A ‘cruisy’ custom canoe
  |  First Published: July 2010

The fastest growing trend in fishing today would have to be canoe and kayak fishing. But there are still plenty of fishos out there who would love to get into it but who feel that canoeing is for young, fit people.

They might be too unfit, overweight or just to lazy to even think about purchasing a canoe. This article might soon change their minds.

I have set up my canoe to be very easy to drive, steer and manoeuvre and it is comfortable enough to happily fish out of it all day long and you don’t even need to paddle.

Fishing from a canoe that is set up like this is as cruisy as fishing from a boat.


When working out which canoe to select and how to set it up, I had to consider first and foremost the type of water I was fishing. I fish so many different places, such as freshwater lakes small and large as well as smallish rivers and large ones like the Upper Murray and Murrumbidgee, so I needed a very versatile canoe.

I needed something that was comfortable to fish from all day long but I also wanted something with a bit of power to get me from spot to spot in big lakes and to keep me in position in fast-flowing rivers.

Because I also fish two from of a canoe the majority of the time, it took me quite a while to pick which canoe I wanted to set up for my style of fishing. After many, many hours of research I came up with the Pelican Colorado; it ticked all the right boxes and was cheap to buy.


It has taken much trial and error to get my canoe to where it is now but I am very happy with the final product and feel I have come up with the ultimate ‘cruisy’ canoe.

Most canoes come with flat thwart seats with no backrests so they were the first things that needed customising.

You get a sore back from ordinary canoe thwarts when fishing all day so you need good, back-supporting cushioned seats. If you can’t afford to get cushioned seats then a cheap alternative is to buy some inexpensive cushioned seat covers and slip them over normal seats.

I fish from my canoe in lakes, so a quality sounder was necessary. I then needed to work out which transducer to choose and where to mount it.

I couldn’t mount a transducer on the outside of the back of the canoe as it would simply snap off in shallow water or while going through rapids, so I was forced to get a through-hull transducer.

You could also mount one on the bottom of your trolling motor if need be.

I needed somewhere to mount the sounder control head so I decided to get rid of the centre seat for the third person. I never fish three from the canoe any more so I decided on the extra room and somewhere to mount the sounder.


Choosing and mounting an electric motor was next on the list.

I found the best possible way was by getting a bracket welded onto the base of my back seat but you can buy ready-made motor brackets that simply screw on to the back of the canoe, with no holes to drill.

I went for the welded option, as I wanted to replace the plastic seat bases with aluminium bases to support the cushioned seats. Getting the welder to add an extra bar to screw my Minn Kota onto was just a small extra.

I run a 30lb Minn Kota on this canoe and with two people on board and all our fishing gear, it holds position well in fast flows and is quick enough between spots on lakes to keep me happy. It sure beats the hell out of paddling!

I run my sounder and the Minn Kota from a 70 amp hour battery which fits perfectly behind the back seat and I easily get a full day’s fishing out of it, even when constantly trolling.

In saying that, you could easily run a much more powerful electric if you wanted the extra speed or to conserve battery life for extended trips.

The other couple of small things that I’ve added are the drink holders, one for me and one for my companion, and I’ve also glued on a couple of old car door pockets onto the insides at front and back to accommodate pliers, scissors, leader material and a few lures.

These small additions are cheap and easy to install and make life a little more enjoyable on the water because everything is close and easy to grab.


Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on how to best set up your existing or future canoe.

I’m also hoping this gets people who have given up on the idea of canoeing to have a bit of a rethink, now that you can see how laid-back canoeing can be.

This canoe is the most versatile there is, because it is as much at home on a small lake as it is in a raging river. The Pelican Colorado would also make a great bass electric tournament rig, especially if you hooked up a bigger electric to it.

Canoeing is fast becoming my favourite form of fishing transport, due to the remote places you can get to that you cant normally access by foot or a conventional boat.

Due to increased fishing pressure, fishing in these remote canoe or kayak locations inevitably rewards you with some of the best fishing possible.



One of the biggest misconceptions about transporting canoes and kayaks is that they travel better upside down on your roof racks. By travelling with the canoe upside down you create a pocket of air under your canoe, which constantly pulls up and against your roof racks, over time causing damage to your roof racks and your car roof.

This trapped air will also make you use more fuel and make the car lighter and harder to handle. Travelling with the canoe right side up improves airflow although you may need to reassess things in heavy rain!

There are canoe and kayak holders on the market which sit on or slide onto your roof racks. These hold the canoe in position and wont allow it to slide from side to side on the racks. Or you can simply cut four pieces of foam or rubber to fit over your roof bars.

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