I’m an accessories guy.
My dad, not so much. All he thinks he needs is a canoe, a paddle, a Thermos of coffee, and the same silver spoon he’s been throwing since his big walleye on the Rupert River in 1985.
Fortunately for me, the innovation of fishing accessories is catering to my gear affinity. Accessory companies are developing clever ways to mount, store, tie on, and plug in anything and everything. If it’s shiny, packs down small or can be clamped onto a gunwale, it’s mine.
Somewhere between an over-loaded gear junkie and an old-school minimalist there is a perfectly rigged fishing vessel, not to cumbersome but equipped to find and land fish. Start here.
Almost any canoe can make a good fishing platform. However, if you’re buying a boat specifically to chase trophies you’ll want to keep a few factors in mind. Chief among them is stability. Beamier boats tend to feel more stable, giving anglers the confidence to battle with deep lake leviathans. Some anglers even break the golden rule and stand to cast. Another factor to consider is weight. One of the big advantages of fishing from a canoe versus a typical fishing kayak is the opportunity to portage to distant lakes and hard to- access fishing grounds. The lighter the canoe the farther you'll carry it to less pressured fishing waters. Finally, if you like to fish in rocky rivers and creeks, opt for a material that will slide over rocks, logs and gravel bottoms.
Rod holders do exactly what the name implies. Without rod holders I’m always only one movement away from stepping on my rods, knocking them overboard or running them into a rock. My rods' relative fragility compared to the rest of my gear means I like to know exactly where they are and paddle assured that they are out of harm’s way. There is no reason a $200 rod should be sliding around the bottom of a canoe when you can take out $25 gunwale-mounted insurance policy.
Once a luxury only compatible with powerboats, today’s compact new depth finders are not the typical hard-mounted captain’s rig of the past. Mine is portable, comes in a carry-bag and sits under the yoke and next to my fly boxes. Its counterpart, the suction cup transducer arm, is stuck to the outside of the hull just below the gunwale. The transducer flips into the water making structure and water conditions now easy to find, leaving only the fish left to be uncovered.
Welcome to the selfie generation. A gunwale-mounted, single-pod camera arm extension provides fully adjustable options in all directions for mounting and positioning a camera. You can capture the glory of every catch. On solo trips or when I’m catching up to Dad after a late start organizing all of my gear at the launch, this simple rig is my personal camera man that never misses a shot.
John Jacob Astor and the other American Fur Company voyageurs are rolling over in their graves right now, but it’s true. I don’t leave the dock without extra power. Whether it’s a 150-watt expedition charger to run my depth finder, GPS and iPhone, or a simple camera battery backup, I stay safe and connected on the water with extra power. No matter how many times he rolls his eyes, I know Dad appreciates the new-tech power backup when I use it to recharge my camera before getting his grip-and-grin trophy shot.
Mark Vlaskamp is a fisherman, paddler and adventurer. He recently quit his day job to embark on a six-month road and fishing trip across the USA.