Outdoors With Bubba

We re Going To The Show!

New Year s greetings from the frosty shores of Lake Powell where all but diehards have tucked their watercraft away for a long winter s nap, and most are facing up to the grim realities of winter two months of fidgeting, pacing, and generally quarrelsome behavior. Experts call it cabin fever, but most first mates have other terms for this malady.

But, let me take a close look at you. Just as I feared shortness of breath, clammy hands, and a vacant look in your eyes Skipper, what you have isn t cabin fever, it s not valley fever; it s New Boat Fever. I remember the last time I was infected.

That s not exactly true New Boat Fever had me by the throat, choking the life out of me as I sat there at the kitchen table surrounded by boat brochures. I could see myself in a new boat, rising above mere mortals to the lofty heights of my spacious flipping deck, there to make a cast and see all the bass simply surrender.

Yes, I was magnificent.

Well, so much for make believe and that never-never land crapola. I hope you re not faced with the same budgetary constraints that hit me no matter how badly I wanted a new boat, there was just no way that I could bite off a new chunk of debt load.

After a couple of days of deep depression, eating Cheetos, and watching Seinfeld reruns in sweat pants, I admitted that my old boat was going to be fine for another season.

But I was still depressed. Thank goodness, my wife came to the rescue. She suggested that what I needed was a day at the Boat Show with a modest budget for a few new gadgets for Old Trusty, the pride of the family fleet, and maybe a few items for my tackle box. My God, that woman is smart!

Following are a few items I found at the Boat Show. This stuff falls into two categories items I would never again consider being without based on long years of successful usage, or items that I instantly wanted on sight.

The kicker here is that not all of the good stuff is expensive. So, put down the Cheetos and turn off the TV; we re going to the Boat Show!

Cool Stuff Under $10

Clippers on a Lace: My most often-used piece of fishing gear, cheap, simple and effective, was a pair of Trim fingernail clippers looped onto a 36-inch bootlace. Tie the ends of the lace in a double overhand knot, slip the loop around their neck, and you re ready!

That length was optimum for me long enough to put my work at a comfortable focal length, yet not long enough to be bothersome, and once all knots were trimmed, I tucked them into my breast pocket.

Eze Lap Sharpener: Good for minor touch-ups on blades, the flip side has a groove designed for hooks. I like the handy, fits-in-a-pocket size and the diamond-impregnated surface that makes fast jobs of routine smoothing and sharpening.

Replacement Trebles: Fishing isn t cheap; whether out for weekend fun, or tournament glory, a day on the water represents a fistful of dollars. Using bad tools, like dull hooks, leads to disappointment and it s just dumb, especially when premium-quality replacement trebles are so inexpensive.

Around five bucks gets you a needle-sharp pack of Owner or Gamakatsu trebles, and size 2, 4, and 6 will cover everything from small Rapala-type plugs to the big Zara Spooks. And, don t forget the feathered trebles for adding a dash of color to any hard bait, or replacing the battle-scarred rear hooks on your premium topwater baits.

Serious Marker Buoy

I don t know how deep the pond is where you fish, but since I fish mainly here at Powell, I had to have one of these magnum buoys. Certainly not for everyone, but the Bomb by Seaccon Marine may be the ultimate deep-water structure fisherman s marker buoy.

A closed-cell foam core with a layered outer shell of soft polyurethane makes it almost indestructible, and counterweights stop rotation when its 2-pound weight hits bottom, a swivel reduces twist, and with 120 feet of line and a 300-pound leader, it stays where you put it.

Pricey at $50+, but it s a well-made tool designed for rugged use Seaccon Marine.

Fisherman-Friendly Cleat

Bass boaters have a love/hate relationship with cleats love em when you need a secure means to tie up, hate em when you trip, or break a rod on one. Accon Marine produces an alternative: the flush-mounted Pop-Up Cleat .

This nifty piece of hardware pops up at the touch of a button but stows flush with the deck when it s time to fish. It s available in a variety of sizes and includes an aluminum backing plate 4 -inch model under $80 from Accon Marine.

Quick Change Trailer-Jack

Wrestling a jack under a boat trailer s drop axle is no fun, but these semi-circular-shaped gizmos really work. Constructed of high-strength aluminum, they raise the trailer when the tow vehicle is moved up or back changing a tire or doing bearing maintenance was never easier under $40 from Springfield Marine.

Make a Big Noise

Next time you really need to be noticed, but weather or location makes visual signals ineffective, just grab your LoudMouth Horn. The rugged, lightweight plastic horn produces a heavyweight sound.

All it takes is your breath to produce a blast up to 120 decibels, and the LoudMouth conforms to A.B.Y.C. Standard A-23, 72 COLREGS, and US Inland Rules for vessels under 5 meters under $20 from Skyblazer.

Solution for Sliding Coolers

The last thing boaters need is a cooler sliding around the cockpit. Cooler Grips keep coolers secure even in rough seas, eliminating the slipping and sliding that generally occurs.

One kit secures a 64-quart cooler, and two will hold a 94-quart. Kits contain two straps and four buckle fasteners.

Quick-release locks open easily and fasteners attach with marine adhesive and self-tapping stainless screws $25 from Fastening Solutions Inc.

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