Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Canoe fishing essentials -- make life easy

Personal floatation devices (pdf) are essential for safety, but they can also be a helpful tool.  I use a NRS life jacket, and the two things I like most about are 1) It has a waistband that snaps, so I can unzip it when it gets warm and still feel like it will be with me if I capsize my canoe.   2) It has two generous pockets.  I keep a compass, whistle, and spare reading glasses in one pocket, and I keep a small waterproof Fuji camera in the other pocket (more about my camera later).  I also keep a serrated-edge Gerber knife attached to a lash tab and an Orvis Fly Fisher's Snip pinned to a pocket strap.

If you suffer from low back pain as I do, a good seat back is worth its weight in gold.  I have two different seat backs: the wooden one (in the photo above) is made by Old Town Canoe, and it fits nicely on their web seats.  I also own one from LL Bean called a SitBacker that has a built in padded seat cushion.  They both work fine and support my back.
For fishing tackle, I've discovered Flambeau's Kwikdraw soft tackle bag.  I like it because it has three plastic boxes for lures, swivels, etc.  It also has a large zippered pocket for an extra reel, line, pliers, stringer, etc.  It has a sturdy shoulder strap to which I've added a carabiner, so it is easily attaches to a canoe thwart.

I also carry a small dry bag.  A mountain man might have called it a "possibles bag," but I call it my "extras bag."  It contains things I probably won't need, but will be mighty happy I have with me if an occasion arises when I need them.  The small rubberized dry bag by Seattle Sports is about 7" in diameter and 16" deep.  I carry a paddle jacket, rain pants, polyester gloves, first aid kit, headlamp, air horn, sunblock, insect repellent, and a fire starter in mine. 

To capture photographs of wildlife, trip memories, and trophy fish I carry a Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP camera.  This is a 10 megapixal digital camera with 3x optical zoom and a 2.7-inch LCD screen.  It has 50 MB built-in memory, and It's waterproof to 10 feet deep.  For less than $250.00 it the best camera around for a canoeist.  I just wish they had these a few years back when I was carrying a cardboard box with a lens in the end that we called a disposable camera.  Those old photos were so poor I threw most of them out long ago.


In the photo above you'll see both of my canoes as they were outfitted for a recent fishing trip on the Snake River in Wyoming.  The Scotty rod holders sure made paddling easier.  Years ago I would troll with my fishing rod trapped under one knee and braced against the other knee.  Somehow I managed to paddle and fish at the same time, but a good clamp-on rod holder sure has not only improved my fishing but also made my paddling more efficient.

My canoe fishing essentials checklist

After nearly a half century of fishing from a canoe I've finally created a checklist of things that make my fishing trips safe, comfortable, and more efficient:

wooden paddle on leash
double paddle tied to thwart with bungee
topographic map in waterproof case
bear spray on belt (in bear country)
painter(s)  (two on river trips)
seat back and seat pad
baler and sponge
rescue rope and two carabiners [on river trips]
Scotty clamp-on fishing rod holder
rod and reel (rigged with lure) on leash
wood fishing net on bungee leash
personal flotation device (pfd) with knife, whistle, compass, and glasses
Fuji waterproof camera and Orvis fly fisher's snip
wide brim hat and floating, polarized sunglasses on lanyard
wool whipcord pants
nylon underwear, layered polyester shirts and fleece or wool jacket
water shoes

Hydro Venture dry bag:

paddle jacket and rain pants
polyester gloves
toilet paper in ziplock bag and trowel
small dry bag (wallet and keys)
mini roll of duct tape

Seal Line waist pack (inside dry bag):

headlamp with fresh batteries
insect repellent
sun block
air horn 
first aid kit
extra folding knife
survival fishing kit

Tackle bag:

plastic tackle boxes with lures
fishing license
extra spinning reel
leader and extra line

Lunch cooler bag:

lunch and water bottle

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