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If you’ve been thinking about getting into paddle power fishing, Kris Sweres outlines plenty of reasons why you should do more than think about it.

There’s definitely something special about fishing from a canoe or kayak. Silently and effortlessly slipping across the water’s surface. The ability to sneak up to any sand-flat, weed bank or old decrepit wharf without noise. Flipping a little hard body or featherweight plastic at a school of feeding bream or whiting and watching them follow it right back to your feet – sight fishing to the extreme and stealth fishing at its finest!

Portable platforms
Not only are kayaks or canoes awesome craft to simply float around fishing from, but they also make it easy to access spots that are normally out of reach. How many of us know really good land based spots where we’re limited as the walkable land only stretches so far? What about that other side of the river with all the snags and fish holding structure just out of casting reach? The moored boats and pylons further down the river or that hard-to-reach bass honey-hole? Canoes and kayaks can open up all this new fishing ground and really increase the number of fish you catch.

During the summer months I just love throwing my canoe on top of the car and heading down to my local sand flat. A short paddle across the deeper channels allows me access to fish spots that a very large percentage of other fishos can’t. That in itself is a good feeling. When it’s time to cool off I simply anchor the boat in the knee high water and wade.

Wading is the most underrated and fun style of fishing I know. My canoe basically becomes my floating “home base”; with tackle box, camera gear, net and paddle on board it leaves me free to walk and fish. Success rates are usually quite high for this style of angling too. When the tide is high, predatory fish will be up on top of the flat searching for food. This is a good time to have a throw with a small popper. The Bushy’s Stiffy is an outstanding topwater lure for this. I love the red with black stripes pattern that, for me, effectively represents a prawn. The “old school” Rebel Pop’R’s are also a go-to lure. Short, quick stabs of your rod seem to draw the most attention from fish and will tempt them into a strike in most cases. Don’t overlook water as little as a couple of feet deep as flathead, bream and whiting will all be present. Sand flats littered with yabby holes are especially good to look out for.

When the tide turns I usually try targeting the backhand edge of the flat where the tide is washing off into deeper water. This is where most larger fish will sit and effortlessly get a meal home delivered. I love the Japanese Jackall Chubby range for this kind of fishing. They have an in-built rattle, tight shimmying action and unbelievable colours. Another little technique that seems to work is gently moving your feet into the sand. Similar to doing the old twist dance move, it’s not exclusive to beach bums searching for pipis. Sand and moving water attracts fish passing by. Whiting are particularly curious when wafts of sand are being kicked around and can then be targeted with top results.

Boat Options
Canoes have been around for many years and I still remember reading inspiring fishing articles when I was a kid and wishing I had one. Many years down the track and I can honestly say I still get excited when the canoe is thrown up on the car. These days there is a huge option of paddle and foot-driven options on the market. Canoes like Pelican, Coleman and Rosco’s all spring to mind while Hobie and Viking kayaks are really turning some heads – Hobie’s recently released Pro Angler is an amazing craft that would do justice to anyone in the market for a small tinny.

The most important thing to consider when buying a kayak or canoe is to be sure it’s ready for what you plan to use it for. A foot driven kayak may be a bit of a hassle if you spend a lot of time fishing across very shallow sand flats or rocky small water for bass. However, if you do a bit of bay trolling and need a craft that allows you to cover large distances, is easily manoeuvrable and allows the advantage of being able to steer and fight fish at the same time, a Hobie may be a better option. Will you simply be using your hull – as I do a lot – to get you from land to a water access only spot? Perhaps a very affordable and simple canoe hull is all you need. If you fish a lot of streams with rocky rapids then perhaps a polyethylene boat will be more durable than a fibreglass model.

Like any boat, retro-fitting a canoe or kayak is the next thing you’ll be faced with. I have a Minn Kota electric motor set up on my craft as well as a new seat (possibly the best change I ever made) and sounder. Drink holders, electric motor brackets, rod holders, anchors and tackle storage all make your little craft that much more comfortable. The list of upgrades really goes on and on. You can keep your hull bare bones or really go to town on it, the choice is yours.

Eco-friendly fishing
Using your own steam to power a small craft is a great feeling. There are no fuel bills whatsoever (apart from food for energy!) and with rising fuel costs lately this has to be a good thing. There are no ongoing bills like outboard servicing, registration and fixing rusty trailers, all of which adds to the appeal of these craft. When fishing from a small canoe or kayak you feel more a part of the environment. You sit closer to the waterline and soon come to appreciate the silent experience that comes from the absence of engine noises or even the sound of water lapping your craft’s sides. I still remember seeing my first platypus on a local bass stream just on sunset – calm glassy water, the last rays of orange light bouncing off everything. It may sound funny but it felt as if the environment was rewarding my effort with a glimpse at one of its rarer oddities.

Iridescent blue kingfishers, turtles, dugongs and lungfish have all been spotted from my Coleman Vantage and provided a lasting memory each time.

Kayaks and canoes are ideal platforms for catching fish, getting a little exercise and experiencing some harder to reach honey holes. They’re cheap, fun and add a new dimension to finesse fishing. So the next time you’re wishing you could get to those spots just out of reach, wish no more and enjoy accessing all areas. See you out there.


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