The Angling OptionBy by Dan Armitage
Published: Fall 2012
Photos: Attwood Portable Rod Holders, Plano Bait Buckets, and EGO2 Slider landing nets
Even if angling isn't top of your list, chances are someone will want to wet a line from your boat
When you think about it, one of the joys of owning a trailerable boat is the hook-up-and-go option, the ability to visit different waters. Sometimes those boating destinations are famous for the quality of fishing opportunities they offer. Whether on vacation or on your home waters, with a few portable items, you can easily exercise the angling option and net some memorable fishing experiences — without permanently re-rigging the family boat.
Here are a few portable items that go a long way toward making any boat more fishing friendly. With these, you and your guests can enjoy the pleasures of fishing without permanently altering your pleasure boat.
For everything from current weather reports and water conditions to listening in on local anglers to learn where the fishing action is taking place — plus being able to summon assistance in the event of an emergency — a VHF radio and spare batteries are essential. Portable Standard Horizon VHF Radio available at West Marine.
These will help you remove hooks from fish and anglers alike, as well as help tighten knots, open snaps, and crimp on sinkers. If your trip is into saltwaters, where some game fish have teeth and you may be using live or cut bait that fish tend to swallow, you’ll need the extra reach offered by the slender jaws of these handy tools.The pliers’ wire-cutting capability will be welcome when you have to twist wire leaders, cut heavy monoor super-braids, or clip off a hook barb before removing it from your hide. Calcutta Needle Nose Pliers available at West Marine.
Portable Fishing Rod Holders
There are several styles of portable rod holders with bases that clamp onto just about any surface. Most of them adapt to rails, such as those that serve as handrails or a bow railing. Roberts-style rod holders with a rail-clamp mount are popular choices for portable applications. Clamp-on versions from Attwood, Tempo, West Marine, and a host of other rod holder sources are inexpensive (most under $30 each) and easily attach to hand rails, oak locks, or even Bimini-top supports to offer all that is often needed to convert a strictly pleasure craft into a serviceable fishing machine. Most clamp-on models are portable and offer easy on/easy off installation. Other models offer a small, more permanent base that can be screwed into the gunwale of the boat. By adding rod holders, you can let out some line and tow (“troll” is the preferred term) a lure as you idle along. At anchor, you can drop bait over the side, knowing that your rod is safe in the grasp of a holder.
A GPS will allow you to find fishing spots recommended by friendly bait shop owners and fellow anglers, make your way back to the boat ramp regardless of visibility, and, if it has chart capabilities, complement (and hopefully confirm) your paper charts and compass information. Get the accessory plug that allows you to power the unit off the boat’s electrical system, via the accessory receptacle, and keep an extra set of batteries handy. Garmin GPSmap 78sc available at West Marine.
Portable Bait Container
Some fishing involves the use of live bait, most commonly baitfish, crabs, or shrimp, and you need to be able to keep the critters alive and kicking over a day. A popular model is the Frabill Flow Troll bucket, which costs around $10. Its design allows you to drag it slowly behind the boat to keep water flowing through holes in the bucket to the bait, and bring the pail and its contents aboard without having to place it in a separate bucket or well. You can also consider portable battery-powered “bait wells,” several models and styles of which are available that use everything from small buckets to oversized coolers as their bait basins, and can be powered by the boat’s 12-volt accessory receptacle.
Cutting Board And Knife
Fishing often involves cutting bait or the catch itself, and a narrow-bladed, filletstyle knife and small cutting board of wood or plastic will help save the finish on your deck, hatches, and gunwales. Available at West Marine.
Displaying more than mere water depth, fishfinders show bottom features and the locations of schools of bait and fish. Most popular sonar manufacturers offer portable models powered by batteries with transducers temporarily secured to the transom with suction cups. You can get just about any function on a portable unit that you can find on fishfinders hard-wired for permanent use aboard a boat, and most can be powered by your boat’s electrical system via a 12-volt accessory receptacle.
There are several brands of folding or telescoping landing nets on the market that break down to make transporting and stowing simpler than traveling with traditional nets. You’ll want one with a handle at least two feet long to reach over the side of the boat, and with a hoop diameter of at least 24 inches to handle the catch. Adventure Products makes a line of EGO landing nets with telescoping handles that are portable. Frabill offers Hibernet landing nets that fold into the handle neatly, and Beckman sells handy two-piece landing nets. These range in price from $60 to $100.