Canoe Fishing – Drift Fishing from a Canoe
One of the easiest, and my favorite, strategies is to let the wind be your trolling motor. First you must pick out an area where you think the fish will be. Next you need to judge the wind and determine which direction it is blowing. After choosing your spot and judging the wind, you’ll want to paddle into the wind on a direct line that is in line with the area you want to be fishing.
Give yourself ample time to get your line down into the water and to the desired depth you’ll be fishing. I will always paddle past the area I want to fish to allow enough time to get my fishing rig all set up and into position before the wind drifts the canoe past my desired fishing spot. It’s key to have your line in the water and primed BEFORE the wind drifts your canoe over your perfect fishing spot. That way you’re ready to feel the bite where you feel most confident that the fish will be.
Once you reach your fishing spot, let the wind drift you a little ways past the spot before reeling your line in. Your fishing spot may be a sunken island or a reef or rocky point, etc. Whatever structure you’re fishing, make sure to fish both the front side and keep fishing the back side of the structure as well. And then once the wind has blown you completely off the spot, reel your fishing line and repeat the process.
To repeat, just paddle back into the wind until you’re a good 20 or 30 yards past your desired fishing structure to allow you enough time to get your canoe turned perpendicular with the direction the wind is blowing so it can hit the broad side of the canoe. I’ve found this canoe position to be the easiest, and it will also drift you the slowest….which in turn keeps your lure or bait in front of the fish longer.
I’ve found this canoe fishing tactic to be the best for jig fishing and fishing a lindy rig or Carolina rig. It allows you to put the bait on the bottom, and drift with the wind and be sensitive to the bottom structure. Bounce your bait on the bottom and be sure to “jig” your fishing line every few seconds to feel for the bottom, and most importantly, for the fish.
Just simply let the wind and the waves supply the correct drift speed. This canoe fishing strategy will not work well on a still day without a breath of wind, and if the wind is blowing too hard, it will complicate things a little more because you’ll have to be more precise with your canoe position. But you can slow the canoe drift down some by performing a feather stroke with your paddle on the side of the canoe that the wind is blowing from. The paddle acts like a rudder and with your back and forth feathering, you’re creating a resistance to the wind, much like a drift sock would.
Fishing rod holders can be purchased to make this type of fishing even simpler. A fishing rod holder that attaches to the gunwale of the canoe can secure your fishing pole in the upright position which will allow you both hands free to use the paddle to best focus your efforts on maneuvering and constantly positioning the canoe into the perfect fishing structure and location. You’ll need to carefully keep and eye on your rod tip for bites so you can quickly transition from holding the paddle to picking up your fishing pole to set the hook on your fish.
If you don’t have a fishing rod holder, you can create your own makeshift rod holder with a combination of using your feet, any packs or equipment you have in your canoe and using the thwarts of the canoe to rest your pole up against. The biggest concern with doing this however is to make sure to always be paying attention to your fishing pole, otherwise a snag or a big fish can quickly yank the fishing pole into the water. And this can make for a bad day of fishing.
Canoe fishing requires you to get a little creative in how you fish and how you use your equipment. It’s certainly not quite as convenient as fishing out of a fully equipped fishing boat with trolling motor and fish locator. But an advantage to fishing from a canoe is that you can get into some locations that other bigger boats can’t.
One area in the country that only a canoe can get to is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Parks along the Minnesota and Ontario, Canada border. This area is a designated canoe area only, where no motors can go…not even electric trolling motors. This pristine wilderness area is a canoe area only, and is set aside for canoe campers and canoe fisherman only.
The beauty of this area is that is less traveled, and consequently fished less. And as fishermen we all know what less pressure on a fishing lake creates, right? Exactly…more hot fishing action with more and bigger fish. But to fish this area, you must do it from a canoe, and you must be fairly adept at the different types of canoe fishing tactics and strategies to help you enjoy the best possible experience, and the best fishing action possible.