Trolling Fishing


Canoe Fishing – Troll Fishing from a Canoe

Another canoe fishing tactic I like to employ is trolling. It’s just like how you would troll from a motor boat, except that you supply the motor and dictate the speed by how quickly you’re paddling the canoe.

The best lure to use while trolling from a canoe is a crankbait because of the natural action that the lip on the crankbait supplies to the minnow bait. All you have to do to make the crankbait dance and dive is to be in motion. Trolling from a canoe will require you to have both your hands on your paddle as you supply each canoe stroke. So your fishing pole with have to be secured somehow to your canoe. Here again is where the fishing rod holder comes in handy.


If you don’t have a fishing rod holder, you can again try to rig your fishing pole up so that it will stay secured by rigging something together inside the canoe The best way I’ve found to do this when you’re sitting in the stern of the canoe, you can put your fishing pole behind you, and set the handle and reel of your fishing pole on the floor of the canoe, underneath the stern seat. Then make sure that the first eyelet (largest one, that is closest to the rod handle) on your fishing rod is inside the canoe resting right up against the stern handle thwart.

I will always keep my foot on the handle of my fishing pole that is sticking out from under the stern seat. With this set up, as you paddle forward, your fishing line is directly out the back of the canoe. As you paddle, the crankbait on your fishing line will dive and dart as it is designed to do and will create all the action necessary. You can control the depth that the crankbait dives by paddling faster or slower, depending on the type of crankbait (floating, suspending or sinking) you’re fishing with.

When a fish bites, you won’t need to set the hook really, because the speed of the canoe has just done that for you as soon as the fish bites. You will however need to reach around carefully to grab your fishing pole that is secured underneath your canoe seat by having the first eyelet on your pole creating the “anchor” to prevent the pole from being pulled out of the canoe by the fish.

After you successfully retrieve your fishing pole from underneath the canoe seat, you can reel in your fish.

This canoe fishing tactic is a great way to multitask. You can actually do three things at once. First because you’re paddling, you’re getting exercise. Second, because your covering a fair amount of water while paddling, and since you’re fishing line is in the water, you’re fishing….and giving you the opportunity to find where the fish are at. And thirdly, because you’re covering a lot of territory, it allows you to explore the shorelines of the lake or river you’re fishing and affords you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.

I’ve found this canoe fishing strategy to be the most productive. I may not catch the most fish this way, but because I’m doing two other things at once which I also enjoy, I feel the most productive because I’m satisfying multiple desires at the same time.


Trolling from a canoe is useful on travel days and exploration days in the Boundary Waters (BWCA) and Quetico. Because you will be covering a lot of territory on these days, you’re never sitting still focusing on one area to fish….and since fishing isn’t the primary activity during these times, it still allows you to get to your next campsite while still providing that die hard fisherman inside you to get your fishing fix while getting to your next destination.

Of course, when you catch a fish along the way, you have to stop and reel it in, and this slows your traveling progress…but you never want to pass up the opportunity to catch that fish of a lifetime….maybe this is that day. I’m sure your traveling companions won’t mind stopping every so often to reel in that big fish.


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