Bob Harris - OUTDOORS and FREE
LEARN to PROPERLY PADDLE YOUR CANOE
Canoes are an excellent craft to enjoy whether you use them for leisure time paddling or for fishing as I do. They hold plenty of gear, are easy to maneuver and many models can be outfitted to use a small horse-powered gasoline or electric motor.
For many canoeists, paddle-power is their only source of drive. And, there are some fishing waters in the state, such as Whittemore Lake, in Bennington, that do not allow motors of any type. In those waters, no matter what kind of craft you have, paddle or row-power is your only option.
People invest considerable money in the purchase of a canoe and equipment, yet many seem to have absolutely no clue about how to paddle properly with ease and efficiency. Anglers need to know how to fish safely from their canoe so they don’t tip over.
The lack of proper knowledge on the subject of paddling can be dangerous. One such instance is the lone angler trolling from a canoe. The angler should add weight up in the bow. I use a couple of 40 pound cement blocks or two or three large size rocks brought from home. Without this extra weight up front, the bow sits too high off the water and the canoe may tend to roll over while I get in or out of it. In addition, your forward view is restricted more due to the bow riding higher off the water and the canoe becomes more vulnerable to wind conditions and is less stable.
Knowing how to properly use the various methods of paddling strokes is very important, especially the basic “J” stroke. The canoeist who doesn’t know how to use the very simple and basic “J” stroke will find it necessary to consistently switch the paddle from one side of the canoe to the other in order to correct or maintain a course of direction. A person trolling from their canoe will increase the chance of hitting their fishing rod (even breaking it) when paddling on the same side as the extended rod.
Here is an example of a person I saw who didn’t know how to properly paddle a canoe. A mom was sitting in the bow facing forward and reading a book. Here little girl was sitting in the middle of the canoe, also facing forward. Her fishing rod was extended from the starboard (right) side. Dad was in the stern paddling. His rod was extended from the port (left) side of the canoe. He’d take two or three strokes with his paddle and then switch the paddle to the opposite side of the canoe and take a few more strokes before switching back again. Each time he’d switch sides with his paddle, he’d get his little girl wet. Not only that, but several times he misjudged his lift and whacked her in the head.
The paddle switching routine was totally unnecessary and could have resulted in serious injury and equipment breakage. The child could also have panicked and stood up and tipping the canoe over, landing them all in big trouble. If dad had learned to paddle using the “J” stroke, these things would never happen.
When trolling from a canoe, the paddler’s rod is best placed on the opposite side from which the paddling is to be done. The bow person should be seated facing the paddler and his or her rod should be fished from the side that is being paddled and held straight out from the side so that the paddler won’t hit the rod or line. The one time that the two anglers will need to be sitting in true tandem style, both facing the bow, is when they are deliberately casting to fish or when the control of the canoe requires them both to paddle.
An excellent illustrated book that is an extremely good source of information on canoeing is Cliff Jacobson’s CANOEING, Basic Essentials Revised 2nd Edition. Illustrations are done by Cliff Moen. This book illustrates all the paddling methods, including the “J” stroke, and explains their specific uses. There are seven chapters that include: How to Choose A Canoe; How They Are Built; Canoe Accessories and Conveniences; Carrying and Car-Topping Your Canoe; How to Paddle Your Canoe; Canoeing Whitewater and Currents, and finally a chapter on Hazards.
The price of this book is only $9.95. Readers can obtain this book from most book stores. I obtained my copy at the Daniel Webster Council’s Boy Scouts of America store at Camp Carpenter, located on Blondin Road, in Manchester, New Hampshire. Directions to the BSA store: Follow Blondin Road toward the waterfront and the store is in the building on your right. You can call the store at (603) 622-5060.
Another option is to order the book direct from the publisher, The Globe Pequot Press, at P.O. Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437-0480 or call them at 800-243-0495 or go onto their website at:
www.globepequot.com. Happy paddling and good fishing.
Bob Harris can be reached via e-mail at: email@example.com