As a kid bicycle was the main method of transportation for my fishing excursions. Whether I was pedaling to the Wepawaug River for stocked trout or to Milford Harbor for snapper blues, a trusty bike got me there. After reaching the driving age, however, there was a decade-long span where I forgot what a bike looked like. That was until my maiden voyage to the Cape Cod Canal earlier this year. With miles of paved pathways lining each bank, the Canal is a perfect venue for fishing with a bicycle. Canal anglers customize their rides with baskets, cargo racks and rod holders, and refer to them as Canal Cruisers. These tricked-out bikes keep them mobile, enabling anglers to cover much more ground than afoot.
That trip also got me thinking about places closer to home that a bike would make more accessible--spots that are a long way from the truck; private neighborhoods that you could wheel into unnoticed and parks that close after sunset. I decided it was time to customize a bike that would help me fish locations that I normally wouldn't without one. A fellow Connecticut Surfcaster Association member learned that I was the lookout for a beater bike. Kevin told me a friend of his was getting rid of two and he let me pick the one of my choice for FREE. I couldn't refuse the offer and settled on a purple Murray mountain bike from Kevin's garage. Sure it was a woman's bike, needed a basic tune-up and a rear tire, but otherwise was in great shape. Some key modifications were also necessary for carrying the gear needed for night raid in the surf.
The first order of business was to lose the bike's purple coat. I peeled off all the stickers and took lighter fluid to remove their remnants. Next I purchased a $3 bottle of black spray paint made for metal surfaces. In just two quick coats the ride went from feminine to ninja-like. I then dropped it off at a New Haven bike shop for a tune-up and new tire. There I picked up a black Wald basket for the front end, which would carry my wetsuit and footwear. I also bought a rear cargo rack for holding my plug bag and eel bucket.
For the bike's rod holders, I picked up 10-feet of 1.5-inch PVC pipe from Lowe's, as well as some 2.75-inch hose clamps to help secure them. I took the bike to my buddy Mike's house, which has a man cave teeming with power tools. Mike turned what started as a simple PVC cut job into an all-out rod holder mounting project. He bolted strips of marine polymer sheets together on the rear cargo rack and then screwed the PVC rod holders into that. This polymer mounting system, coupled with the hose clamps, assured the rods holders weren't going anywhere.
After mounting the rod holders, I bought another bottle of spray paint, this time one made for plastics and finished off the PVC and polymer with a matching black coat. The last purchases were a headlight and a red taillight for safety measures. Each light has various modes such a blinking setting for passing cars. The bike fits snug in my Jeep with the seats down, but a roof or hatch rack would make it easier to take another angler and their bike along. A strong bike lock and solid kickstand are still needed, but otherwise the she is ready to roll as is. One small drawback is that I have to pay attention of my rod angle with low-hanging branches, as my one-piece 10 footer is already one foot off the ground in the rod holder.
The plan is for this ultimate fishing machine to add new locales to my rotation of spots, allowing me to sneak in and out of quiet neighborhoods without slamming car doors drawing attention. The bike will also make destinations like the Canal and Block Island easier to traverse and more affordable. Hopefully, it will also serve as an incentive for my fishing buddies to outfit bikes of their own too. I am glad that I tackled this project and I am very thankful for the friends that helped make it a reality.