A boat that is properly set up for fishing can make the difference between a frustrating experience and a fish catching experience. I offer five fishy tips and tricks to get your vessel ready to put more seafood on the table this season:
1. Solid Vessel. A reliable, well maintained, seaworthy boat is a must for getting you out, getting you fish, and getting you back safely. Don’t neglect scheduled maintenance, inspections, and fluid and filter changes. The number one problem for gasoline powered boats these days is fuel problems from ethanol fuel. Try to run non-ethanol gasoline, but if you can’t, make sure and use a good additive and change those filters! Inspect and clean up wiring and test all systems before you go. Inspect all thru-hull fittings and hatches that could take on water. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and plan accordingly. If your boat is too small, or not designed for the area or conditions, rethink the plan.
2. Electronic Tech. Modern electronics are the fish catching secret of the top anglers. If I had to make one suggestion that will put more fish on the boat for more anglers, it would be invest in a good plotter/sounder and learn how to use it. Whether it’s finding contours and marking bait and fish while salmon trolling, or looking for that Halibut honey hole, electronics are your extra-sensory perception while on the water. A modern chartplotter will let you dial in specific spots. An advanced sonar unit will let you know if fish and bait are in the area and at what depth. Integrate in good radar and you’re in the game. Of course, the safety factor of understanding how to use all your resources is invaluable. Spend time pushing buttons and studying manuals. Learn it and live it!
3. Operator Skills and Foresight. Being able to control your boat will make fishing more productive and relaxing. Getting the hang of operating your boat while trolling, drifting, or anchoring is mostly a function of practice and time on the water. It takes awhile to get a feel for how your vessel responds to wind and current. However, you can start out miles ahead by having the correct systems on the boat. A good steering system for the kicker, whether tied to the mains or through a remote, is a must. Make sure you are able to see forward while trolling. If anchoring, make sure you have plenty of chain and rode, and the correct hook for conditions. As always, safety first, fish second. Check the tide predictions and weather forecast before you leave. Too rough to control the boat or make it back safely? Don’t go.
4. Proper Gear. The right gear deployed equals a day more enjoyed. From rods and reels, line, nets, downriggers, and pot pullers to the very point of the hook, the tools of the trade will make or break a day of fishing. Read articles and search online forums to find out what others are using to be successful. Then plan on spending some time and money on functional gear that works in every specific application, or can be used pursuing multiple species of fish. Usually, the old standard setups of lures and terminal tackle will still put fish in the box, day in and day out. Everything should be well maintained. You don’t need to get fancy, just get good!
5. Organization. A clean, organized boat takes a little time, but it’s worth it. Making sure that everything you need to catch and clean fish is organized and accessible is a big part of success. Some of this will come with time on the water. You will find places on the boat to put tools and gear within easy reach. Organized and easy to find tackle storage will also save time and even money. After the day is done, a clean up of the boat and gear will ensure you’re ready for the next trip. I’ve often said, if Lemon Joy had a Pro Staff, I’d be the charter member. I use the stuff liberally on the boat, gear, and terminal tackle. Keep a spray bottle handy with a soap and fresh water solution for quick clean up on the water, and then do a more extensive scrubbing back at the dock.
Now is the time to transform the M/V Empty Net into the F/V Filled To The Gills and get ready to enjoy some time on the water with a tasty bounty bonus!