’s perimeter will yield great results. Also, you won’t be able to store as much tackle and gear with you, but really all you need is a smaller tackle box with some of your favorite lures, a few rods, a small cooler with some snacks, and a life jacket.

The peaceful tranquility that accompanies paddling a canoe across calm waters early in the morning is a feeling like no other. I suggest upgrading to the two-seat model if you purchase one and take a friend out with you. You’ll find that being able to talk and enjoy the water without the roar of an engine will bring back memories of being on a row boat when you were kids. Enjoy the lake, the exercise, and the company, but most of all, enjoy yourself.