Canoe Fishing vs. Bass Boat Fishing

This summer, we were lucky enough to go canoe fishing on many of Ohio’s electric motor only/ no power lakes. Being accustomed to a bass boat, there was quite an adjustment to be made. Aside from the obvious lack of propulsion, space and electronics, I had to get a feel for the nuances of the canoe. For me, this included casting sitting down, the free movement of the canoe and the lack of knowledge from my fish finder. 

I have been in boats all my life, but have only endeavored into kayaks and canoes over the past couple years. When we bought our canoe, I was excited to be able to go to lakes we couldn’t put our boat on. A whole new list of Ohio lakes became attainable for us. I discovered quickly on my “training sessions” on Nimisila Reservoir that canoe fishing felt very natural. It was so quiet. I loved the physical exertion of paddling. It made me feel immersed in the environment of the lake and surrounding nature. 

Canoe Fishing

Getting the Hang of It

I also learned quickly that casting was going to be different. I typically stand on the bass boat, so sitting felt more confining, and I was a lot closer to the water. Second, my husband is also MUCH closer to me than in the bass boat. Had to learn my radius of clear space. I also was in the front of the boat so my more canoe experienced husband could steer us. Lastly, I had to learn how to land a fish. I was surprised at how much the canoe moved when I set the hook! Once I got the “feel” for the canoe’s sensitive motion and organized my gear, I loved the simplicity of canoe fishing.

I learned to fish from our 20 foot bass boat. Not only did it have a stockpile of tackle and rods to choose from, but electronics that gave me depth, water temperature and information about the water. I never realized how much I looked at it until it wasn’t there. My brain kept wanting to look to see how deep we were, if we were on a weed line, or just a habitual glance. In the canoe, I had only my sight and instinct to decide where to cast. Although odd at first, in the long run this got me more in tune to my fishing. I had less distraction and felt more engaged. 

Oh Yeah… We’re SELF-Powered 

I think its worth mentioning that self powered brings a whole new dimension to fishing. Being a back deck angler, my husband always ran the trolling motor. I never had to worry about propulsion. I kept waiting for the canoe to just move. Had to keep reminding myself it was up to me to paddle. This was the hardest habit of all for me to adjust to. Now that we have an i-Pilot electric motor on the bass boat, I am sure it will remain something I have to make a conscious effort to remember.

Self powered also made us consider the weather conditions. Which way is the wind blowing? How hard? You want to be sure you can not only get to, but back from your fishing spot! Fitness is definitely a consideration, too. Don’t set off on a far away fishing spot unless you are comfortable with your ability to paddle back. That being said, I loved the physicality of paddling! We were sleek and stealthy. I made a point of trying to keep my paddle as quiet as possible.  We were able to sneak up on the fish. 

Canoe Fishing

I also like that canoe fishing is better for the environment. No chance of gas or oil leaking into the water. Zero noise pollution. We don’t shred the vegetation with our propeller. Its nice to be able to go places we can’t with the boat, but nicer that we leave them as undisturbed as when we came.

And quite frankly, moving with paddles instead of the trolling motor is actually faster – less hull in the water means less drag – which makes it even more enjoyable!

Bottom Line

If I had to weigh the pros and cons, I am equally enamored with canoe fishing as I am with fishing from a bass boat. When I want to relax, decompress and get back to nature, the canoe takes us to places that are quieter and gives us a simpler means of enjoying our hobby. I love the laid back, quiet lakes without powered boats zipping by every few minutes. Its easy to see why kayak fishing is enjoying a surge in participation. It brings you back to nature and the primal man vs. fish as compared to the high speed, technologically advanced fishing experience a bass boat provides. 

And if you are into the “techy” side of fishing, rest assured you can equip your kayak or canoe with all the goods! From electronics to electric motors, there are plenty of options out there. You can create the perfect blend of environments. Rig your kayak with rod racks, put an electric motor on your canoe, or gear up with the latest GPS fish finder. Get lost on a remote lake where you are all alone or go fish a kayak tournament circuit. 

For me, personally, I will use the KISS method when canoe fishing. I have grown to love the simple, primal nature of it. The high end things our bass boat offers is never taken for granted anymore, either. The contrast keeps the experience fresh, challenging and fun. I look forward to finding a nice balance in the coming years out on our Ohio lakes.