Kayak fishing crate GoPro mounting rig

View from my GoPro Hero2 utilizing a side mounting location on the base frame.

It seems the quest never ends for finding that perfect mounting location for the GoPro camera (or any other action cam, for that matter).  I’m constantly researching mounts and angles, which usually means watching awesome videos on Youtube and Vimeo.  It’s no secret that most of these videos are of kayak fishing.

One item that nearly all kayak fishermen utilize is a milk crate, usually located in the stern of the kayak, to organize tackle, gear, and necessities when on the water.  I’ve used a tube mounted within the crate along with a hacked monopod to hold my GoPro Hero2, but I decided to try to design and build something more purpose-driven for handling my camera-holding duties.

From Version 1 of my crate mount, this is utilizing the extension arm as a pole mount for shots. GoPro Hero2 baby!

The first version, visible in the picture at right, utilized 1″ PVC and was situated on top of the crate.  It was fastened to the crate via some short bungee ball tie downs.  The connection between the extension pole and the base mounted to the crate was via slip-on connections.  While this connection is strong and sturdy for this application without gluing the joints, it creates problems when attempting to remove and replace the pole, especially when on the water.  The force required to do so was wreaking havoc with the base mount frame and its position on the crate.

Version 2 of this rig changed a few things.  First, I’m using 3/4″ PVC instead of 1″.  The main reason for this decision was that 3/4″ PVC is plenty strong enough and is more comfortable in my hands than 1″ PVC when using the extension arm as a pole for filming.  Second, I built the frame to go around the top edge of the crate rather than sitting on top of it.  The frame is then bolted in place with 3/4″ PVC conduit clamps purchased at Menard’s.  Lastly, rather than using slip-on connections at the tees in the frame for mounting the extension pole, I chose to use a threaded connection to allow simple screw-on and screw-off mounting, eliminating the need to apply force to the frame.  This requires tees to be a combination of slip-on and threaded as well as a male thread adapter for the extension arm.

Base frame mounted to crate with extension arm attached.

None of the joints are glued.  The mounting brackets should hold the frame in place and keep it from disassembling itself.  Additionally, since the tees are not glued into place, you can rotate them to adjust the angle of the extension arm, providing additional flexibility in camera positioning.  This rotation is made easy by utilizing the extension arm once screwed securely into the tee.

On the business end of the extension arm, you have multiple options.  I chose to one of the stick-on flat adhesive mounts that uses the GoPro quick-release adapter.  This decision was based upon the fact that I also have a Scotty Portable Camera Mount that I use for forward filming duty and it, too, uses this quick-release mount.  You could also drill and tap a PVC cap and insert a 1/4″-20 bolt to hold any standard camera with a tripod mount or the GoPro tripod adapter.

Fabrication of the rig

My crate is a standard square crate formerly used by a certain local dairy.  Your dimensions may vary, but the concept is the same and slight modifications may be needed for your application.

Parts needed

  • 3/4″ PVC pipe (QTY: 10′)
  • 90 degree elbows (3/4″, QTY: 4)
  • Tees (3/4″, QTY: 4, Female threaded output)
  • Male PVC Adapter (3/4″, QTY: 1)
  • PVC Cap (3/4″, QTY: 1)
  • Conduit Support Snap Strap (3/4″, QTY: 8)
  • #8-32 machine screws w/ nuts (1 1/2″ or 1 3/4″, QTY: 8)

Build

Cut 8 pieces of pipe 6″ in length.  Piece the frame together with a 6″ pipe between each elbow and tee.  Squeeze connections tightly to seat the pipes as deep as possible.  Place a snap strap around each pipe section.  Test fit and make note of approximate location of the mounting holes of the straps.  Using a 9/64″ or similar drill bit to drill 8 holes in the crate for each of the snap straps.  Mount the frame using the machine screws and nuts.

For the extension arm, take your pick on length.  I am using a 3′ length.  Once cut to length, place the male adapter on one end and the cap (already prepped to your specs for your camera) on the other.  Press firmly into place, glue if you wish to.

More examples of shots from this rig are available in my flickr feed to the right.

What’s in the crate?

Crate ready for the water

One of the most important components for kayak fishing is organizing your gear.  Fortunately, most sit-on-top kayaks used for fishing have a well area in the back of the kayak designed to hold a milk crate.  This crate assists in organizing your gear both on and off the water.  Here’s what is in mine:

Off the water

  • PFD
  • Scupper Plugs
  • Lowrance X-4 headunit
  • Anchor and line
  • Stakeout pole tether
  • First Aid Kit
  • Accessory tube (for GoPro pole or light pole)
  • Rod Holders
  • Toolkit (Pliers and scissors)

On the water

  • Tackle box (minimize!)
  • Soft plastics bag (KVD model from Bass Pro Shops)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Accessory tube with GoPro pole
  • Rod Holders
  • Toolkit (Pliers and scissors)

What do you keep in your crate?

My Fishing Kayak

I grew up fishing the lakes of northern Indiana, but long ago moved to central Indiana for school and employment. I’ve been ready to get back on the water and enjoy the thrill of fishing once again.

After spending much time shopping for a decent, inexpensive boat, the prospect of this purchase becoming a money pit in repairs, registration, and plates really began to turn me off. So, I started doing some research on kayak fishing, having been made aware of it by a former coworker who flyfishes from his kayak in New York.

As I read more and consumed many videos on Youtube, this really started to appeal to me. I looked at it as a lower-cost way to start fishing again. Additionally, I looked forward to incorporating some exercise, the “primitive” aspect, the ability to access waters that may not receive much pressure from other fisherman, and the awesome “hackability” of the kayak and DIY accessories.

So kayak shopping I went. I decided that I’d enjoy a sit-on-top style of kayak for fishing. Sit-on-tops also have the factor of generally having a higher weight limit than sit-inside types. This is especially important for me, being a rather large fellow (6 ft tall, 290 lbs). After doing some shopping and research, I settled on a Future Beach Angler 144 available at Dunham’s for $349 (on sale, but it seems to always be on sale).

DIY Kayak Loader

PVC-based kayak loader to assist in rear loading the kayak to the roof rack.

After getting it home, the to-do list got started. Most times I will be fishing alone and needed the ability to load and unload the kayak from the top of my Trailblazer solo. I did some research on commercial loading options, and all were well outside my budget of nearly nothing. So I set about figuring out a system with PVC, dowel rod, and pool noodle to protect my SUV and to somewhat assist rolling it onto the top rack. After some trial and more error, the final product seems to work just fine with a total bill somewhere around $15.

Next, I was a bit concerned with dragging the kayak from the vehicle, usually located in a parking lot, to the water’s edge. I have no issues dragging this kayak, I just wished to prevent damage to the bottom of the kayak from concrete and gravel. More research complete, I decided on a DIY solution whose fantastic instructions are available here: http://palmettokayakfishing.blogspot…art-build.html . I had issues with the axle nuts staying on. Tightening the nuts to the wheel only causes its bearing to lock up, so they must be loose. To have room for this, my axle is slightly longer than the suggested 25.5″. I also had better luck tying the boat down directly on the horizontal supports rather than under the cross-member as suggested in the pictures.

This particular kayak has a molded section in the stern to accomodate a milk crate or a 5 gallon bucket. I opted for the milk crate, whose only modifications were adding two additional rod holders by zip-tying two pieces of 2″ PVC to the back corners. This crate also holds my homemade anchor made from an inexpensive 3 lb dumbbell, my tackle boxes, small landing net, and various other things I might need on the water.

Keeping with the PVC DIY theme, I used 3/4″ PVC and 7/8″ wooden dowel rod to fabricate a 6′ stake-out pole. Nothing complicated here. Just cut a pipe to length, slide the dowel inside of it for rigidity, screw/glue the dowel in place, leaving a few inches out of one end of the pipe. On this end, use a knife to carve out a point. Seal up the screw holes and the end with Marine Goop.

Lowrance X-4 in forward cupholder location

I’ve added a few commercial products to the kayak as well.  I purchased an anchor trolley system from Bass Pro Shops (which is actually made by Sealect Designs).  It’s not difficult to DIY an anchor trolley, but I would not have saved much money, so I chose to buy the kit.  This anchor trolley allows me to control the anchoring location on the kayak in order to adjust the boat position due to wind and/or current.  Additionally, I’ve added a Guide Series rod holder from Gander Mountain and a Lowrance X-4 fish finder.  The base of the X-4 mount was a perfect fit inside the cupholder at the front of the boat. The transducer is mounted inside the hull using Duct Seal (Electrician’s putty) for a through-hull application.  I haven’t had a chance to test this, yet, but all indications on the Internet say this should work fine.