Category Archives: boats and boating

Boating Tips

Don’t block boat ramps!!
By Darcy Mount, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
from The Fishing Wire

Important tips to avoid lonely nights on the sofa, or being the star of a viral video, as boating season begins.

Never use a busy boat ramp to “teach” others to back a trailer.

There are two things you should not learn from a spouse or significant other . . . canoeing and trailer backing. I know there are many other examples but these are my observations from my career as a park ranger and manager.Want to see couples fight? Hang around at the boat ramp. It won’t be long until an argument erupts as someone is trying to get a boat on or off a trailer. Or as couples are paddling in or out from shore.

With boating season upon us, it’s a good time for me to share some things I have seen in hopes you might avoid similar public displays of disaffection and perhaps ruin your day at the lake.

Trailer Backing
Busy boat ramp. This is where you see the most fights, domestic violence, tears, anxiety, damage to boats, trailers, docks, trucks, etc. Of course, these incidents always seem to occur on a busy boat ramp with lots of witnesses.It seems that in many cases the person most comfortable backing the trailer is also the person most comfortable driving the boat. I’ve observed this play out in many ways.

Scenario One
A couple in a boat motors up to the dock and ties up. The boat captain gets out and heads to the parking lot to retrieve the truck and trailer, backs it into the water, gets out of the truck, gets on the boat and loads it onto the trailer, hops back in the truck and drives away. This is normally easy to do, unless the ramp is crowded and people are waiting to load. Then stress levels can rise causing tension as traffic on the ramp backs up. Squabbles can occur.

Scenario Two
The person most comfortable driving both the boat and the truck decides it’s time to teach the passenger to back up the truck and trailer. This is generally done by yelling or eventually screaming from the boat, which is still afloat behind the ramp. As tension builds, the novice trying to back the trailer down the ramp gets frustrated as the trailer jackknifes and you may hear the words “I told you I couldn’t do it” being yelled or eventually screamed at the teacher on the boat. (I use the word “teacher” loosely.)

This situation can escalate and the boat driver/teacher may get yelled at by others bobbing in the water, waiting to load. This can happen because the “teacher” is distracted by the fish-taililng trailer on the ramp and lets the boat drift toward the other boats in the queue. The truck driver may experience a flight response and get out of the truck, walking away and telling the teacher to do it himself. Or the driver may even beg other people to back the trailer in for them. These people may be total strangers, which then causes more yelling from the teacher on the boat. It should be obvious, but you should never use a busy boat ramp to “teach” another to back a trailer into the water. The results are not pretty. 

Scenario Three
This is the reverse of scenario 2 with the novice trying to guide a bobbing boat onto a trailer as impatient strangers stare and even offer unsolicited advice as the “teacher” shouts instructions from behind the wheel of the truck. Either way, all the yelling is a surefire buzzkill guaranteed to ensure you boat alone in the future. (And probably sleep alone on the couch for a few nights.).

Soaking Your Partner
This occurs a couple ways and both can result in frayed tempers.The partner backing the trailer down the ramp can get soaked, and the truck stuck and in need of a tow, if the driver ends up too far onto the ramp and the truck sinks in deep water. This happens if the ramp is long and the water level is low and the ramp suddenly drops off and the truck ends up in deep water. If they back in far enough, they will find out trucks do not float as they watch it slowly sink under water. That is a guaranteed fight. 

Most common is the disaster that can occur when one partner forgets to put the plug in the boat and it fills with water as the boat floats off the trailer. 

A temper fit by the other partner can be avoided if you are lucky enough to quickly steer it back on the trailer and insert the plug.But often couples find themselves too far out from shore before they realize the boat is taking on water. This requires a boat tow and quite a bit of stress and in some extreme cases having to abandon your sinking boat. 

Boat and Ramp Repairs
This occurs often in the spring when we are so excited to get back in the water we forget to make sure the engine runs. You may see people parked in the parking lot trying to make repairs while their partner and friends in the truck wait not-so-patiently. Worse case is you float off your trailer to realize it will not start and need to be pulled back onto your trailer. 

Enjoyable Boating Adventures

If you follow these tips, you will have much more enjoyable boating adventures. And you won’t be the star of a viral video. I would like to say what happened at the boat ramp stays at the boat ramp. But if you search YouTube, you’ll discover that is far from the case.Written by Darcy Mount. Darcy is the Eleven Mile State Park Manager.

If you have general questions about Colorado Parks and Wildlife, email Darcy at AskARanger@state.co.us. Darcy may answer it in a future column.

Kayak Panfish

Kayak Panfish Fishing Photo courtesy of Hobie

Kayaks, ultralight tackle and panfish make a successful combinationBy Noel VickPhoto courtesy of Hobie
from The Fishing Wire

“Panfish” is perhaps the biggest catchall category in fishing. Essentially, if it’s round and measures somewhere between the size of an adult hand and the fateful frying pan, it’s a panfish. We’re talking about the zillion species of sunfish, a couple styles of crappies, as well as – in the opinion of many including myself – white bass.

Drumroll please… And now you’re being urged to pursue the commonest freshwater fish in North America with the uncommonest of approaches: pedal kayak trolling. Take a breath and a moment to get over the weirdness. It’s an extraordinarily effective technique.For this discourse, it’s best talking lure selection first, as it’ll dovetail into techniques. My panfish trolling portfolio consists of two primary categories: hardbaits and spinners.

Hardbait Pedal Trolling
Not too many years ago, the marketplace was inundated with downsized bodybaits, including lipped crankbaits, jerkbaits and lipless rattle baits. Manufacturers miniaturized existing models and developed entirely new micro hardbaits. I’ve trolled and tested them all from my Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14.

Panfish of all stripes – especially larger specimens – either make a living off bait and fish fry or will opportunistically eat forage with fins and tails. Hardbaits also ferret-out the most aggressive fish and can be trolled faster than spinners, letting you cover more water in less time. Hardbaits are unquestionably the best search tool.

Trolling by pedal kayak simply means casting the bait back, letting out additional line – minimum of 100 feet – and you’re fishing. Whatever species you pursue, the odds of success are improved by getting the lure as far away from the boat as possible, especially in depths of 10-feet and less where fish more easily scatter. Experience has proven, however, that the darker the water the closer you can run baits.

As with other forms of pedal trolling, longer rods are recommended. Think about the common practice of spider-rigging for crappies; it’s about spreading the field of coverage. In a kayak, where legal, two long rods can be easily managed. 

The best all-around panfish trolling rods hail from St. Croix’s Panfish Spinning Series. The blanks are constructed of a dynamic blend of SCVI and SCII graphite providing responsive touch, balance and finesse. I employ either the 8-foot (PFS80LMF2) or 9-foot (PFS90LMF2), light, moderate-fast, 2-piece models. They curve concentrically on the move, and natively sweep-set upon strike. For added machismo with larger baits, or bigger-billed ones with greater resistance, I carry the 7-foot, light, extra-fast-action model (PF70LXF).

Rods are paired with 2500 size spinning reels. Smaller 1000 and 2000 sized reels don’t take up line nearly as fast. And personally, I like the feel of a larger reel. And when you opt to stop and cast, they yield greater distance. Daiwa’s affordable Regal LT is a solid and widely available choice.

Like all my pedal kayak pursuits, braid is the word. Braid has better sensitivity and buffers the softness of long panfish rods with stoutness to produce ideal, hands-free hooksets. Braid also lets the rod communicate to me that lures are running true. Consider either 6- or 8-pound test of Daiwa’s super narrow diameter J-Braid x8.

Leaders are mandatory, too, long ones (24-inch minimum), which combat panfish species’ exceptional vision. Fluorocarbon makes are best. I tie in sections of Daiwa’s J-Fluoro in 4- or 6-pound test, finishing with a tiny snap for speedy lure changes.

LIVETARGET’s 2 ¾-inch Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait does it all, never discriminating against species, including bass. Although designed to replicate a rainbow smelt, fish in waters dominated by shad and other shiner species don’t seem to care. I theorize that the Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait’s precision anatomy, pure trolling path, and seductive action make it universally effective.Rapala has a major stake in the panfish market, too, and their baits are always onboard.

Fish fawn over the petite, 2 ½-inch Rapala Husky Jerk, a downsized rendition of the popular, slow-sinking series. To that, Rapala also tenders the Ultra Light series, catering specifically to panfish anglers. The 1 ½-inch Ultra Light Crank is not only cute as hell, but has the surprising capacity to run deep on the troll, nearing the 10-foot mark.

Daiwa also comes to the plate with a couple diminutive heavy hitters. The 2-inch Dr. Minnow Jerkbait turns fish heads. And when you’re in the midst of larger, meat-eaters, consider Daiwa’s 3.75-inch TD Minnow.

Color selection is an exercise in experimentation. For the most part, I stick to natural, baitfish tones – the silvers, whites and blues – but often opt for more color in stained water. And for whatever reason, panfish respond exceptionally well to greens, especially ones with lighter bellies. 

Spinner Pedal Trolling
Let’s first clarify, I’m talking about hairpin spinners, not inline spinners. Years of pedal trolling have proven that bags are basically doubled with hairpins. I believe it’s the flash combined with a juicy, baitfish profiled target – the jig and soft plastic.DIY is the only way to go with hairpin spinners. Certainly, there are hordes of pre-rigged variations available, but none matching my surefire assortment. To this, entirely, my hairpins are founded on Betts Spinners. The series affords Colorado blade sizes 0, 1, and 3, the heartier 3-size providing the best loft, especially with smaller jigs. Both silver and gold options are available, too. I employ silver in most scenarios, but swap to gold in dark water.Z-Man Slim SwimZ and Finesse ShroomZ jighead with hairpin spinner.

Next in line is the actual jig. Betts offers several workable styles, too, but I prefer a couple others. Z-Man’s capsule-headed Finesse ShroomZ are the defacto heads for Ned Rigs, and I find them equally amazing with hairpin spinners. Featherweight sizes of 1/15- and 1/10-ounce are the magic bullets. Keep a pool of red, black, green and white heads onboard to color match bodies.Northland Tackle’s RZ Jig is another winner, and easily found above the Mason Dixon Line.For my druthers, there are three failsafe brands of bodies: Z-Man, Bobby Garland and Bass Assassin. The throbbing paddletail of Z-Man’s 2.5-inch Slim SwimZ is a crappie menace. Its narrow girth prompts the hairpin to run single-file. And, constructed of ElaZtech, a single Slim SwimZ can easily burn through a limit of crappies. 

Nationwide, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits own the most shelf space. This is warranted. The popular bodies – specifically the Original 2” Baby Shad – are to panfish what peanuts are to elephants. Ideally shaped like fish fry, they are squishy in the fingers, causing fish to hang on, and come in a staggering 75 colors. The flamboyant Cajun Cricket is a sunfish favorite. Baitfish-toned Blueback Shad Diamond Mist tempt everything in clear to lightly stained water. Glacier Blue, a white body peppered with blue, is a frequent flyer as well.Grab a few packs of Bass Assassin’s 3-inch Baby Shad to mix things up. They, too, come in a wide pallet of colors.

Northland Tackle’s legendary Rigged Mimic Minnow Shad come pre-rigged with physically accurate bodies and fish-fry-shaped heads. The color matching is already done. 1/32- and 1/16-ouncers are the chosen ones.  Pedal trolling hairpin spinners is elementary. Locomoting slower than you would with hardbaits, even as slow as 1 MPH, is enough to keep the blades turning while riding high in the water column. Hairpins are at their best lazily humping along above targeted fish. In 10-feet of water, I want the hairpin mobilized 3 or 4 feet down, and no deeper than 5. Sometimes, I’ll run a hairpin rig in both rod holders, crack a cold one and light a cigar, and make sequentially spaced passes over suspect water.

Even though many missions are in less than 10-feet of water, my eyes are glued to the electronics, a 9-inch Raymarine Axiom. Even in shallow water you can mark fish. But more importantly, the Raymarine reveals weeds and other fish holding elements, not to mention signaling depth breaks. And if you find panfish pasted to the bottom, it’s time to hit the brakes and go to a vertical presentation; just the jig and plastic or a weensy jigging spoon. The Raymarine will reveal these tiny baits beneath the kayak in real time. Turn on the A-scope feature and experience the same, live drama you enjoy when fishing vertically through the ice.

Assuming you’re the results-oriented type of angler who has gotten over the stigma of trolling in general (you likely wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t), expand the technique into your panfishing – preferably by pedal-driven kayak – and see what happens. A cooler of crappies and sunfish does not lie.

Get Your Boat Ready for the Water


Get Your Boat Ready for the Water This Spring
You may not be boating much until the COVID-19 epidemic slacks, but now is a good time to get your boat ready for summer fun–here are some tips from BoatUS.

Getting the boat ready for the summer boating season is an exciting time for America’s nearly 12 million recreational boaters. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has a Spring Commissioning Checklist to help boaters start the season right, along with a new YouTube Spring Fitting Out video library that shows you how to do some basic tasks, from changing the outdrive oil or fixing broken trailer lights to replacing zincs or changing a propeller.

Before You Launch
Inspect and replace hose clamps as necessary. Double clamp fuel lines and exhaust hoses with marine-rated stainless steel hose clamps. While not technically required, it’s a wise move to double clamp whenever possible on all hoses – especially those below the waterline.Inspect all hoses for stiffness, rot, leaks and cracking, and replace any that are faulty. Make sure they fit snugly.Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting and distortion. Make sure cotter pins are secure.

Grip the prop (on inboard drive systems) and try moving the shaft up and down and side to side. If it’s loose and can be wiggled, the cutless bearing may need to be replaced.

Check the rudderstock to ensure it hasn’t been bent. Operate the wheel or tiller to ensure the steering works correctly.Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks.

Make sure your engine intake sea strainer (if equipped) is not cracked or bent from ice and is free of corrosion, clean and properly secured.With inboards, check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for correct adjustment. A stuffing box should leak no more than two drops each minute when the prop shaft is turning.

Inspect, lubricate and exercise seacocks.Use a garden hose to check for deck leaks at ports and hatches. Renew caulk or gaskets as necessary.Inspect and test the bilge pump and float switch to make sure they’re both working properly.

Check stove and remote LPG tanks for loose fittings and leaking hoses.Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafe and wear.If equipped, ensure that the stern drain plug is installed.After the boat is launched, be sure to check all thru-hulls for leaks.

Engines and Fuel Systems
Inspect fuel lines, including fill and vent hoses, for softness, brittleness or cracking. Check all joints for leaks, and make sure all lines are well supported with noncombustible clips or straps with smooth edges.

Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters for leaks. Ensure portable tanks and lines are completely drained of stale fuel before filling with fresh fuel. Clean or replace fuel filters and/or fuel-water separators if not done before winterization.

Every few years, remove and inspect exhaust manifolds for corrosion (for inboard-powered and inboard/outboard boats).Charge battery.Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Use a wire brush to clean battery terminals, and top up cells with distilled water (if applicable).

Inspect the bilge blower hose for leaks and run the blower to confirm correct operation.

Engine Outdrives and Outboards
Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds) and replace if suspect.Check power steering and power trim oil levels.

Replace anodes/zincs that are more than half wasted.Inspect the outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable must be replaced.Inspect lower unit oil level and top up as necessary.

Sailboat Rigging
Inspect swage fittings for cracks and heavy rust (some discoloration is acceptable). Inspect wire halyards and running backstays for “fishhooks” and rust.

Remove tape on turnbuckles and lubricate threads, preferably with Teflon. Replace old tape with fresh tape but don’t wrap airtight.If you suspect the core around a chainplate is damp, remove the chainplate to inspect and make repairs.

Trailers
Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary. Check air pressure; don’t forget the spare.

Inspect wheel bearings and repack as necessary.

Test all lights and replace any broken bulbs or lenses.

Inspect winch to make sure it’s working properly. Inspect hitch chains.

Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.Inspect brakes and brake fluid reservoir.

Safety
Check expiration dates on flares.

Inspect fire extinguishers. Replace if more than 12 years old or if age is unknown. More than 40 million Kidde extinguishers with plastic handles were recalled on Nov. 2, 2017.

Ensure you have properly sized and wearable life jackets in good condition for each passenger, including kids. Check inflatable life jacket cylinders and dissolvable “pill” bobbins in auto-inflating models.

Test smoke, carbon monoxide, fume and bilge alarms.

Check running lights for operation and spare bulb inventory.

Update paper charts and chartplotter software.

Replenish first-aid kit items that may have been used last season or are expired.

Check the operation of VHF radio(s) and that the MMSI number is correctly programmed in. (BoatUS members can obtain a free MMSI number at BoatUS.com/MMSI.)

Get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. Find out more at SafetySeal.net.

For the Dock
In addition to checking its entire length for wear or abrasions, check both ends of the shore power cable connections for burns, which indicate the cable and/or boat’s shore power inlet or the dock’s receptacle must be replaced.

Test ground-fault protection on your boat and private dock, and know how to prevent Electric Shock Drowning.

The Paperwork
Make sure your boat registration is up to date. Don’t forget your trailer tags.

Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed. BoatUS provides free quotes at BoatUS.com/Insurance. Provide a copy to your marina or club.

Ensure your BoatUS Membership is in good standing. Login to BoatUS.com/Account to check your Membership status or join at BoatUS.com/Membership.

Download the free BoatUS App (BoatUS.com/App) to make it easy to summon on-water assistance and speed response times.

About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS): Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than a half-million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We are The Boat Owners Auto Club and help ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins. When boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program offers policies that give boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. We help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.

Pontoon Boat Fishing

Fishing from A Pontoon Boat

Pontoon Boat Fishing at Disney World with Power-Pole
from The Fishing Wire

Family-friendly day trippers who venture out on simple pontoon boats can enjoy the same perks of the Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchor that professional anglers do. Properly prepared, pontoons can become an ultimate fishing platform where stability and spacious room allows for the whole family to get in on the bite. The addition of a Power-Pole turns the pontoon into a fishing machine with myriad advantages.

For cherry-picking hot spots, the Power-Pole anchor can be stuck down outside of bass beds, off submerged structures and at a safe distance from weed beds to allow for pinpoint casts from the pontoon deck. Forget about the hassle of tossing cumbersome anchors overboard on a boat filled with kids and family — with a push of a button, the Power-Pole can be easily deployed and retracted to maximize fishing time and promote ease of movement from spot to spot.

A recent redesign of Power-Pole’s pontoon brackets, which now encompass widths from 13 to 19 inches, allows for an easier mount, smoothly outfitting pontoons for shallow-water fishing conditions in lakes, ponds and even backwater channels. Docking with a boat full of kids is also a cinch. There’s no more scrambling for dock lines, simply deploy the Power-Pole dockside to stabilize the pontoon for easy disembarking.

And get this — all Walt Disney properties now enjoy the benefits of Power-Pole anchors outfitted on their fleet of 21-foot Sun Tracker pontoon boats for their on-site largemouth bass fishing excursions. If Disney and the Magic Kingdom back the power of Power-Pole on their pontoons for family fun, shouldn’t you on yours? Power up your pontoon to a new level of fishing fun!

To celebrate 10 years of being the official shallow water anchor for the Walt Disney World boat fleet, the Power-Pole media team took a few very special anglers on the Disney Guided Bass Fishing Excursion in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.Disney World is noted for it’s beautiful sand-bottomed and weed-edged lakes, loaded with largemouths thanks to the clean water, abundant bait and all-release policy. A lightly-weighted soft plastic fished on light spinning gear is the ticket to fooling these numerous but hard-fished bass. Or, opt for the live bait provided by the knowledgeable guides in the fishing concession here. 

Specialized Kayak Gear

Kayak Fishing

Specialized Kayak Gear that Can Improve Your Fishing, from Hobie
Hobie pro anglers tour their tournament boats
from The Fishing Wire

OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Think of it like a downsized bass boat that happens to afford stealth-access to untouched fishing spots. If you’re an angler the likes of Kristine Fischer, it also serves as your mobile fishing office. For Hobie kayak pro Fischer and countless expert ‘yakers, outfitting their fishing rides distills down to space management and accessibility; i.e., How fast can I find and grab that particular hot bait?

Just like the desk in your cubicle (dread the thought), every little gadget, doodad and device—from your computer screen, mouse and iPhone all the way down to your favorite pencil—must lie within arm’s reach at all times. Preferably, you can snatch it without getting up or falling out of your chair. 

“That’s one of the first things you notice and appreciate about a boat like my Hobie Pro Angler 14,” notes Fischer. “Every element of its design has been intelligently positioned to maximize space and allow for optimal convenience. But the kayak’s also been engineered to allow for customization, if you want. Hobie understands that every angler wants to trick their ride with different gear—electronics, rod holders, tackle storage and other essentials.

”Hobie Associate Product Manager of Fishing Accessories, Howie Strech is quick to spotlight the kayak company’s H-Rail system, which serves both as a convenient kayak handle and as a robust mounting base for an array of accessories along either side of the boat.

“Adjustability is everything in kayak fishing, and the H-Rail lets you quickly attach, remove and adjust all the essential ‘yak accessories,” says Strech.“The 12-sided H-Rail accepts a 1” or 1-1/2” RAM ball, to which most anglers mount sonar units, a GoPro or an Aqua-Vu underwater camera. You can also attach horizontal rod racks and rod holders, as well as cup holders and tackle bins, and the Universal H-Rail Mounting Plate allows you to adapt nearly any mounting base and accessory on the market.

”Hobie kayak pro Kristine Fischer utilizes every square inch of her boat through immaculate rigging and customizing.Fischer calls out one particularly valuable accessory adaptation. “I use a paddle holder connected via 1-inch RAM ball to secure my landing net,” explains the Hobie Bass Open champ. “Instead of holding a paddle, I use it to keep my net resting up in the front of my kayak where it’s out of my way but easy to reach.

”Also connected to the H-Rail of Fischer’s Pro Angler is a second RAM mount for her Lowrance HDS 9 sonar. “One kayak-specific tweak is a Point-1 GPS module, which shows me the exact on-screen position of waypoints relative to the nose of my kayak,” says Fischer. “This assures that every cast I make is right on target.

”The versatile Hobie H-Crate Storage System family affords countless storage possibilities.Another often-overlooked tech-tool that accompanies both Fischer and Strech on every outing is an Aqua-Vu micro underwater camera. “I can mount the Aqua-Vu directly to the H-Rail with a Pro Snake mount or use a RAM Camera Mount designed for a GoPro,” adds Fischer. “The Micro Revolution camera even has a built-in cable reel so I can instantly drop the optics into the fish zone and see what’s happening. When I’m done, I can reel the camera back up as quick and easy as retrieving a lure. The camera is an awesome tool for tournament prefishing, too.

”On the East Coast, pro kayak angler John Hostalka has taken the initiative of DIY-rigging his own GoPro mount. “My Hobie Mirage Outback is so full of extras that I haven’t had to do much accessorizing,” admits Hostalka, who casts for the wide variety of species in Chesapeake Bay.

“But for taking video, I needed a mount that allowed me to easily spin the camera any direction with one hand. Based on something I saw Brandon Barton using, I made a mount modification to my Scotty rod holder base that also let me remove the pole and camera for taking quick underwater release shots. It’s a pretty slick set-up that I can even adjust while fighting a fish.

”Another increasingly important piece of on-board electronics used by anglers is a Power-Pole Micro. The downsized Power-Pole rides astern and pins the kayak in place in up to 8-feet of water, which is especially handy for achieving perfect positioning in windy conditions.“Everything is powered by a single Dakota Lithium 23-amp battery, which is half the weight of a comparable sealed lead acid battery. Also keeps me juiced up for up to sixteen hours straight—either a really full day on the water or two or three normal days of fishing. The battery can fit into either the front hatch or right under my seat, secured in place with zip ties.”

“The storage space in these boats will blow you away,” adds Fischer, who admits to carrying a load of tackle, and up to 14 rods a day. “I can carry 12 rods—2 per slot, 6 per side—in the built-in rod racks on my Pro Angler. I like that they’re horizontal so I can sneak under bridges and trees without worrying about snapping tips.

”Strech notes Hobie’s ultra-versatile H-Crate, which fits perfectly in the space directly behind the seat. “The H-Crate Storage System is made for personalization,” suggests Strech. “Its integrated rod holders carry four combos, but can accommodate up to 10 or more with additional rod holders installed to the crate’s grid walls. The H-Crate also has four sections of H-Rail that serve as carry handles and accommodate extra accessories such as a tackle bin or Hobie’s new feature-rich Mini Bin. Inside, you’ve easily got enough space to pack around ten standard 3700-size tackle boxes.

”Fischer, of course, loads her H-Crate with tackle and then some. Between her seat and the H-Crate lies a Cal Coast Battle Box, which organizes terminal tackle such as tungsten bullet weights and worm hooks. Under her comfortable, adjustable seat, Fischer stashes two additional totes filled with Ned rig baits and other soft plastics. Attached to the back of the seat is a zippered Vantage Seat Accessory Bag loaded with fluorocarbon leader and other fishing line.

Beneath the hidden hatch at her feet lies a Hobie Rectangular Gear Bucket filled with the most important plastics or lures for the day’s fishing; pliers and other tools fit neatly into a cargo pocket built-into the underside of the hatch lid itself. The kayak is also armed with extra rubber mesh pockets alongside the seat, which Fischer uses for more tools and a Cal Coast Donkey Leash lanyard equipped with a multitool. Up front, the spacious bow hatch is equipped with a liner that contains more lure totes, camera monopods, safety flags, a hand paddle and an extra life-vest. Providing extra traction, comfort and sound-dampening advantages, Fischer finishes her ‘yak with Hobie EVA Deck Pads, giving it a cool, customized look.

“People tell me I have the most organized kayak they’ve ever seen,” she laughs. “I’m not so sure about that. But it does always amaze me how much tackle, accessories and electronics I’m able to fit on this rig. When the bite is on and time is short, sure is nice to having everything I need right at arm’s reach.” 

About Hobie Since 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water and quality products. From their headquarters in Oceanside, California, Hobie Cat Company manufactures, distributes and markets an impressive collection of watercraft worldwide. These include an ever-expanding line of recreation and racing sailboats, pedal-driven and paddle sit-on-top recreation and fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks and fishing boats, plus a complementary array of parts and accessories. 

U.S. Boat Sales Reached Second Highest Volume in 12 Years


U.S. Boat Sales Reached Second Highest Volume in 12 Years in 2019, Expected to Remain Strong in 2020
The National Marine Manufacturers Association 

(NMMA), representing North American recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, announced today that as it finalizes 2019 sales numbers, retail unit sales of new powerboats are estimated to have held steady in 2019 at approximately 280,000 units, the second highest total since 2007.

 CHICAGO – The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), representing North American recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, announced today that as it finalizes 2019 sales numbers, retail unit sales of new powerboats are estimated to have held steady in 2019 at approximately 280,000 units, the second highest total since 2007. The busy winter boat show season kicks off this week across the country with new powerboat sales expected to be up as much as 2 percent in 2020.

“Sales in 2019 were nearly on par with the 11-year high we saw in 2018, even with some softening particularly in the freshwater fishing category, which we attribute to unseasonably cold and rainy weather in spring and early summer. Looking at 2020, with the economy on solid footing and key economic indicators like consumer spending remaining strong, we expect another healthy year for new boat sales, which could be up as much as 2 percent,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. “With approximately $42 billion per year in retail expenditures, boating is not only an economic driver but a unique vehicle for the kind of meaningful experiences consumers are seeking more and more—ones that take you outdoors, bring together family and friends, and create lasting memories.”

The following new powerboat categories drove retail unit sales momentum in 2019:New personal watercraft sales are estimated to be up 6 percent to 73,000 units in 2019; with accessible entry-level price points, personal watercraft are often considered a gateway to boat ownership.Sales of new wake sport boats—popular for wakesurfing and wakeboarding and attractive to new and younger boaters—are estimated to be up 6 percent to 11,000 units in 2019.New cruiser sales—boats between 22 and 32 feet, popular for relaxing, entertaining and ‘cruising’—are estimated to be up 3 percent to 9,000 units in 2019.However, new freshwater fishing boat sales—a high-volume category—are estimated to be down 7 percent to 69,000 units in 2019.

U.S. boat manufacturers and dealers are gearing up for the winter boat show season around the country, an important marketing venue where manufacturers introduce their latest products and consumers come to buy. Based on association estimates, boat shows can generate 50 percent or more of annual sales for exhibiting dealers and manufacturers.

Shoppers at a boat show can expect to find some of the best deals of the year with the added convenience of comparing different boat models, and different dealers, in one location.

U.S. Recreational Boating by the Numbers
Additional statistics on the industry’s size, makeup and demographics include:Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services are estimated to total $42 billion in 2019, up slightly from 2018.Retail unit sales of new boats are estimated to have reached approximately 280,000 units in 2019, the second highest level since 2007 and flat with 2018 totals.Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2018 were the following 10 states (2019 estimates available in the spring):

Florida: $3.2 billion, up 8 percent from 2017

Texas: $1.8 billion, up 9 percent from 2017

Michigan: $1.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2017

North Carolina: $914 million, up 9 percent from 2017

Minnesota: $861 million, up 6 percent from 2017

Wisconsin: $781 million, up 9 percent from 2017

New York: $775 million, up 5 percent from 2017

California: $765 million, up 6 percent from 2017

Georgia: $680 million, up 8 percent from 2017

South Carolina: $661 million, up 4 percent from 2017

It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; about 975,000 pre-owned boats are estimated to have been sold in 2019, down slightly from 2018.There were an estimated 11.9 million boats registered and documented in the U.S. in 2019, relatively unchanged from 2018.Ninety-five percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft and sailboats) in the U.S. are small in size, measuring less than 26 feet in length—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.

Sixty-two percent of boat owners have a household income less than $100,000, making boating a solidly middle-class recreational pursuit.Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP, generating $778 billion in gross economic output—on par with the telecommunications industry (2.3 percent)—of which recreational boating and fishing is the single largest segment, contributing nearly $40 billion in gross output. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis)

About NMMA: The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading trade organization for the North American recreational boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, marine accessories and gear used by millions of boaters in North America. The association serves its members and their sales and service networks by improving the business environment for recreational boating including providing domestic and international sales and marketing opportunities, reducing unnecessary government regulation, decreasing the cost of doing business, and helping grow boating participation. As the largest producer of boat and sport shows in the U.S., NMMA connects the recreational boating industry with the boating consumer year-round. Learn more at www.nmma.org and get engaged with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

What Is the Power-Pole CHARGE?

Power Pole Charge

Innovation is Standard Equipment with the Power-Pole CHARGE
This new power management station will be part of all MLF Cup Series events in 2020
By J. Scott Butherus/Power-Pole Communications
from The Fishing Wire

TAMPA – At the highest level of competition, only the best products on the market will do.

That is why each of the boats used in the Major League Fishing Cup Series this season will come equipped with a Power-Pole CHARGE Marine Power Management Station. Along with their flagship Power-Pole Blade Shallow Water Anchors, the CHARGE is part of the standard equipment package that will be used in each event of MLF’s marquee tournament series in 2020.

The Cup Series consists of four television-friendly events – the Challenge, the Heritage, the Patriot and the Summit Cups — with anglers who have qualified through the MLF Bass Pro Tour. Each competitor is given an identical boat for the competition outfitted with the best products on the market from the tournament tour’s biggest sponsors.

“These are some of the best anglers in the world so it only makes sense that we put the most technologically-advanced equipment available at their fingertips,” Power-Pole vice president Robert Shamblin said. “The CHARGE is an essential tool for any angler who wants to compete at the highest level and, just like with the Power-Pole anchors, being part of the MLF Cup Series shows that our products are vital for these anglers.

”While the CHARGE may not be readily apparent during the televised broadcasts in the same way as the Power-Pole anchors mounted on the back of each boat, the role that the CHARGE plays during competition is no less important. It is more than just a battery charger, it’s an intelligent power management system that performs the functions that previously needed three different devices to accomplish. CHARGE automatically devotes more power to the accessories that need it the most for maximum efficiency.

Whether it is the trolling motor, live wells, or other devices, CHARGE seamlessly manages the boat’s power consumption so anglers can devote their full attention to fishing. Using the C-Monster app or GATEWAY-enabled devices, the anglers can see their batteries’ state of voltage in real-time on smartphone or sonar/gps screen.In the rapid-fire, catch-weigh-release format of the MLF events, that ability to focus purely on fishing and not battery status when the bite catches fire can be the difference between cashing in and elimination.Team Power-Pole pro and Bass Pro Tour competitor Chris Lane was one of the first anglers to use the CHARGE in a tournament setting so he already knows the advantage the CHARGE can deliver in crunch time.

“I am really excited to see that the Power-Pole CHARGE will be standard equipment in the MLF Cup Series event boats this season,” Lane said. “With one MLF Bass Pro Tour season under my belt running the Power-Pole CHARGE, I could not compete with true confidence without it in my boat. Knowing that I have complete power management of my batteries, on the run charging and an emergency start all in one unit is fantastic!

“It’s super lightweight which helps my boat’s performance as well. CHARGE is a game changer for sure.”The CHARGE became standard issue on all Cup Series boats in 2019, where it proved it could keep up with the rigorous demands of these top pros competing at the highest levels.

“The boats we use during MLF Cup Events take a beating during the season with more than 160 hours on the water per boat,” MLF executive vice president Don Rucks said. “Our service crews are always reliable to keep the boats running at peak performance. MLF staff and pros rely on the durability each Power-Pole CHARGE provides day in and day out.”

See a video on using the new Power-Pole CHARGE on Lake Kissimmee here: https://youtu.be/gmQJLJWj9Fk

For more on Power-Pole, visit www.power-pole.com

Winterizing Your Boat


BoatUS Guide to Winterizing Your Boat
Boaters across much of the country are getting ready to put their boats to bed for a long winter’s nap, but not every boat owner knows all the secrets of winterizing a recreational boat. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) shares some quick tips to ensure safe storage until next season.

1. Despite mild winters, California, Florida and Texas have the most engine winterizing claims. Boaters in northern climates know to winterize but all it takes is one deep freeze in a normally balmy state to cause major damage to your boat. Unless you’re in an area that never freezes (like Key West or Hawaii) you probably need to winterize.

2. Water expands almost 10% by volume. That expansion means that any water left in your engine, potable water system, or refrigeration system can do some major damage over the winter. Even an engine block can crack open during cold weather. The key is making sure all water gets drained out or replaced by antifreeze.

3. Batteries are happier at home. If you live where you never boat in winter, remove your batteries, bring them to the garage or basement and use a trickle charger to keep them topped off to protect them and extend their life.4. It’s easier to prevent mold than to stop it. Without some air circulation, your boat’s interior can build up condensation, which can lead to a moldy mess next spring. Solar-powered vents and boat covers that lets air circulate can help keep mold at bay.

5. Waxing the hull now makes spring clean-up much easier. The grunge of sitting all winter at a boatyard comes off a lot quicker if you apply a coat of wax before you put your boat to bed.

6. There are two types of antifreeze. Ethylene glycol – the kind in your boat’s cooling system works fine for engines, but it’s very toxic. Propylene glycol is safe for potable water systems and is also fine to use for the raw side of engine cooling systems – check the label. Make sure antifreeze is rated to protect down to the lowest possible expected temperatures.

7. Add fuel stabilizer before you fill your tank. That helps mix the stabilizer so it protects all of the gas. Running your engine for a few minutes after mixing it up will get some stabilized gas in the engine’s fuel system, protecting it over the winter.8. If enough water enters your fuel tank, gas with ethanol can phase separate over the long winter storage period. For boats with portable gas tanks, try to use up fuel now. Any remainder can be used (if unmixed with two-stroke oil) in your vehicle. If your boat has a built-in gas tank, fill the tank almost to the top, leaving a little room for expansion. This will minimize condensation on tank walls, stopping phase separation in its tracks. Never plug a fuel tank vent.

9. Write down what you did or had your shop do. That way, next spring you won’t wonder if the lower unit lube was changed or the spark plugs replaced.

10. Take home any removable electronics, small outboards and even alcohol. The dark days of winter are when boats are most frequently broken in to. Not every thief is a professional – some may just want to raid your boat’s liquor cabinet.

11. Remove all food. Not only might it spoil, but it can attract rodents and other pests, leaving you with a nasty spring surprise.

12. Using a heater as alternative to winterizing is a really bad idea. Not only can the power go out during a big winter storm leaving the boat unprotected, the heater, extension cord or connections can (and do) overheat and cause a fire.

13. In addition to snowstorms knocking-out power to heated indoor boat storage facilities, do-it-yourselfers sometimes make mistakes when winterizing. Either way, for boaters who live in northern states, protecting yourself with ice and freeze coverage insurance may be a smart option. It’s often very affordable, but there’s a deadline to purchase, typically by the end of October.

For more information on how to properly store a boat over the winter, including how to cover a boat, winterize plumbing, store ashore or in the water, and to get a free downloadable BoatUS Boater’s Guide to Winterizing checklist, go to BoatUS.com/seaworthy/winter

Cost of Owning A Boat

 A boat is a hole in the water where you dump your money.  The word “boat” stands for “Break out another thousand.” There are many jokes about the cost of owning a boat, and are all too true.

    I have owned nine bass boats over the past 45 years, and all had their good and bad qualities, but all had one thing in common. They cost a lot, from purchasing them to keeping them working and running.

    Boats have improved a lot over those years.  My first boat, a brand new 16-foot Arrowglass with a 70 horsepower two stroke Evinrude motor, cost only $3500 in 1974.  That seems cheap now, many depthfinders and trolling motors cost more than that individually and just the sale tax on a new bass boat can be much higher. 

    That boat was top of the line back then, with one of the biggest outboard available that would push it about 35 mph on a good day, a 12-volt trolling motor, flasher depthfinder, two batteries and a single axle trailer with two narrow 14 inch tires.  It served me well for seven years although I had to have the motor rebuilt twice and made some improvements, adding a paper graph depthfinder to the dash and moving the flasher to the front.

    My current boat is a 20-foot Skeeter with a 250 horsepower Yamaha four stroke motor. I bought it used from Chad Pipkins, an Elite series pro, and it cost just over $50,000.  The list price for it new was in the upper $70,000 range. It came with a 36-volt trolling motor, four batteries, two power poles, four Hummingbird depthfinder, LED lighting around the inside of the gunnel and a dual axle trailer with four 14-inch car size tires.

    This boat will run in the upper 70 mph range if I ever get in a hurry, but I seldom do. It cruises great at 45 to 50 mph.   

    Four stroke motors crank instantly even in cold weather, something always a problem with two stoke motors, and there is no need to add oil to the gas.  I thought that would save me money over time, not having to buy oil, until I had the oil changed in its annual service.

    Last week I towed my Skeeter to Perry’s High-Performance Marine near Gainesville, fighting horrendous traffic both ways.  Perry is the only mechanic I trust to work on my motor, or even service it. He is definitely the best Yamaha mechanic in Georgia, if not the entire Southeast.

    During service them motor is tested on a computer, giving all kinds of information about it.  A couple of things surprised me.  The boat had about 250 hours on the motor, put on it in one year by Chad. I put about 100 hours a year on it and it now has 500 hours on it. I calculate I spend about 7 hours on the trolling motor for every hour on the gas motor.

    In those 500 hours, the computer shows it was run 5,000 to 6,000 rpm only 28 hours, and many of those running 60 plus mph, were put on it by Chad.  Most of the time, 336 hours total, were at less than 1000 rpm, idle speed.  Chad spent most of his time idling around, watching depthfinders, as do it.  At the speed I run, about 40 to 50 mph at 3000 to 4000 rpm, totaled 64 hours.

    In three years, the only problem with the Skeeter is one of the live well pumps burned out.  Perry and the Yamaha folks say if the motor is serviced as scheduled, it should last for several thousand hours, more than I will be able to put on it the rest of my life!

    If you buy a bass boat, expect sticker shock. But be aware that is just the beginning of your expenses!

Coast Guard Recommends Five Communications Devices

Coast Guard Recommends Five Communications Devices for Boaters
from The Fishing Wire

Going out on the water can be dangerous, especially if you don’t have the right equipment. If you do find yourself in trouble, being able to communicate that you need help can be a lifesaver—literally!

Here are the top five items the Coast Guard recommends you take with you on your boat so you can call for help if you need it.

1. VHF-FM marine radio: It’s the most versatile piece of comms equipment you can have! If you find yourself in distress, calling for help on the radio not only alerts the Coast Guard, but it also alerts all other vessels in your surrounding area who may be able to assist you. If you find yourself in distress, calling for help on the radio not only alerts the Coast Guard, but it also alerts all other vessels in your surrounding area who may be able to assist you. In addition to being able to call for help, it also allows you to receive important weather information, safety updates, and call bridges to request openings.

2. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon: They let us know where you are via satellite! Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons can also tell the Coast Guard who the beacon is registered to and how to contact you! Register your beacon and verify your information here.


3. Air horn, whistle, or other approved sound-producing device:
Sound producing devices work for day and night emergencies. The good thing about sound distress signals is that they’re good during any time of the day. Just like on a car or bicycle, boaters should always carry a sound signal to get the attention of other people on the area. For more information, click here.

4. Visual distress signals: To pyro or not to pyro? Nine of the sixteen internationally recognized distress signals are visual distress signals. Three are three pyrotechnic distress signals, and the other six are non-pyrotechnics. While visual distress signals can be extremely helpful when operating in a well-populated area, they should not be relied on as your only method of communicating distress. If you need to use a pyrotechnic distress signal, be sure to point the pyrotechnics in a safe direction, away from yourself and other people.

5. Cell phone: Not a primary, but a good back-up. While not reliable enough to be used on its own as an on-water communication device, it’s a good back-up in case your radio isn’t functional, you don’t have a radio, or you don’t know how to use one. The Coast Guard recommends mariners download the official Coast Guard Boating Safety App. One of the many features of the app allows mariners to place an emergency call to the U.S. Coast Guard or 911, and provides you with your current location to provide to emergency personnel over the phone.