Tools of the Trade

I love to fish. I love bikes. I love fishing bikes.

I want to learn the Canal, or ‘The Ditch’ as locals call it. I would rather focus my efforts there than to spread myself out, at this time. It is a bit far to drive but usually I go in the wee early hours of snoozeworld. At this time it is all crickets. No traffic. There are a lot of places closer but I don’t know those areas yet. But for now, the Cape Cod Canal it is.

If you’ve ever been there, you probably seen many fisherfolks on modified fishing bicycles on the service paths. Typically they are riding the so-called, ‘girlie bikes,’ the ones with the top bar sloping down A.K.A. a ‘step-through frame‘ so it can accommodate women wearing skirts or dresses, historically. But at the Canal, folks mount PVC tubes to the rear baskets and slip their 10’ fishing rods so the possibility of swinging a leg over to ride, especially if you’re wearing waders is nearly impossible. There are standard mountain bikes too, but you got to be nimble enough to swing your leg over in front, instead of behind, and that can get tiring real quick.

I have tons of bikes at home, but my sassy lowrider bike, my wife’s Rolling Rock ‘Pee-Wee Herman-style’ beach cruiser and the behemoth tandem bicycle is so out of the question. Although pimping a tricked-out lowrider would be so mint. But what I have available is basically a seldom used BMX bike, made for street-style, flatland bicycle tricks. It has front and rear axle pegs, a platform to stand near the top tube and seat stay, and alloy mags.  I bought it for $99 at Wal-Mart one day for reasons I don’t know why. But now it has purpose. It shall be my new fishing tool, the latest tool of my trade, or hobby.

I learned some of my info from researching the web as well as looking at what the locals are doing. It is pretty simple to modify your bike to outfit it so you can carry tools, your rods and your fish. As you can see from the photos you cut down PVC to length. You gotta make some cuts to accommodate the reel stem. There is some hole drilling involved, and some time spent at the home improvement center in finding the right parts, such as pipe clamps, fittings, nuts and bolts and as well as making sure you got the right tools for the job. I just bought a heat gun to shape the top of the PVC pipe to make flared ends. You do this with a beer bottle. Well, that’s what I have in abundance in my basement.

One thing you obviously need to make sure is, that you make everything secure. Also, when you sit down, make sure your pedals won’t hit anything that you have attached – which was an issue for me, so that’s why I had to move my rod holders to the front of the bike instead of placing them in the rear as what most folks do. My BMX bike is so tiny, that if I mounted the rod holders in the rear, my feet would clip it each time I made a revolution with my extra long BMX cranks. So that’s the caveat with my bike, but the good thing is, I consider my bike very nimble, a lower profile than a bigger bike and a lot lighter to manage. Albeit I can’t haul as much, for example I have no place to carry a 42″ striped bass but I am going to make a fish backpack soon. So there.

After I added my basket, milk crate, rear basket stand, I had to make sure it rode comfortable and balanced. Immediately I noticed that I couldn’t put my fishing bag in the rear milk crate. The balance is way off, so I shall just sling it around my body, which is fine. Another adjustment was to move the milk crate further back than being snug up to the seat. My fat ass hangs over, so… I gotta make some, you know, adjustments.

I decided to mount three rocker launchers, or rod holders. One for my main 9′ stick for raising monster bass, another for my backup, a 10′ setup, just in case… and lastly a third for my smaller 7′ rod which I intend to use for baitfish or small fish like scup and flounder.

Another thing too, when having the bike loaded with all the gear, that little kickstand… yeah… not going to hold up the bike right all the time. I do hear about this issue with other Canal Rats, but you just deal with it. Some folks move the kickstand on full size 24″ bike to the rear to solve this problem. I can’t do that, but then again, I think my kickstand is already mounted at the ideal place. I might just have to lay down my bike or turn my front wheel in the right way to best keep my bike up. Other than that, riding my bike down the road this morning, loaded up to the hilt, wearing my bag over my shoulder, surfbelt with plug bag in front basket, and small bait cooler and tools in the rear crate, was not a problem at all. I did look like a super freak in my neighborhood, but hey, at the Cape Cod Canal, I will be in the very best transport and fishing machine, granting me the most accessible points only known to walkers and bicyclists on the service paths. I hope just hope I don’t get a flat. Taking my rocket launchers off of my forks and front axle is going to be a nightmare. Ha.

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