Anchor Fishing


Canoe Fishing – Anchor the Canoe to Stay on the Fish

A third canoe fishing strategy that may come in handy for you is to anchor your canoe…just like you would anchor a boat. This canoe fishing tactic is most useful AFTER you have found the fish and are sure there are fish underneath your canoe. Whether you’ve fished the area before or have just recently caught a couple in the area after trolling around. Anchoring a canoe in place is really only recommended when you know that the fish are there….otherwise, you are probably wasting your time.

Depending on the type of canoeing you’re doing, you might be better served with a couple different types of anchors. The typical 10 or 12 pound fishing boat anchors will work fine for you if you don’t have to carry them for long distances before you get to the lake you’re planning to fish. But if you’re on a canoe trip and tripping through multiple lakes and over portages, carrying an extra 10 pounds everywhere you go will get old after awhile.


In this case, it’s advised to carry an anchor bag that you can fill with rocks when you get to where you’re going, and empty them out to lessen the load as you travel and portage all your gear. Whether you’re on a canoe trip down a river and need to portage your gear around rapids and waterfalls, or on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters or Quetico. Maybe even the Algonquin National Park in Ontario, or any other canoe tripping area of the world, you will want to save on the weight, and a canoe anchor bag comes in very handy.

You can order these anchor bags from certain retailers that carry them, or you can make your own. I’ve seen gunny sacks, basketball nets or even the mesh orange (the citrus) sacks rigged up with a length of rope used brilliantly to anchor a canoe and keep it in the prime fishing location.

Anchoring a canoe, just like a boat can be done with either one or two anchors. The thought process is two fold here. By using only one anchor on either the bow or the stern, it will allow the end of the canoe to swing back and forth with the wind and allow you to jig fish while being anchored.

If you use two anchors, one on the bow and one on the stern, this will fixate the canoe in one solitary position, and this is best for bobber fishing or throwing a crankbait or spinner bait over a desired location, be it a rock pile or reef or point. This will allow you to really work a specific area over with multiple presentations. This can be especially productive when fishing in the evening on top of a reef or rock pile when the fish come shallower to feed. This ensures that you maintain your position in the perfect place to strategically cast your lures and bait all over the rock pile. With a solid position established, it allows you to maintain a relative position and know that you’re always in the same spot.

When anchoring a canoe, especially if it’s windy, it is not advised to affix the anchor rope to the middle canoe thwart. This puts too much pressure on the anchored side gunwale and pulls the canoe out of balance, or out of “trim”. It creates an unstable canoe because the side of a canoe can withstand much less weight than either the bow or the stern.


You can think of it this way. Imagine if your canoe had swamped and you’re in the middle of the lake and can’t touch the bottom. How would you attempt to get back into the canoe without first swimming to shore?

This is a precarious position, but something all canoers and canoe fisherman should be aware of. If you try climbing in the side of the canoe over one of the gunwales, you will surely pull the canoe right over top of you and flip it upside trapping you underneath. There is simply not enough width to the canoe to withstand all your body weight coming in over the side without any counter-weight from the opposite gunwale of the canoe.

If you’re alone in the canoe, the only possible way back into the canoe is attempting to climb back aboard the canoe from either the bow or the stern. You’ll need to use the canoe’s length to your advantage. When you apply pressure to the bow or stern of the canoe, the opposite end of the canoe does not come toppling over you like it will by applying the same pressure from the side of the canoe. You will have to use the canoe’s length to counter balance the canoe as you put all your body weight on either end of the canoe and try to propel yourself up and out of the water and back into the canoe.

Even this is extremely difficult and only someone strong enough to lift their own soaking wet body weight from the water and up high enough to get over the bow or stern of the canoe will accomplish this successfully.

Sorry for the sidebar there, let’s get back to fishing. This example of adding extra weight to the side or the end of the canoe is not quite as extreme as adding the pressure of an anchor weight to the side of the canoe, but the theory remains the same. So remember, when anchoring your canoe, it’s a good idea to always do so from either the bow or stern, or both.


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