Boating, Fishing Tips

Little Things Mean A Lot

By Margie Anderson

Editorís Note: Although many of the following tips for boaters and anglers are simply common sense, Margie Anderson offers them as reminders as the Arizona boating season begins.

Boating Insurance

Al Grout of Sawyer-Cook suggests you decline tackle-insurance coverage when you buy your policy. Your homeowners will cover the contents of your boat, and at a better price.

Use the money you save to purchase extra liability insurance. If there is a big claim against you, any amount over your liability limit will come out of your pocket.

Grout recommends at least $300K in liability, with an umbrella policy for an extra million if possible. See www.sawyercook.com.

Invasives

Always empty your livewells and bilges before leaving the lake. Wipe down your boat with vinegar and water and remove any obvious plant material.

You donít want to take a chance on transporting an invasive weed to another body of water. For more information on invasives and how you can help, visit www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov.

Cleaning

To keep your boat looking new, wipe it down before you leave the lake. A spray bottle of vinegar and water will help keep it shiny and also remove any hard-water deposits.

Throw a couple of old towels or mock chamois in the boat for wipe-downs. Donít forget the trailer and wheels.

Every now and then, take the boat through a do-it-yourself car wash and hose out the carpets and thoroughly clean the boat and trailer. Donít use the soap at the car wash, because it can harm the water if it gets into the lake.

The high-pressure water should be all you need to blast the boat clean.

Boating Violations

According to law-enforcement officials, the most common on-the-water violation is lack of PFDs. Make sure you have one for everyone aboard.

Remember that they donít do any good if they arenít worn. Another common problem is not having a fire extinguisher, or having one that isnít in working order.

Your extinguisher needs to be Coast-Guard approved and have a means of testing. Boaters without navigation lights is another common violation.

Even if you are fishing near shore at night, your nav lights need to be on.

Trailer Check

Before you take the empty trailer to the ramp to pick up your boat, take the opportunity to check the bunkers. Is the carpeting in good shape?

Are there any nails or screw heads popping out? Even a pebble imbedded in the carpet can make a nasty scratch on the hull of your boat as you pull onto the trailer, so making a quick bunker check is a good habit to get into.

Lights, Action!

Before you pull out of the garage, have someone stand behind the trailer while you touch the brakes and use the turn signals. Make sure all your trailer lights are working before you hit the road. If people canít see your trailer, you run the risk of being hit.

Two-Cycle Savvy

Do you ever have a hard time getting your outboard motor to start? Itís pretty embarrassing to be sitting on the ramp with an engine that wonít get going.

If it goes on long enough, chances are you will end up flooding it and be even worse off. Del Tipton, the service manager at Complete Marine in Tempe Arizona, says that he gets that complaint all the time.

People come into the shop and tell him their engine is really hard to start, and Tipton gets it running in three seconds. Here is his checklist for properly starting an outboard:

1. Pump the bulb until it is hard, then give it some more squeezes until you hear a squeakĖthat is gas going into the enricher. Make sure you do that every time.

2. Put the gear shifter in neutral and push it forward just a bit.

3. Put the key in and hold it in for a count of five. (Or push the key in and out five times.)

4. Now push the key in and hold it in while turning it. The instant the motor starts up, let the key out, but keep your hand close to it.

5. When the tone of the motor winds down and sounds like it is stopping, push the key in again to give the carburetors a little shot of gas. You may have to do this three or four times until all of the carburetors are running strong.

Thatís it! Tipton says this is a never-fail starting procedure for your boat. Just donít leave out any steps, and you wonít have any more problems.

Batteries

Summer heat takes a toll on batteries, and nothing ruins a day (or night) of fishing as quickly as having your trolling motor battery go south on you. Before your next trip, take a few minutes to do a little inspection and maintenance on your battery.

Check the outside for cracks and make sure the top, posts, and connections are clean and dry. If the battery is damaged, replace it.

If there is fluid around the battery, make sure it isnít the battery leaking. If so, youíll have to replace it. Check the cables and connections for loose or broken parts and replace any cables that are broken or frayed.

If your battery is the kind to which you add water, get a hydrometer at the auto-parts store and check the specific gravity. Follow the instructions that come with the tester and check each cell individually.

If the reading is low, charge the battery completely and re-test it. If itís still low, equalize the battery by following the directions on your charger.

If you need to add water to your battery, add it after youíve charged it. Donít let the plates get exposed to the air, and donít fill it all the way to the cap.

Use distilled water and fill the cells to about an eighth inch below the fill well. You should check the water level often.

If youíre going to store your battery for a while, charge it up before you put it away, and keep it somewhere where it wonít get too cold or too hot. Charge it again before using it.

Donít smoke around the battery or the charger and try not to charge the battery when itís over 120 degrees outside. Remember that temperatures given on the weather report are in the shade; out in the sun, it can be well over 120 during the day.

Anchors

White bass, bluegills, crappie, and catfish are just a few of the fish that you can catch while youíre anchored. During the heat of the summer, itís nice to go up to the lake at dusk, find a good spot, and fish by a floating light.

Some trophy-bass hunters anchor as a matter of course, using two anchors to keep the boat absolutely motionless so they can concentrate on moving a lure or bait extremely slowly over deep structure.

Other people just want to keep the pontoon boat still while they barbecue and let the kids have a swim. Sailboats often anchor in the middle of a cove for the night.

Whatever the reason, if your anchor doesnít hold you in place, it can be anything from annoying to disastrous.

The ideal anchor would hold on all kinds of bottoms, be easy to set and release, be strong enough to hold even in wind, and be small so it can be easily stored. You need to choose one that comes as close as possible to the ideal.

A fluke anchor has fin-like metal blades that dig into the bottom and have the highest holding power of any style. The surface area of the flukes is what gives them their power.

When they dig into the bottom, suction and the weight of the stuff on the flukes makes them stay put.

Plow-style anchors are bigger and heavier than fluke anchors. They actually do look like the old-fashioned plows that were pulled behind horses or oxen.

They donít penetrate as well as the fluke anchors, but they can be easier to set because they are so much heavier. There are also specialty anchors like mushroom anchors, for different kinds of bottoms.

The kind of bottom over which you will be anchoring is the most important thing to consider when youíre buying an anchor. Sand is ideal for anchoring because itís pretty easy for the anchor to get into, and it holds well.

Fluke anchors are ideal for sand, and theyíre pretty good for mud, too. You might need bigger fins if youíre in the mud a lot, because mud doesnít hold as well as sand.

A lot of reservoirs are very rocky, and rocks are the hardest things on which to anchor. If you use a plow anchor or any kind of hook anchor, you can often get a good hold, but it can be impossible to get the anchor loose once you want to go.

How many times have you seen the cut-off end of an anchor rope drifting under the surface?

Even those little mushroom anchors can get wedged in the rocks. If youíre going to depend on those, you need to make sure youíve got a lot of weight down there, or any current or wind is going to have you drifting in no time.

Your best bet is to carry two anchors all the time, no matter what kind you choose.

If youíre fishing around trees you might be tempted to use a rope tied or clamped to the tree to keep you still. This can work, but when the boat moves (which it will whenever you do), the movement is telegraphed down the rope and the tree to the fish.