River Ridge Canoe

I found these guys a about three years ago while researching small watercraft for fishing lakes/ponds in my area. I was originally looking at flat-bottom boats onto which I would mount a trolling motor, but I read an article about these canoes that described how the owner was trying to build a better fishing canoe that was more stable/comfortable/fishable than a traditional canoe. The result is a pretty tricked-out little watercraft, and at just under 13 feet it’s small enough (and light enough) to transport easily on my car-top. They come in various configurations, and are extremely stable; I’ve even fly-fished standing up in the center of mine.

I went the canoe route as I wanted something that was small (and most importantly thin) so I can get in-and-out of hard-to-navigate places. In the areas where I fish, there are lots of off-shoots and channels through marshes where anything wider than a canoe wouldn’t allow you access. And a skiff (in my opinion) is really a lot of wasted space (deeper and wider) that I’d simply being throwing all of my gear into. I also wanted a craft that would take a small trolling motor and be navigable with such under-power (anything larger can be a bear to manage nimbly) and a skiff (or similarly-sized craft) really demands an outboard.

So, while the cost was obviously high for a canoe, this little bugger fit all of my needs — small, nimble, well-laid-out, and most importantly created with fishing as the primary design principle.

Of all the options available, my personal favorites are the integrated drink-holders, the swivel seats with umbrella mounts, and the fact that all of the wiring for the trolling motor is run through the gunwale with hook-ups along the way. My wife loves this thing as well, which is a bonus as it wasn’t cheap. I ended up getting the complete package and the only thing I’ve found a little less than useful is the solar panel battery charger because it doesn’t really provide that much juice. Many of the options they use are available through Cabela’s or other outfitters, but I like how they incorporated everything into a single package.

-- John Robinson  

River Ridge Sportsman Canoe
$2,095 and up
Available from River Ridge Custom Canoes