Watercraft — Boat Control

Watercraft — Boat Control

Jul 2, 2012

Boat control is critical for small craft, too!

By Mike Pehanich

Boat control may be the least appreciated skill in all of angling.

That’s not true on the professional level, of course, where Bassmaster Elite Series anglers maneuver their craft masterfully. But the everyday angler cuts his catch into a small fraction of its potential by neglecting to develop this critical talent.

In many situations, boat positioning can be far more important than casting accuracy.  And if you have ever destroyed your shot at a good fish by crashing into a tight piece of prime cover, you certainly know the how costly bad boat control can be.

Twin foot pedals control two electric motors in the Twin Troller X-10 from Freedom Electric Marine.

Most bass boat owners start getting serious about boat control the first time they find their hull or bow-mounted electric motor on the verge of serious damage. But it usually takes time for them to develop good boat control habits and strategies. Over time, most get significantly better and see the fruits of their effort lead to better catches.

But notice how little attention most guys in aluminum boats with stern-mounted electric motors give to boat control. Granted, their tools may not match up to those of the guy in the Ranger Z520, but often they seem simply to give up or believe that a good drift with the wind or a secure anchor is about the best they can do.

Not so.

Here are several ways you can improve boat control with better tools and a few small tips.

1) Bow mount that motor – The guys in the bass boats are generally controlling their electric motors with a foot pedal. Many jon boats and other small craft can be easily rigged with foot-controlled motors mounted on the bow.

2) Foot-controlled electric craft – Custom foot-control devices in relatively new categories of small craft have revolutionized small waters fishing. Two 36-pound thrust Motorguide motors recessed in the hull power the Twin Troller X-10 from Freedom Electric Marine. Left and right foot pedals give it the maneuverability of a zero-radius lawn mower and enable you to ease forward and back in a straight line if necessary.

Note the stake pole on the side of the Hobie.You can use it for a variety of small craft where precise boat positioning is required.

3) Foot-controlled kayaks Hobie revolutionized kayak fishing with its foot-controlled Mirage Drive and a cable-linked rudder, which enable hands-free fishing AND continuous boat control. Truly a game changer for kayak anglers!

See the new SWF video on the Hobie Revolution 11 in “Hobie kayaks ride the currents of the trends and times.”

4) Fish Bass Backwards – I still find myself renting or borrowing little rowboats on otherwise inaccessible waters several times a year. More often than not, I mount my electric motor on the stern and turn the motor backwards to run the stern straight into the wind. Of course there’s usually a limit to the size of waves you can handle when you employ this method, but you will find yourself in far better control in conditions where you can. Caution: wear your life jacket and be exceptionally careful with where and how fast you run the motor as you will have to reach beyond the stern to reach the handle. Some electric motors permit you to rotate the head and control arm 180 degrees on the shaft to allow the motor to thrust backwards while leaving the control arm in the standard operating position.

5) Stake your claim – The stake-pole is the poor man’s power-pole. You can secure many types of small craft with this fundamental kayak accessory when fishing a fixed position in shallow water up to about 3.5 feet. Try two stakes for better positioning.

Trophy bass expert Mike Long employs two anchors on small boats and bass boats alike for positioning his boat off deep water structure.

6) Two anchors are better than one – Many anglers abandoned their anchor once they acquired an electric motor. Bad idea! Serious anglers like California big bass specialist Mike Long seldom leave the dock without two anchors. Two good anchors can hold you in perfect position on a prime piece of structure – shallow or deep – and enable you to keep your boat in fixed position and disturb the area as little as possible.

Once you recognize that good boat control is as important as a feathering touch on a baitcast reel, you are well on your way to better fishing!

 

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One comment

  1. Has he ever been charter boat fiinshg? On east and west coast, gulf coast they run charter boats that catch great big fish. On larger lakes in US they also run charters. Generally the cost is $500 to $600 total for a party of 6. He and the group will have a ball. Just hope you live close enough to place he can go.

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