The Moderate Size
For smallmouth bass and
pike fishing, choose a river that has plenty of rocks,
light rapids, and twists and turns. Rocks are nearly a
guarantee of fish action since the smallmouth's favorite
prey, the crawfish, makes their home in the rocks. Also
choose a river that you can paddle upstream or easily drag
or portage your canoe up against and over rapids. In
my section on River Fishing for Bass, I explain how you
fish up a river rather than down. In my experience,
fishing low water can produce some of the best smallmouth
bass fishing where as moderate water levels tend to
produce pike. I would avoid high water situations
altogether - you can't control your canoe well, the water
is extremely turbid, and it's just plain dangerous!
For trout fishing, choose a large enough river to float a
canoe. Also make sure you can paddle both up and down the
river. You will want to fish up the river rather
than down. This must be a river big enough to cast a lure
at least 30 feet to the wary trout.
The Small to Moderate
Here's the problem with
very small lakes: 3 people can just about fish the lake
out if they put their mind to it. Here is the
solution: Pick lakes that are connected by rivers or
streams to other larger lakes or rivers. Actually,
an oxbow off of a larger river will serve as a "lunch
room" for the game fish that cruise the river. The
largest pike I ever caught was caught on a lake only a few
acres big, but the lake was connected by stream to a much
larger lake. You will not want a lake that is
crystal clear to depths of 20 feet, but rather pick a lake
with clarity down from 2 to 10 feet. Try to find
lakes that are mostly from 8 to 20 feet in depth so that
you can get the bait down to where the fish is.
The Larger Lake or
The larger lake is not
necessarily off limits to a canoe. You simply must
choose a lake that has plenty of sheltered bays and
islands. Avoid long narrow lakes such as the one a
friend and I never thought we would get off alive from.
Here is a sample of a lake that would have a shape
conducive to canoe fishing. Again, pick a lake that is
neither too clear nor too deep.
First time on the lake?
- Troll the entire lake shore at least twice. After
several times, you will quickly find the best spots.