The decision to rig up a fishing bike was an easy one for me. After the 2016 season I was fed up with walking the Cape Cod Canal where I had only limited and slow access on foot. I was also fed up with paying the excessive parking fees at the east end of the Canal at Scusset Beach where I liked to fish. I knew I could easily park elsewhere for free and ride my bike a couple of miles to reach this spot as well as other locations. So last off season I decided to put together a fishing bike. It proved to be one of my best choices of the year because I ended up using the bike a lot at the Canal and beyond. It also brought me to a lot of fish.
I saw a lot of different fishing bikes at the Canal; on some days you can see hundreds of them. Some of them are fancy and rigged to the limit as fishermen rig them with multiple rodholders, tackle crates, baskets front and back, and large containers to carry fish. I even saw some guys trailering large wheeled boxes off the backs of the bikes. I guess the sky is the limit when it comes to rigging a bike, but in my case, simple seemed to be better. I was looking for a rodholder that would carry two rods as well as a crate or basket to carry my plug bag, lunch and extra jacket.
Where to Begin
My first step was to get myself a bike. I didn’t want to get a cheap bike that would break down several miles from my vehicle since I have had bad experiences with inexpensive bikes in the past. I ended up going to a used bike shop where I got a really good deal on a used men’s Raleigh C-40 hybrid bike. This bike fit me perfectly and it was reconditioned and tuned up by the shop owner. Although the bike was about 10 years old, it was in really good shape and was a great buy for just 80 bucks. Note that many bike fishermen opt for a women’s bike because it is far easier to get on and off of while wearing waders or fishing boots.
I had an idea in my mind on where I was going with the rigging after seeing so many variations while fishing the Canal, and I knew I would need a rear rack to mount some kind of crate for storage and transport of my gear. The shop where I bought my bike had a bunch of used racks taken off of other traded-in bikes, and I was able to add an excellent rack to my purchase. Now I had my bike and rack, and I was one step closer to cruising to my fishing spots in style and comfort.
Gear and Rods
My next step was to mount a crate on the back of the bike. The owner of the shop had sold some bikes to other fishermen in the past and simply suggested I zip tie a milk crate to the rack. I dug around my garage and found a crate that fit perfectly, but they can also be purchased at your local big box or hardware store. It took about 8 or 9 XL zip ties to secure the box to the rack.
From there I found a 3-rod holder in my garage that I had bought years ago for the boat. It was a basic plastic rodholder that is simply screwed into a boat or canoe. I bolted the rack to the back of the milk crate and I was ready to go. I used the outside tubes for rodholders and used the middle one for my pliers or Boga Grip. I couldn’t put a rod in it as the butt of the rod would rub on my rear tire.
I finished off my bike with a bell that I mounted onto the front handle bar. The bell warns walkers and other riders that I’m coming in back of them. The Canal can get quite busy on a nice, summer day or when the bite is on so this is an indispensable item.
More Options and Add-ons
I have seen other bikers at the Canal who use a rear, twin-metal basket set-up on their bikes. With these you don’t need the bike rack and milk crate. They also mount rodholders either in the baskets or off the back of them. These racks can be found in a lot of different places including bike shops, discount stores and online, so shop around if you’d prefer to go this route.
My son Matt and my brother Steve also set up bikes for the Canal. They simply duct taped plastic rodholders to the rear supports on their bikes and carried a plug bag strapped around their shoulder. It worked and was quite simple.
My bike worked wonders at the Canal last season as I was a Canal biker from early summer until late fall. I probably made at least 15 trips to the Canal and enjoyed the scenic bike rides even when I was not catching fish. However, I can’t tell you how many times I rode that bike away from the crowds in and found large numbers of big fish that I had all to myself (for at least a while anyway). I also used the bike at the Canal in the fall to get to loads of schoolies and even albies. I might add that the exercise I got from riding from spot to spot was an added bonus.
In addition to using the bike at the Canal, I began to use the bike to reach freshwater spots off the beaten path where I fished for carp. I found some really good locations miles from my vehicle where I landed fish that were just about inaccessible to the walking angler.
I can think of many places in the upcoming season where that bike will come in handy. Think about all those private spots along the oceanfront that have roads leading down to the water but “No Parking” signs litter the scenery. If you can park a mile or two from a location and bike in to where foot access is allowed, I’m guessing there are some fantastic spots just waiting to be discovered.
Now is the time to start thinking about getting a bike and rigging it for the upcoming season. The bike could be a real game changer; I know it was for me!